Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Exit David Swann

David Swann will step down as Official Opposition Leader following the end of the spring sitting of the Alberta Legislature. A man of boundless compassion and integrity, David worked for social justice in some of the world's poorest countries, entered war zones at great personal risk to help innocent people, and continues to fight to protect Alberta's environment and public health care.

Despite a compelling personal story and his unquestionable commitment to build a better Alberta, Dr. Swann never really connected with voters. I think that's a shame. Given his background as a physician, his ties to both the oil and gas industry and the environmental movement, and his trust in the scientific method, Swann could have been a transformative leader for Alberta. But as many others have already said, it seems as though you have to be a bit of a bastard to succeed in politics, and David, while he had his moments of steely determination, is the kind of man who always empathizes with his friends, strangers and political enemies alike - if he could even bring himself to call anyone an enemy. That empathy - his greatest strength as a human being - perhaps became his greatest weakness as a leader.

And yet, I'm glad that David didn't sacrifice his kindness and compassion on the altar of short-term political gain. You don't have to be Premier to change the province - and the world - for the better. David has already done more for the world than most of us ever will, and I'm certain that he'll continue to do so for many years to come.

Dr. Swann, it was an honour to have worked with you.

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