MLA Barry Penner (left) is seen here on election night

Top Stories of 2011: Barry Penner leaves politics

Chilliwack homeboy Barry Penner, who went from park ranger to become B.C.’s Environment Minister called it quits in August.

Chilliwack homeboy Barry Penner, who went from park ranger to become B.C.’s Environment Minister and from small-town lawyer to become Attorney General of the province, called it quits in August.

And last month, Penner announced he was also stepping down as MLA, sparking a byelection in the Chilliwack-Hope riding.

The reason for this sudden change in an MLA regarded as the “Energizer Bunny of Politics”?

A little package named Fintry. A daughter, specifically, delivered courtesy of Penner’s wife Daris.

It’s families that pay the price for politicians who love “The Life” as much as he, Penner told The Progress in a recent interview.

And the new father wasn’t going to miss a minute more of Fintry’s childhood than absolutely required.

“My mom’s relieved,” he said, about his decision to quit politics. “She never got used to the personal attacks and the criticism that’s part of doing this job.”

But Penner also said he had “bittersweet” moments last week as he attended what are likely his last official acts as MLA before joining a law firm in Vancouver.

One act was finally getting cellphone service in the Fraser Canyon for Telus

customers as far upstream as Boston Bar, the other was a run-of-the-river hydroelectric project in partnership with the Kanaka Bar Indian Band.

Penner said he’d been working on the power project for 10 years, and the band for 25 years.

“To see it come together — that’s sweet,” he said.

But to be leaving politics and the chance to do more — “that’s bitter,” he said.

However, Penner said he’d never lived his life according to any plan.

Unlike many law students, Penner said he had no idea what kind of law he wanted to practice — so he just plunged headlong into everything.

He also dismissed his “hardworking” reputation, saying instead that it was more his “constant and relentless” need to gather all the facts he could going into any situation “to satisfy myself that I knew what needed to be known.”

“I am instinctively nervous about bold statements,” he said, with nothing to back them up.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

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