Dalton McGuinty has just announced that he will step down from both of his positions: leader of the Liberal Party and Premier of Ontario.

“After 16 years as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and after nine years as premier, it’s time for renewal, it’s time for the next Liberal premier,” McGuinty said.

It is unclear what has prompted this abrupt resignation, and whether or not the extremely contentious Bill 115 (“Putting Students First”) has had any influence on the situation.

McGuinty made these announcements to a stunned Liberal caucus at an emergency meeting earlier tonight. The  leader of the Liberal Party since 1996 and premier since 2003 will be proroguing the Ontario legislature immediately.

This move was made only a year after McGuinty was re-elected a third term as premier, although he saw his party reduced to a minority government in the last election. This minority governing, on top of an inconsistent economy, has lead the premier to go to war with teachers’ union by imposing a wage freeze.

With his wife, Terri, close friends, and closest colleagues looking on, the premier fought his emotions and announced that he would stay on as Ottawa South MPP until the next election.

Now leaves the question: who will step up to the plate to become the next leader of the Liberal Party? Among those mentioned as possible contenders include Training Colleges and Universities Minister Glen Murray, Health Minister Deb Matthews, Children and Youth Services Minister Eric Hoskins, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, Energy Minister Chris Bentley, and party president Yasir Naqvi, the Ottawa Centre MPP.

McGuinty told the caucus that the Liberals have made mistakes in governing during their reign, but did right in education, health care, and the environment.