A new chapter? Using those words as a headline, Michael Connolly, the youthful NDP representative for Calgary-Hawkwood and one of the few openly gay MLAs in the provincial Legislature, announced Saturday in a Facebook post he’ll be quietly stepping out of politics when a provincial election is called next year.
In his graceful farewell, Mr. Connelly, 24, thanked the voters of his northwest Calgary riding who gave him the job in the Orange Sweep of May 2015, family, friends, donors, volunteers, and “Alberta’s LGBTQ2S+ community, who allowed me and inspired me to be one of their first representatives in Alberta’s Legislature.”
A former University of Ottawa student in that institution’s bilingual immersion program, he also thanked Alberta’s francophone community for giving him a new community where he also feels at home. (J’ai trouvé une nouvelle communauté où je me sens chez moi.)
In other words, Mr. Connelly’s planned departure seems like a real loss to the NDP on the brink of an election that is bound to be an uphill fight in Calgary for the government of Premier Rachel Notley – perhaps especially in Mr. Connelly’s well-off and traditionally conservative suburban riding.
In a social media comment, Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan called Mr. Connelly “a smart, gracious, charismatic and effective leader” who will be missed.