Alberta PC MLA penning ‘behind the scenes’ book on Redford, politics

Get ready for Redbook.

EDMONTON — Get ready for Redbook.

Alberta legislature member Thomas Lukaszuk says he is starting work on a “behind the scenes” book on his political days and on life under former Tory premier Alison Redford.

“Until I write my book … no one will really know what has truly happened and how many courageous MLAs there actually have been dealing with the situations of the day — and how much worse things could have been,” Lukaszuk said in an interview.

“I think it will be interesting to some.”

Lukaszuk and many of his Progressive Conservative caucus colleagues were sharply criticized for not standing up to Redford over self-indulgent spending and, according to some reports, the belittling of staff.

The book is in its infancy, said Lukaszuk, adding he isn’t through with political life and plans to run again for the PCs in 2016 in his riding of Edmonton-Castle Downs.

“I’m not sure when it will (be completed),” he said. “(But) I’m going to start jotting down notes.”

Redford has never publicly commented on the scandals that felled her premiership except to say “mistakes were made.”

Lukaszuk, 45, says the book will also be about his struggles in Canada after coming from Poland, along with his years under former Tory premiers Ralph Klein and Ed Stelmach.

In the meantime, the four-term member of the legislature said he is returning to life as a backbencher under new Premier Jim Prentice.

Lukaszuk, along with Calgary’s Ric McIver, challenged Prentice for the party leadership this summer after spending scandals forced Redford to resign as premier in March.

Prentice, a former Conservative MP and cabinet minister, won the party vote handily almost two weeks ago, with a 77 per cent first ballot majority.

Lukaszuk, a longtime cabinet minister under Stelmach and Redford, was forced to quit his portfolio as jobs minister to run for the leadership.

Earlier this week, Prentice announced his new cabinet, putting McIver in Lukaszuk’s old job and leaving Lukaszuk on the backbenches.

Lukaszuk said he was not surprised. The government, he said, needs to distance itself from recognizable faces of the Redford era.

“The premier has also put together a much more socially conservative cabinet, so I saw the writing on the wall,” he said. “(McIver) probably ideologically fits better than I would.

“I am very passionate about a number of social issues that I still believe need to be addressed.”

Prentice has not said why Lukaszuk did not make the cabinet cut.

Lukaszuk said he will now focus on his caucus duties, catching up on constituency work and pushing for changes and improvements to programs like maintenance enforcement.

His leadership bid was a longshot from the get-go. He launched it by himself from an Edmonton coffee shop and criss-crossed the province on a low-budget campaign.

In the days before the vote, he was blindsided by leaked documents showing he ran up a $20,000 cellphone bill while helping out a cabinet colleague while on vacation in Europe.

He said while that leak still rankles, he enjoyed talking to thousands of Albertans, and shaking thousands of hands.

Maybe too many hands.

“I developed an elbow pain. I’m going to see a doctor about it, just from shaking hands,” he said.

But of the campaign, he said: “I don’t regret a minute of it. I would have done it all over again if it was to start tomorrow.”

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