With a leadership election slated for June, the Alberta Liberals hope to reorganize and provide a stronger front in time for the 2019 provincial elections. It’s a faint hope though, given that the party has only one seat, and it’s occupied by interim leader David Swann in the riding of Calgary-Mountainview. The party’s biggest hope in Edmonton, Laurie Blakeman, was swept up in a sea of orange when the NDP took every seat in the city.
But even though the Liberals anticipate a sense of rejuvenation when they choose a new leader this summer, the party has fallen on hard times. Swann was unable to pay the rent for his constituency office and now holds court in a dumpster across the alley.
“It’s not so bad,” says Swann. “All I need is a cellphone and an orange crate for a makeshift desk. But I have to vacate when it’s collection day. I remember miscalculating when that day happens one time and was almost crushed by the garbage compressor in one of those trucks.”
Party caucus meetings are relatively less stressful, usually conducted in his car while commuting to the legislature and always consists of Swann arguing with himself while in transit.
So far, two candidates have thrown their hat into the leadership ring. Swann is not among them, as rumours indicate he will not seek election in his own riding.
“Maybe if we can budget for the party taking care of my laundry bill, I might reconsider,” says Swann. “It’s hard to fight for your constituents in the legislature when the rest of the MLAs near you are holding their noses.”