Former N.S. premier to resign seat

Former Nova Scotia premier Rodney MacDonald has announced he will resign his seat in the legislature before the fall session begins.

Former Nova Scotia premier Rodney MacDonald has announced he will resign his seat in the legislature before the fall session begins.

MacDonald made the announcement Wednesday.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the residents of Inverness County as their member of the legislative assembly for past 10 years," MacDonald, 37, said in a news release.

"I leave knowing that much has been accomplished and that the County of Inverness is on the right track economically and socially with improved infrastructure and services."

MacDonald said his decision is personal and made in part because he has been away from his family too much during his 10-year political career.

"You know, I believe that the time is right for my constituents and for me personally to make this change," he said.

"I don’t know what the future will bring for Rodney MacDonald. I haven’t made any decisions in that regard yet. I’m not resigning my seat without a great deal of thought, and I’m not going simply to move forward into another job — that I’m aware of."

The announcement comes nearly two months after MacDonald’s Progressive Conservative minority government was defeated at the polls by the NDP.

The Tories were reduced to third-party status and 10 seats. Before dissolution, they held 21 districts. The Liberals gained two seats to end up with 11.

Darrell Dexter's New Democratic Party claimed 31 seats in the 52-seat legislature, up from 20 in the last provincial election.

MacDonald, a gym teacher, was first elected to the house of assembly representing Inverness in July 1999 and was re-elected three times, the last time in the June 9 election.

He served as premier from Feb. 24, 2006, until June 19, 2009, after winning the Tory leadership upon the retirement of former premier John Hamm.

Prior to that, MacDonald held various cabinet portfolios including tourism, culture and heritage and immigration. He was also Canada’s first minister of health promotion.

"I am thankful for the support I have received from so many people, especially my family. It has meant the world to me," MacDonald said in the release.

MacDonald stepped down as party leader on June 23 and former health minister Karen Casey was chosen to serve as interim leader until the next leadership convention is held.

MacDonald’s announcement took some of his legislature colleagues by surprise.

'We're going to miss him'

Cape Breton West PC MLA Alfie MacLeod, former house Speaker, said MacDonald served the province well as premier.

"Certainly, the type of road work that was done under his leadership has never been surpassed in Nova Scotia, and it will probably be a long time before we see that kind of action taken again," MacLeod said.

"Rodney was a good person to work with, and we’re going to miss him around the caucus table."

Manning MacDonald, the long-serving Cape Breton South Liberal MLA, said Rodney MacDonald would have had an uphill battle as an MLA after Nova Scotians rejected his government in favour of the NDP.

"It would be very difficult for him to continue after being premier, and I like Rodney MacDonald personally, all the years that I’ve known him. I wish him well," he said.

Manning MacDonald, Liberal caucus chair, said he expects the Tories to be in the political wilderness for quite some time, and believes it will be better to rebuild the party with the former premier moving on.