Friday, November 14, 2008

Profiles in Courage: Mo Elsalhy

Before I get to this week's ALP leadership profile, my spies were at the Calgary Egmont leadership forum last week and sent me a recap. The following comes from Liberals who had not met any of the candidates before the forum so, for that reason, I re-post highlights from their comments here, if only to offer a different perspective:

Mo Elsahy - Definitely provided the most detail in his answers and seems very detail oriented. In his talks he always referred to retail examples since he was a pharmacist; This makes it easy to follow. I liked him a lot as a person to speak to but because of his age and the fact he is not a sitting member, he will have a difficult time to be selected.

David Swann - Speaks really well on health issues since he is a doctor and used to run one of the health regions. His problem is that he looks and talks too much like Stephane Dion. He seems to have charm, and had lots of people wearing his buttons in the room. He seems comfortable in a crowd and was at ease with all the questions, although he spoke mostly in generalities.

Dave Taylor - Being a radio personality shows for "presence". He certainly has the image needed for a leader in Alberta. He had a really detailed "renewal" plan that he didn't have time to go over in detail, but he talked well about being inclusive and bringing people in to the party. I can see he would do better with media than the others.

And with that said, we're off to profile number 2 - Mo!

History: Mo moved to Alberta from Egypt in 1990 and made a career for himself in Edmonton as a pharmacist (Mo will cure what ails the ALP!). He gained fame as a "giant killer" by defeating former "giant killer" Mark Norris in the 2004 election. However, as Edmonton McClung adores killing giants, they bounced Mo from office this spring.

Federal Equivalent: As much as I hate to compare him to another visible minority, Navdeep Bains would be the MP that comes to mind when thinking of Mo.

Rejected Slogan: “Mo – everybody’s favourite stooge”

A Headline Writer’s Dream Candidate: “Liberals seize MO-mentum”, “Mo problems for Liberals”, etc…

Renewal Plan: Mo has set targets for making the party debt free and for growing the membership but has released few details on how to get there. He's also talked about the opposition parties only fielding one candidate per riding in the hope of getting a majority in the Legislature that could ram through PR.

Surprise Endorsement: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation gives Mo a "B" grade.

Website Advice: The site is functional but, for good or bad, doesn't have a "campaign feel" to it. The biggest problem is that there is no donation link on the main have to put a lot of effort into finding out how exactly you can give Mo your money.

Strengths: Mo has done a great job at engaging young people through his "Mocha with Mo"get togethers.

Strategy: Sign up a ton of new members and try to run the table in Redmonton.

Can He Win? If Dave Taylor is the Jim Dinning of this campaign and David Swann is the Ted Morton, then Elsalhy will certainly try to repeat the feat of his fellow Edmonton candidate, Ed Stelmach. If he can sign up enough new members, Mo could surprise.

My Thoughts: I'll admit I don't know Mo as well as the other candidates, although I had a good chat with him at an ALP lunch in Calgary a few years ago after he was first elected. He was genuinely excited to be fighting for the issues he felt were important and his energy has yet to diminish since then. As a leader, he'd be new, fresh, and different from anything the Alberta Liberals have offered Albertans before.



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