Bennett steps down as Liberal leader
Jim Bennett has handed in his resignation as leader of the provincial Liberal party after about 90 days on the job.
"It is obvious that this party needs new energy, new faces and a new direction," said Bennett in a written statement released Monday.
The move follows weeks of rumours that Liberals have been unhappy with the performance of Bennett, who was acclaimed this winter as party leader when no other candidate emerged to contest the leadership.
Bennett, a Daniel's Harbour lawyer who recently moved back to Newfoundland from Ontario, has had awkward differences of opinion with party stalwarts, including Gerry Reid, who continues to serve as Opposition leader in the legislature.
In particular, the two have publicly disagreed over Bennett's proposal to develop a two-tiered minimum wage, which Reid said would discriminate based on age.
The party rift has been the source of taunting and heckling from the Tory side of the house in the past, including from Premier Danny Williams.
However, Williams had only nice things to say about Bennett when asked about his decision to resign.
"I have to say he was truly a gentleman in every sense of the word – in any dealings that I've had with him he has been a gentleman," said Williams.
Williams said Bennett told him he was resigning Monday morning.
"Mr. Bennett … indicated to me then that it would probably be the last formal time that I would deal with him as leader of the party," said Williams.
Bennett said he still intends to seek the party's nomination in St. Barbe District in the next provincial election.