Lyle Oberg stripped of portfolio; ‘We’re committed to working with whoever our government representatives are.’
May 1, 2006
CALGARY, Alta. - The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) worked closely with Alberta's former Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, but will carry on with business as usual despite the...
CALGARY, Alta. – The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) worked closely with Alberta’s former Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, but will carry on with business as usual despite the changed landscape in the provincial legislature.
“We had a good working relationship with him and we’re sad to see him go,” Mayne Root, executive director for the AMTA told Truck West. “Any time you have new people it’s a challenge for them to get up to speed, but that’s the political process.”
Dr. Lyle Oberg, MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, was handed a six-month suspension from caucus and stripped of his minister’s portfolio following heated comments about Premier Ralph Klein.
Oberg made his statements during a meeting of his constituency’s Progressive Conservative Association, telling attendees “If I were Premier, I wouldn’t want me sitting as a backbencher. I know where the skeletons are.”
The comments came while Oberg was incensed at the Premier’s calling that leadership candidates step down from their posts by June 1, with Klein expected to continue his term until the fall of 2007.
In response to the MLA’s comments, caucus members held an emergency meeting in the legislature Cabinet room on March 23 and emerged with the decision to suspend Oberg.
His comments were deemed “inappropriate” and the decision stripped him of his Cabinet position. Oberg will remain as the MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, but will take a seat in the legislature across the floor from the government.
In response to his suspension, Oberg admitted to regretting some of his comments and noted his mention of “skeletons” was not an indication of scandal, but rather gaps in policy.
“I did not speak out in a bid to garner support,” Oberg explained during a press conference in Calgary on March 28. “I spoke out, and I spoke plainly and publicly, about things that privately have been on the minds of many members of the PC Party and Albertans in general.”
Following the six-month suspension, the former Brooks physician will be able to apply for his old position of Infrastructure and Transportation Minister. Taking up his old post is an unlikely situation as Oberg officially announced his intentions to seek leadership of the PC party during his press conference.
“I know there are many good people with many good ideas in caucus,” he stated.
“Albertans deserve, and increasingly I think they expect, to hear what those ideas are, from myself and from other candidates seeking the leadership of the PC Party.”
Oberg has expressed some of his views on health care and will be revealing more ideas concerning support for the agricultural sector, education and training, a looming labour shortage and strengthening rural communities.
“And of course it will be essential to continue to wisely invest in infrastructure and transportation improvements that will sustain Alberta for the next decade and beyond,” added Oberg.
He served as the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation following his re-election to the provincial government in November, 2004. The posting was preceded by his time spent as the Minister of Learning and as the Minister of Family and Social Services.
During his decade in the provincial government, Oberg has initiated various new programs and while serving as the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation took a special interest in safety issues.
“He was very supportive of the Partners In Compliance program and worked with the Transportation Training and Development Association,” noted Root.
Ty Lund, MLA for Rocky Mountain House, has taken hold of the infrastructure and transportation portfolio in addition to his current standing as the Minister of Government Services.
Lund has been a sitting member of the Alberta Legislature since 1989 and has previously spent time as the Minister of Infrastructure.
The appointment is expected to be a temporary fix until after the June 1 deadline when all prospective leadership candidates will have announced their intentions.
With Lund’s appointment, the AMTA is expecting no drop-off in the level of involvement with the association.
“We’ve worked on projects around him in the past and I consider him to be a fellow who is up-to-date on the current issues,” commented Root.
The association has always had a positive relationship with the transportation ministers, explains Root, but much of the day-to-day operations are facilitated through the department’s office and not directly through the minister.
“We’re committed to working with whoever our government representatives are,” said Root. “We work with other ministers as well, like the environment minister, and we’ve had a good working relationship with all of them.”