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UPDATE: P.E.I. Liberal Leader Wade MacLauchlan announces resignation

P.E.I. Liberal Leader Wade MacLauchlan, centre, and his partner Duncan McIntosh watch election results roll in at Stanhope Place on Tuesday, April 23. - Nathan Rochford
P.E.I. Liberal Leader Wade MacLauchlan, centre, and his partner Duncan McIntosh watch election results roll in at Stanhope Place on Tuesday, April 23. MacLauchlan announced on April 26 that he will be stepping down as leader of the Liberal party. - Nathan Rochford

Party to appoint interim leader

Wade MacLauchlan will be stepping down as leader of the Liberal party.

The outgoing premier made the announcement in a letter sent to Liberal Party President Marilyn Lowther on Thursday.

“This letter gives notice of my resignation as Liberal party leader. This will take effect when the party completes the selection of an interim leader,” MacLauchlan wrote.

“I am confident in the future of the Liberal party of Prince Edward Island and of our great province. What we have achieved together has been all about team work.”

MacLauchlan will remain on as premier until P.E.I.’s lieutenant governor swears in a new executive branch of government. It is widely expected that Dennis King and the Progressive Conservatives, who won the highest number of seats, will form a minority government.

A statement from the Liberal party thanked MacLauchlan for his time as leader and premier.

“Prince Edward Island has achieved tremendous success over the past four years under his leadership, including record job creation and investments in social programs,” the Liberal statement reads.

MacLauchlan was acclaimed as leader of the Liberal party in early 2015. The Liberals were elected, with an 18-seat majority in the 2015 election.

On Tuesday, MacLauchlan’s Liberals were reduced to third party status, winning in only six districts. MacLauchlan lost his own seat in District 8 Stanhope-Marshfield to dairy farmer Bloyce Thompson, who ran for the Progressive Conservatives.

Isaac MacDonald, executive director of the P.E.I. Liberal party, said the party’s elected caucus and provincial council will choose the next interim leader, as per the party’s constitution.

A leadership convention will occur at a later date.

"We're not going to rush anything,” MacDonald said.

“We want to get a chance to get back to our membership. We'll be looking to put together an [annual general meeting] before anything like a leadership was to take place.”

Progressive Conservative leader Dennis King, whose party bested the Liberals on election night, commended MacLauchlan for his commitment to public service.

“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.

“I want to thank Wade for his years of service to Prince Edward Island in public life and wish he and Duncan well.”

Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker also thanked MacLauchlan for his time in office.

“I have enjoyed the opportunity of working with him and I especially appreciate his kindness when I was first elected,” Bevan-Baker said.

“He has worked hard to build the economy and create prosperity for Islanders. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

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