Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Peter Lougheed
Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers his address during the state memorial service for former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. (Government of Alberta Handout/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Friday, September 21, 2012 6:17PM MDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered the following remarks at the state memorial honouring the life of Peter Lougheed.
“What a terrific crowd, thank you for this tribute for Peter, for being here.
“Your Honour, Lieutenant Governor Ethel, Premier Redford, distinguished guests, fellow Canadians, fellow Albertans, and, of course, Jeanne, and Stephen and Andrea and Pam and Joe, and all of the grandchildren and members of the Lougheed family, thank you for having us.
“And thank you for sharing with us those wonderful memories.
“You know, when a great man passes, it is sometimes forgotten that above being all of the things that he has been to the wider society, he is first and foremost a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, all of the roles in which he is truly irreplaceable.
“So Jeanne and family, we share your grief.
“You are in the thoughts and prayers of Laureen and me and of our family, and of millions of other Canadian families as well.
“God bless you.
“Fellow Canadians, fellow Albertans, I just used the term ‘great man’ to describe the Honourable Edgar Peter Lougheed.
“It is perhaps one of the most overused terms in political life, but rarely has it ever been so aptly applied as in this life, the life of Edgar Peter Lougheed.
“At the heart of that life, after looking through all the years of educational excellence, athletic success, and all the boards and charities and community activities and mentoring of others, at the heart of that public life beats one thing: his role as a political leader and as Premier of Alberta.
“Peter Lougheed took a moribund party and in a few short years led it to a majority government followed by three more majority governments, all by simply astronomical margins.
“Now, for those of us who like strong, stable, majority Conservative governments, that is reason enough to call Peter Lougheed a great man.
“But I do so for reasons that are much deeper and much more significant.
“That is to say, what Peter Lougheed did with that electoral success.
“I don’t speak merely of policies that were, in the main, highly successful.
“I refer instead to what lay behind those policies, what drove Peter Lougheed, what Albertans recognized very early on.
“He brought to the job intelligence, integrity, energy, a clear and practical sense of direction, and an unwavering commitment to what he believed to be the wider public interest.
“It all sounds obvious enough, but let me assure you that across all the times and places of political history, this combination is rare indeed.
“And so those extraordinary mandates from Albertans were used to create unprecedented economic growth and to develop and diversify industry, most notably, with the first key steps forward on that great endowment of nature, the oil sands, and to use the wealth so generated to reward investors and entrepreneurs, to provide well-paying jobs for working families, to put large amounts of money in trust for future generations and to build modern facilities, infrastructure and social services for communities and, especially, for those most in need.
“In short, to create an era of shared prosperity, one that echoes in Alberta to this day, four decades after he first came to office.
“And so, the Honourable Peter Lougheed was recently named the best premier in Canada over the past forty years.
“Forty years…that’s a lot of premiers!
“And quite a few good ones are here today as well.
“But it is quite a recognition, the recognition due and now unreservedly accorded to a statesman.
“And I do also use the term ‘statesman’.
“It is also an overused, as well as a misunderstood, designation.
“For we think of the statesman as what he often becomes in later life, a gentle, wise and experienced advisor who has moved beyond the fray.
“But in his time of leadership, the statesman is not created by remaining above the battle, but by recognizing it taking shape on the horizon, by accepting the responsibility to lead the charge and by providing the vision and strength that brings eventual success.
"And that is what Peter Lougheed provided, above all else, to this province.
“I speak of course of the battles with the federal government that grew, as Alberta’s strength grew, over the resources and rights of the provinces and that culminated in the National Energy Program.
“In fact, at the time, Premier Lougheed’s leadership in that fight was, outside of this province, anything but universally admired.
“His motives were often questioned, his patriotism frequently attacked, and I can tell you, when and where I grew up, the term ‘blue-eyed sheik’, was not meant as a compliment.
“But Peter Lougheed did not shrink from that fight; he embraced it.
“He asserted that the prosperity of some industries was a good thing for all, and that the success of any province would mean a stronger Canada.
“And as the folly of the National Energy Program became ever more clear, ever more people beyond the boundaries of this province came to realize that at that moment in the history of our great country, we were all fortunate that Peter Lougheed was there.
“Thus the battle was eventually won.
“And thus the course of so much of Canadian history from that point forward would be changed, and changed for the better.
“It is a magnificent legacy, and those who say that Alberta casts a longer shadow within Confederation as a result of Peter Lougheed’s years of service are not wrong.
“Because Peter Lougheed was always a proud Albertan and a fierce Canadian, understanding clearly that one part of Canada cannot succeed at the expense of another.
“Because our destiny is sewn together in the fabric of this great nation.
"Friends, every place and every era have their leaders.
“They are confronted with the challenges of the events and the times in which they live.
“More often than not, these define them.
“However, a leader sometimes defines his own age.
“And Peter Lougheed was that kind of leader.
“In his famous eulogy of Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Wilfrid Laurier said the following, I quote: ‘the life of Sir John Macdonald, from the date he entered Parliament is the history of Canada.’
“So too it can be said that the life of Peter Lougheed, from the day he entered the Legislature, is the history of Alberta.
“And in great and generous part, also the history of Canada itself.
“Once again, to Jeanne and the entire Lougheed family, thank you for making that possible by sharing Peter’s life with us.