Alberta premier chides MLA for criticizing government in public

EDMONTON - An Alberta legislature member booted from caucus for questioning a government decision to delay construction of a long-term care home in his Fort McMurray riding may have angered his old boss even more.

EDMONTON - An Alberta legislature member booted from caucus for questioning a government decision to delay construction of a long-term care home in his Fort McMurray riding may have angered his old boss even more.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo member Guy Boutilier was unrepentant in public comments over the weekend after being expelled from both caucus and Treasury Board on Friday - comments that didn't go unnoticed by Premier Ed Stelmach, who first administered the boot.

"It's more than one chance," Stelmach said Monday.

"This has been going on for two or three days. This isn't simply just one comment, it's a number of comments that have been made over the last number of days."

Boutilier, a former environment and international affairs minister, was turfed from caucus in a phone call Friday for criticizing a four-delay in building the facility for seniors even though it was approved 18 months ago.

The prospect of life as an independent didn't temper his words over the weekend. Boutilier continued to condemn the decision of Health Minister Ron Liepert and even put Stelmach in his sights, saying the premier wasn't treating him fairly by denying him a chance to plead his case before his fellow Tory members of the legislature.

But Stelmach said Boutilier crossed the line when he publicly aired doubts that should have stayed behind the closed doors of caucus.

"We have very frank discussions in caucus. They're sometimes very passionate. But when a decision is made, a decision is made," Stelmach said.

"Every MLA, going through this difficult economic period, has had to see some projects put on hold. Albertans expect strong leadership out of their premier and this an example of it."

Stelmach said he hasn't even thought about what Boutilier would have to do to rejoin the Tory caucus, of which he has been a member since 1997.

"I made the decision on Friday, it stays the same today and will into the future."

Although Stelmach made this ruling unilaterally - he told reporters he was acting "on behalf" of caucus - that was not the case the last time a government member was turfed.

In 2006, Lyle Oberg was voted out by the caucus as a whole after he lashed out at then-premier Ralph Klein over the Conservative party's leadership process.

Six months later, Oberg was allowed to return.

 
 
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