In the minutes leading up to the announcement of who will succeed him as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dwight Ball stood in front of a small group of supporters in Deer Lake, often holding back tears as he reflected on his time as premier of the province.
"Thank you to Newfoundland and Labrador, serving you as premier has been an enormous privilege," he said during his farewell speech.
"Thank you for allowing me to be your premier, I will be forever grateful."
Ball decided to resign February, following a succession of scandals and controversies, including a saga of harassment claims between cabinet ministers and an ongoing fuss over how top aide Carla Foote landed an executive job at The Rooms without competition.
Ball first became premier in 2015, after winning the Liberal leadership two years earlier He won a second term, albeit with a minority government, in 2019.
He will remain premier until premier-designate Andrew Furey is sworn in by Lieutenant-Governor Judy Foote, and will remain as MHA for Humber-Gros Morne until the next election.
During his farewell speech, Ball said he knew his time as premier would be coming to an end near the end of 2019, citing the desire to be able to spend more time with his family, specifically his granddaughter, Antonia.
"When I was walking along with Antonia, she reached up to hold my hand. And once again I knew that now is the right time," he said.
Staying through pandemic meant keeping a promise: Ball
Although Ball announced he would be stepping down in February, he stayed on as premier to help guide the province through the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a former pharmacist, Ball said it was important to him to bring his own medical experience to the table, and to help steer the province through uncertain times.
"For me, it was really accepting the role as leader of this province," he told The St. John's Morning Show Tuesday.
"Even when I made the decision to announce that I would not seek re-election, I told the people of this province that I would work until the final day that my successor was chosen, and it was a personal thing for me and a commitment that I wanted to follow through on."
Over the course of his tenure, Ball had many critics. For instance, retired Memorial University political scientist Stephen Tomblin told CBC Radio's On The Go that Ball was often more reactive than proactive, failing on policy changes including financial crisis, democratic reform and provincial relations.
Ball is taking the criticism in stride.
"I've heard comments like this from many people that have been outside looking in and their own analysis, and I accept all that," Ball said.
"But until you really sit in that chair and you understand what happens with those conversations, I mean we've had a lot of success with Ottawa as an example. We see these historic agreements that we've put in place."
'Room for improvement,' Penashue says
Outside of stepping down as premier, Ball will also leave his position of minister of Indigenous Affairs and Labrador Affairs.
Jack Penashue, former social health director with the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, said he would like to see an Indigenous person in the role when a new minister is chosen, along with basing the minister in Labrador as opposed to St. John's.
"I think there's obviously a lot of need [for] some room for improvement," Penashue said. "The geographic [factor] says it all."
"It doesn't take a genius to talk about those kind of things, and to compare what's important and what's not in terms of priorities. So I would definitely would ask or even inquire about those ideas about are there eventually going to be start talking about Aboriginal Affairs and having an Aboriginal person in Labrador, instead of St. John's."
We will have a successful future in Newfoundland and Labrador, but it's going to take strong relationships with places like Ottawa and other provinces for us to be successful. - Dwight Ball
Over the course of the coming weeks, Ball will work alongside Furey until the premier-designate is ready to assume full duty.
He said he wasn't surprised Furey won the leadership vote, and looks forward to helping him through the early challenges of the role.
"Government, the way the processes work, the kind of machinery of government can get pretty complicated," he said.
"And I worked there in opposition, so I had some time to get ready."
"Coming off the street and being premier of the province will come with some challenges. But with that, I know he's got a great team behind him with experienced people. And whatever role I need to play, I'm there to support him."
Ball hasn't spoken on what the future will hold for his political career, but believes the work done by his government has provided a building point for the province's future.
"I'll do whatever it takes for Newfoundland and Labrador. It's a lot of drama sometimes in our province, but I also know we've got a lot of great things that we can build on," he said.
"We will have a successful future in Newfoundland and Labrador, but it's going to take strong relationships with places like Ottawa and other provinces for us to be successful. We just need a little boost right now, a little shot in the arm, and Ottawa needs to be a part of that for us to get through this current timeframe. But we're gonna get there, and I'm very optimistic about the future of our province."