Monday, March 29, 2010

Is there going to be a Swann Dive?

The crowd at the Wharf is waiting and it’s a tad surly right now.

Insiders tell this person that the Leader of the Alberta Liberal Party was given a 30 day ultimatum to walk a short plank or be thrown over the side of the good ship ALP. It’s taking on huge volumes of water and listing to one side (guess which side). The good doctor was also told he would be allowed to make this needed exit with grace, dignity and support.

Apparently, the news was delivered in person by Tony ‘I make house calls but I’m no MD’ Sansotta, current Party president. I am told the message was supported by a majority of the Party executive. The Leader apparently considered it, vacillated, and then decided to reject the plan. Allegedly, a second plan was put to him with slight variations but with the same bottom line. Again, with a half-hearted digging in of the heels this was followed by an awkward and eerie silence.

Sooooooooooo, what was the outcome?

Has the Leader told the Party to 'go forth and multiply?

Has the plan been exaggerated by the delivery man who often bends the spectrum of truth to suit his own needs?

Are my Deep Throats gagging on the information provided?

Gather in small groups and discuss.

Can anyone confirm the suspicious information?

Do you believe it's time to change the Leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party to re-look at strategies in a last ditch attempt to ensure success at the polls in the next provincial election?

Is it too late for any of this because the Party boat is already below the waves and about to hit the bottom of the political ocean?

Will the May convention be the beginning of the Alberta Liberal Party’s watery send-off to Davey Jones Locker?

After your discussion please forward your group’s views to this blogger (the First Mate manning the lifeboat…but please hurry…it’s getting really crowded on board).


  1. Hi Donn,

    My grandfather used to say that--after the horse dies--it does not matter how much you beat him--he is not going to pull the plow.

    Made sense at the time when I had to feed the horse and clean the stall.

    Maybe I am naive, but there sure seems to be a lot of backstabbing going on right now in the Liberal Party in Alberta. The local Lib MLA does not know anything about this. All is well on the good ship Lollipop.

    Tories have been renowned for their backstabbing practices. Call John Diefenbaker or Joe Who.

    If it was not so tragic, it might be comical--do you need a bucket?

  2. Absolutely the Liberal Party needs to find a new leader if they hope to garner any votes in any future elections.,
    And a new policy direction wouldn't hurt.

  3. Donn,

    I wrote this last fall. It may still be worth reading.

    The hillbilly party, Wildrose, won the Calgary Glenmore by election and the Conservatives came a distant third behind the Liberals. This was a direct response to the ineptitude of Special Ed Stelmach and his very odd and out-of-step at every turn government. As the official opposition Liberal party is led by the wooly headed fantasist David Swann and poses no serious threat to the government, Calgary voters turned to the nativist conservatives of the Wildrose party which is another incarnation of the zombie like Social Credit movement.

    Tempting as it is to see a trend here, it is appropriate to reflect on the last provincial election when the Conservatives got a huge majority in spite of losing a by election some months before and Ed's personal unpopularity in Calgary. Many pundits, including this one, were thoroughly discredited by the results of that election.

    In hindsight there is a little more clarity. The Liberals, who should have exploited Ed's weakness, didn't have a clue, having reduced themselves to a like minded cabal incapable of waging a credible campaign. There was no where for the electorate to go and they didn't realize the incompetence of the government even though they had a firm grasp of Liberal irrelevance.

    This by election has focused things in a startling way. There is, for the moment, a credible alternative to the Conservatives and it is far more in tune with the electorate than the official opposition. Yes, it is still a hillbilly party with much more attraction for older and rural voters than younger and urban ones but for now they have momentum on their side. Up until this by election a right wing, stridently anti-progressive party would have been given no odds in Calgary and Edmonton. That has all changed. When the governing party loses with a solid though lacklustre candidate and ends up in third place behind a wildly irrelevant opposition party, something is happening. When a party supported by that old theocrat Link Byfield is in contention things have taken a turn for the weird.

    The Wilder Roses now have the opportunity to appear capable of forming a government by stuffing a sock into the mouths of their fundamentalist founders. This may be difficult to do with a leadership convention coming up but they will start to attract a more main stream membership and happy face candidates who recognize a band wagon when they see one. This is, after all, how the Conservatives came to power when the most ambitious and brightest deserted the sinking Social Credit.

    This result is the doing of one man who has suddenly found that his iron grip on the Conservative party has turned to mush. That he will thrash around and won't know what the hell to do is a foregone conclusion. What is clear is that the party has to do something and that something is first get rid of Ed. In order to prevent the wholesale defection of supporters, if not MLAs, the party will have to turn to the old testament fervour of someone a lot like Ted Morton. The province will then have two hillbilly parties creating the perfect opportunity for the Liberals. That is if they have the wit to take it up and find a leader who can actually lead a campaign. That's a big if.

  4. Anonymous,

    Another sage, I like the sense of it,


  5. Just had to remind that Donn was Campaign Chair and singularly in charge of that campaign. His co-chair brought administrative expertise but Donn was the candidate's expert counsel.

    I volunteered on that campign and found that the exceptional candidate was well-received. Donn's experience was invaluable and the support of the Liberal leader, his wife and a few MLAs was consistent and dependable. If it was misplaced the 'sages' should have spoken up at that time.

    If we learned anything from Calgary Glenmore we need to be putting it to use rather than perseverating on trying to lay blame.

    I am wondering how much actual work 'Anonymous' has ever done. Easy to be an armchair cowboy ... but maybe it's too much work for you to get on the horse with a rope in your hand.

    Anonymous's statement "The Liberals, who should have exploited Ed's weakness, didn't have a clue, having reduced themselves to a like minded cabal incapable of waging a credible campaign. There was no where for the electorate to go and they didn't realize the incompetence of the government even though they had a firm grasp of Liberal irrelevance" ... is not only hugely unfair but simply a mean reiteration of insults from previous posts .... of NO VALUE!

    Calgary Glenmore was another Alberta election where people feel free to mount vitriolic assaults on those who came out to work. What a sport!!

  6. cjw

    I am sure that you worked hard on the campaign, and you are right that simply maligning the candidates has no value. Maligning party workers has even less value.

    Winning an election takes work. I am not a sage. I put my pants on one leg at a time. I roll up my sleeves, and I listen to the people that I want to vote for the candidate I will get elected.

    When the Tories knocked off the Socreds, they did that. They did not stay in their own little groups listening to the same people say the same things that the people in the group have always said.

    One thing that I have noticed on Donn's Blog is that there is more anger being voiced. Some would be frustration because doing things the way that they have always been done has not worked. Some is that Albertans are not hearing the Liberal message.

    My take on it is that Liberals are not listening to Albertans.

    Wild Rose gets by-election votes because it is how Albertans say that you are not listening to us. It is not that the workers in a party that did all the thankless jobs have done anything wrong. It is just that they were working hard when there was no commitment to win.

    I have done the door knocking, signs, meetings, and everything else that goes into an election.

    My candidates have a bad habit of actually winning, and it is not luck. It is not a sport either. It is just a job!

    I hope that your next electoral action has you on the winning side, but maybe it would be an idea to tell the candidates and the party leadership that it is better to replicate success instead of failure.

    One man's opinion, and I do not care if it is ignored. I will not be angry if it is.

  7. The Liberals don't listen. They don't listen to each other, to their advisors, and the infighting has been kept a secret for too long.

    There are two distinct factions...

    (1) Swann and his supporters

    (2) The outsiders

    Swann and his supporters include: David Swann, Kevin Taft, Harry Chase, Bridget Pastoor, the Chief of Staff, the PR big cheese, and Mo Elsahy

    The outsiders are Dave Taylor, Darshan Kang, Laurie Blakeman, Hugh MacDonald, the staff at the Caucus, Tony Sansotta.

    If the party had taken the advice of the experts instead of hired guns they would have saw that there was no way to grow beyond 16 seats.

    I have already parked my vote and my dollars behind the only party listening to Albertans.

    I hope MANY more will join the Wild Rose Alliance and stand for real grassroots democracy instead of rule by the tall foreheads locked in their ivory towers.

    Remember Liberals 2012 is coming very fast.

  8. Anonymous,

    The picture you paint is as accurate as I could have done it. They obviously do not listen to me.

    I'm searching about as well but will not and cannot support the Wildrose.

    Perhaps we can meet and discuss some day?

  9. Interesting dialogue. I wish this was a forum where it would make a difference for the Liberal Party and the Liberal MLAs. But, maybe it is ....

    I appreciated the empathy of Tedde in response to my earlier post and would like to clarify that the Glenmore by-election was my first provincial Liberal loss in four elections.

    I hope this dialogue stimulated by Donn will generate interest in and registrations for the ALP AGM in May.

    I hope this dialogue generates interest in working with liberal constituency boards where people will be in the community to 'listen' to Albertans and thus liaise with our MLAs and the Party.

    Leadership is not exclusively up to one person although I do realize that there is always a desk where 'the buck stops'. Even so, we all have an opportunity to carry the message and a small share of the load.

    The connection of the Leader of the ALP to the people of Alberta will be one of many critical issues we need to address in this province.

    The articulation of liberal vision and values is important to all Albertans whether liberal or not. This is at the fulcrum on the democratic balance scale.

    The WRA members and board are people who are listening to and representing a select (ultra-conservative ... objectivist .... separatist) group of Albertans.

    A focused ALP would offer the progressive balance between the two conservative parties and the NDs and other social democratic parties.

    Liberal values such as socio-economic balance, moral obligation to the greater good, fairness, broad mindedness, inclusiveness, ethical/moral allocation of government resources .... are agreed to be vital to the smooth administration of a healthy economy and a healthy, well-prepared and responsible population.

    With enough small 'l' liberal administration and political influence we can enhance the well-being of middle income Albertans and hope for the future for their grandchildren. I believe it to be vital; that's why I continue to fight as a Liberal .... not an outsider or an insider ... as a conscientious citizen trying to make a liberal difference.

  10. cjw,

    I trust someone is reading this within the Party but who knows what they will do with this info,


  11. Donn - I know you feel you are an "insider" and a "shaker and mover" in the Calgary political scene - but your comments in this blog indicate to me that you may have been taken for a "ride." Whomever is feeding you this stuff may have been leading you astray. Gullible, thy name is Donn!

  12. As an Alberta liberal (former Liberal) I have accepted that Alberta is centre right and that the Liberal liable is not viable in this province. I believe in the Democratic Renewal Plan to stop vote splitting between Liberals and the NDP but no longer have hope that it will happen. As a result I am following the Alberta Party with great interest. I can certainly be a red Tory.

  13. Anonymous,

    I know you are anonymous, but can you be specific in what you are talking about?

  14. Maryanne,

    I certainly hope something arises that creates a home for the frustrated Blue Liberal and Red Tory. If the Alberta Party is the answer that would be fantastic.