Morton aims to lead provincial Tories

Ted Morton resigned from his post as provincial finance minister Thursday, announcing his bid for leadership of the Progressive Conservatives after Premier Ed Stelmach steps down.

“It’s been a great honour for me to serve as minister of finance and enterprise and before that as minister of sustainable resource development,” said Morton during a press conference from Calgary Thursday afternoon where he was joined by Stelmach.

It was just two days ago that Stelmach announced he would not be seeking another term as premier, a post he has held since replacing Ralph Klein as party leader in December of 2006. He was first elected to the legislature in 1993.

Stelmach said on Thursday that he will give his formal resignation at some point this spring, but in the meantime he’s focused on this year’s budget.

He also tried to dispel rumours of a inside-party battle over this year’s budget, to be delivered once the spring session begins later in February, pointing out that Morton supports the government and the budget.

“This does not reflect a caucus divided,” said Stelmach. “I also respect the decision Ted has made.”

Morton also acknowledged that there are always disagreements during the course of preparing a budget, but at the end of the day the party wraps it up and supports the finished product.

Lloyd Snelgrove, Treasury Board president and MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, will replace Morton and deliver the upcoming budget in the Legislature.