Lyle Oberg began letting it all hang out in the twilight of the Klein Dark Ages, when he warned the worst Premier in the history of the Province that he knew where the skeletons were. Although the statement didn't help him to become the new PC Leader and Premier, it did give him enough ink and airtime to make him a serious candidate. Although a lacklustre campaign precluded him from being among the three top finishers prior to the runoff, Oberg's salvation came in supporting Eddie in the runoff contest against Dinning and Morton which Eddie of course won. Thereby, for better or worse, the new Preem became beholden to Oberg, and made him Finance Minister.
Oberg, not unlike Treasury Board Head and Eddie henchman Lloyd Snelgrove, obviously likes his power and the trappings thereof and has continued his loose cannon ways that catapulted him into the public consciousness.
The most recent example is his stand on Equalization. He is saying very publicly one thing. Eddie, supposedly his boss, is saying quite another. The Preem wants Bush's pal Steve Harper not to include non-renewable resource cash in the Federal Equalization Program. Oberg says its of no concern to him as to whether Harper does or doesn't. In his opinion, a more important issue is that Federal per capita transfers to Alberta should be increased.
Given that Stelmach and Klein have invested so much political capital in the non-inclusion of non-renewable resource revenue in Equalization, Oberg's position looks very much like a challenge to the Premier's authority. It smacks of insolence and insubordination and he appears to be getting away with it. Obviously, as a result, Eddie looks weak and indecisive. If he can't get his Finance Minister to sing on the same page, how long will it be before other Ministers test the limits.
The Premier appears to be facing the same issue from at least one back-bencher. Gene Zwozdesky, one of the few Tory MLA's from Edmonton, and one of the urban Ministers dumped by Fast Eddie and his rural revival, had the gall to ask Seniors Minister Greg Melchin in the Legislature to abolish or reduce the provincial education property tax for seniors. The total divied up by Alberta senior citizens pursuant to that tax is about $147 million a year. Melchin, so far, has said no.
Zwozdesky is noted for his shaky party loyalty. He was once a famous former Liberal turncoat, who, upon the departure of Laurence Decore as Party Leader, vaulted over to the Klein Tories who treated him very well indeed, having him serve as Minister of Community Development and Minister of Education. Now that he has been defrocked by Fast Eddie and his rural posse, it is not beyond comprehension that Zwozdesky could stick a dagger here and there between you know who's shoulder blades.
Who needs enemies with pals like Oberg and Zwozdesky.