Only when their negligible presence vanished did I really begin to believe that my tenure with the Alberta Liberal Caucus, until recently Alberta's Official Opposition, was truly over. As I drove past the Legislature Annex and the legislature itself, Al Stewart's "Time Passages" played over my iPhone. I couldn't help but smile to myself; how apropos. My departure unfolded as I'd somehow always imagined it: on a sunny day, without fanfare, quietly sliding over the horizon, the stony legislature dome receding in my rear view mirror. My arrival was similarly low-key...
I'd been interested in the career of Kevin Taft since reading his first book, Shredding the Public Interest. I'd been interested in politics since grade school and Taft's ascension to Official Opposition Leader prompted me to seriously consider joining his team. But at the time I was performing non-partisan public service, writing speeches for Lieutenant Governor Lois Hole. It wasn't until 2005, after Her Honour's death, that I felt free enough to apply for a job with the Alberta Liberal Caucus.
The day-to-day demands of the job left little room for idealism, however. I wet my feet with a few simple brochures, but soon enough I was writing speeches and private member's statements for all of the Liberal MLAs. I quickly learned to write in sixteen different voices - and even retained my sanity while doing so!
The job itself was enjoyable enough, and rewarding, too; I really felt as though I was helping hundreds of Albertans have their voices heard. But the true gift of the job has been the dozens of remarkable people I've been privileged to work with. Over the years I've seen dozens of incredible Albertans come and go through the caucus offices; in fact my one regret is that turnover remained very high through my tenure. Opposition politics is a bit of a meat grinder, I'm afraid; I outlasted all but two of my co-workers, and only two Liberal MLAs have been with the caucus longer than me.
If a week is an eternity in politics, what is six and a half years? Well, probably a little too long, at least for me. Politics thrives on new blood, and I'm happy to step aside for fresh perspectives and new approaches. If my time in opposition has taught me anything, it's that the progressive left has to get its act together if it ever wants real change. The same old same old won't cut it anymore, and if that means saying goodbye to some cherished old brands and favourite colours, well, so be it. Politics isn't sports; it's not about which team "wins." It's about protecting civil rights, managing the economy for the betterment of all, protecting the environment, seeing to the needs of the vulnerable and less fortunate...in other words, building a culture and society that leaves no one behind as it moves forward to a better tomorrow.
As I prepare for the next chapter in my life, I'd like to thank all of my colleagues for their support, guidance, patience and friendship: the Alberta Liberal MLAs and their constituency staff, Alberta Liberal Party staff, volunteers and members, infrastructure, IT, custodial and HR staff of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, and most of all, my fellow staff members in communications, research, administration and the Leader's Office.
I will never forget you. In memory of the many fine people I served with, I'll close with some images of my favourite moments.
|Earl's last day. Thanks to Avril McCalla for shooting the photo.|