This is from canada.com.
Interesting that the Liberals have such a negative brand image in Alberta that Swann is thinking of changing the party name to that of the province. This imitates the right wing Saskatchewan party next door. No doubt the Conservatives will paint Swann as an extreme environmentalist who will completely wreck the Alberta economy.
Alberta Liberals vote for change
Calgary MLA unveils big plans as new leader
Sunday, December 14, 2008
A lberta Liberals elected Calgary MLA David Swann as their next leader Saturday, and the new Grit boss already has an ambitious plan to travel the province, triple membership and possibly rename the party.
Swann, an environmental champion and medical doctor by training, defeated fellow Calgary MLA Dave Taylor and former Edmonton MLA Mo Elsalhy with a narrow majority on the first ballot of a preferential mail-in vote.
"The doctor is in,"Swann told about 150 Liberal party members at Calgary's Glenmore Inn.
"I won't be seeing patients, but I will be working for the health of Alberta."
A total of 6,258 ballots were mailed to eligible members, with 4,599 returned to the office before Friday's deadline.
A total of 2,300 were needed for a majority on the first ballot and Swann pulled in 2,468 votes, compared with Taylor's 1,616 and Elsalhy's 491. There were 24 spoiled ballots.
The 59-year-old replaces Kevin Taft, who led the Liberals for more than four years and through two elections, but saw his party soundly thumped by Premier Ed Stelmach's Conservatives in the March campaign.
Swann's first orders of business are re-engaging Albertans and re-evaluating everything the party is doing--including its messaging, fundraising techniques and brand name. He wants to triple the membership to 18,000 within three years and attract more women and youths.
On Saturday, he said he'd like to put a proposed name change to party faithful within 18 months, suggesting Alberta Party.
"I am open to any name that reflects Alberta and Albertans and a progressive, centrist future," he told reporters.
Swann regularly promotes environmental and social democracy causes, and is seen as sitting further left on the political spectrum than his leadership opponents.
He was fired in 2002 as medical officer of health for the Palliser Health Region, after endorsing the Kyoto accord on climate change that the then Klein government opposed. But Swann insisted Saturday the party will not lurch to the left, vowing to "build a party of the sensible centre."
Taylor, Liberal MLA for Calgary-Currie, said the party has a pile of organizational work to do if it's to become a government in waiting, and pledged to work alongside Swann.
He considered himself more business-friendly than Swann, "but I think we both met in the middle."
Asked where the party will go with Swann as leader, Taylor said: "That's going to be interesting to see."
Swann inherits a party $475,000 in debt, a small membership and only nine MLAs in the 83-seat legislature.
He is the first Calgary-based Liberal leader in nearly 40 years, and likely the first city MLA to lead the party into a provincial election since Grant MacEwan -- a personal hero of Swann's--did it nearly 50 years ago.
Elsalhy, meanwhile, said the Liberals must become "a household brand," and believes Swann will keep the party in the centre by heeding members' wishes.
Political analyst David Taras called Swann an extremely good human being who's "very idealistic" and understands grassroots politics.
"The question is whether he can take those humane instincts and translate it into the rough-and-tumble of Alberta politics, and whether he can be a conventional politician," said Taras, a professor at the University of Calgary.
Outgoing leader Taft predicted Swann will prove to be "quite magnetic" and"some-body not to underestimate."
© The Calgary Herald 2008