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Prentice makes appearance at CP annual meeting, coy on leadership plans

Canadian Pacific Rail board member Jim Prentice, centre, leaves the company's annual meeting in Calgary, May 1, 2014.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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Canadian Pacific Rail board member Jim Prentice, centre, leaves the company's annual meeting in Calgary, May 1, 2014.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY - Jim Prentice will resign his seat on the Canadian Pacific Railway's board of directors if he's successful in the Alberta Tory leadership race, CEO Hunter Harrison said following the company's annual general meeting Thursday.

Harrison told reporters there have been conversations about Prentice's political ambitions.

"It's no secret. He walks in the room and people say congratulations," he said.

"We wish him all the success, but we hate to lose him from the board. It's my understanding that the plans are, if he officially decides to run, he has indicated to us that he would stay on the board until which time, hopefully, if he's successful, then he would step down."

Prentice himself divulged little about his plans when approached after the meeting.

"I continue to be a private citizen. I very much enjoy what I'm doing and, in terms of seeking elected office, I'll have more to say about that in the days ahead," he said.

"There are a lot of things happening, but ... I'll have a great deal more to say about that and a great deal more to say about the province."

He was elected to serve another year on the board of Canadian Pacific (TSX:CP) at the meeting.

The leader of the Opposition Wildrose party suggested that Prentice not saying one way or the other whether he will run raises questions.

"Maybe he's hedging his bets because he's not so certain he can win," Danielle Smith said following a speech to the Economic Club of Canada.

"The fact that it's not going to be a coronation, maybe it's causing him to think twice — and he should. This is a party that is wrecked," she said.

"This is a government that's on the wrong track and this is a party and a government that cannot be fixed by any one person coming in."

Prentice is also a senior executive with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX:CM) and has been working with Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) to try to win First Nations support for the company's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

He held high-profile federal cabinet posts, including industry and environment, under the Conservative government until late 2010, when he left for the private sector.

Although there has been no formal announcement, a source close to Prentice said earlier this week that a team is being assembled for a leadership bid.

Ken Hughes, former Alberta municipal affairs minister, is the only declared candidate in the race to replace Alison Redford, who resigned as premier in March.

— With files from Bill Graveland

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