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Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announces he is leaving politics

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil makes an announcement in Halifax, Friday, Friday, Dec 20, 2019. Nova Scotia is going to begin allowing people to gather in groups of up to 10, as the province has gone nine days without any fresh cases of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ted Pritchard

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced today he is stepping down as premier and Liberal party leader.

The premier said that after 17 years in provincial politics, he decided it’s time for a change.

McNeil, who was elected premier in 2013 and re-elected in 2017, says he will stay on until the party chooses a new leader.

He says he had initially planned to leave in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed those plans.

The announcement caught political watchers by surprise, and McNeil says he only advised his caucus of the decision this morning.

He says he considers his key accomplishments to include promoting growth of the private sector and keeping a handle on the cost of public sector wages.