Parties & Leaders
Liberal Leader Kevin Taft
Andree Lau | CBC Online News | Updated Feb. 4, 2008
Kevin Taft's assault on the Conservatives began before he was elected to the legislature with two books criticizing Tory governance and prompting former premier Ralph Klein to call him a communist.
In 2006, Taft authored a third book titled Democracy Derailed, accusing the Tories of undermining democracy by dodging accountability and manipulating public opinion.
Taft put the Liberals back on track in the 2004 election and hopes to build on that breakthrough by highlighting how transparent government could be with the Liberals in power.
The Liberal leader's profile in opposition has been uneven. When the auditor general found the Tory government hid internal reports that called for higher royalties, Taft immediately made headlines calling for the firing of the energy minister.
But then it took Taft five weeks to respond publicly to the crucial royalty review that has divided the province. He said he needed that time to speak to Albertans and members of the review panel.
Taft is considered a well-respected academic, but lacking a charismatic connection with regular Albertans, or a common touch that personified Klein.
Taft believes politicians should hold themselves to a higher standard. In 2003, he refused to accept two impossible-to-get tickets to the Heritage Classic game, saying he was no more entitled to them than other Albertans.
In the spring of 2004, Taft was elected Liberal leader after Ken Nicol stepped down to run in the federal election. He inherited a party was saddled with a $900,000 debt from the last election.
Despite that, Taft managed to help his party more than double its seats from seven to 17 in the 2004 election, including a breakthrough in conservative Calgary. He was also re-elected in Edmonton-Riverview, receiving more votes than any candidate in the province.
Before his life in politics, Taft worked for the provincial government as a researcher. His work included sitting on a committee that conducted a health-care review during Don Getty's tenure as premier.
Taft also obtained a business doctorate in England and worked at the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute.
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Born:Sept. 9, 1955 in Saskatoon, raised in Edmonton
Education:BA and MA from University of Alberta, PhD in business from University of Warwick
Employment:Researcher for the province, consultant, author of three books
Politics:MLA Edmonton-Riverview (2001-present)
Family:Married to Jeanette, two sons
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