One day after CBC News broke the story about an exclusive 2,500 square foot penthouse suite planned by former premier Alison Redford, Alberta's Minister of Jobs, Training and Labour is defending his party and looking to the future.
Documents obtained through Freedom of Information indicate Redford was planning to build a person suite equipped with VIP quarters, a private study, space for a library and a butler's pantry on the top floor of the Landmark Federal Building.
- Alison Redford ordered penthouse suite in Federal Building
- A look at the space where Alison Redford suite was to be built
Although the plans were later abandoned, Thomas Lukaszuk slammed the notion, saying “it’s really not reflective of what our caucus stands for, what our party stands for, what Albertans stand for,” he said.
Speaking Saturday, he said few in the party likely knew about the plans.
“I had no idea whatsoever that there were any plans or any actions taken relative to building any kind of a suite in that particular building,” Lukaszuk said, adding it was likely other elected members were similarly in the dark.
“Looking at the documents, this was an initiative that the premier’s office pursued directly with those who were constructing that building.”
Bypassing the usual routes for planning in such a way is unacceptable, he said, but also highly unusual.
“If one really goes out of their way and chooses to break the rules, they will do so – but usually the system will catch them – and this was a prime example of that.”
In the future, Lukaszuk says the new leader of the Progressive Conservative party should thoroughly review decisions made by staff in the premier's office.
"If there are individuals that acted in any way that exceeded their authority vested in them by their office, they should be dealt with appropriately, because again it is now what this government, party, and Albertans support and endorse."
“The new leader will have to set a new direction,” said Lukaszuk, noting that whoever is chosen to lead the PCs will have to focus on correcting the province’s economy and infrastructure, as well as reaching out to alienated party members.
Asked whether he would be pursuing party leadership, Lukaszuk admitted he is considering it, but says he has his prior commitments as a minister to contend with first.
“This is more than just about me, I really want to make sure that we have the right person for this job. Alberta is at a time where we have virtually unlimited potential in spinning off new economies and opening up new markets, in building infrastructure that is so badly needed in this province. we need a person that will focus on the job and have the skill sets of moving it forward.”
“Right now it wouldn’t be right and fair of me”