Alberta MLA Dave Taylor

Back in April, when he pulled the plug on the Alberta Liberals to sit as an independent, we asked, What’s Dave Taylor’s game? Well now, at least, we can tell readers categorically what it is not.

On April 12, the Calgary-Currie MLA announced he was quitting the Alberta Liberal caucus in the Legislature, reducing it to a pitiful seven members. While his departure wasn’t exactly a surprise — his dissatisfaction with the leadership of Dr. David Swann had been rumoured for months — it was a serious blow to the Libs from which they have hardly recovered. He was the Alberta Liberals’ best speaker, and a credible spokesman for party supporters who lean to the right.

Ever since his departure, there’s been no shortage of speculation about what Taylor proposes to do next. After all, it’s a sure bet he won’t be satisfied with sitting as a lonely independent in the Legislature for too long.

Last night, at a conference in Canmore, Taylor dropped a few hints. So, for starters, he said, “No, I’m not going to run for mayor of Calgary.” Why? “Because,” said Mr. Taylor – always an entertaining dinner speaker – “when all the other candidates are lined up, there has to be someone left over to vote for them.” That got some well deserved laughs all round.

OK, so he doesn’t want to be one of 14 or 15 candidates for mayor of Cowtown. But what will he do.

Actually, Taylor was pretty frank about what he’d like to do, he just wasn’t clear about who, if anyone, he’s likely to do it with.

The way the former Calgary talk-radio jock sees the political scene in Alberta is that about 6 per cent of voters support the NDP and about 8 per cent support the far-right policies of the Wildrose Alliance. That leaves 88 per cent, many of whom are sick and tired of Premier Ed Stelmach’s bumbling Conservatives and would like to vote for someone somewhere between the Knee-Dips and the Wildrosers.

Alas, he says, almost no one is paying attention any more to the Liberals, whom he describes as “adrift, irrelevant” under Swann’s leadership.

What Albertans want, Taylor argues, is a choice between two parties in that vast centre zone “that are different, but not all that dissimilar.” They’re sick of the Conservatives — persuaded they’re incompetent — but not at all comfortable with any of the alternatives, including the Wildrose Alliance. “They want a centrist, moderate, competent alternative to the PCs. … If we respect them, we’ll find a way to make this happen.”

Taylor likens the situation of most Alberta voters to cola drinkers, who may prefer Coke, but would settle for Pepsi over alternatives like … yuk! … ginger ale. (That’d be the Alliance, I think, but maybe the NDP. Whatever.) Regardless, he’s pretty clear that he’d like to end up playing a role in that new centre-of-the-spectrum political party.

Now, if what he’s talking about sounds to you a lot like how the new Alberta Party describes itself, you’d be right. But Taylor’s not saying he’s going there, just yet, anyway…

“They’re a long, long way from being where they need to be — but at least they’re trying,” he says of the AP.

“I’m a little concerned by the pace they’re moving at. The people of Alberta want action fast — and we’re running out of time.”

He’s right about that, of course — it’s what both the Conservatives and the Wildrose Alliance are counting on.

It sounds like a fair bet that Taylor will move to the Alberta Party if they can stop talking and start doing in time for the next Alberta general election. According to some bloggers, of course, the jury remains out on whether that will happen.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe...