For The Calgary Herald
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Although Dr. David Swann was chosen as the Alberta Liberal leader only last weekend, the naysayers are already writing both his and the Alberta Liberal party’s epitaph. In Tuesday’s Calgary Herald editorial, reference was made to a “Swann” song. Rob Breakenridge, in an op-ed, compared David’s professorial demeanour to Stephane Dion in an effort, by association, to undermine David’s Alberta provincial leadership potential.
The fact that the knives have come out so early in an attempt to discredit Swann’s leadership ability and by connection the relevance of the Alberta Liberal opposition shows that David is perceived as a threat to those who embrace the status quo.
David possesses a number of the same character traits of his namesake whose ability, as a young shepherd boy to lead, was similarly dismissed more than 2,000 years ago. The little shepherd was mocked for thinking that he could stand a chance against the Philistine’s mightiest warrior, Goliath. Armed only with a sling, but backed by his faith in a greater good, David triumphed against what seemed to be insurmountable odds.
Even David Swann’s most determined detractors don’t question his personal integrity. David’s selfless nature has been demonstrated through his championing of the downtrodden whether in Iraq, Sudan or Alberta. For those who feel they have a historical or political right of exclusive entitlement, David’s “we” rather than “me” first attitude is perceived as undermining their traditional authority.
David Swann is not about ideological positioning of the right or of the left; he is very much, for those who have come to know him, about achieving sustainable balance.
David understands that to be able to maintain strong social programs, including education and health, you have to have a strong economy. For Dr. Swann, it isn’t a matter of either/or, about sacrificing a healthy environment for a strong economy.
David is all about inclusion and economic diversification. David’s first goal internally within the party and externally across the province will be to re-engage Albertans in the
There is no doubt in his mind, or in the minds of his colleagues, about the enormity of this task. The fact that in the last provincial election only 40 per cent of eligible Albertans chose to participate in a democratic process which millions have forfeited their lives to uphold is disturbing. When critics question the odds of David’s success in encouraging Albertans to demand their voices be heard, consider the fact that capturing 21 per cent of the popular vote was “good enough” for the current government to gain 72 of the 83 seats.
David realizes the need to diversify beyond our current dependence on non-renewable resources, which has and will continue in the immediate future to drive not only Alberta’s, but Canada’s economic well-being. For Dr. David Swann, a medical professional, the notion that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” will continue to be his guiding philosophy of life.
On Dec. 13, David jokingly announced that “the doctor is in.”Whether Albertans are ready to take the nonsugar-coated remedy that Dr. Swann will be prescribing over the next three years remains to be seen. However, to underestimate or to write off either David’s capability or commitment to re-engaging Albertans in a democratic process would be premature.
Harry Chase Is The Alberta Liberal MLA For Calgary Varsity.
Â© The Calgary Herald 2008