OTTAWA - Former prime minister Stephen Harper resigned his seat in the House of Commons on Friday, ending a career in politics that spanned over two decades.
Harper announced he was stepping down as MP for the riding of Calgary Heritage in a statement and video posted to his social media channels.
"On seven occasions, I have been deeply humbled by your trust and support, time and again. And I leave elected office proud of what our team accomplished together," he said.
Harper had stepped down as Conservative party leader in October on the night he lost the election to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, but had chosen to remain as an MP.
He showed up routinely in the House of Commons for votes, but never spoke from the floor and remained absent from most of the weekly meetings of Conservative MPs.
In his farewell remarks, Harper listed some of his proudest accomplishments, including navigating the Canadian economy through the 2008 recession and his government's tough-on-crime agenda.
"Friends, we did a lot together, but I know the best is yet to come," Harper said Friday.
Harper will now make a move into consulting on international issues alongside two of his most trusted former advisers, Ray Novak and Jeremy Hunt.
The trio are listed as directors on a corporation first set up in December called Harper and Associates Consulting.
"As I bid farewell to the Parliament of Canada, and prepare for the next chapter of my life, my eternal thanks to the constituents of Calgary Heritage, to the members of the Conservative Party, and to all Canadians for having given me the honour of serving the best country in the world," Harper said Friday.
"May God bless all of you and may God bless Canada."
The party will choose a new leader next May and Harper urged conservatives to remain united.
"Our country must continue to serve as a model of prosperity and freedom," he said.
"Pursue the principles we have stood for at home and abroad, and our children, and children’s children will inherit the Canada we know and love so dearly."
Harper served as a Reform MP from 1993 to 1997, before taking a hiatus from politics until 2002.
That year he was elected as the leader of the Canadian Alliance and won a Calgary seat in a by-election. In 2003, he merged the party with the Progressive Conservatives and in 2004, he became leader of the Conservative Party.
He led the Conservatives to a minority government victory in the 2006 election and again in 2008, winning his first majority mandate in 2011 after an election that was forced by opposition parties.