As the ‘giant killer’ of 2004, pharmacist Mo Elsalhy entered his first foray into electoral politics by defeating PC Minister Mark Norris in Edmonton-McClung. Playing a significant role in Liberal mythology, the Edmonton-McClung area was held by former Liberal Leaders Grant Mitchell and Nancy MacBeth from 1986 to 2001. In March 2008, Elsalhy was unseated by PC David Xiao. Months later he launched his run for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party.
While in the Legislature, Elsahy had a reputation as a moderate MLA which earned him the respect from MLAs from all sides of the Legislature. He spent much of his time as MLA focusing on issues ranging from democratic reform (hosting town hall forums which included members of British Columbia’s Citizens’ Assembly) and youth issues (including the Young McClung group). Though he did get a B-grade from the dubious Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Elsalhy is an unmistakably common sense kind of guy.
Some may dismiss Elsalhy as an underdog candidate in this race (which would be accurate), but I wouldn’t be surprised if he places stronger than expected among ALP members when the results are released. He is enthusiastic and has the kind of energy that will be needed to build a viable alternative to the governing PCs as they approach forty years in office. As one of the youngest MLAs when he was elected four years ago, his age affords him the opportunity to work towards a future in Alberta politics, and he will likely use this leadership run to boost his profile for a rematch against Xiao in Edmonton-McClung.