Raj Sherman, Doug Griffiths among MLAs leaving politics

Four MLAs, including Liberal leader Raj Sherman, announced Monday that they were resigning or not running in the next provincial election.

Donna Kennedy-Glans, Doug Griffiths, Mary Anne Jablonski also not running again

Raj Sherman was elected Liberal leader in September 2011. (The Canadian Press)

Four MLAs, including Liberal leader Raj Sherman, announced Monday they were resigning or not running in the next provincial election.

Sherman, the MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark, is also stepping down as leader of the Alberta Liberal Party. 

Donna Kennedy-Glans, the PC MLA for Calgary-Varsity, and Mary Anne Jablonski, the former cabinet minister and MLA for Red Deer-North, also announced they would not stand for re-election. 

Former PC cabinet minister and Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths resigned his seat Monday morning. 

Speaking Monday evening, Premier Jim Prentice said he was sad to see the MLAs go, but noted that democracy is still strong in Alberta. 

"We are clearly at a time where there is a certain amount of turnover in public service in our province, and I think that's a good thing" he said.

"These are all very good people who have made really strong contributions to Alberta, but I think the vitality of our political system depends on new people coming forward and younger people stepping forward from time to time — so I think it is part of a healthy turnover in our political system."

Prentice said the turnover does not mean an election is coming soon.

'A slow progression'

Griffiths, 42, was first elected in 2002. He ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party in 2011, a race eventually won by Alison Redford. Griffiths was appointed to her cabinet, serving as minister of Municipal Affairs and Service Alberta. He was dropped from cabinet once Jim Prentice became premier last September. 

Griffiths said he decided he wouldn't run again just before Christmas. Frustrations with former premier Alison Redford made him consider stepping aside last year. He thought about it more seriously when he badly fractured his femur in a water-skiing accident last summer. 

“It wasn’t a day or a moment," he said. "It was a slow progression."

While Griffiths considers himself to be on the progressive end of conservatism, he said the defections of Wildrose MLAs to the PC caucus didn't prompt him to quit. 

He said he didn't want to become a career politician and felt the time was right to move on, and allow someone with new energy and fresh ideas to take his place. 

Still, Griffiths admitted he found it difficult to sit in the PC caucus with one particular former Wildrose member, an MLA he refused to name. He said that MLA used to hurl personal insults in the legislative assembly. 

“Those sort of personal attacks make it really hard to sit in the same room together,” Griffiths said. “That had no bearing on me deciding to leave. I’d decided to leave already."

Griffiths plans to remain a member of the Progressive Conservative party. He is starting an executive MBA at the University of Alberta and will give talks about community building, the focus of a book he wrote several years ago.

A 'walk on the beach'

Sherman, a former PC MLA, has led the Alberta Liberal party since September 2011.

He told reporters at a news conference in Edmonton that he made the decision to step down after a "walk on the beach." 

"It is time for me to move on to new challenges and to turn the page in the next chapter of my life," Sherman said. 

He plans to stay on as MLA until the next provincial election, which is widely expected to be called this spring.

The party will meet in Calgary on Sunday to appoint an interim leader and decide on when to hold a leadership race. 

Sherman was first elected a PC MLA in 2008, then sat as an independent after he was kicked out of the PC caucus for criticizing backlogs in the province's emergency rooms. He joined the Liberals, became party leader in 2011 and won his seat again in 2012. 

Kennedy-Glans, Jablonski also not running 

Veteran PC MLA Jablonksi was first elected to the legislative assembly in 2000. Jablonski, 62, said the decision not to run was prompted by the party's mid-March deadline for nominations. 

If the election was in 2016, she would have stayed on for a year. However, with the deadline looming, she didn't feel like she could serve four more years. 

“It’s very difficult. It’s extremely difficult," she said. "I have huge mixed emotions. I'm really sad about it but I think it’s the right decision.”

Other Alberta nomination news: 

Sherman's departure leaves the Liberals with three of their five MLAs not seeking re-election. Kent Hehr and Darshan Kang are both running for the Liberals in the next federal election. 

In 2012, the Liberals lost three of eight seats and lost their status as the official opposition. 


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