Alberta Premier Alison Redford resigns
Less than two years after her commanding victory in the 2012 election, Premier Alison Redford announced Wednesday she will resign her post as the leader of Alberta effective this Sunday evening.
Redford will remain in the legislature as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow. An interim premier is expected to be chosen during what's sure to be an intense Thursday morning caucus meeting.
As she approached the podium inside the Alberta Legislature on Wednesday night, an emotional Redford stepped down with "profound optimism for Alberta's future" amidst growing turbulence within the Progressive Conservative government.
After two Tory MLAs quit the party in recent weeks, Redford said the very public questions of caucus allegiances and leadership style have distracted from the important work of the government, such as the balanced budget.
"As leader of this government and this party, that has weighed heavily on my mind," said Redford, getting huge applause from MLAs on all sides of the political spectrum as she said she poured her heart and soul into the job.
"Quite simply, I am not prepared to allow party and caucus infighting to get in the way of building a better future for our province and for all Albertans," she said.
"That is why I am announcing today, that with a profound optimism for Alberta's future, I am resigning as premier of Alberta effective this Sunday evening."
Redford teared up as she thanked her constituents from Calgary-Elbow, her campaign volunteers, and Albertans while not being afraid to crack a small joke.
"On election night two years ago I pledged that we would govern with unity and build prosperity. Well, at least we got the prosperity part right."
Redford said she's looking forward spending more time with her husband, Glen Jermyn, and her daughter, Sarah, before bidding Albertans a goodnight.
Tory MLAs said Redford made the right call.
Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said Redford made a difficult decision as "being a ptemier or leader of any party is a pretty demanding job and as she said, her family is the bedrock for her."
Edmonton-Riverview MLA Steve Young -- who was among a handful of Tory MLAs who were considering leaving caucus under Redford's leadership -- said the party is now entering a transition period.
"All of caucus has to be part of the resetting of that culture. We'll retain the good things, we've done some good things. We've got to acknowledge Alison for that."
Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski said there was a distinct division in the party that had to be fixed for the government to move forward. Jablonski said several bad decisions led to this point, including the $45,000 cost of Redford's trip to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial.
"Top-down decision making was one of the things that may have contributed to this."
Edmonton-South West MLA Matt Jeneroux said his heart goes out to Redford. "It was an incredibly difficult decision to make and she did."
Three-term Tory MLA George Rogers said it wasn't "a good scene" for the caucus recently but there's still excellent people around the PC caucus who will "roll up their sleeves and work for Alberta."
"The frustration around the room (with Redford) was that there probably wasn't enough input in some areas, maybe it was too top down, but I'm not going to get into it.
"Water under the bridge at this point."
Left; Alison Redford, at the time Alberta Minister of Justice, at the Alberta Gang Crime Summit at Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alta., on June 25, 2009. Stuart Dryden/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency Right; Alberta premier Alison Redford announcing that she would pay back the entire $45,000 travel costs for her controversial South Africa, at the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton, Alta., on March 12, 2014. Codie McLachlan/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency