Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley is the latest high-profile Liberal to soon be leaving politics.

Bentley, under fire from the opposition over the multi-million dollar cost of cancelled gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, confirmed Friday that he won’t seek the Liberal leadership, nor will he run in the next provincial election.

“These nine years have been an exciting chapter in my life; everything I thought they could be and more,” Bentley wrote in a statement Friday. “It is time to write the next chapter in my life, one that has more time for my family. 

"I will not be seeking re-election as your MPP in the next election.” 

Bentley notes that he’s been “moving in this direction for some time” but said the call for a convention sped up his decision. 

Bentley’s departure follows Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s surprise resignation on Oct. 15, which sparked speculation about who would join the race to lead the Ontario Liberal Party. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan -- perceived by many as a natural front-runner -- announced this week he will also be resigning his seat in the next election.

The Progressive Conservatives have been calling on Bentley to resign for some time, arguing that the true cost of cancelling the two gas plants was close to $1 billion, while the Liberals peg the cost at $230 million. The opposition parties went so far as to introduce a contempt motion against Bentley, who took on the energy portfolio after the gas plants were scrapped.

The Liberals will hold a leadership convention in late January 2013. Health Minister Deb Matthews, Municipal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne and former Liberal MPP Sandra Pupatello are still being considered as potential leadership candidates.