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Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Danny Graham is walking away from the job he won less than two years ago to devote time to his ailing wife.

Mr. Graham, who was elected leader of the party in the spring of 2002, made the announcement after an emergency caucus meeting Tuesday morning.

"After carefully considering the situation facing our family, I have made the difficult decision that, in order to devote the time needed to support my wife and our children, I am left with no other sensible choice but to step down as the leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party," Mr. Graham said in a release.

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DANNY GRAHAM Nova Scotia Liberal Leader
Age: 41. Education: Received an undergraduate degree from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., before getting a law degree at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Early years: Grew up in Antigonish, N.S., and Sydney, N.S. The son of Senator Al Graham, a former federal Liberal Party president. One of 10 children. Career: Has worked in business and commercial real estate, and practised as both a corporate and defence lawyer. Served a two-year term as a special adviser to the federal Justice Department. Politics: He won the Nova Scotia Liberal party leadership on the first ballot in April 2002. Family: Wife: Sheelagh Nolan. Sons: Patrick, Andrew, Colin. Quote: "Politics, for too many people, has become icky. It has fallen out of fashion. I had the good fortune to grow up in a family where the nobility of public service remains at a high standard." Canadian Press

The statement said Mr. Graham's wife, Sheelagh Nolan, will require more aggressive treatment after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002. The couple have three young children.

Mr. Graham will continue to sit in the legislature as the MLA for Halifax Citadel, a seat he won after a tough battle with former Progressive Conservative health minister Jane Purves.

Mr. Graham said he would stay on until early January to give the party time to find an interim leader.

"I am proud of the policies our Party and caucus have stood for and the positions we have taken, and I will continue to advocate for those positions" Mr. Graham said.

"I have been the Liberal leader for less than two years, so this day has arrived too early."

The son of Liberal Senator Al Graham, Mr. Graham, 41, was a rookie leader in the August provincial election that saw John Hamm's Nova Scotia's Conservatives hold on to office with a minority government of 25 seats.

The New Democrats won 15 seats, while Mr. Graham's Liberals took 12 seats despite finishing second in the popular vote.

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Mr. Hamm paid tribute to Mr. Graham Tuesday, wishing him the best and applauding him for putting family first.

"Danny Graham is a bright and capable individual who has much to offer to our province," Mr. Hamm said. "All Nova Scotians should be grateful to Mr. Graham for stepping up and taking an active role in politics, bringing with him new ideas and new people to the Liberal party and the legislature."

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