Wade MacLauchlan to step down as P.E.I. Liberal leader after third-place finish

Former Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan speaks during the wrap up news conference of the meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers in Charlottetown on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Brian McInnis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Brian McInnis

Outgoing P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan has announced he will step down as leader of the Island’s Liberal party.

The party released a resignation letter Friday from MacLauchlan, whose party went from government to third place in Tuesday’s provincial election.

MacLauchlan also lost his own seat as the Tories won 12 seats, the Greens won eight and the Liberals six.

MacLauchlan said his resignation will take effect when the party selects an interim leader.

READ MORE: Prince Edward Island election results: voters elect PC minority

The 64-year-old was a political rookie in 2015 when he was chosen leader of the governing Liberals after a long career in academia.

In his letter, MacLauchlan said it was a time of “real achievement” for the party, and he has confidence in the Liberals’ future.

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“Wade MacLauchlan’s commitment to Prince Edward Island is unwavering and it has been a privilege to have him as our leader,” the party said in a statement.

“We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

P.E.I. has been on an economic tear, posting impressive numbers for higher wages, employment, immigration, housing starts, exports, retail sales and tourism.

However, voters appeared reluctant to give MacLauchlan credit, a sentiment that was reflected in his relatively low personal popularity ratings.

WATCH: P.E.I. elects PC minority gov’t; Greens form opposition

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P.E.I. elects PC minority gov’t; Greens form opposition – Apr 24, 2019

The Tories finished with 37 per cent of the popular vote, followed by the Greens at 31 and the Liberals at 29. The NDP received just three per cent. Voter turnout was 77 per cent, a five-point drop from the 2015 election.

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Tory Leader Dennis King, a 47-year-old former journalist and consultant, had been elected to lead his party only two months ago.

King had praise for his former rival Friday.

“As premier, Wade represented Prince Edward Island well on the national stage and has many policy achievements during his time in office,” King said in a statement.

READ MORE: Prince Edward Island election results, riding by riding

The province will have its first minority government since 1890.

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