March 19, 2014 6:06 pm
Updated: March 20, 2014 5:21 pm

Alberta Premier Alison Redford resigns

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WATCH: Premier Alison Redford announces her resignation Wednesday evening.

EDMONTON – Alison Redford, the premier of Alberta, announced Wednesday evening that she is resigning effective Sunday evening.

“I’ve given my heart and my soul to this province every single minute of the day for the last two and a half years,” said Redford.

“Quite simply, I am not prepared to allow party and caucus infighting to get in the way of building a better future for our province and for all Albertans.”

“That is why I am announcing today that – with profound optimism for Alberta’s future – I am resigning as premier of Alberta effective this Sunday evening.”

“Most importantly, to the people of Alberta, thank you for giving me the incredible opportunity to serve in the greatest job in this province,” Redford added, which caused the large crowd gathered inside the Legislature to applaud.

“On election night two years ago, I pledged that we would govern with unity and build prosperity. Well, at least we got the prosperity right.”

MLAs and staff received an email asking them to go to the rotunda at 6 p.m.

Redford spent hours meeting with Deputy Premier Dave Hancock on Wednesday.

She did not take questions from the media following her address.

WATCH: MLA Thomas Lukaszuk reacts to Redford’s resignation.

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A spokesperson from her office confirms Redford will stay on as MLA for Calgary-Elbow.

“For the second time in three years, the premier of Alberta has resigned, and for the third time in eight years, the PC party will be looking for a new leader,” said Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.

“Premier Alison Redford was elected to lead the PC party as an outsider, she wasn’t part of the old boys club. She was hailed as a new kind of leader who could fix what was wrong with their party and government,” she added.

“I have no doubt that she intended to be that leader. I have no doubt that Albertans had high hopes that she would be that leader. But what we’ve witnessed during her short 29 months as premier is the clearest indication yet that the PC party simply can’t be fixed,” said Smith.

“The problems with their party and their government run far too deep for one leader to change.”

WATCH: Watch Wildrose leader Danielle Smith comment on Redford’s resignation.

“It almost seemed like death by a thousand cuts,” said NDP leader Brian Mason following Wednesday night’s resignation announcement.

“I guess I didn’t see it coming quite as quickly, but I guess I concluded a while back that it might be inevitable.”

“It really has to do more with the Conservative caucus and party and the fact that they’re doing so poorly in public opinion polls and the premier’s popularity ratings were so low, and I really think that moved it,” Mason added.

Liberal leader Raj Sherman thanked Redford and her family for their service.

“Premier Redford wasn’t the major problem here. The major problem is the PC government,” he said.

“It is a tired, old government that has caused many of the problems that Albertans face today.”

“The health care access crisis has been around for more than a decade. The education crisis, the lack of schools – they should have been built years ago,” Sherman said. “This is the hallmark of a PC government that needs to be removed next election.”

“They’re leaderless now, they have no leader. This is all PC infighting in between – half who wanted the leader, half who don’t. And that’s why there’s no sense of direction in the PC government.”

Redford’s announcement came just one hour before the presidents of PC constituency associations in Calgary and Edmonton were due to meet to vote on whether to ask Redford to resign, sources told Global News.

READ MORE: Voter support continues to slide for Alberta conservatives: poll 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office issued a statement Wednesday night:

“We thank Premier Redford for her years of service and her commitment to the people of Alberta and to Canada, and we wish her the best in whatever comes next.”

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson used social media to share his thanks.

Redford was Alberta’s 14th premier and the first woman to hold the position.

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