Aug 30, 2012 / 4:38 pm
Three more high-profile members of the B.C. Liberal government have announced they will not be seeking re-election next May, leaving Premier Christy Clark to brush aside references to rats and sinking ships.
Education Minister George Abbott and Children's Minister Mary McNeil said Thursday they would not run again, though neither resigned their cabinet portfolios.
John Les, a one-time solicitor general and current parliamentary secretary to Clark, also said he would leave.
The announcements come one day after Kevin Falcon announced he would not seek re-election and resigned his cabinet post as finance minister.
Clark has been battered by pundits' suggestions that her team is bailing in anticipation of a rout in next May's election, but she has instead said the departures are a normal part of politics, especially with MLAs who have spent more than a decade in the legislature.
Clark said she's taking the resignations as an opportunity for party renewal and said she will announce a new cabinet as early as next week, a cabinet Abbott said he doesn't expect to be in.
Abbott has represented the Shuswap riding since 1996, while Falcon was elected in 2001.
At his news conference Thursday, Abbott displayed the kind of dry wit and good humour he has become known for, even as he steered the province through a divisive, year-long job action by teachers.
Abbott said Thursday the legislature had become "my personal Hotel California."
He noted the 1970s-era song also includes the lines "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave," and "I was thinking to myself this could be heaven or this could be hell."
Abbott, who had served as minister in the delicate portfolios of health and aboriginal relations, ran an uncharacteristically bitter leadership campaign which he lost to Clark last year and placed behind Falcon. Prior to politics, he was a political science instructor, berry farmer and minor hockey coach.
McNeil, who represents Vancouver-False-Creek, was first elected in 2009, but said she now wants to spend more time with her family.
"My decision comes after much discussion with my family over this summer," McNeil said in a statement.
"It was not an easy one to make as I have very much enjoyed my time in public office. The most important (factor) for me was my family, especially my thirteen wonderful grandchildren, who I know have lost out on quality time with their grandmother these past four years."
Les was elected in 2001 in Chilliwack after 16 years in municipal politics. Provincially, he served as solicitor general and small business minister under former premier Gordon Campbell. He did not sit on the front benches of Clark's cabinet.
Clark issued a statement Thursday thanking all three for their service.
Castanet caught up with Kelowna- Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick to get his thoughts on the recent resignations:
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