Letnick: 'I was surprised'

It was an emotional scene within the BC Liberal caucus meeting Friday morning when party leader and former premier Christy Clark announced her resignation.

Clark's resignation as leader and MLA for Kelowna West is effective Aug. 4, and comes after the Liberals were knocked down to opposition status, after losing a confidence vote to an NDP-Green Party coalition.

Friday's announcement caught those within caucus off guard, including Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick.

"I was surprised. She has always been there for us," said Letnick.

"She has done an outstanding job leading our province for the years that she did. You look at her record, top in economic growth in the country, leading job numbers, a triple A credit rating coming out of the recession, and giving us the flexibility to invest in key programs in our area."

Letnick acknowledged Clark had her detractors, as is normal within a partisan political system, but hoped those of all stripes would be able to say thank you to someone who devoted "a good part of her life and time away from her son," to improve the lives of British Columbians.

He said Clark made the decision Friday for the good of both the party, and the province.

"When she decided to get back into politics, it was for the best interests of the province, and now that she's leaving, she's leaving for the same reason.

"She believes this decision would be most beneficial for all those concerned."

The party executive will now gather in the coming weeks to discuss the process for a leadership race.

While he has served within the inner workings of cabinet for more than half of his eight plus years as an MLA, Letnick says he has no desire to seek the party leadership.

"I think there are far more qualified people both within and outside of caucus who have had leadership aspirations for some time," he said.

"Now that Christy has resigned, they will start announcing their intentions at the right time. I am going to be looking for the person that can best lead British Columbia forward and continue to provide the conservative fiscal approach with a strong social conscience."

Letnick says he intends to finish out his third term as MLA, and run again when another election is called.

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson has not responded to a request for comment.

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