Remembering a great premier
In the wake of former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed’s death last week, a wave of tributes came sweeping in from across the province and across the political spectrum.
Lougheed was quite a Renaissance man, with an educational resume that boasted an arts and law degrees from the University of Alberta and a masters from Harvard University; a career in law; stints playing football for the University of Alberta Golden Bears Intercollegiate Football Club and the Edmonton Eskimos, and of course, his most high-profile role as the premier of Alberta. Some have argued since his death that he was in fact, Alberta’s most influential premier in national politics.
He was definitely a force with which to be reckoned, building a new party from scratch to challenge the long-ruling Social Credit party. In the 1971 election, Lougheed took his one word slogan NOW! to the streets, along with his image and party message, and took the PC Party soaring to new heights, with a majority of 49 seats to 25 for the Socreds and one for the NDP.
Over the next 14 years as premier, Lougheed presided over a decade long development boom, fought to ensure the province’s voice and needs were maintained when the constitution was repatriated, spoke out vociferously against the federal National Energy Program and established the rainy day Heritage Servings Trust Fund, among several other accomplishments.
Lougheed helped create the foundation for a dynasty with the PC government going on to govern for 40 plus years and counting. The outpouring of tributes from every party and several Albertans after his passing last Thursday is testament to his fine work and his unmistakable contributions to the province and country.
This past year, the party that Lougheed helped shape faced a challenge with the threat of being reduced to an opposition force. In the past provincial election, the upstart Wildrose party looked to be leading in polls and poised to surge into a majority government position. Clearly, that was not to be, as the PC party defied the polls and regained its majority government status. However, it is certainly essential that if the party wants to continue the dynasty started by Lougheed, the vision of a strong Alberta within an united Canada, good leadership and a vision for the party’s identity and its future remains crucial.
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