EDMONTON — Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason says he is stepping down as head of the party effective Oct. 19.
Mason, who is 60, says it’s time to allow someone else to try to rejuvenate the party.
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve the party and the public in this role,” he said as he announced his decision Tuesday.
“I am proud of the work that we have all done together, but I believe that it is time for a new leader to tackle the changing political landscape and lead us into the next election.”
He said the party, which has four sitting members right now, needs to reach out.
“We need to … go beyond our traditional supporters so that there is a strong and very effective group of MLAs in the next legislature, after the next election, that will stand up to the Wildrose and possibly to the PCs as well.”
Mason suggested he’s laid the groundwork with solid organization, increased financial capacity and a much younger membership.
“I think the party is ready for prime time, and I just think it needs a different leader to get it to the next level.”
Mason, a former transit bus driver, took over leadership of the provincial New Democrats in 2004.
He served on Edmonton city council for 11 years before making the jump to provincial politics in 2000 when he won a byelection.
He was re-elected in a general election the following year and has held a seat ever since. He is currently member of the legislature for Edmonton Highlands-Norwood.
Mason, the son of an electrical engineer and one of four children, was born Oct. 12, 1953 in Calgary, but moved to Edmonton at age 21 to continue university.
His mother was a Liberal and his father a red Tory who later helped found the Reform party. His grandfather was a Tory senator.
At the University of Alberta, Mason studied politics and ran for arts rep on student council. He served as director of the Federation of Alberta Students and pushed then-premier Peter Lougheed on reforms for tuition rates and student loans.
After post-secondary schooling, he drove a transit bus through Edmonton’s lower-income north end to support his wife and young family. It was during this time that he came to see the challenges of those living on the fringe.
He ran for city council in 1989 to represent that same north end. By the time he left city hall for provincial politics 11 years later, his district had sports facilities, transit upgrades, a library and a medical centre.