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Liberal MLA Murray Coell will not run again

Jul 12 2012
Murray Coell served in Saanich as mayor for six years and at the legislature for 16 years, where he held many cabinet posts, including in labour and environment. 

Murray Coell served in Saanich as mayor for six years and at the legislature for 16 years, where he held many cabinet posts, including in labour and environment.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam , timescolonist.com (July 2012)Longtime Saanich North and the Islands Liberal MLA Murray Coell has announced he won’t run for re-election in 2013.

Coell, who has held the riding for 16 years, said he made up his mind not to run last fall, when Premier Christy Clark was musing about a possible snap election.

He said he has been waiting for a convenient time for the Liberal party, himself and any prospective candidates before making his announcement, despite months of rampant speculation that he was retiring.

“You have to get to the point in your political career when you say it’s time to move on and make way for young people,” said Coell.

He called his time in public office “an honour and humbling.”

During four terms as MLA, Coell served as minister of Advanced Education, Labour, Human Resources, Environment, and Community Aboriginal and Women’s Services.

He was shuffled out of cabinet when Premier Christy Clark took office last year.

Coell denied that had anything to do with his decision, insisting he thinks Clark is “doing a good job” and he enjoys working with her.

The premier plans to visit his riding Monday for a South Island Liberal party event.

Coell pointed to the Rithets Bog Conservation Area, Saanich Commonwealth Place, Salt Spring Island Swimming Pool and library and McTavish Road Interchange as some of his most notable accomplishments in office, during a career that spanned 28 years and included stints on Saanich council and six years as mayor.

Coell said he was looking forward to spending more time with his wife, who recently retired, and his family.

“I’ll work hard with Premier Clark and the new candidate in the riding to secure victory,” said Coell.

Coell narrowly won re-election in 2009, defeating NDP challenger Gary Holman by only 245 votes.

The retirement is the latest in a series of departures by Liberal MLAs who have decided not to run for re-election, including Kash Heed, Barry Penner, Iain Black, Kevin Krueger, Dave Hayer and Harry Bloy. As many as one-third of the 46-person Liberal caucus is expected not to seek re-election.
NDP caucus chair Shane Simpson said the public should thank Coell for many years of public service.

“He was a good MLA,” said Simpson. “He worked hard and was pretty diligent in working for his constituents. Everybody should be thanking him.”
Nevertheless, Simpson pointed to the growing list of Liberal MLAs leaving the party as a sign they don’t have confidence of the party’s direction and its standing in the public polls.
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