A Chosen Path: From Moccasin Flats to Parliament Hill


320 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations
ISBN 1-894384-83-0
DDC 971.064'7'092




Reviewed by Hugh Mellon

Hugh Mellon is an associate professor of political science at King’s
College, University of Western Ontario.


Many of Canada’s former politicians retire to appointments to the
bench or as members of assorted boards and commissions. Too few, alas,
take up the task of conveying to readers the challenges, experiences,
and disappointments of serving in elected life. By this I mean not so
much the participation in high-level policy choices, but rather the life
of an ordinary MP working to serve a geographical constituency and work
within a national parliament. The story of constituency service, local
involvement, and national service is, however, taken up by Frank Oberle
in this autobiographical volume. It’s a fun and engaging book by an
author anxious for you to understand his Canadian roots and the issues
that motivate him. Many may know of him for his early youth in war-torn
Germany, and this past does figure in, but the more important storyline
here is that of a concerned businessperson and family member from
northern British Columbia forging a career in national Progressive
Conservative politics culminating in appointment to the federal cabinet.
This book is the story of a man recounting his adventures. Doubts and
second-guessing are not the focus; the author invites the reader to
enjoy the personal recollections.

One need not share Oberle’s politics to become engaged, although some
familiarity with the political landscape from the mid-1960s through to
the late 1990s would help. Oberle had a successful career serving in the
House of Commons for more than 20 years and was appointed to the cabinet
in 1985. There are reminders of the efforts of the Mulroney government
(1984–93), but the book is not obsessed with settling scores. Instead
there is a desire to convey the highlights of a political life and the
burdens that it posed for Oberle’s close-knit family, especially his

There is some sustained generalist commentary on forestry-related
issues, which continue to motivate the author. He is particularly
troubled by heedless cutting practices and inattention to reforestation.
Yet, the best parts of the book relate to Oberle, his family, and his
outlook on British Columbia.


Oberle, Frank., “A Chosen Path: From Moccasin Flats to Parliament Hill,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15572.