Tributes paid to Lorne Calvert on final day as Sask. NDP leader

As they prepare to welcome a new leader, Saskatchewan New Democrats were saying goodbye to their current chief on Friday.

As they prepare to welcome a new leader, Saskatchewan New Democrats were saying goodbye to their current chief on Friday.

Lorne Calvert is stepping down, with a vote to replace him to be held Saturday.

It was at times an emotional afternoon in Regina as party members paid tribute to the 56-year-old former premier.

Calvert appeared misty-eyed at times as tributes flowed from such party luminaries as Allan Blakeney and Roy Romanow — both also former New Democrat premiers.

Calvert, who was first elected to the legislature in 1986 and served in Romanow's cabinet in the 1990s, led his party to re-election in 2003. The New Democrats were defeated by the Saskatchewan Party in 2007.

A United Church minister before he entered politics, Calvert plans to return to his roots in the church.

Later this year, he will take on a new job as principal of St. Andrew's College at the University of Saskatchewan.

In the running to replace him are Dwain Lingenfelter, Ryan Meili, Yens Pedersen and Deb Higgins.