Lekstrom, two more B.C. Liberals retire

Premier Christy Clark to fill cabinet vacancies this week in major pre-election shuffle

Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom has added his name to the list of retiring B.C. Liberal MLAs.

Lekstrom announced late Tuesday he won’t run in next May’s provincial election. He said in a statement he is leaving “to pursue other opportunities in life” after 12 years as Peace River South MLA and five as mayor of Dawson Creek.

Lekstrom quit the cabinet and the B.C. Liberal caucus in June 2010, after voting with the government to implement the harmonized sales tax. He rejoined the caucus last year and was appointed to the transportation job by Premier Christy Clark.

Earlier Tuesday, B.C. Liberal house leader Rich Coleman confirmed his intention to run in the 2013 election, as the party announced two more MLAs are retiring.

West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Joan McIntyre and Richmond Centre MLA Rob Howard announced their retirement in separate statements Tuesday morning. McIntyre was first elected in 2005 and Howard in 2009.

The changes came as Clark prepared to shuffle her cabinet, promoting MLAs who are running again. Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon resigned as finance minister last week, joined by Education Minister George Abbott, Children and Family Development Minister Mary McNeil and Chilliwack MLA John Les in announcing they won’t seek re-election.

Other B.C. Liberals who have announced they are retiring are Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger, Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Harry Bloy, Vancouver-Fairview MLA Kash Heed, Surrey-Tynehead MLA Dave Hayer, Saanich North MLA Murray Coell and Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff.

Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes and Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Colin Hansen have indicated they will decide soon on their political futures.

Former cabinet ministers Barry Penner and Iain Black resigned their seats last year and were replaced by NDP MLAs in a pair of by-elections in April. Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen quit the B.C. Liberal Party in March and joined the B.C. Conservatives.

NDP MLAs Dawn Black (New Westminster) and Mike Sather (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows) have announced they are retiring next year, and NDP leader Adrian Dix said there may be more.

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