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David Swann

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David Swann
Swann in 2010
Leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta
In office
15 December 2008 – 10 September 2011
Preceded byKevin Taft
Succeeded byRaj Sherman
Leader of the Alberta Liberal Party
In office
1 February 2015 – 4 June 2017
Preceded byRaj Sherman
Succeeded byDavid Khan
In office
12 December 2008 – 10 September 2011
Preceded byKevin Taft
Succeeded byRaj Sherman
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Mountain View
In office
22 November 2004 – 16 April 2019
Preceded byMark Hlady
Succeeded byKathleen Ganley
Personal details
David Richard Swann[1]

(1949-06-19) 19 June 1949 (age 74)
Taber, Alberta, Canada[2]
Political partyLiberal
Alma materUniversity of Alberta
University of Calgary

David Richard Swann (born 19 June 1949)[3] is a Canadian medical doctor and politician. He was the leader of the Alberta Liberal Party and Leader of the Opposition in the Alberta Legislature from December 2008 until resigning as party leader in September 2011. He returned as interim leader of the Alberta Liberal Party on 1 February 2015, following the resignation of Raj Sherman[4] and led the party through the 2015 provincial election.

Swann is, to date, the last Liberal elected to the Alberta Legislature.

Family and early life

Swann was born in Taber, Alberta, and was raised in a middle-class family on the edge of downtown Calgary. His father, Richard Swann, was head of oil and gas exploration for Canadian Fina for many years, before that company was sold to Petro-Canada. His mother Margaret was an active volunteer while raising him and his four siblings.

His summers as a child were spent in the countryside and mountains of Alberta. As he grew up, he worked on farms, at gas plants and hospitals to finance his education.

Swann attended Western Canada High School before entering the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 1967. While at the U of A, he was a member of the Golden Bears Basketball team that went to the national basketball finals in 1969. He is still a sports fan and considers himself an outdoorsman; Swann is a regular runner, biker, hiker and canoeist.[5]

After graduating in Family Medicine in 1975, Swann worked in mission hospitals in South Africa for three years, where he met his future wife, Laureen Ross, also a doctor. There he discovered the deep connection between medicine and politics firsthand. He was deeply affected by the human rights abuses of apartheid, particularly the killing of Steve Biko, who lived near the mission where he worked.

Swann and his wife returned to Canada in 1979, were married and settled in Pincher Creek for seven years. This is where their three children were born, and where he participated in a private medical practice with four other physicians.[6]

In 1984, he began specialty training in Public Health (Prevention) and, after graduating in 1989, co-ordinated a primary health care project for the University of Calgary in the Philippines. After returning to Canada, he joined the Alberta Association of Medical Health Officers, becoming their president in 2000 while serving as Medical Officer of Health for Palliser Health and Headwaters Health regions.

In 2002, the Alberta Society of Health Officers passed a resolution calling for real government action on climate change and reductions to air pollution. Swann supported this resolution, the government fired him from his position with Palliser Health within days. This led to widespread condemnation of the Alberta Environment Minister, Lorne Taylor, who had influenced Health Chairman Len Mitzel to terminate him.[7]

Under intense public pressure, the Palliser Board was forced to offer Swann his job back. He declined, instead making humanitarian trips to Iraq, then returning to Alberta to run in the 2004 provincial election.[8]

Political career

Swann entered electoral politics as a candidate for the Alberta Liberals. He was elected to the Alberta Legislature in the Alberta general election on 22 November 2004. Along with Harry B. Chase, and Dave Taylor, Swann was part of a re-emergence of provincial Liberals in Calgary which had been completely held by the Progressive Conservatives. During his first term Swann was environment critic and also served as deputy chair of the Standing Committee on Resources and Environment and as a member of the Private Bills Committee and the Standing Committee on Health.[9] Swann was re-elected in the March 3, 2008 election.

Party leader Kevin Taft resigned following the election in which the party last almost half of its seats. Swann won the subsequent 2008 Alberta Liberal leadership election on 13 December 2008, defeating Dave Taylor and Mo Elsalhy.[10] During his tenure as leader the party continued to suffer from resignations and internal divisions which contributed to it falling to third place in the polls behind the Wildrose Alliance.[11] On 1 February 2011, he announced his resignation as leader with effect after the spring session of the Legislative Assembly.[12] He resigned without having led the party through a general election; however, four years later, Swann was given the opportunity to lead the party through an election campaign when party leader Raj Sherman suddenly resigned weeks before the 2015 provincial election was called and Swann was appointed interim leader. In the course of the campaign, Swann's Liberals faced an unexpected surge by the Alberta New Democratic Party under its new leader, Rachel Notley, which threatened to cut into Liberal support, as well as a resurgent Wildrose Party which also resulted in pressure on Liberal supporters to strategically vote for the more moderate Progressive Conservatives in order to block the more right wing Wildrose Party from forming government.[citation needed]

The 2015 election resulted in the defeat of the Progressive Conservatives after 44 years in power and the election of the first NDP government in Alberta history. The Liberals under Swann received 4% of the popular vote, less than half their result in the 2012 election. Only Swann retained his seat becoming the sole Liberal MLA elected, down from 5 Liberal seats.[13]


Swann has advocated for many causes related to peace and development, human rights and social justice and has worked with organizations such as Physicians for Global Survival, Amnesty International, and Doctors Without Borders.[14] Swann has been a vocal supporter of farm workers' rights and regularly campaigns for occupational health and safety laws for Alberta's agricultural sector.[15] Swann is the current interim spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Calgary.[16]

Electoral history

2004 Alberta general election

2004 Alberta general election: Calgary-Mountain View
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal David Swann 7,162 53.31% 28.94%
Progressive Conservative Mark Hlady 4,088 30.43% -29.91%
Green Mark MacGillivray 884 6.58%
New Democratic John Donovan 712 5.30% -9.99%
Alberta Alliance Ryan Cassell 589 4.38%
Total 13,435
Rejected, spoiled and declined 67 13 17
Eligible electors / turnout 27,299 49.52% 3.31%
Liberal gain from Progressive Conservative Swing 29.43%
Source: Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (2005). The Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the 2004 Provincial Enumeration and Monday, November 22, 2004 Provincial General Election of the Twenty-sixth Legislative Assembly. Edmonton: Alberta Legislative Assembly. ISSN 1483-1171. OCLC 1052543255. Retrieved 11 November 2020.

2008 Alberta general election

2008 Alberta general election: Calgary-Mountain View
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal David Swann 7,086 51.5% -1.8%
Progressive Conservative Leah Lawrence 4,252 30.9% 0.5%
Wildrose Alliance Cory Morgan 892 6.5% 2.1%
Green Juliet Burgess 865 6.3% -0.3%
New Democratic John Donovan 661 4.8% -0.5%
Total 13,756
Rejected, spoiled and declined 45 33 8
Eligible electors / turnout 33,311 41.5% -8.1%
Liberal hold Swing -1.1%
Source: Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (2008). The Report on the March 3, 2008 Provincial General Election of the Twenty-Seventh Legislative Assembly. Edmonton: Alberta Legislative Assembly. pp. 238–241. ISSN 1483-1171. Retrieved 11 November 2020.

2012 Alberta general election

2012 Alberta general election: Calgary-Mountain View
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal David Swann 6,918 40.23% -11.28%
Progressive Conservative Cecilia Low 5,270 30.65% -0.26%
Wildrose Shane McAllister 3,915 22.77% 16.28%
New Democratic Christopher McMillan 863 5.02% 0.21%
Alberta Party Inshan S. Mohammed 230 1.34%
Total 17,196
Rejected, spoiled and declined 105 51 6
Eligible electors / turnout 29,988 57.71% 16.26%
Liberal hold Swing -5.51%
Source: "21 - Calgary-Mountain View, 2012 Alberta general election". Elections Alberta. Retrieved 21 May 2020.

2015 Alberta general election

2015 Alberta general election: Calgary-Mountain View
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal David Swann 7,204 36.67% -3.56%
New Democratic Marc Andrew Chikinda 5,673 28.88% 23.86%
Progressive Conservative Mark Hlady 4,699 23.92% -6.73%
Wildrose Terry Wong 2,070 10.54% -12.23%
Total 19,646
Rejected, spoiled and declined 45 56 19
Eligible electors / turnout 36,236 54.39% -3.32%
Liberal hold Swing -0.90%
Source: "21 - Calgary-Mountain View, 2015 Alberta general election". Elections Alberta. Retrieved 21 May 2020.


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Archived 2012-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "David Swann's Birthday Party". Alberta Liberal Party. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  4. ^ "David Swann chosen as interim leader of Alberta Liberals". CBC News. 1 February 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Archived 2011-02-01 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^
  8. ^ Archived 2011-02-24 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Swann's song: Liberal leader david swann expected to resign. – – Alberta Politics". 31 January 2011.
  12. ^ Fekete, Jason (1 February 2011). "David Swann will step down as Alberta Liberal leader". Calgary Herald. Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  13. ^ "Alberta election: NDP wins majority, ending 44 years of PC rule". 5 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  14. ^ David Swann Global Peace Initiatives Archived 2012-07-21 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 6 Nov 2012
  15. ^ MLA asks chip giant to boycott Alberta potatoes until child labour laws reformed Retrieved 6 Nov 2012
  16. ^ "Climate activists' plan more action after public critique of 'energy war room' removed downtown". Calgary Herald.
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David Swann
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