Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Tuesday he is stepping down and will not stand in upcoming October elections.
"Last night I spoke to the prime minister and informed him I was standing down from cabinet," he told parliament.
"I expressed my intention not to run in the next general election... and I also expressed my intention to stand down as member of parliament... in the weeks ahead," he said.
The departure of one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most trusted and reliable lieutenants after two decades in politics, in which he held 10 ministerial posts both at the federal and Ontario provincial level, is another major blow to Harper's cabinet at the start of campaigning for a fourth mandate to govern.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was the first to go last year.
A successor to Baird for the job of Canada's top diplomat was not immediately announced. And Baird, at 45, did not say what he planned to do next.