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Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason to step down

Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason speaks in Edmonton on April 22, 2012.

JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason says he is stepping down as head of the party effective Oct. 19.

Mason, who is 60, says it's time to allow someone else to try to rejuvenate the party.

"It's been an honour and a privilege to serve the party and the public in this role," he said as he announced his decision Tuesday.

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"I am proud of the work that we have all done together, but I believe that it is time for a new leader to tackle the changing political landscape and lead us into the next election."

Mason, a former bus driver, took over leadership of the provincial New Democrats in 2004.

He served on Edmonton city council for 11 years before making the jump to provincial politics in 2000 when he won a by-election.

He was re-elected in a general election the following year and has held a seat ever since. He is currently member of the legislature for Edmonton Highlands-Norwood.

The son of an electrical engineer and one of four children, Mason was born Oct. 12, 1953, in Calgary, but moved to Edmonton at age 21 to continue university.

His mother was a Liberal and his father a Red Tory who later helped found the Reform Party. His grandfather was a Tory senator.

At the University of Alberta, Mason studied politics and ran for arts representative on student council. He served as director of the Federation of Alberta Students and pushed then-premier Peter Lougheed on reforms for tuition rates and student loans.

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After postsecondary schooling, he drove a transit bus through Edmonton's lower-income north end to support his wife and young family. It was during this time that he came to see the challenges of those living on the fringe.

He ran for city council in 1989 to represent that same north end. By the time he left city hall for provincial politics 11 years later, his district had sports facilities, transit upgrades, a library and a medical centre.

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