News Online: Premier not seeking re-election

Published online at on January 25, 2011.

Linda Hoang, Global News: Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Premier not seeking re-election

Premier Ed Stelmach has announced he will not run again in the next provincial election.

He held a news conference Tuesday morning to address the announcement.

Stelmach announced at the conference that he has been spending the last few weeks asking members of his caucus what their intentions are for the next provincial election, which has led him to think about his own intentions in government.

He said that “as I have been having these discussions I have also been reflecting on my own commitment to serve beyond the next election. Upon much reflection and consultation with family and close friends, I have determined that after 25 years of public service I am not be prepared to serve another full term as Premier. Therefore I have decided to announce today I will not be running as a candidate in the next general election. There is no doubt that my decision today will come as a shock to many and a disappointment to my friends and Albertans.”

Stelmach said he will give his formal resignation notice at a later date and as such, “will continue to govern to fulfill commitments I made in the last general election.”

He adds that his successor will not be obligated to go to the polls in March 2012.

“That was my timetable and mine alone. My successor has the parliamentary authority to call an election anytime up to the constitutional deadline of March of 2013. No one needs to be stampeded into a decision. Lets all take the time to get this right.”

At the conference, Stelmach also warned about the next election.

“There is a profound danger that the next election campaign will focus on personality and US style negative, attack politics that is directed at me personally. The danger is that it could allow for an extreme right party to disguise itself as a moderate party by focussing on personality – on me personally. This type of US style wedge politics is coming into Canada, and it comes at our peril.”

And he addressed his upcoming “tough” but “responsible” budget in 2013.

“It will not be a budget that guts funding to municipalities, mothballs health projects underway or halts school, and road construction at a time when people need work and the prices for construction are good. The budget my government brings in will use the cash we saved during the boom to help us through the bust and position us to leap ahead of the nation and the continent.”

Finally he spoke of what the province must strive to become and thanked his supporters.

“Albertans deserve to have better level of public debate on our policy options. Alberta must move forward to address the challenges of the future. Alberta must be a participant in the global community. Alberta must lead the way in responsible resource development. Alberta must not look backward when all the world is looking for modern leadership.”

“I am grateful to all those who supported me – who gave me the opportunity to raise integrity and honesty into government for the benefit of all Albertans.”

Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason said the premier’s announcement is likely a result of decreasing popularity.

“I would be guessing that his personal popularity has trailed that of his party, I think that’s one of the issues,” Mason said.

“We’re certainly aware that there’s been some ongoing internal battles over the budget… I suspect it may have had something to do with his decision.”

While Wildrose Alliance Party leader Danielle Smith said she wishes Stelmach well, she also said there is a bigger issue at hand.

“What we’re seeing is that the government is in complete disarray. What we’re also seeing is it won’t make a difference if the head of the party steps down, I would wish the 24 Cabinet ministers who have been complicit in all of the terrible decisions that have been made would also step down.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall issued a statement following Stelmach’s announcement as well.

“Premier Ed Stelmach has always been a clear and strong voice for Alberta. I saw first-hand at Premiers’ meetings how he always defended Alberta’s interests, how he spoke passionately for this generation and future generations of Albertans, but always within the context of a strong and united Canada.”

Stelmach was elected as leader of the party in 2006.

He was first elected to the Alberta legislature in 1993 as MLA of the riding of Vegreville-Viking.

The riding was later changed to Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville.

Click here to read the article on the Global Edmonton website.

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