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Stelmach to step down as Conservative leader

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Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach announced his resignation at a press conference in Edmonton on Jan.25.

"There is no doubt that my decision today will come as a shock to many," he said. "I have determined that after 25 years of public service I am not prepared to serve another full term as Premier."

Stelmach won the Progressive Conservative Party leadership position in 2006 when former premier Ralph Klein resigned.

Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith said part of Stelmach's resignation is due to internal tension within the party.

"We are hearing there is a great disagreement over the direction of the budget," said Smith. "It is quite clear that he doesn't have that unanimous support."

Until a formal letter of intent to resign is made, Stelmach will continue to govern.

Stelmach stated during the press conference that his successor will be under no obligation to go to the polls in March 2012.

"My successor has the parliamentary authority to call an election anytime up to the constitutional deadline of March of 2013," said Stelmach.

Smith hopes Stelmach's successor will honour the March 2012 election date.

"Our party believes in fixed election dates," she said. "This is an issue of democracy, not an issue of convenience."

Stelmach, concerned with US style politics entering Canada warned, "it could allow for an extreme right party to disguise itself as a moderate party by focusing on personality -- on me personally."

Smith doesn't believe this will be the case.

"I believe it is the first time in a long time we are going to have an election on ideas," she said. "I am looking forward to putting forward our policy proposals and seeing what the other parties have to put forward and letting Albertans decided."

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