Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball insists he wasn’t pushed to resign

Click to play video: 'Newfoundland and Labrador premier Dwight Ball abruptly resigns'
Newfoundland and Labrador premier Dwight Ball abruptly resigns
WATCH: (Feb. 17, 2020) After four years in power, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball has suddenly announced he will step down. Ross Lord explains what may have triggered Ball's departure. – Feb 17, 2020

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball is defending his decision to resign amid questions about his resignation’s timing.

In a video released to media Monday afternoon, Ball said he was planning to leave politics to spend more time with his family.

His resignation, coming less than a year after his Liberals were re-elected, surprised many in the province.

Observers, including longtime Memorial University political science professor Stephen Tomblin, suggest members of the provincial Liberal caucus were unhappy with Ball’s leadership.

“For the most part, he was just a smiling suit. He was more about the brand,” Tomblin said.

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“He was about gaining credit and avoiding blame, and part of that avoiding blame, I think, created all kinds of problems in his caucus.”

A mandatory leadership review loomed in June, but in a one-on-one interview with Global News, Ball insists he’s not being pushed out.

Click to play video: 'N.L. Premier Dwight Ball steps down'
N.L. Premier Dwight Ball steps down

“No, not at all,” he said.

“The only people who were anxious to see me leave were my family [and] my friends who I want to spend more time with after 10 years in doing this — eight years as leader into my fifth year as premier.”

A pharmacist who began his political career in 2007, Ball’s five years in power have been marked by trouble.

He never shook a scandal stemming from the appointment of Carla Foote, the daughter of Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote, a former Liberal Member of Parliament.

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She was appointed to The Rooms cultural centre in 2018 as executive director of marketing and development, a position for which there was no competition.

The previous hiring of another person was rescinded to allow Carla Foote to take over the position, which paid $132,000 annually.

Another sore spot was finances.

On top of the province’s crushing debt, there were fears power rates would more than double to repay a massive cost overrun on the Muskrat Falls hydro project.

Ball was even forced to explain his part in paying his daughter’s bills, after she became embroiled with a drug addict who was convicted of murder. 

Click to play video: 'NL premier provided police with info in murder case'
NL premier provided police with info in murder case

But Ball takes no blame for anything.

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We have the project under control, a rate-mitigation plan in place, and we have a lot of great people and a lot of natural assets in Newfoundland and Labrador to build upon our future,” he said.

“Our province will be bright, and the foundation is much better today than it was in 2015.”

Ball says the next Liberal leader will be chosen before the government tables its spring budget, which makes for a short leadership campaign.

Liberal party planners have already begun making arrangements for a leadership convention.

When he came to power, Ball became one of seven Liberal premiers in Canada. Currently, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia are the only two provinces controlled by the party.

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