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Sask. Premier Brad Wall retiring from politics

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OTTAWA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is leaving provincial politics, he announced Thursday, but will stay on as premier until a new one is chosen.

Wall has been premier for nearly 10 years. The Saskatchewan Party took office in November, 2007, and Wall consistently polled as the most popular premier in the country.

“Now is the time for renewal…. It’s time for me to retire from politics, ” he said in a video posted to his Facebook page.

The Swift Current, Sask. resident has been a member of the legislative assembly since 1999.

Wall’s time in office coincided with a rise in Saskatchewan’s political pull within the Canadian federation, as oil prices skyrocketed. More recently, with a Liberal federal government and the NDP running Alberta, his importance as a conservative voice grew.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders fan was rumoured to be a contender for the 2017 federal Conservative leadership, although he repeatedly said he wouldn’t run. Wall stayed out of the contest that ultimately chose Regina MP Andrew Scheer.

Last spring, Wall’s government tabled a deeply unpopular budget that proposed cutting funeral benefits for the poor, shutting down inter-city bus service, cutting library funding by more than half, and raising the provincial sales tax from five to six per cent.

His government subsequently dropped the proposal to cut funeral benefits and library funding.

The retiring premier saw his polling numbers drop following the budget, though they remained relatively strong at 46 per cent.

He spent some of the last year fighting with the federal government over its plan to impose a carbon price on provinces and territories that didn’t implement their own carbon tax or cap and trade plan.

Wall admitted to having made mistakes over his time in office and said there’s much left to do.

“But those fundamental questions about the future viability of the province we all love? After this decade of growth, we don’t ask them anymore. Saskatchewan is growing and vibrant, and strong,” he said.

“And I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to play some small part in all of that.”

It isn’t immediately clear what Wall, 52, plans for life after politics.

Scheer praised Wall as a powerful voice for Saskatchewan and a champion of the conservative movement, in a statement released shortly after Wall’s announcement.

“Under Premier Wall’s leadership, Saskatchewan grew and expanded as never before. Reversing a decades-old trend, Saskatchewan now attracts people from all over Canada and the world, offering jobs, opportunity and growing communities to people from all walks of life.”

“Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast have appreciated his leadership on the national stage, particularly his opposition to a national carbon tax. He has always been a strong voice for resource development and job creation, and the prosperity and opportunity these industries offer to hard-working families.”

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Sask. Premier Brad Wall retiring from politics

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