Friday, August 22, 2008

This Week in Alberta

Admittedly, it's only slightly more interesting than the Ontario NDP leadership race to most people. But, for Liberals in Alberta, it's where the action will be this fall. I've decided the best way to cover the race is with weekly updates, so welcome to your very first Friday edition of "This Week in Alberta".

Swann Dives Into The Race: David Swann has declared his intentions to run for ALP leadership, setting up the biggest David versus David showdown since the American Idol finale. Swann is staking out the anti-establishment terrain, musing about drastic changes to the ALP, and Alberta politics:
"We've got to change the way we make decisions -- it is a middle-age, white male organization," said Swann [ed note: aged 58, white, and male], adding the party needs to be more inclusive by reaching out to youth and minorities. He also said ditching the name Liberal from party banners must be on the table.

Swann is kind of the Ted Morton of the left, drawing huge amounts of support from environmentalists, activists, and Green/NDP types. His candidacy will bring a lot of new people into the party and he's a force to be reckoned with in a one-member-one-vote leadership contest.

The other David responded by sending out a press release yesterday in an attempt to define the clash as a centre/left fight:

I've come out and argued that we need to align ourselves firmly in the center. I want to position the Party as business friendly and as a subject of conversation at the local coffee shop. David Swann meanwhile has been attractive to those on the left of the political spectrum. So it should allow people a clear indication of which path each of us would take the Party down. Liberals will have a choice of continuing to fight for the left or making a stand for the center.

Tayl-Air Takes Off: Dave Taylor has taken off for a cross-Alberta tour, and let me say it’s a smart thing to do. In a one member one vote leadership, there’s hardly anything to be gained from spending time in rural Alberta but, in the long run, the Liberals need to be seen as a party that represents all Albertans.

Whoever winds up leading the ALP/party-to-be-named-later should announce that they’re tearing up the party platform and going on a cross-province tour to listen to Albertans. It’s all optics, but optics are important.

The Third Stooge Speaks: Mo's website has been re-done and now contains priorities and a platform.

Blakeman Bows Out: Laurie Blakeman, citing fundraising difficulties (Laurie gets full marks for honesty), has decided to take a pass at the ALP leadership. Hugh MacDonald and Rick Miller remain possibilities from Edmonton but, barring a wild card entry, this one may very well be a three man race.

In Springfield, Alberta: Mutant Fish!

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  • That fish is really, really creepy.

    By Anonymous Sophie, at 10:17 a.m.  

  • Is anyone outside caucus expected to run? No offense, but that ALP caucus isn't exactly full of political superstars.

    By Anonymous Deb, at 10:42 a.m.  

  • More info, not less. You provide a window for non-Albertans into Alberta politics. Even for non-Libs like me.

    Face it, we are all political junkies, or esle we wouldn't be here.

    By Anonymous Crocker Jarmon, at 10:50 a.m.  

  • And a question... isn't Swann just another version of Kevin Taft? That didn't seem to work.

    By Anonymous crocker jarmon, at 10:54 a.m.  

  • Rick Miller has declared himself out of the race:

    By Anonymous daveberta, at 11:08 a.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Matt Grant, at 11:35 a.m.  

  • Taylor is in Lethbridge today, Calgary tomorrow and Red Deer on Sunday.

    Everything aside, I think it's cool that we have two contenders from Calgary. I'm waiting for the media to pick up that particular narrative.

    And Swann entering the race, what does that mean for the new party debate?

    By Blogger Matt Grant, at 11:37 a.m.  

  • crocker - I think Swann would be a very different type of leader than Taft. Taft may have been a Dion-type but Swann is really a non-political person...I'm trying to think of a comparable federal politician but it's difficult. I'm not saying he'd be better or worse, just "different".

    The true "succesor" to Taft would have likely been Laurie Blakeman, or maybe Hugh MacDonald.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:30 p.m.  

  • matt - Straight Outta Edmonton was commenting on that point today.

    My guess is Swann would try to morph the ALP into the "new" party he was talking about. He'd push name change, major reforms, maybe non-agression pacts, try to bring some new people in. And I assume if he lost, he might revisit the idea of making a new party but who knows - I haven't talked to anyone on his campaign so that's just iddle speculation.

    And, yeah, if it is Calgarian who wins, that would be the first ALP leader from that city in a LONG time. (I'll defer to ALP Historian Daveberta for the specific date)

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:39 p.m.  

  • I think the AI comparison is apt. Taylor is the pretty boy polished Archuleta, while Swann is the more rebelious rocker Cook.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:24 p.m.  

  • Swann is Taft without the personality.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:33 p.m.  

  • Nick Taylor would have been the last ALP leader from Calgary.

    Taylor was Leader from 1974 to 1988 and ran in Calgary-Glenmore in 1975 (before almost defeating Ken Kowalski in the 1979 Barrhead by-election). He was later elected MLA for Westlock-Sturgeon and Redwarter from 1986 to 1996. He was also 302 votes short of becoming the Liberal MP for Calgary-Centre in 1968.

    The last ALP Leader "elected" from Calgary would have been Grant MacEwan in the 1950s.

    By Anonymous daveberta, at 2:08 p.m.  

  • Dave Swann is an MLA who got elected as a Liberal who has said since the election that you can't get elected as a Liberal in Alberta so the party has to change its name and now he wants to lead the party that he wants to destroy. This should be a no brainer for Liberals in choosing THEIR next leader.

    By Anonymous tony, at 5:05 p.m.  

  • It just seems odd that the ALP might choose a leader in Swann who appears more to the left than most of Alberta. Might you not want to try another direction? Wasn't Laurence Decore successful because he was just right wing enough to overcome the Liberal brand?

    By Anonymous crocker jarmon, at 6:47 p.m.  

  • Laurence Decore wasn't successful.

    By Anonymous daveberta, at 8:19 p.m.  

  • Was he not the most successful ALP leader in the recent past?

    By Anonymous crocker jarmon, at 9:32 a.m.  

  • He wasn't successful in forming a government. Had his goal been to form a larger opposition I would have considered him successful, but his goal was to form a government, a goal of which he was not successful.

    By Anonymous daveberta, at 11:52 a.m.  

  • Decore wasn't successful because he misread the intensity with which Albertans disliked the gold plated pension plan. Klein figured it out and announced that he would do away with the pension plan and the poll numbers turned around almost instantly. It is not the brand that wins or looses elections it is how well you know the electorate and respond to their concerns and/or needs. Having policies that talked to these concerns and/or needs and then running an election campaign that captures the attention of the electorate. The brand is an important identifier or who you are and what you stand for, but without proper communication of who you are and what you stand for the brand is useless. So keep the brand and improve the messaging.

    By Anonymous tony, at 12:46 p.m.  

  • Mo Elsahy's slogan of "an Alberta for all Albertans" is not just one of the worst slogans I have ever heard, but it's copying Ed Stelmach's "all Albertans" riff from both the leadership race and the general election.

    Wait...maybe that means Mo is on to something.

    By Blogger Alex, at 12:55 a.m.  

  • Swann would be different, no question.

    On a personal level he just doesn't buy into materialism and consumerism as a way of life. He has an incredible personal commitment to social justice, equality, and the environment.

    I guess when a whole bunch of successive versions of "we're a little to the left of the Tories, and we don't like the Tories," fail to pan out, maybe it's time for different.

    By Anonymous Justin, at 3:12 p.m.  

  • To give people a little more insight into Swann's personality:

    - He once camped out for a few days in the foyer of Joe Clark's constituency office when Joe was an MP and was avoiding a meeting with Swann.
    - Most of his career was spent as a practicing physician. He spent several years in third world countries establishing medical clinics in rural areas.
    - When he renovated his house, him and his wife got the doors and floorboards from an old school that was being torn down. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle baby!
    - He has been to Iraq several times to raise awareness of the humanitarian implications of the sanctions imposed on that country.

    Among the staff in the Opposition offices pre-election, Swann's nickname was "The Prophet." This guy's the real deal.

    By Anonymous Justin, at 3:24 p.m.  

  • Just curious, what about the last post makes you think he can win in Alberta?

    By Anonymous Dean, at 9:28 a.m.  

  • This Swann fellow seems like just another socialist to me, like Taft was. The Alberta Liberal Party's next Leader should be someone at least as right-wing as Laurence Decore.

    By Anonymous John Murney, at 12:39 a.m.  

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