taft stepping down, toycen stepping in.

With Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft announcing that he will be stepping down by January 2009, a number of high profile contenders are stepping up for the challenge. Among the rumoured contenders are MLAs Laurie Blakeman, Dave Taylor, and MLA Bill Toycen.

Though not as well known as Blakeman or Taylor, Bill Toycen and his supporters have been at the forefront of a revitalization movement in the Alberta Liberals since the March 2008 election.

First elected in 2004, Toycen was narrowly re-elected as the MLA for Calgary-Gophercrotch in the March 3 election. Since his re-election, Toycen’s supporters have launched a vigorous online campaign under the promiscuous moniker “Old Liberal.” Having the support of many traditional Calgary-based Old Liberal supporters and a growing group of younger Old Liberals, Toycen’s platform for change calls for Alberta Liberals to put “our necks on the line” as part of a new third way political movement: “The Old Liberal Giraffe Party.

With our necks extended high above the trees, we can walk our own path. To be ready to appeal to the largest neck-section of Albertans, we must prepare to extend our necks so that when the spotlight shines on us we have policies rooted in our Old Liberal philosophy, but tailor-made for the long collars of our Alberta.

– Bill Toycen, MLA Calgary-Gophercrotch

Citing the success of Tony Blair’s New Labour movement in the United Kingdom during the 1990s and the historical significance of this noble and populist animal in Alberta’s 100 year history, Toycen’s supporters feel that this move is a positive one that will allow the Old Liberal-Giraffe Party brand to develop a true connection with voters in Alberta.

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