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Abbott, McNeil, and Les make mass exodus from Liberals

Three members of the governing BC Liberals have announced their decisions not to run for political office in the May 2013 election. Surprising no one who has been paying attention to the political rumour mills lately, Education Minister George Abbott, Child and Family Development Minister Mary McNeil, and Parliamentary Secretary John Les posted statements on their respective websites saying they will not be running for office in the May 2013 election.

Both Abbott and Les said their decision came that after decades of working for the public--33 years for Abbott and 29 for Les--and a conclusion that it was time to move on to different projects. McNeil, like former Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, who yesterday announced his own resignation from politics come May, cited a desire to spend more time with her family: "Especially my thirteen wonderful grandchildren, who I know have lost out on quality time with their grandmother these past four years," reads a statement on her website. Notably, family was the same reason Premier Christy Clark retired from politics in 2004, only to return to run for the leadership of the party six years later.

All three MLAs extended their gratitude to Premier Clark, and expressed their confidence, despite the polls that have put the provincial New Democratic Party ahead in the polls for months, that the Liberals would go on form a fifth consecutive government after the 2013 election.

"It is more important now than ever to stay the course on our economic plans," reads Les's statement. "I will do everything I can to ensure Premier Clark and the BC Liberal government is re-elected in May 2013."

"I firmly believe that under (Clark's) leadership, we will not only see the next BC Liberal candidate successfully elected in the Shuswap riding, but the re-election of a BC Liberal government in 2013," reads Abbott's statement.

Both Les and McNeil also recognized the influence of former Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell on their careers. Abbott was noticeably silent on his former boss.

While Falcon, who issued notice of his immediate resignation yesterday, stepped down from his position as minister of finance, neither Abbott, McNeil, nor Les made mention of stepping down from their positions before May. But Premier Clark has promised a new cabinet lineup will be announced next week, and Clark has at least 11 MLAs who have promised to run for re-election to pick from.

Katie Hyslop reports on youth and education issues for The Tyee Solutions Society.

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