Kevin Taft

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Kevin Taft
Taft in 2017
Leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta
In office
March 27, 2004 – December 14, 2008
Preceded byKen Nicol
Succeeded byDavid Swann
Leader of the Alberta Liberal Party
In office
2004 – December 13, 2008
Preceded byDon Massey (interim)
Succeeded byDavid Swann
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Edmonton Riverview
In office
March 12, 2001 – April 23, 2012
Preceded byLinda Sloan
Succeeded bySteve Young
Personal details
Born (1955-09-09) September 9, 1955 (age 68)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Political partyAlberta Liberal
SpouseJeanette Boman
Alma materUniversity of Alberta
University of Warwick

Kevin Taft (born September 9, 1955) is an author, consultant, speaker, and former provincial politician in Alberta, Canada. Prior to his election, he worked in various public policy roles (1973-2000) in the Government of Alberta, private and non-profit sectors, in the areas of health, energy, and economic policy. From 1986 to 1991 he was CEO of the ExTerra Foundation, which conducted paleontological expeditions in China's Gobi Desert, Alberta's badlands, and the Canadian Arctic. He is the author of five books as well as several research studies and articles on political and economic issues in Alberta. In the mid-late 1990s Dr. Taft wrote two books critical of the ruling Progressive Conservatives.[1] The Premier of Alberta at the time (Ralph Klein) insulted Taft in the Alberta Legislature, which solidified Taft's desire to run for office to defend his perspective on public policy. He was an Alberta Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 2001 to 2012, and Leader of the Official Opposition from 2004 to 2008. Taft is currently an author, speaker, and consultant. He is father to two adult sons and currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his partner Jeanette Boman.


Taft has a B.A. in Political Science and Master's Degree in Community Development from the University of Alberta. He received a Ph.D. (1998) in Business from the University of Warwick in England.


Early career[edit]

Taft has worked as a consultant and policy analyst in both the public and private sectors. His professional career began in 1973 at the age of eighteen when Peter Lougheed's Progressive Conservative cabinet appointed him a member of the Alberta Health Facilities Review Committee. His position on the committee involved investigating and monitoring Alberta's hospitals and nursing homes, and reporting through the committee to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.[2] Taft left the committee in 1982. He also worked as a planning consultant with the Alberta Hospital Association[3] and on the Alberta government's Nursing Home Review Panel task force from 1981 to 1982. In 1983, he became Coordinator of Planning, Research, and Evaluation for the Edmonton Region of Alberta Social Services and Community Health,[4] where he remained until 1986.

Work with the ExTerra Foundation[edit]

Taft was the chief executive officer of the ExTerra Foundation from 1986 to 1991, where he oversaw a team that planned and developed the Canada-China Dinosaur Project. The project's scientific partners were the Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.[5] The project was conceived and initiated by anthropologist Brian Noble and palaeontologist Philip J. Currie. Noble, who named the Foundation and lead the international team from 1983 to 1989, invited Taft to become a co-founding member of Ex Terra's Board in 1984. The project included a multimillion-dollar series of expeditions that formed "one of the biggest dinosaur hunts in history".[6] It also included books, internationally televised films, and eventually an international touring exhibit.

The joint Canadian-Chinese expeditions went to China's Gobi Desert, Alberta's badlands, and the Canadian arctic. At the time, China was just beginning to open to international visitors, and the Gobi Desert expeditions were the first involving westerners since the 1930s.[5]

The project discovered several new dinosaur species and yielded a large number of scientific papers, including a special edition of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.[7]

Taft resigned from ExTerra in 1991 when it encountered financial shortfalls.[8]

Consulting work[edit]

From 1991 to 2000, Taft worked as a consultant, researcher, and speaker through his firm Taft Research and Communications. His primary focuses were health care policy, energy, and economic policy.

Taft consulted extensively with the Alberta Ministry Responsible for Seniors from 1991 to 1993, an experience that prompted him to write his first book, Shredding the Public Interest, in 1997. In it, Taft challenged the provincial government's claims that spending on public services was soaring. The book was reviewed nationally, and became a bestseller.[9] Shredding the Public Interest placed Taft in the public eye, and cemented his reputation as a government critic.[9] The book generated province-wide debate, attracting public criticism[10] and avid defenders.[11] Premier Klein publicly called Taft a communist, and suggested he should run for political office if he felt he had enough support.[12] Shredding the Public Interest topped local bestseller charts and appeared on national bestselling charts as well.[9] It remained on the Financial Post's national bestseller list for 14 weeks,[13] and was named Trade Book of the Year by the Alberta Book Publishers' Association in 1998.[14]

In 1999, Taft co-authored a study criticizing the deregulation of Alberta's electricity system, and in 1999 and 2000, he wrote two studies arguing against privatizing Epcor, Edmonton's public electricity utility.[15] In large part because of this research, Edmonton's city council of the day eventually dropped its plans to sell Epcor in a narrow 7–6 vote.[16] Edmonton never sold the utility, and remains Epcor's sole shareholder.[17]

Taft published his second book with co-author Gillian Steward, Clear Answers: The Economics and Politics of For-Profit Medicine, in 2000. In it, they argue "There is overwhelming evidence that private health care hasn't worked elsewhere and won't work in Alberta",[18] that private healthcare would increase costs and lengthen waiting lists, that privatization of healthcare is irreversible, and that it would allow American healthcare providers to compete with Alberta's public system.[18] The book also argues that the provincial government had systematically starved the public health system in order to make private healthcare a tempting alternative to the public model.[18] The book, like its predecessor, topped local bestseller lists[19] and appeared on national bestseller lists.[18]

Career in politics[edit]

Kevin Taft making a campaign speech in Calgary during the 2008 provincial election

In December 2000, Taft announced he would seek the Alberta Liberal Party nomination for the next provincial election, "citing his frustration with Tory policies in health care and power deregulation".[20] He won the nomination for Edmonton-Riverview in January 2001.[21] He was elected, defeating Progressive Conservative candidate and former city councillor Wendy Kinsella.[22]

Three years later, in the spring of 2004, Ken Nicol resigned[23] as leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, and Taft was soon elected to replace him.[24] Taft was generally given credit for his tenacity in the legislature.[25] Despite leading a party saddled with a $900,000 debt,[9] he helped his party more than double its seats in the election from 7 before the election call to 16.[26] The Alberta Liberals regained seats in Edmonton, and made a breakthrough in the traditionally conservative city of Calgary.[27] Taft also saw his support in Edmonton Riverview solidify; he received more votes than all other candidates, of any party, in the 2004 election.[28]

He published his third book, Democracy Derailed in 2007. It focussed on what he perceived as the broken state of Alberta's democracy.[29] The book "provides plenty of examples of pettiness and arrogance" from Ralph Klein's government, and criticized the government's record on dealing with whistle blowers. Taft described the situation as "a widespread breakdown of accountability [... that's] become part of the political culture".[29] Taft also suggested 35 ways to fix the problem.[30] Democracy Derailed topped local bestseller lists.[31]

In the 2008 election, the Liberal Party won only nine seats[32] in an election marked for its record low voter turnout.[33] On June 26, 2008, Taft announced that he would step down as leader of the Alberta Liberal Party.[34] He was publicly praised, and thanked for his service to the province.[35][36] Taft remained as an MLA until the 2012 provincial election, when he did not seek re-election.[37]

Post-political career[edit]

In January 2012, just before leaving office, Taft published Follow the Money, his fourth book. Research for the book was supported by two economists: Professor Melville Macmillan and Dr. Junaid Jahagir. Drawing heavily on economic data from Statistics Canada, the book challenges the notion that the Alberta government's spending on public services is far higher than other provinces. Taft shows that total Alberta corporate profits are consistently double or more the rates in the rest of Canada or the United States. In contrast, spending on public services in Alberta is in the normal range, and the government has failed to increase the value of the Heritage Trust Fund.[38] Like its predecessors, Follow the Money topped local bestseller lists.[39] The book was also shortlisted for the Alberta Book Publishers Association Trade Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 2013.[40]

Between 2011 and 2012, Taft, his wife Jeanette Boman and two other partners designed and constructed a three-home net-zero-ready infill residential project in Edmonton called "Belgravia Green". Boman called it "our one small way of saying we believe that we can make a difference as individuals."[41] The homes are designed and built with the aim of reducing net energy use to near zero.[42] The homes were built by Effect Home Builders, and one of them won the 2012 Canadian Home Builders' Association National Green Home Award.[43]

Taft spent 2012-2017 as volunteer chair of a team overseeing the $1.6 million re-development of Belgravia community hall in Edmonton as a fully accessible, multi-purpose, solar powered community centre.[44]

After his retirement from politics, Taft continues working as an author, consultant, and public speaker while volunteering substantial time in his community.

Latest work (Oil's Deep State)[edit]

In 2014, Taft was invited to spend three weeks at the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University in Australia, to write and speak on the effects of the fossil fuel industry on democracy in the context of global warming. In September 2014, he published the paper "Fossil Fuels, Global Warming and Democracy: A Report from a Scene of the Collision", in the Whitlam Institute's Perspectives series.[45]

Developing his ideas further, Taft published his fifth book, Oil’s Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming -- in Alberta, and in Ottawa, (James Lorimer Publishers), in September 2017. The book, written for a general audience, draws on numerous sources for a wide-ranging look at the effects of Canada's petroleum industry on democratic institutions such as the civil service, political parties and academia. His analysis uses theories of democracy and regulatory capture to advance a theory of the "deep state," arguing that the petroleum industry in Canada has captured so many democratic institutions that it has blocked the capacities of the governments of Alberta and Canada to effectively address global warming. He has toured and spoken extensively in support of his book.[citation needed]

Electoral record[edit]

2001 Alberta general election
Edmonton Riverview
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Kevin Taft 7,420 49.7
  Progressive Conservative Wendy Kinsella 5,883 39.4
  New Democrat Doug McLachlan 1,469 9.8
Green Jerry Paschen 165 1.1
2004 Alberta general election
Edmonton Riverview
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Kevin Taft 10,280 65.5 15.8
  Progressive Conservative Fred Horne 3,575 22.8 -16.6
  New Democrat Donna Martyn 1,058 6.7 -3.1
Green John Lackey 357 2.3 1.2
Alberta Alliance David Edgar 313 2.0
Social Credit David Power 116 0.7
2008 Alberta general election: Edmonton-Riverview
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Kevin Taft 7,471 50.61 −14.87
Progressive Conservative Wendy Andrews 5,171 35.03 +12.26
New Democratic Erica Bullwinkle 1,284 8.70 +1.96
Greens Cameron Wakefield 506 3.43 +1.16
Wildrose Alliance Kyle Van Hauwaert 329 2.23 +0.24
Total 14,761
Rejected, spoiled and declined 36
Eligible electors 31,130
Turnout 14,797 47.53 -15.48
Liberal hold Swing −13.57
The Report on the March 3, 2008 Provincial General Election of the Twenty-seventh Legislative Assembly. Elections Alberta. 28 July 2008. pp. 328–331.


  • Oil's Deep State; How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming -- in Alberta, and in Ottawa. James Larimer Publishers. Toronto (2017)
  • Follow the Money: Where is Alberta's Wealth Going?. Coauthored with Mel McMillan. Brush Education (2012).
  • Democracy Derailed: The Breakdown of Government Accountability in Alberta, and How to Get it Back on Track. Red Deer Press (2007).
  • Clear Answers: The Economics and Politics of For-Profit Medicine. Coauthored with Gillian Steward. Duval House Publishing, University of Alberta Press, The Parkland Institute (2000).
  • Shredding the Public Interest. University of Alberta Press (1997).


  1. ^ "CBC News Alberta Election 2004 Profile". CBC News Alberta (Online). October 2004. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Annual Reports" (1973-1982).
  3. ^ "Proceedings" (2001).
  4. ^ Taft & Hayden (1984).
  5. ^ a b "Philip Currie" (2010).
  6. ^ Struzik (1990).
  7. ^ "Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences" (1993).
  8. ^ Henderson (1991).
  9. ^ a b c d Cryderman (2004).
  10. ^ Gunter (1997).
  11. ^ Gwilym (1997).
  12. ^ "Author a communist" (1997).
  13. ^ Thorne (2000)
  14. ^ "Alberta Trade Book of the Year" (1998).
  15. ^ Chalmers (1999).
  16. ^ Loyie (1999).
  17. ^ "EPCOR's Governance" (2012).
  18. ^ a b c d Rusnell (2000).
  19. ^ Best-Sellers / The Charts (2000).
  20. ^ Jeffs (2000).
  21. ^ "Taft gets Liberal nomination" (2001).
  22. ^ Struzik (2001).
  23. ^ Thorne (2004).
  24. ^ "Alberta Liberals choose Kevin Taft" (2004).
  25. ^ Babiak (2007).
  26. ^ "Tories triumphant: Klein wins fourth mandate" (2004).
  27. ^ Baxter (2004).
  28. ^ "Alberta by the numbers" (2008)
  29. ^ a b Pratt (2007).
  30. ^ McLean (2007)
  31. ^ "Bestsellers / The Charts" (2007).
  32. ^ Henton (2008).
  33. ^ Markussof & McLean (2008).
  34. ^ McLean (2008).
  35. ^ Anonymous (2008).
  36. ^ Thomson (2010)
  37. ^ Thomson (2012).
  38. ^ Pratt (2012).
  39. ^ "Bestsellers" (2012).
  40. ^ "2013 Alberta Book Publishing Awards" (2013).
  41. ^ Cardillo (2011).
  42. ^ Messenger (2012).
  43. ^ "2012 National SAM Awards" (2012).
  44. ^ "the belgravian" (PDF). September 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  45. ^ Taft, Dr. Kevin (September 2014). "Fossil Fuels, Global Warming and Democracy: A Report from a Scene of the Collision" (PDF). Perspectives (Whitlam Institute).


  • "2012 National SAM Awards". Canadian Home Builders' Association. 2012. Archived from the original (Electronic) on 7 August 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  • "2013 Alberta Book Publishing Awards Finalists Announced" (PDF). Alberta Book Awards. Book Publishers Association of Alberta. 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  • "Alberta by the numbers". CBC Online News. 31 January 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  • "Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft Draws on Lifetime of Experience". Edmonton Sun. 4 February 2008.
  • "Alberta Liberals choose Kevin Taft". Edmonton Journal. 28 March 2004. pp. A14.
  • Annual Reports of the Alberta Health Facility Review Committee. Alberta Queen's Printer. 1973–1982.
  • Anonymous (27 June 2008). "Taft deserves Albertans' thanks for offering choice". Edmonton Journal. pp. A16.
  • "Author a communist, Klein says". Edmonton Journal. 1 February 1997. pp. A7.
  • Babiak, Todd (27 January 2007). "Lunching with Kevin". Edmonton Journal. pp. H5.
  • Baxter, James (23 November 2004). "Cracks in Tory win". Edmonton Journal. pp. A3.
  • "Bestsellers". Edmonton Journal. 22 April 2012. pp. B9.
  • "Best-Sellers / The Charts". Edmonton Journal. 19 March 2000. pp. E14.
  • "Best-Sellers / The Charts". Edmonton Journal. 4 March 2007. pp. E11.
  • "Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences". 30 (10 & 11). October–November 1993. Retrieved 11 September 2013. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Cardillo, Jane (30 April 2011). "Belgravia dwellings let sun shine in; Three Effect houses aim to make as much energy as they use". Edmonton Journal. pp. I4.
  • Chalmers, Ron (27 January 1999). "Privatized power has risks; Will savings be passed on to consumers of electricity?". Edmonton Journal. pp. A12.
  • Cryderman, Kelly (24 March 2004). "Taft aims for 2010 Liberal win". Edmonton Journal. pp. B5.
  • Cryderman, Kelly (21 January 2004). "Who's the man who would risk his neck... TAFT: Liberal MLA poised to assume spotlight again". Edmonton Journal. pp. B1.
  • "EPCOR's Governance Model". EPCOR. Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  • Gunter, Lorne (31 January 1997). "New anti-Klein book misreads Albertans; Author as guilty of half-truths as politicians". Edmonton Journal. pp. A16.
  • Gwilym, Davies (6 February 1997). "Reading of Taft book shoots down column's claims". Edmonton Journal. pp. A11.
  • Henderson, Ross (6 February 1991). "Show's world tour in doubt". Edmonton Journal. pp. B3.
  • Henton, Darcy (5 March 2008). "Taft says he won't make a hasty exit; Points to size of war chest as difference-maker in election". Edmonton Journal. pp. A4.
  • Jeffs, Allyson (21 December 2000). "Tory critic looking for Liberal nod: Kevin Taft says Alberta needs new government". Edmonton Journal. pp. B3.
  • Loyie, Florence (16 July 1999). "Council rules out sale of Epcor: Deregulation too much of a wild card, some say". Edmonton Journal. pp. A1.
  • Markusoff, Jason & McLean, Archie (5 March 2008). "Poor voter turnout disappoints premier; Attributes record-low participation to general satisfaction". Edmonton Journal. pp. A5.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • McLean, Archie (8 February 2007). "Alberta's democracy is broken, Taft argues in book". Edmonton Journal. pp. A6.
  • McLean, Archie (26 June 2008). "Taft to step down as leader today; Expected to stay on as MLA for Edmonton-Riverview". Edmonton Journal. pp. A1.
  • Messenger, Scott (2012). "Belgravia Green advances net zero home building in Edmonton". Techlife. 5 (1).
  • "Philip Currie: The Canada–China Dinosaur Project" (Video). Remarkable Albertans: The Alberta Order of Excellence Legacy Collection. Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  • Pratt, Sheila (18 January 2012). "Ex-Liberal leader wonders". Edmonton Journal. pp. A5.
  • Pratt, Sheila (11 February 2007). "Taft's book reveals how the Klein gov't eroded democracy". Edmonton Journal. pp. A18.
  • "Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology" (Electronic). Parliament of Canada. 17 October 2001. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  • Rusnell, Charles (12 March 2000). "No trust for Tories' health-care plans". Edmonton Journal. pp. E15.
  • Struzik, Ed (13 March 2001). "Liberal candidate winner in 'battle of the stars': Kevin Taft mum on rumours he may be new party leader". Edmonton Journal. pp. A4.
  • Struzik, Ed (6 September 1990). "Mystery of armoured dinosaur unveiled; Canada/China project reveals the Pinacosaurus, discovered in the Gobi Desert". Edmonton Journal. pp. B3.
  • Taft, Kevin & Hayden, Jacqueline (1984). Review of Services for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse in Greater Edmonton. Edmonton Region, Alberta Social Services and Community Health.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • "Taft gets Liberal nomination". Edmonton Journal. 16 January 2001. pp. B6.
  • Thomson, Graham (7 August 2010). "Ex-Liberal leader finally pulls the plug; Taft just might be the smartest premier Alberta never had". Edmonton Journal. pp. A1.
  • Thomson, Graham (17 March 2012). "In praise of (some) politicians; Here are a few who are leaving Alberta's legislature voluntarily and will be missed". Edmonton Journal. pp. A23.
  • Thorne, Duncan (16 January 2004). "MLA Taft may step up as Nicol steps down". Edmonton Journal. pp. A6.
  • Thorne, Duncan (29 February 2000). "Taft book on privatizing medicare 'best-seller'". Edmonton Journal. pp. B9.
  • "Tories triumphant: Klein wins fourth mandate; Liberals, NDP, Alliance pick up seats". Edmonton Journal. 24 November 2004. pp. A1.
  • "Alberta Trade Book of the Year". Book Awards. Book Publishers Association of Alberta. 1998. Archived from the original (Electronic) on 15 September 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013.

External links[edit]