Klein bids tearful goodbye to Alberta legislature

After nearly 14 years as Alberta's premier, Ralph Klein bid an emotional goodbye during his final day in the legislature Thursday.

After nearly 14 years as Alberta's premier, Ralph Klein broke down in tears as hebid an emotional goodbyeduring hisfinal day in the legislature on Thursday.

Klein received astanding ovation frommembers ofall parties after thanking Albertans for the honour and privilege of serving a "great province."

He latermet with reporters for his last briefing as premier andwas asked whether he expected to be moved to tears.

"No, I didn't think so. But you know, it's a long period of time coming to an end —26 years in politics. I hardly know anything else other than my journalist career," he said.

"What was going through my mind? Just the kindness of the Speaker and the acknowledgement of the second time that would be my last session."

Speeches and tributes flowed in Klein's honour in May on what was thought to be hislast day — thefinalday of the spring sitting.

ButMLAs were called back to the legislature last week for a special one-week sittingthat ends Thursday.

Klein plans to send a letter to theAlberta Conservative party in mid-September indicating he plans to step down. The premierwill retire from politics aftera new party leader is chosen.

Earlier this year, Klein announced he will become a fellow with the Fraser Institute, a conservative think-tank in British Columbia. The premier alsohas accepted an offer toguest lecture at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., this fall.