Alberta mourns loss of Peter Lougheed
Published Friday, September 14, 2012 6:05AM MDT
Last Updated Friday, September 14, 2012 8:12AM MDT
Condolences and tributes are pouring in from across the counrty for former Premier Peter Lougheed.
Lougheed died at the hospital that bears his name with his family at his side,
He was 84.
The family says they will be holding a private memorial.
Plans for a public ceremony are in the works.
Flags at all Alberta government buildings have been lowered in memorial of his life.
Few public figures transcend the political sphere to become national icons, but Peter Lougheed did.
Lougheed was born into a prominent family, the grandson of a senator.
But he made a name for himself. First, on the gridiron with the Edmonton Eskimos and later, in the legislature, as premier.
Lougheed led the Tories to power in 1971, overthrowing the Social Credit Party which had held government for 36 years, most of them under Ernest Manning.
“At the time he came on the scene, he had a young group of candidates and had energy,” says Reform Party founder Preston Manning. “You had a previous administration that had been in power a long time and looked tired and old. But I think he brought energy and vigor, which was what people were looking for.”
Once the PCs took office, they never looked back.
“He's the man who started the PC dynasty and 40 years of PC rule,” says Mount Royal University political analyst Duane Bratt. “It is tough to imagine a political figure that has been bigger and had a bigger legacy than Peter Lougheed.”
Lougheed spent 14 years in the premier's chair.
He was a fierce advocate of provincial independence and may be best remembered for his fight with Ottawa over the National Energy Program.
But instead of alienating the rest of the nation, he seemed to earn its respect.
A recent survey named him the best Canadian premier of the last half-century.
Even his rivals admired him and what he accomplished.
“I think he will go down as one of the most respected of Alberta premiers, whether you agree with his politics or not,” muses Manning. “My father had left office by the time Peter became premier, but there was always a very courteous relationship between them. Peter used to call my father up on various issues and get his judgment. My father would pass information on that he thought would be useful. I think what held them together would be what was in the best interest of Alberta.”
Even though he retired from politics in 1985, Lougheed never really got away from them.
He remained active in the Progressive Conservative Party and even campaigned for Premier Alison Redford in the last election.
Though Peter Lougheed is gone, whether its parks, hospitals or communities, his name will continue to live on in Alberta.