dave taylor leaving the liberals.

Liberal leader David Swann addresses the media this morning. Six Liberal MLAs had his back.

According to Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell, Calgary-Currie MLA Dave Taylor will leave the Official Opposition Liberal Caucus to sit as an Independent MLA this morning.

The Alberta Liberals finally make the news.

Their best guy leaves them.

Dave Taylor, the party’s former deputy leader, the Calgary MLA many Liberals wanted as their top gun 16 months ago, will sit as an independent beginning Monday.

He is fed up with the Liberals as the main opposition on paper but nowhere near that in performance.

“We just don’t have a position that’s obvious to anybody on most things. I’m sorry, but we don’t. For two years now, we haven’t really stood for anything, with a few notable exceptions,” says Taylor, who spearheaded the party’s oilpatch-friendly policy on royalties.

“The Liberals are pretty much off the radar. We’re not talking about or standing for things in a way that translates to Albertans. Most Albertans have passed the Liberals by. People aren’t even politely curious.”

“I don’t think I can serve my constituents or other Albertans in the way they deserved to be served within the Liberals. They’re just too unfocused, too lacking in the ability to connect with the people of Alberta.”

“I just don’t see things happening. I feel I’ve tried.”

Mr. Taylor was first elected in 2004, defeating PC MLA Jon Lord in a high profile race. He served as Deputy Leader during Kevin Taft‘s time as Leader of the Official Opposition and ran for the party leadership following Dr. Taft’s resignation in 2008. Only attracting 1,616 votes, Mr. Taylor placed second to Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann. His defection from the Liberal caucus should not come as a surprise to many, as these rumours have been swirling around since the Liberals lost ground to the PCs in the last election. Liberal sources have told me that over the past year, caucus meetings have become especially heated between Mr. Taylor and other MLAs, leading to a dysfunctional team environment in the Official Opposition caucus. In January 2010, Mr. Taylor was given the opportunity to step into the spotlight when he announced the Liberal Party’s new energy policy, which was supposed to signal “a dramatic shift and tone” for the Liberals. In recent months, it has been rumoured that Mr. Taylor was investigating a run for Mayor of Calgary, though these now appear to be unsubstantiated.

As an Independent, Mr. Taylor would be in a good position to accept woos from both the Progressive Conservatives (who are in desperate need for some personality and could undercut the Liberals further by appointing him to cabinet) or the Wildrose Alliance (who could use a prominent opposition voice like Mr. Taylor’s to moderate their public face).

If Mr. Taylor does indeed announce his departure from the Liberal caucus today, these effects could be devastating to the Liberal Party – both Liberal Party President Tony Sansotta and Executive Director Corey Hogan were heavily involved in Mr. Taylor’s leadership campaign. His departure will also bring the Liberal caucus down to 8 MLAs from the 9 elected in 2008. While this initially does not look good for Dr. Swann, it could lead the Liberal caucus to become a more cohesive unit (strength in the face of destruction) – or it could lead to more internal criticism of his low-key style of leadership.

UPDATE: Both David Swann and Dave Taylor have released statements to the media. I attended Dr. Swann’s media conference at the Legislature this morning and will have some photos up later today. In a display of caucus solidarity, Dr. Swann was joined by 6 of the remaining 8 members of the Liberal caucus (Calgary-McCall MLA Darshan Kang is in India on family matters). Dr. Swann told the media that he knew Mr. Taylor had not been happy inside the Liberal caucus since he was defeated in the 2008 leadership campaign.

27 thoughts on “dave taylor leaving the liberals.

  1. Art

    Mark my words, unless the Liberals do something fast, there will be two parties wiped out in the next election. The Tories and the Alberta Liberals are both heading for a cliff.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Well Art, I think a suprising number of Albertans would be quite content to see a Wildrose majority government that was held to account by an NDP opposition.

    At least we’d be done with all the meaningless middle that the Libs & PCs provide.

    Reply
  3. Rahim Jaffer's Busty Buxom

    What are the chances that Mr. Taylor will join the Alberta Party of Alberta? Both are vacuous in terms of policy and principle. A good fit?

    Reply
  4. Ian

    I also wonder if Taylor will go Alberta Party (or will step down and run in a by-election under that banner, unlike the WRA). It would give the party a boost, but it’s hard to tell if they’re anywhere near having to fight an actual election or having an MLA.

    Reply
  5. daveberta Post author

    Thanks for the comments – please keep it clean, folks, or I will have to start having to moderate the comments before letting them get posted (and that would be no fun for any of us).

    Reply
  6. Ian

    No worries Dave, keep up the great blogging.

    The end of the Sun article actually bolsters the case for Taylor going AB Party:
    “He is willing to consider something fresh in the centre of the political spectrum if the province’s shifting political sands offer that up.

    For now, Taylor admits his eyes have popped open a few times in the middle of the night over this decision to walk a solitary road but his mind is made up

    “This feels like the right thing to do and the right time to do it.””

    Reply
  7. Rahim Hastman

    Sorry Dave, I retract the two “go’s” from my previous post and will leave it simply as “NDP”.

    Yours,
    Rahim Hastman
    Hardly Working. For You.

    Reply
  8. Amelanchier Alnifolia

    I held an Alberta Party Big Listen in the Village of New Sarepta yesterday afternoon. Despite what Rahim’s Busty Buxom wrote… there was absolutely nothing vacuous about the articulation or the values of the 14 folks who sat down with me.

    It was the most honest and open–and civil–discussion of politics I have ever had in this province.

    Aside from three people NO ONE is committed to the Alberta Party enough to make a commitment or to even voice hope… but each one was looking for something new (though one is leaning toward the WRA).

    Yesterday did not convince even me that the Alberta Party has the legs and commitment it will take to gain a prominent role. It was one small room with a few articulate concerned people speaking up and voicing concerns and ideas. Yet, as one participant summed it up, “new political ideas do not necessarily result from small groups meeting like this… but no good idea begins without these sorts of meetings.”

    I will take all the ribbing and criticism out there for doing the meeting (committing to three more) because of the people who came out yesterday. By no means were any of them vacuous, either in values or policy ideas.

    Busty, you may be right… and nothing becomes of this. However, I am now more than ever prepared to try and fail… because I have had a tiny glimpse that others are searching for something new and who are also prepared to start speaking up for it.

    Seems everything changes.

    I am hereby no longer the Berry Farmer… but Amelanchier Alnifolia (cause I can translate anything into Latin on the Internet)

    Amel Aln

    Reply
  9. nastyboy

    FTA

    “I’m not doing this to get David Swann. It seems to me David Swann is doing just a fine job of getting himself,” says Taylor, who finished second to Swann in a leadership battle at the end of 2008.

    “I’ve given him 16 months to lead, to show me, the party and Albertans what he stands for and I’m still waiting. He drifted. I don’t know why he drifted. I don’t know if he’s aware the extent he’s drifting.”

    To true. The LPofA has always had a hard time coming up with a platform that connects with Albertans. Or if they have a platform, they have a piss poor way of communicating it.

    The last election was just brutal to watch. Jumping on the “change” bandwagon doesn’t work if you don’t give a reason why change is necissary. Especially when things are going pretty good for the majority of Albertans.

    It would also be nice if Alberta Liberals could at least pretend to like the place, instead of parroting their eastern masters about how much Alberta sucks.

    Albertans need a strong middle of the road party. I hope the libs can turn it around.

    Reply
  10. Trevor

    This is good as far as we’re concerned. The left is now split into 4 factions, NDP, AB Party, Lib Party and Dave Taylor Party.

    Its odd however that Dave Taylor was the one Lib MLA pushing to keep the name, and he got what he wanted. Most other Lib MLA’s publicly mused about getting rid of it.

    Reply
  11. RL

    My money’s on something with the Alberta Party – that Dave doesn’t even mention the AB Party in his post, even in passing, suggests to me that there could be some discussions taking place.

    As for the WAP, while I know lots of long-time members who view Taylor as a ‘classical liberal’ (in the sense of Smith, Mills, Hayek … etc) and would welcome him into the party, the vastly expanded membership base would probably look askance at him joining the WAP caucus.

    I really think the Liberals missed a chance to redefine themselves when they took Swann over Taylor. Instead they will continue to fight with the NDP, and increasingly the PCs, over the crowded centre-left.

    Reply
  12. daveberta Post author

    I would actually be surprised if he joined the Alberta Party. His options are wide open (other than realistically rejoining the Liberal caucus). He could join another party or just finish off his term as an Independent (where he might get a lot of attention). He could run for Mayor of Calgary or City Council in October 2010 or maybe he might run in the upcoming Senate election….

    Reply
  13. RL

    Dave, I hadn’t even thought of the Senate election – good call. The Alberta Liberals have been less than interested in Senate Elections in the past, so this move would make a lot of sense in that context.

    Reply
  14. Rob H.

    Libs take heed of the quote from W.C. Fields:

    When we have lost everything, including hope, life becomes a disgrace, and death a duty.

    R.I.P.

    Reply
  15. Denny

    I’m wondering if the NDP and/or WAP will use this to pressure the speaker into giving them one of the Liberal’s questions during QP.
    Though Taylor and Bouitilier will likely be arguing that another question for an independent should be added into the rotation.

    Reply
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  17. Alvin Finkel

    Losing the Liberal party’s most prominent right winger could be a blessing in disguise for David Swann. He’s been so careful not to alienate any faction in his party that the party has fallen almost silent in the legislature and in the media. Dave Taylor was a better candidate for Liberal leader than David Swann in the sense of being more charismatic and media savvy. But his values are Tory light and clearly the majority of the Liberal party membership wanted a progressive leader.

    In any other Western Canadian province, Swann and most of the rest of his caucus–certainly Blakeman, Taft, and Chase but likely even the maverick Hugh McDonald along with Bridget Pastoor–would be in the NDP because that’s the big-tent small-l liberal party in those provinces. Here we don’t have an exact equivalent because the NDP, which was looking like it might become that big tent for Alberta as well in the late 1980s, lost most of its members–21,000 in 1989, now about 3500–and most of its votes after the 1993 debacle. The Liberals got a chunk of those people but most of them simply became disillusioned with partisan politics altogether, and a large group of federal Liberals, who were not especially left-leaning, also stayed in that party. So the party has quite progressive policies if you believe its website and its platform in the last 2 elections but a large faction who don’t really like those policies.

    It would take a coalition of the various centre-left grouplets in the province to create what the NDP provides on its own in BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Alberta party would make a real contribution if it can organize support in areas where the Liberals and NDP have little support, which means everywhere outside the two big cities and Lethbridge. But if their intention is simply to go after the low-hanging fruit of seats where the centre-left is already strong, then they will simply help to keep more Tories in office or to elect Wild Rosers.

    The Liberal party is not dead. But it cannot be all things to all people. Because of Wild Rose’s strong existence, it can no longer try to pull a Decore and unite everyone who dislikes the Tories, from lefties to far righties. But it can try to be a small-l liberal big tent, recognizing however that the NDP’s supporters need to be wooed perhaps by the Liberals simply standing down unilaterally in seats where the NDP is the stronger of the two parties (about 8 or 9 seats) so that they can persuade a majority of NDP voters in the other seats (though perhaps only a minority of the NDP’s tiny formal membership) that the Liberals have earned their vote. They might do the same favour for independent Greens and some Alberta party candidates in ridings where the Liberals do not do well and where those parties appear to be gaining ground.

    Alvin Finkel,
    Co-Chair, Democratic Renewal Project (drp.ca)

    Reply
  18. jerrymacgp

    A small linguistic quibble, Dave, if I may. Mr. Taylor did not defect, which would mean joining a rival party. What he did is like if in the middle of the Cold War, a Soviet or American intelligence agent had moved to Switzerland. If he does join another party, then you can call it a defection. For now, it’s just desertion.

    Reply
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