Friday, November 07, 2008

Profiles in Courage: David Swann

As part of my weekly look at the "other" Liberal leadership race, I'll be profiling the three wise men brave enough to take on one of the hardest jobs in Canada (note: when one of the candidates is named "Mo", it's very difficult to resist the urge to label them the "three stooges"). This week - David Swann:

History: David Swann was fired from his medical officer of health job after expressing support for the Kyoto accord (that’s just the way we roll in Alberta). This prompted him to run for the Liberals in Calgary Mountain View in 2004 – a riding he has now handily won twice.

Federal Equivalent: Think Ken Dryden.

Rejected Motto: “Complete the Swann dive into oblivion!”

Renewal Plan: Swann is the biggest supporter of drastic change, either by setting up a new party or dramatically reshaping/renaming the ALP. While Dave Taylor has come out with a detailed renewal document, Swann prefers the consultation approach, promising to establish a renewal committee following his election as leader.

Website Advice: Right off the bat, I'd ditch the "Dr." and I'd get a more flattering picture on the main page. The site basics are all there, but there's nothing in the way of web 2.0 technology. Also, the blog is messy (don't say posts are by "Dr. David Swann" and then refer to "Dr. David Swann" in the third person), and there is all of one event on the events calendar.

Other Friendly Advice: My Tuesday newsletter from the Swann campaign was entitled "Yes We Can! Renew our Party!". Yesterday's was entitled "the audacity of hope". If anyone on the LPC national executive is reading this, I think you should seriously consider passing a law which forbids any leadership candidates from comparing themselves to Barack Obama.

Strengths: Without a doubt, David Swann is the most genuine person, politician or not, I have ever met in my life.

Strategy: Swann has built up a devoted following among social activists and environmentalists, and these will be the people he’ll need to bring into the Liberal Party to win the leadership. The key for Swann will be to complement this coalition with Greens and Liberals (and even a few NDs and Tories) excited by his talk of starting a new political movement in Alberta.

Can He Win? After the Dave everyone wanted to run took a pass, many are speculating this race could turn into the biggest David vs. David showdown since the American Idol finale. In a one member one vote system, where 2000 votes is likely enough to win it, people would be mistaken to underestimate Swann. It all hinges on how well he'll be able to organize his supporters, who are generally non-political people.

My Thoughts: David Swann is a wonderful human being. But the real question is how he would fare as leader. And that's a big mystery. The other two candidates in this race are politicians and Swann certainly isn't. Add to that the fact that he's proposing very radical reforms to the party and he emerges as a very high-risk candidate. If he was running for federal Liberal leadership, I'd be scared out of my mind about having him as party leader but there's something to be said for rolling the dice when you've been out of power for nearly a century.

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  • Okay, yes, please, PLEASE ditch the 'Dr.' Seriously, that was always my biggest problem with Taft. If you make people call you 'Dr.' outside of the arena where you are practicing the profession in which you earned that degree, it only makes you look like an elitist schlub. I mean, I have a Ph.D., too, but if I were to go around making people in the blogosphere asking people to refer to me as "Dr. IP," people would rightfully laugh at me.

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 10:17 a.m.  

  • Dr. Swann wants to tax people's behaviour.

    No Mo socialists, thank you.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:19 a.m.  

  • Doctor Idealist THERE'S a catchy blog title.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:38 a.m.  

  • Just an anecdote about Dr.Swann.
    A couple years back, I went to see a speech by Lewis Lapham at the university, I recognized Dr.Swann in the audience and after the talk I went to tell him how much I respected what he was doing (my memory is a little shaky, but I think it was after he was fired from the health region). He was very gracious and told me he was glad young people cared about what was happening in the world (I was maybe 16 at the time) and then gave me a ride home!
    Really, a very classy guy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:16 p.m.  

  • I hope it was in a Prius.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:04 p.m.  

  • Isn't this guy an even more left-wing version of Taft?

    I am not from Alberta, and not a Liberal, but for some reason am facinated by the ALP... maybe because I am a Toront Tory and can sympathize.

    It would seem to me you need a centrist, pragmatist who can offer "safe" change. A "New Labour" type... in style, not politics of course.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:31 p.m.  

  • Crocker Jarmon... Meet Dave Taylor.

    By Blogger Matt Grant, at 6:34 p.m.  

  • I am endorsing Dave Taylor. People know the guy (from his radio days), and everyone likes him. He is the only one who can convince Tories to vote Liberal, because they aren't afraid of him.

    Go, Dave, Go!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:51 a.m.  

  • "People know the guy (from his radio days)"

    Correction: People in Calgary know him. He has about as much profile in Edmonton as Broyce Jacobs or Wayne Cao.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:55 p.m.  

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