The longest-serving member of Alberta’s 29th legislature will not be seeking re-election.
Alberta Transportation Minister and government house leader Brian Mason made the announcement Wednesday morning in Edmonton.
“I’m very pleased with the things I have accomplished,” he said.
“There’s always more you can accomplish,” he said with a smile, adding he could continue to do more if he lived forever and remained in public service.
“But at some point you just have to say, ‘I’m at that point in my life where the right thing for me to do is hang up my spurs.”’
Mason, 64, said he will stay on in his portfolios until the election writ drops sometime next spring.
Mason has been in politics for decades, having served as an MLA since 2000. He served as leader of Alberta’s New Democrats from 2004 to 2014.
He will be remembered as a politician with a stiletto sharp wit and a keen eye for the political jugular.
LISTEN BELOW: Brian Mason speaks with the 630 CHED Afternoon News
He said one highlight was “walking in and sitting on the other side of the House for the first time.”
Mason was the NDP party leader for a decade, stepping aside in 2014 to launch a race that saw fellow MLA Rachel Notley become leader and then, in a stunning upset, win the 2015 provincial election.
Of the NDP’s “orange crush” victory, he said: “I knew some political party would defeat the conservatives; I wasn’t convinced it would be us.
“I’m very proud to finish my political career as a member of the government,” Mason said.
READ MORE: Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason stepping down
“I like this. I like the House,” he said. “It is a place that I have an affinity for, I enjoy it. I like the back and forth and some of the arcane rules.”
One of the best parts about his job since the last election, he said, was actually being able to get things done.
LISTEN BELOW: Brian Mason speaks with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen
He said some of the things he’s most proud of are catching up on Alberta’s infrastructure after years of neglect, diversifying the economy, ensuring the Trans Mountain pipeline will be built, and protecting important public services during the downturn.
He also said he’s proud he convinced Rachel Notley to run for leadership of the party.
Mason mentored Notley before finally persuading her in 2014 to run for the top job.
Notley, speaking in Calgary, lauded Mason for his work.
“He has always stood up for his principles. He has always stood up for the regular guy and gal,” said Notley.
“Whether he was part of a caucus of two or a caucus of 54, he has always known exactly who he stands for, and he has always been very dedicated to it.”
Prior to being elected as an MLA, Mason served as an Edmonton city councillor for Ward 3 for 11 years.
“Definitely one of the good guys,” city manager Linda Cochrane said. “I’m sorry to see him retire.”
She worked alongside Mason when he served on Edmonton city council.
“He just always had the best interests of the citizens of Edmonton, at the time — and now the citizens of the province of Alberta — always top of mind and always wanting to do the right thing,” Cochrane said.
“He’s a consummate citizen of the province and we were lucky to have him as long as we did.”
As a municipal councillor he fought for, and got, recreational facilities, a library and health clinics built in a north Edmonton ward that had previously been known for its jail and landfill.
He was sworn in as the minister of transportation and government house leader on May 24, 2015.
“I think I’ve left the party in a pretty good position… a majority government,” Mason said.
He explained he’s pleased with what the NDP has accomplished in a short amount of time and given the economic challenges.
He expects the provincial economy will rebound and believes the NDP will win another majority government.
Mason said he and his wife will discuss retirement plans and perhaps stay at their home in B.C.
He thanked the premier for the opportunities he’s been given, the voters for being there for him, NDP staff, and his family for their support over all the years.
— With files from Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press