Dan Backs

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Dan Backs
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
In office
November 22, 2004 – March 3, 2008
Preceded byTony Vandermeer
Succeeded byPeter Sandhu
Personal details
Born (1953-12-15) December 15, 1953 (age 65)
Calgary, Alberta
Political partyLiberal (2004-2006)
Independent (2006-2008)
Other political
Progressive Conservative
Alma materUniversity of Alberta

Dan Backs (born December 15, 1953)[1] is a politician and former member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. He was elected as a Liberal candidate in the 2004 provincial election, but was kicked out of the Liberal caucus by leader Kevin Taft, who cited concerns about Backs' ability to work as a member of a team. He sat as an independent thereafter and, after failing to secure the Progressive Conservative nomination for his riding, sought re-election in that capacity as well. He finished third in the riding in the 2008 election.

Early life[edit]

Backs was educated at St. Francis High School in Calgary, Alberta.[2] He subsequently earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Alberta and a heavy equipment certification from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.[2] He also studied Spanish at the Enforex Language Institute in Marbella, Spain and the Amerispan language school in Antigua Guatemala, negotiations and creative writing at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Extension, farm electricity and wiring at Fairview College, and newswriting at the George Meany Institute in Washington, D.C..[2]

Backs has worked in farming, construction, and pipelining.[2] He has served as a negotiator for the Alberta Operating Engineers Association, and as secretary-treasurer of the Alberta and Northwest Territories Council of Labour.[2]


Electoral record[edit]

Backs ran for a seat to the Alberta Legislature for the first time in the 1979 Alberta general election. He ran for the Alberta Liberals in the electoral district of Lesser Slave Lake but was defeated by Larry Shaben finishing in last place in the field of four candidates.[3]

He would attempt to gain a seat in the 1986 Edmonton municipal election, when he ran for Edmonton City Council as an alderman in Ward 1.[4] He finished third of nine candidates, behind Bruce Campbell and Helen Paull, both of whom were elected (Edmonton's council is composed of two councillors from each of six wards).[4]

He subsequently sought provincial office in the 2004 election, when he ran as a Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Manning.[5] He defeated Progressive Conservative incumbent Tony Vandermeer and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.[5]

After being expelled from the Liberal caucus by leader Kevin Taft, Backs sought the Progressive Conservative nomination in his riding.[6] Also contesting it were Vandermeer, his predecessor and last-time opponent, local homebuilder Peter Sandhu, and Backs' fellow former Liberal Emerson Mayers. Sandhu won the nomination,[6] and Backs decided to contest the next election as an independent.[7] In this election, he finished third behind Sandhu and New Democrat Rick Murti.[8]

Ouster from caucus[edit]

In November 2006, Backs was expelled from the Liberal caucus by party leader Kevin Taft.[9] Taft attributed the decision to "ongoing friction" between Backs and his colleagues, with Backs expressing surprise and calling the ouster "bizarre".[9] Although Backs had already received the Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Manning for the following election, Taft declared that he would not be running as a Liberal and that the party would find a different candidate.[9]

Legislative initiatives[edit]

In 2006, while still a Liberal, Backs sponsored the Labour Relations Code (First Collective Agreement) Amendment Act, a private member's bill designed to provide a first collective bargaining agreement after the certification of a union, to prevent the sort of labour conflict that had recently occurred between Lakeside Packers and the United Food and Commercial Workers.[10] The bill had not come up for a second reading by the time the 2006 session of the legislature adjourned, and accordingly it died.[11] In 2007, as an independent, Backs sponsored the Regulatory Accountability and Transparency Act, a private member's bill designed to reduce the red tape faced by Alberta business.[12] It was supported by the Liberal, New Democratic, and Alberta Alliance caucuses.[12][13] The Progressive Conservatives who spoke to the bill expressed a support for the concept of regulatory simplification - which they stated was a major goal of the government - but expressed some concerns with different specific elements of the bill.[12][13] Ultimately, the bill was referred - with Backs' support - to the legislature's Standing Committee on Government Services, where it remained at the adjournment of the legislature's 2007 session.[13][14]

Election results[edit]

2008 Alberta general election results (Edmonton-Manning) Turnout 39.8%
Affiliation Candidate Votes %
     Progressive Conservative Peter Sandhu 4,109 35.2%
     NDP Rick Murti 2,302 20.6%
     Independent Dan Backs 2,275 20.1%
     Liberal Sandeep Dhir 2,261 19.5%
Wildrose Alliance Phil Gamache 287 2.6%
Green Odette Boily 234 2.1%
2004 Alberta general election results (Edmonton-Manning) Turnout 44.3%
Affiliation Candidate Votes %
     Liberal Dan Backs 3,873 35.9%
     Progressive Conservative Tony Vandermeer 3,646 33.8%
     NDP Laurie Lang 2,371 22.0%
Alberta Alliance Mike Pietramala 515 4.8%
Green Ross Adshead 240 2.2%
     Social Credit Sean Tisdall 130 1.2%
1986 Edmonton municipal election results (Ward 1)
Candidate Votes
Bruce Campbell 10,929
Helen Paull 10,074
Dan Backs 6,545
Paul Norris 5,038
Walter Coombs 2,320
John Ludwig 2,104
Mary Hislop-Perraton 864
Roxanne Herbert 712
Francis Dryden 490


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c d e "Backs' Legislative Assembly of Alberta biography". Archived from the original on October 5, 2006. Retrieved 2017-02-26.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ "Lesser Slave Lake results 1979". Alberta Heritage Community Foundation. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Edmonton 1986 municipal election results" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-03-18.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b "2004 election results, Edmonton-Manning" (PDF). Elections Alberta. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Holubitsky, Jeff (September 22, 2007). "Sandhu wins Tory nomination". Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  7. ^ Markusoff, Jason (February 23, 2008). "Turfed Liberal could win points for recycling". Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  8. ^ Farrell, Jim (March 3, 2008). "Edmonton-Manning". Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c "Alberta Liberals oust Dan Backs from caucus for causing too much friction". Canadian Press. November 20, 2006. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  10. ^ https://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files%5Cdocs%5Chansards%5Chan%5Clegislature_26%5Csession_2%5C20060518_1330_01_han.pdf |chapter-url= missing title (help) (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Legislative Assembly of Alberta. May 18, 2006.
  11. ^ "Bill Status Report for the 26th Legislature - 2nd Session (2006)". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  12. ^ a b c https://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files%5Cdocs%5Chansards%5Chan%5Clegislature_26%5Csession_3%5C20071108_1300_01_han.pdf |chapter-url= missing title (help) (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Legislative Assembly of Alberta. November 8, 2007.
  13. ^ a b c https://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files%5Cdocs%5Chansards%5Chan%5Clegislature_26%5Csession_3%5C20071119_1300_01_han.pdf |chapter-url= missing title (help) (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Legislative Assembly of Alberta. November 19, 2007.
  14. ^ "Bill Status Report for the 26th Legislature - 3rd Session (2007)". Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved 2008-03-14.