Q: What do you get when you send Lyle Oberg, Hung Pham, and David Aftergood to Vietnam?
A: North American Healthcare International Inc.
The unlikely trio of former Alberta cabinet minister Lyle Oberg, former Calgary Progressive Conservative MLA Hung Pham, and Calgary businessman David Aftergood recently formed North American Healthcare International Inc. and plan to open a private-for-profit “five-star” resort hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam. As the Socialist Republic of Vietnam opens its markets to outside investors, it is not surprising that westerners are moving in to make a profit on this new market. It is a bizarre trio of Alberta politicos who have implanted themselves in Vietnam’s new boutique health care hotelier industry.
It makes one wonder what kind of advice Dr. Oberg is giving Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, to whom he has recently started to offer political advice. Before earning a reputation for thumbing his nose at his party’s establishment, Learning Minister Dr. Oberg travelled to Vietnam a number of times, including once in 2003 with Mr. Pham to an education conference hosted by the World Bank.
Known in political circles as the “MIA MLA” for his lacklustre attendance record in the Assembly, Mr. Pham served in the PC backbenches as the MLA for Calgary-Montrose from 1993 until 2008. He resigned in 2008, after a prolonged legal fight between his constituency volunteers and the PC Party. On his way out, he blasted his party for being “dishonorable.”
Calgarians may remember Mr. Pham and Mr. Aftergood named in connection to the 2004 Ward 10 election dispute when Margot Aftergood was elected as a City of Calgary Alderman under suspicious circumstances. Mr Pham was not charged as a result of the investigation,though his house was raided by police during the 2005 investigation and his brothers Anh Pham and Thanh Pham were charged. Mr. Aftergood was convicted of violating the Local Authorities Election Act though charges against him were later dropped by Alberta Justice.
Mr. Aftergood is a well-known figure in Calgary political circles. He was a candidate for the PCs in the 1993 federal election and was President of the Montrose PC association from 1996 to 1997 (the constituency represented by MLA Mr. Pham). It was uncovered in 1997 that Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff owned stocks in Applied Gaming Solutions, a company that was offering offering Video Lottery Terminals to the Government of Alberta. Mr. Aftergood was the company President, presenting the suggestion of a conflict of interest.
The CFO of North American Healthcare International Inc. David Jones is also the former CEO and CFO of Pacific Lottery Corporation (PLC), a company founded by Mr. Aftergood. On August 24, 2010, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada halted trading on PLC stocks, which held contracts with the Vietnamese government, leaving many investors wondering what happened (a number of them contacted me when I tweeted about this topic earlier this week).
With this colourful Alberta political trio on the job, this blogger will certainly be paying close attention to their nouveau ventures in the Far East.