Liberal rising star Ted Hsu announced today that he will not be running for re-election. Before we get into why, let’s quickly run through his qualifications so that you can be suitably sad that a rare smart politician has predictably quit. He is in his first term as MP for Kingston and the Islands, where he won on his first try succeeding former Liberal Speaker of the House Peter Milliken. He also has a PhD in physics from Princeton. That’s right, a Canadian MP is an Ivy League physicist. We never would have guessed either.
Now that you have some respect, admiration even, for Dr. Hsu, it’s time to break your heart. Being a Member of Parliament took too much of a toll on his family life, and he wants to spend more time with his two daughters. While it is undoubtedly noble to leave a job where you act like a kid to take care of your own kids, it’s hard not to feel like his wife got tired of eating Friday night dinner alone and he got tired of sleeping on the couch. If you’ve watched The West Wing you know that most politicians will sacrifice their personal lives for politics, which is why so many people hate politicians. Hsu is clearly not willing to do that, which makes him almost human. No wonder he’s done with politics.
Wait, what’s that? He’s been quoted saying that he is not retiring from politics? Just a well deserved break then. Alright Dr. Hsu. There’s likely another underlying reason for his move away from Parliament. Ted Hsu was one of the few Liberal MPs to endorse someone other than Justin Trudeau in the 2013 Liberal Party leadership race. He instead endorsed fellow scientific mind Marc Garneau. It’s possible that Hsu didn’t like the way the Party is going under Trudeau and decided to slowly back away and hope nobody ties him to current Liberal policy. Maybe he just didn’t like how the government was managing its money. He was also executive director of Morgan Stanley Tokyo and an equities trader/financial manager at BNP, so he knows something about that.
It’s hard not to be sad about this news, no matter who you are. The guy had a PhD in physics from Princeton. This was one smart cookie, and he was in a position to actually be involved in policy, albeit barely considering how few seats the Liberal Party has. A PhD from freaking Princeton. Former executive director of Morgan Stanley Tokyo. He was probably got scared off once he realized that science has nothing to do with policy and finance nothing to do with the budget. Even though he was the official Liberal critic for Science and Technology. And Post-Secondary Education. And Federal Economic Development in Northern Ontario. Don’t worry, he’s also the Critic for Federal Economic Development in Southern Ontario. And chair of the Ontario Caucus.
This guy was a real and rare rising star in the Liberal Party of Canada. A first term MP who was given real responsibility. That’s unusual, even considering how tiny the Liberal caucus is these days. For the caucus, he’s a big loss. Who knows who will run in his place.
There are lots of potential reasons for Hsu’s decision not to run again. Whether personal, political, or just that parliament sucks, looks like the Liberals need a new candidate in Kingston and the Islands.