Calgary Liberal MLA David Swann has been quietly meeting with MLAs and other interested people about starting a new party based on green politics, accountability and democratic reform.
Swann's work, combined with an alliance proposal from the Alberta Federation of Labour, and leadership questions around the Liberals and NDP, helps set up a summer and fall of gut wrenching debate for those who oppose the governing Conservatives.
Many opposition party members believed they were on the verge of a breakthrough in the March 3 election. The subsequent drubbing they took has forced them to confront their party's weaknesses and wonder openly about different ways of doing business.
Swann has held two meetings in Calgary over the past months that have attracted around 25 to 30 people, mostly Liberal and NDP supporters and some Greens, including rural land activist and Green candidate, Joe Anglin. Swann has also held individual meetings with other interested people.
The purpose, for now, is to simply start a discussion among those who feel left out of the process of governance.
"How do we reengage the citizens of Alberta?" Swann said. "If the issues with the citizens of Alberta are not being reflected in either of the mainstream opposition parties, then we have to talk about the possibility of forming a new party. And that party would draw from everyone who doesn't approve of the Conservative approach to governing the province."
Meanwhile, Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan is proposing a temporary alliance between the Liberals, NDP and even the Green Party that would see them divy up ridings in an effort to prevent vote splitting on the left and centre left. He recently typed a memo titled "The way forward: An AFL proposal for a united alternative to the Conservatives," that is circulating among the province's political left.
The NDP will be discussing a similar proposition at their annual general meeting in mid June and the Liberals will do the same at their AGM in the fall. Both Liberal Leader Kevin Taft and NDP Leader Brian Mason have said they look forward to the discussion. Both face uncertain futures in their parties.
Edmonton Journal, Wed May 7 2008
Byline: Archie McLean