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Monday, November 20, 2006

backs out.

Edmonton Manning MLA Dan Backs is no longer a member of the Official Opposition Alberta Liberal Caucus.

I've heard various shifty rumours about his involvement in the Tory leadership race in the past couple months and Backs has always been an odd fellow, so I'm not sure I'm totally surprised by this action.

In making the announcement, Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said, “This has been a difficult decision. Dan has made valuable contributions.”

“However, teamwork is key to being an effective Opposition, and I believe that this decision will allow our Caucus team to function better.”

I'll see what I can do about offering more comment later today...

UPDATE: Does anyone find it interesting that this post generated a lot more discussion and comments than my previous post about Peter Lougheed endorsing Jim Dinning?

49 comments:

EX-NDIP said...

Maybe he has become one of those dreaded Neo-Cons . . . . neo meaning NEW!!!

Maurice said...

Don't lose too much sleep over it. Backs is a useless sack of poo. The Alberta Liberal caucus did the right thing. The tired of his rageoholic fits and hearing from his constituents who he totally ignores. He'll make fitting company for Paul Hinman.

Anonymous said...

Backs was probably the weakest member of the opposition (with Bharat Agnihotri and Ray Martin). Taft made a good decision. The Liberals will be stronger and more united because of this.

Art said...

Another Liberal calling for Taft to go perhaps? That's what the coded language about 'teamwork' means to me.

Anonymous said...

What's a BA (Special) anyway?

jon said...

Backs was an opinionated bully in caucus.

He didn't quit. He was kicked out.

Anonymous said...

This was a long time coming.

Good on Kevin Taft for cutting the deadwood in his team.

Jim said...

Backs was terrible. I was hoping that a stronger Liberal alternative would challenge him for the nomination ever since was was elected. I'm very happy that he's been cut off at the knees.

Art said...

Losing an MLA is now apparently a good thing.

Gotta love Liberal spin...

Maurice said...

Sounds like the caucus kicked him out ... unanimously. Danny boy never could play with others. He is a bumbling psycho. And what's worse, he's got awful breath because he refuses to brush his tooth.

And kicking out a caucus member is often a good thing. Don't tell me the bootings of Carolyn Parrish, John Nunziata, Garth Turner or Jim Pankiw weren't treated with a sigh of relief from their respective parties.

Werner Patels said...

This is odd, indeed. Backs is the same MLA who called Alberta Tories "Nazis" earlier this year (I can see why someone would attach this moniker to the federal Conservatives, but in all fairness, the provincial Tories are Red Tories (except for Morton) and certainly not deserving of being called Nazis). So, I doubt very much that he is crossing over ...

andy charles said...

Werner Patels, does that make Liberals communists and the NDP Maoists? I love how wackos like yourself deal in such extremes.

Werner Patels said...

I am not saying or implying any of these things. I merely refreshed everyone's memory of Backs' past actions. If this warrants being called a wacko by the likes of you, then so be it, because you only called yourself a wacko.

Anonymous said...

If Backs is so bad, why did the Liberals nominate him in the first place? Why did Taft make him Labour critic? Why do the people of Manning have to wait until the next election to get a decent MLA?

Maurice said...

Werner Patels...hmmm...where have I heard that name before?

Oh yeah! From here:

http://jasoncherniak.blogspot.com/2005/12/censure-werner.html

"A well known member of the Canadian blogsphere spent the past year or so lying about who he was, who he represented and the nature of his opinions. This morning, he admitted to me that it was all part of some "experiment". When I think about this, I am just sick about how much this sort of immaturity hurts the credibility of blogs. I hope that bloggers from all parties will agree with me that for this sham, the former Calgary Observer and current AlbertaAvenue deserves to be censured.

Under the name "Calgary Observer", this blogger caused quite a stir. He was insulting Conservatives and being generally obnoxious. Indeed, on occasion I had to tell him to be nice to Conservatives posting on my site. He got banned on many sites throughout the blogsphere. In July or August, he claimed to be running as a Liberal candidate in the federal election. A couple weeks ago, this blogger told me that he was quitting Liblogs because his post was supposedly censored. After I explained that only the most recent post for every person gets on the aggregator, he "agreed" to remain on the list. Yesterday, he attacked my call for Harper to answer questions about American support as a "smear" and proposed a new list of "common sense bloggers". I then noticed that he was supporting the Conservatives in the election. This all left me somewhat confused, so I asked him why he is suddenly a Conservative. Apparently, he was always a federal Conservative.

You see, this blogger was running an "experiment". He thought that "lefties" always stick together no matter what. He thought he would pose as a "leftie" and see what happened. He was vicious. He called people names. He pretended to represent a certain type of federal Alberta Liberal that might not even exist. He made us all look bad, but we put up with him because we believe in freedom of speech. Now we know the truth. Now we know that his insulting attitude came from his incorrect opinion of those of us who are not Conservatives. He was so blind to reality, that somehow he thought he was representative of non-Conservatives by being one of the most disliked bloggers in Canada."

Anonymous said...

This is simply another reason for Taft to go. It's a sad state of affairs when he can't control his MLAs.

The next election will simply be the same old re-run. The liberals have always lost in Alberta (with the exception of 1905).

Support the liberals in AB if you want a nice Senate seat, etc. but don't expect to win.

Maurice said...

Thanks for that Werner. Why don't you have the courage to use your real name, asshole.

Anonymous said...

maurice,

Your first clue of someone's cluelessness should come when they self-identify as a "pundit". You can't call yourself a pundit anymore than you can call yourself a philosopher - just ask John Raulston Saul (former concubine of our last Governor General). Titles like that have to be given, not taken.

By the way, I don't exactly see our friend Werner having journalists flock to his door asking for his thoughts... on anything, much less politics.

Werner Patels said...

Well, Maurice, unlike you, I never post anonymously. As for being a "pundit", I am a political scientist who has worked, e.g., for the CBC, and I am in constant contact with members of the MSM (and, yes, they contact me, and not the other way round).

With people like you, a restriction on who's allowed to blog and comment on blogs makes perfect sense.

Jim said...

I really wish these anonymous "Taft has to go" peeps would put a username to their comments. It's getting a little tired.

Anonymous said...

No, but seriously: What's a BA (Special)?

michael in calgary said...

Dan Backs wasn't a team player in the ALP caucus. It was only a matter of time before he was jettisoned. It was either this or he'd lose his nomination. It says a lot about Kevin Taft's leadership when he can stand up for his caucus team against MLAs that don't want to play ball.

Taft made the right decision and showed leadership in strengthening the Official Opposition in Alberta!

Pink said...

Backs wasn't going to lose the nomination, he already had the nomination.

I'm really not sure what Werner Patels has to do with Dan Backs or Kevin Taft.

As for Jim's comments about anonymous posters - posting as "Jim" from Edmonton isn't exactly telling us who you are.

What was striking to me was the fact Taft admitted he didn't give Backs a warning. That to me says that Backs must have done something to piss Taft off, rather than just being a general pain. You don't get rid of an MLA for being a general pain (party politics would end as we know it). You give MLAs warnings, tell them to pull up their socks. Unless there was some incident Taft couldn't abide by.

Another blogger suggested that Backs was off base on his minimum wage announcement. Could be Taft didn't like MLAs going left when he's been moving the party to the right to collect corporate donations.

Or it could be that Backs was calling for Taft to go. At 15% in the polls, Edmonton Manning is sure to fall to the Tories or the Dippers.

daveberta said...

As I mentioned before, I'm not totally shocked at what happened with Dan Backs and I think evidence shows that this wasn't completely out of the blue.

From what I understand, there have been personal and professional issues between the Caucus members and staff for at least a year - including the "Nazi" comment from May 2006.

I've known Kevin Taft for 5 years and I can tell you that I'm sure this wasn't an easy decision to make. Taft is not the kind of person that would make this sort of decision on a personal opinion and it's been made quite clear that this was a caucus decision.

As for the polls, as I've said before, until the Tories chose a new leader, they are quite meaningless - especially in Edmonton, where party dominance can flip on a dime.

jonas said...

Depending on who is nominated for each party, Edmonton Manning could literally go any way in the next election.

1986-93 - NDP
1993-2001 - Liberal
2001-2004 - PC
2004- Liberal

In the last election:
Liberal - 3873
PC - 3646
NDP - 2371

Backs was a weak and low profile MLA. Removing Backs from caucus gives the Liberals the chance to nominate a stronger candidate in a riding which will be hotly contested and tageted by both the NDP and Tories - and literally could go any of the three ways.

Anonymous said...

i have spoken to caucus members who were not consulted on this. Taft and his inner circle are the problem. DB has been a card carry lib for 30 years now. i am phoning the other DB tomorrow to start organizing for him to dump taft as soon as he loses the next election. When i talk about Taft's innercircle, does anyone remmeber one of his many friends who was the executive director of the party after volunteering in one election? you know, the guy who had no experience, but did have a lot of kiddie porn? who hired him? what riding did he live in? how long had he been a party member before being appointed, errr, hired as the executvie director?
for anyone who only sees the most obvious examples and doesnt know the real story, even still, expelling DB is the second clear cut obvious case of incompetence after that Kense chump.

dorey said...

I don't understand what the big deal is. Taft got rid of a no-name deep backbench MLA. Obviously he was causing problems.

dorey said...

I think Jonas makes a good point. It may have a lot to do with the Liberals actually wanting to retain the riding in the next election.

dorey said...

wow. Dan Backs all of a sudden has a lot of fans in the anonymous blog poster community.

Anonymous said...

ha

jaime said...

Working as a team unit is something that Taft's 2004 Liberal team has had a challenage with over the past couple years. While some in the caucus have shined in the Legislature (Taft, Rick Miller, Dave Taylor, Laurie Blakeman, Mo Elsalhy, David Swann) other have been less effective and more detrimental to the caucus unit (Backs for example). If anything, the decision to cut Backs may lead to a more solidified opposition in the legislature.

And if you think this is anything, just wait to see the mahem in the PC caucus when King Dinning takes the throne. We're in for a show, folks!

Edmontonian said...

I don't see how dropping a nominated incumbent improves the Liberal chances in Manning. If anything, it's a signal to people running for the PCs or NDP that the seat is open. Rumour has it that Janice Melnychuk was already eyeing the seat for the NDP. Without a Liberal incumbent, the seat looks a lot more winnable for her. With an incumbent, she might not have been willing to step forward.

Jim said...

As for Jim's comments about anonymous posters - posting as "Jim" from Edmonton isn't exactly telling us who you are.

I'm not asking people to give me their name and address--I'm asking people to sign up for a username and stick with it. All I want is to prevent sockpuppetry.

Anonymous said...

Janice Melnychuk may also run in Beverly Clareview if Ray Martin retires. Arlene Chapman for the ND's in Manning?

Ed Gibbons again for the Liberals in Manning? Maybe Taft has a star candidate lined up?

Tony Vandermeer for the Tories? A Julius Yankowski comeback? Maybe Lyle Oberg will run for an Edmonton seat? Jim Dinning for that matter...

Could go to any of them.

Jim said...

Julius Yankowsky? Oof. He was really damaged when the Edmonton Journal gave him that "F" rating--even moreso, in my opinion, when he bitterly lashed out at the paper after he lost badly in 2004.

But yeah, Manning was going to be a very, very difficult hold for the Liberals with Backs on the ticket. In this case, defending an open seat is probably a better prospect for the Liberals than defending Backs--probably analogous to how the recent Minnesota Senate race was an easier hold for the Democratic Party without Mark Dayton on the ballot. Unlike Minnesota, though, Manning is prime swing territory and holding that seat will hinge greatly on candidate quality and provincial dynamics. I'm not in favor of a Gibbons comeback, but I'm also not plugged in very well to the Manning community, so I'm not sure who else might want to take a crack at it.

Maurice said...

Why does a leader have to WARN a SITTING GOD DAMN MLA that he'll get kicked out if he doesn't behave properly. Like, you know, get his facts right in the Leg. Return phone calls from constituents. And stop being a regular at Chez Pierre.

Backs has had two years to step up from being a useless union hack to at least pretend to be a mediocre MLA. He wasn't up to the job. The caucus thought he was an idiot. The caucus staff were always on the receiving end of his rageoholic shit fits. So Kevin Taft fires the idiot. He's the boss. Why shouldn't he fire Backs' toothless ass? Why?

At the very least the move should be a shot across the bow to Bharat Agnihotri to pull up his socks and start behaving like an adult.

And why is everyone so bloody surprised when a leader acts like, you know, a LEADER! What's Taft supposed to do? Sit around in a circle with everyone, hold hands and talk about their feelings and emotions. What crap!

My opinion of Taft has risen 100 per cent in this case by identifying a problem and acting on it without dithering around like some other Liberal leader whose name escapes me.

Anonymous said...

Berta, who cares about whether the PCs can get Edmonton or not? They always get the vast majority of Calgary and all of rural Alberta. That is enough to handily beat the liberals.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the electoral importance of Edmonton depends heavily on who the PC's select as a leader.

If it's Morton, that could drive a lot of so-called "red tory" vote away in a hurry.

Allie said...

I think Taft is on to something here - it's brilliant! I think he should keep firing his Liberal MLA's! Go Taft Go!

:-P

Anonymous said...

I agree with Grog, a vote for Morton could be a good thing for the liberal movement in this province.

A party is only as strong as its weakest member. Even though eliminating Backs from caucus seems to be downsizing, it is strengthening and uniting the party. Taft has drawn a clear line in the sand - there are limits to what he will put up with, and there are expectations for the behaviour of a sitting MLA.

Taft and co. did not have to elimate Backs from the caucus to ensure that he did not run in the riding again - they could have easily done so through ensuring that a different person was nominated to run for MLA in that riding for the next election. Definitely a move to a position of strength.

Anonymous said...

Haha, this is the worst spin ever. Firing a fellow liberal MLA is .... ah ... a good thing.

Grog, it doesn't matter if the libs take all of Edmonton. The PCs still always have Calgary and rural AB.

It's been since 1905 that the libs were in power and I doubt a Morton government will change that (in fact, he's subsume the AB Alliance, which is the only legitimate threat in rural Alberta).

ktr said...

so you guys think when backs runs as an independent (wont he?) that the liberals will have a better chance at winning the seat, and the vote won't be split????? lol.
just because taft made a decision, doesnt mean he was being a good leader. a leader unites people. what specifically did DB do that would result in an expulsion? an explanation is needed not from the defendant, but the prosecution (taft). was it a policy disagreement? argument? poor job in general?
there is no point in us speculating on what it was, he needs to answer why he expelled him permanently, and what the caucus vote was.

ktr said...

yeah, the more i think about it, the weirder it is that nobody claims to know the vote total in caucus to expel DB. was there not a vote, or what was the damn result! that is my question.

Anonymous said...

What was the total vote to expel Lyle Oberg from the PC Caucus?

Anonymous said...

The vote to expel Backs was unanimous from the Caucus (since Backs was the issue, he was not included on the vote).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
The vote to expel Backs was unanimous from the Caucus (since Backs was the issue, he was not included on the vote).

actually, it may have been unanimous considering only 2 MLA's voted!!! Kevin and a mysterious female MLA from Edm Centre. guess who? lol.
try talking to other MLA's and ask if they were there for the vote. They were surprised by the vote as much as the rest of us.

Maurice said...

Thanks for that, Hugh Macdonald. I guess every caucus needs a backstabbing Joe Volpe character like you.

Anonymous said...

So is Maurice Maurice Tougas and Anonymous Hugh MacDonald? Take it outside boys!

Anonymous said...

Dan Backs has a blog: http://www.danbacks.com/blog/