LETHBRIDGE: With pressure rising, the leader of Alberta is hitting the eject button.
The concern that his personality -not the issues - would become the focus of the next vote is part of the reason premier Ed Stelmach says he will not seek reelection.
Country 95 News spoke to Lethbridge East MLA Bridget Pastoor about the issue. Speaking to Country 95 News from her legislative office in Edmonton, she says she puts no weight behind rumours that certain MLA's threatened to step down unless Stelmach retired.
"Give the man credit for having served our citizens very well for all the years that he did," says Pastoor. "When people go out when they're on the top, or when people go out when they know they should, doesn't warrant any kind of nasty talk."
Stelmach's announcement Tuesday apparently came as a surprise to some of his own party members, including Lethbridge West MLA Greg Weadick. But Weadick tells Country 95 News he appreciates the long process that would go into a decision like this.
"For people in politics it's really a decision you make with your family, with your friends," says Weadick. "It takes so much time, and the discussions have probably taken place over Christmas just to come to that tough decision he had to make."
As for which party members will next jockey for the spot, Weadick says he hasn't heard any serious contenders yet, and it's too early to say whether he would be interested.
The premier himself says 25 years in politics is long enough. And he's also warning that what he calls "American-style'' politics is coming in the next election.
"The danger is that it could allow for an extreme right party to disguise itself as a moderate party by focussing on personality," says Stelmach. "This type of US, wedge-style politics is coming into Canada and it comes at our peril."
Country 95 News took the issue to you, voters in the Lethbridge region to get your thoughts on the premier stepping down.
And the consensus is that Stelmach's personality - not ads about it - is already the problem.
Click the "play" button to hear your comments.
Photo: Alberta premier Ed Stelmach