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Who can blame Christy Clark for wanting a clean break?

We may never know if there were darker forces behind Christy Clark's surprising decision to resign, effective this Friday, as both Liberal leader and MLA. So absent any titillating information to the contrary, we are left to accept the explanation she is now offering up for her swift and sudden departure.

Ms. Clark met with reporters on Monday to answer their questions about her announcement of last week. She did so with her son, Hamish, by her side, a rangy, articulate teen who has literally grown up in the public eye. He certainly got an up-close-and-personal look at his mother's nearly 6 1/2 years as B.C.'s Premier – both the good and the bad.

During her time in office, Ms. Clark never appeared more genuine, more relatable, than when she was talking about her son. The deep love she holds for him has always been evident.

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Read more: Christy Clark 'done with public life' after resigning as Liberal leader

Her affection for politics, on the other hand, clearly began to wane following the result of the May 9 election, which put the Liberals in a minority situation. As we know now, the NDP and the Greens teamed up to defeat Ms. Clark's government, which forced her to ponder her future.

Video: Christy Clark says she has no plans to return to politics (The Canadian Press)

Ms. Clark told reporters that she knew "in her heart" on election night that it was probably best she step down. But she didn't. She said she considered it again after Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon refused her request to call an election. But again, she didn't.

Rather, she continued to insist, both publicly and in conversation with confidants, that she intended to fight on. Ms. Clark had told some of her caucus colleagues she believed there were ways to orchestrate the defeat of a government that was clinging to a slim one-seat majority, but never elaborated on what they were.

As recently as the middle of last week, she was giving those closest to her every indication she planned to stay. But then something changed.

My guess is she realized hanging on would come at a cost; the knives would come out for her sooner rather than later. She had been told there were people in her caucus already putting out leadership feelers. In a caucus meeting the day before she announced her decision, she was asked about her plans for the fall. There were certainly Liberal MLAs still struggling with the party's Throne Speech, which borrowed heavily from the NDP and Green Party policy playbooks.

While the majority of the caucus stood behind her, Ms. Clark, as savvy a political operator as they come, could sense trouble on the horizon, especially the longer the NDP was able to govern. She said she took a "walk along the water" last Thursday evening and along the way "my head caught up with my heart." The next morning she informed her caucus of her decision.

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While there are some Liberals I talked to who believe Ms. Clark's decision was entirely selfless and in the best interest of the party, there are some still puzzled by her decision to resign as an MLA, thereby strengthening the NDP's hold on power. Some have taken it as a sign that despite everything she may be saying publicly, she was not happy about resigning.

For her part, Ms. Clark insists she wanted to make a clean break from politics altogether.

And who can blame her?

The Liberals now have a chance to renew themselves after 16 years in power. Ms. Clark was asked whether she had any thoughts on who her successor should be. Wisely, and predictably, she stayed away from betraying any personal preferences.

Conservative MP and former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts is remaining coy about a possible leadership bid. Inside the caucus, former transportation minister Todd Stone is mulling a run, as is Sam Sullivan. Almost everyone expects former education minister Mike Bernier to have a go at it. And even rookie MLA and former television reporter Jas Johal says he is considering it.

Another person apparently getting pressure to consider it is Gary Collins, the former finance minister under Gordon Campbell. (Mr. Collins is related to a Globe and Mail staff member, who was not involved in this piece.)

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Mr. Collins, who was in government from 1991 to 2004, has worked in the private sector since retiring from politics and would be a strong contender should he decide to take the plunge.

Mr. Collins couldn't be reached for comment.

One thing is for sure, whoever runs will be a dramatic departure from Ms. Clark. Love her or hate her, she brought a unique governing style to the position. Public life isn't easy. The job of premier is even tougher. The scrutiny and criticism is often intense.

It can't be easy for the politician or their children. I'm sure Hamish is happy to have his mother back again full time.

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About the Author
National affairs columnist

Gary Mason began his journalism career in British Columbia in 1981, working as a summer intern for Canadian Press. More

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