It seems that the Liberal Party of Canada aren't the only ones who are facing internal leadership struggles these days.
Kevin Taft has indicated that he plans to lead his party into the upcoming sitting of the Legislature. Some senior provincial Liberals are pleased with the slow-and-steady approach to picking a replacement and are asking for a lot of lead time as they prepare for their next Leadership Convention. It seems, however, that there are those within the Liberal caucus who are a little more restless.
Rumours are flying that Edmonton Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald has already started laying the groundwork for a leadership bid and is antsy to get the race underway.
Hugh's problem isn't with Taft, though. Rather, he's wanting to cut off perceived front-runner and Calgary Currie MLA Dave Taylor. Dave's aggressive and abraisive style hasn't sat well with many in the Alberta Liberal Party, including the Member for Gold Bar.
MacDonald has apparently been arguing that Taylor's candidacy would be far too divisive amongst the already-decimated ranks of the Alberta Liberals, a message that is meeting with considerable agreement, and will be positioning himself as a unifying candidate.
There is also word that another previously rumoured candidate, Edmonton Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman, will in fact be throwing her support behind Hugh MacDonald. Both elected in 1997, they are the most experienced members of the Alberta Liberal caucus. I'm told that Blakeman's rationale for supporting MacDonald is two-fold. First, she believes that his uncanny ability to uncover government slip-ups is something that the Official Opposition needs more of. Second, she contends that even though there are more Liberal MLAs from Calgary than Edmonton, the heart of liberalism in Alberta is still in Edmonton and an Edmonton voice must remain as Leader, lest they lose their remaining seats in the Capital.
A man with a blue collar background, MacDonald will likely be looking for support from the Alberta Liberal Party's new friends in Alberta's organized labour movements who should be far more effective at identifying and motivating supporters than Dave Taylor's scattered support base.
I know I've been less than kind to Hugh MacDonald in the past, but I will admit that I'm pleased to hear that he's going to try and give Dave Taylor a run for his money. If nothing else, MacDonald has certainly proven over 4 terms that he has staying power and a much more institutional connection to his party than his opponent and that could serve him well in a showdown with a relative newcomer.
I'm looking forward to watching this saga unfold and to getting answers to the many questions it raises. How much caucus/executive support will MacDonald receive? Will Dave Taylor respond by stepping up his own campaign? What becomes of Kevin Taft during all of this?
We'll all want to stay tuned!