Friday, March 24, 2006

Goodbye and Good Luck, Mr Oberg

(Yesterday, the Alberta Conservative MLA's stripped a cabinet member (Lyle Oberg) of his position and his caucus membership. It has no rght to do so - only the Premier can appoint and dismiss cabinet members. Earlier another cabinet member left to fight a leadership race that doesnt begin until 2007. Here is a response, with acknowledgements to Oscar Wilde)

Losing one cabinet Minister, Mr. Klein, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. Lyle Oberg’s “suspension” is a consequence of a political party which sees unity as more important than policy and performance and a leader who does not tolerate challenge within his own party.

In other jurisdictions – the US and Britain, for example – opposition within a ruling political party is normal. If Klein’s “obey or die” rules were applied, Britain would lose up to six cabinet members and Blair would not be on the way out. What is happening in fact is that Blair has more opposition within his party than he has from the official conservative opposition. In the US, many republicans oppose many aspects of George W Bush’s presidential policies and actions and don’t mind going on television to say so.

Oberg was right. A leadership review is not a coronation – party members should use their conscience to decide whether its time for Klein to go. Oberg was right to imply that he wouldn’t support Klein’s long goodbye – no one should. The Conservative Party should not tolerate this behaviour from their MLA’s and should let Klein know that intolerance is unacceptable. A smart caucus would have challenged Klein’s long goodbye and his leadership rules – both are party matters.

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