01/06/2012 02:33 EST | Updated 03/07/2012 05:12 EST

Ex-Sask. premier Calvert likes Brian Topp for NDP leader

Former Saskatchewan premier Lorne Calvert says Brian Topp is his choice for the next leader of the federal New Democrats.

Calvert, who was the NDP premier of the province from 2001 to 2007, announced his endorsement Friday.

Calvert said he believes Topp, who was once a top official in the NDP administration, is the best person to take on the Conservatives.

"We need a strategist to lead our party," Calvert said. "Brian's ability for strategic thinking is a huge asset."

Calvert said he took some time to consider his choice, suggesting he wanted to take stock of all the candidates.

The leadership vote is set for March 24.

Former premier Roy Romanow was among the first to endorse Topp, in September.

Calvert retired from politics in 2009 and became the top administrator of St. Andrew's College in Saskatoon.