The legacy of Peter Lougheed
Published Friday, September 14, 2012 6:01PM MDT
He was known as the "Blue Eyed Sheik" for his defence of the oil sands and the "Father of Alberta" for his advocacy of residents of the province but Peter Lougheed was more than a politician, he was a mentor and friend to leaders across the country.
When a national political magazine asked experts to name Canada’s best premier of the last forty years, Peter Lougheed was in a class of his own.
“Watching the results come in, it was like watching Secretariat win the Belmont by 31 lengths, he just won the thing hands down,” said Ian MacDonald, Editor-in-Chief of Policy Options.
Lougheed was Alberta's premier, but he also earned the respect and admiration of a nation.
He refused to back down when he felt Ottawa was overstepping its bounds.
“Remember that he took Trudeau on toe to toe, mano to mano over the issue of notwithstanding clause, crucial in terms of the charter and he won hands down,” said CTV Chief Political Correspondent Craig Oliver.
Lougheed also faced off with Trudeau over the national energy program which was a federally imposed strategy to suppress the price of oil.
The program would be a major blow to Alberta’s economy so the premier demanded concessions and got them.
“It’s going to be a matter of working it out in a sprit of compromise and negotiation with the producing province, that's the most important,” said Lougheed at the time.
“I think when Premier Lougheed was elected in 1971 confederation was Ontario, Quebec and everyone else and within a decade confederation was Quebec, Ontario and Alberta,” said Political Strategist, Rod Love.
Despite his reputation as a tough negotiator and fierce advocate for Alberta's interests, the impression he left on his Canadian counterparts was far softer.
Even premiers from other provinces and other parties viewed him as a mentor.
“He was perhaps the first to welcome me as a newly elected premier and make me very comfortable, I would have to say that perhaps he more than any other premier had tremendous warmth,” said Howard Pawley, former Manitoba premier.
“He was a very decent individual, very good person and obviously a pretty great premier,” said Brian Peckford, former Newfoundland premier.
Many say the leadership and charisma Lougheed brought to the gridiron and the legislature could have taken him all the way to Parliament, but he wasn't interested.
"They were asking, coming out of the Ottawa, the members of parliament coming, please run federally, please go for the leadership of the party and he would have won but he always said no and I take him at face value he felt he had the best job in Canada as Premier of Alberta,” said Ron Ghitter, former senator.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford is coming home early from Asia for Lougheed's funeral.
“Peter Lougheed held a special place in Albertans’ hearts, including mine as a dear friend and trusted mentor,” said Premier Redford. “And it’s important that Albertans who knew and admired him have the chance to say goodbye, and to reflect on his remarkable life and legacy.”
The Honourable E. Peter Lougheed will be lying-in-state in the rotunda of the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton from 10:30 a.m to 8 p.m. Monday, September 17 and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, September 18 so Albertans can pay their respects.
Two condolence books have also been set up at Lougheed House and McDougall Centre in Calgary.
An online tribute page has been created, click here to share your memories.