Former premier Ralph Klein was inducted to the Order of Canada on Tuesday at Calgary’s City Hall.

Governor General David Johnston said in a release last week that Klein has made ‘lasting contributions to the province of Alberta and to public life in Canada’.

Johnston presented the award to Klein's wife Colleen because he is suffering from a form of dementia and no longer makes public appearances.

His family said the ceremony was bittersweet because he couldn't be there to accept the award himself, and they weren't sure whether or not they will go and visit him later on Tuesday.

While she was being congratulated by the Governor General, Colleen showed him the 1992 Klein leadership campaign button she wore for the occasion.

She told her friends afterwards that by wearing the button, 'Ralph kind of was there today.'

Premier Alison Redford said in a release that she is very pleased that such a deserving Albertan recieved the award.

"Premier Klein dedicated much of his life serving Albertans in both municipal and provincial government. During his time in public service he made some very challenging decisions in order to grow our economy. He also created an endearing and enduring relationship with Albertans, who affectionately refer to him as Ralph.

“It is wonderful to see Premier Klein honoured for his years of hard work, dedication and determination to ensure that Albertans have the best place to live. I join all Albertans in their love and admiration for Premier Klein on this special day.”

Opposition leader Danielle Smith also said Tuesday that the Order of Canada was long overdue for Klein.

“As the driving force behind creating the Alberta Advantage, Premier Klein shaped our province into a global leader in fiscal responsibility and forward-thinking budgeting. His premiership will always be remembered for paying off our provincial debt, eliminating the budget deficit and putting money in the bank for future generations. The prosperity we enjoy today is due in large part to Premier Klein’s efforts.

“Premier Klein’s accomplishments coupled with his warmth, common-sense approach, and innate ability to connect with people make him one of the most iconic leaders we’ve ever had. On behalf the Wildrose Official Opposition, I offer my most heartfelt congratulations to Premier Klein, his wife Colleen, and their family on this well-deserved recognition.”

Klein was elected leader of Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party on Dec. 5, 1992 and was sworn in as Alberta's 12th premier nine days later.

He then led the party to victory in 1993 and again in 1997 and 2001.

Prior to entering provincial politics, Klein served three terms as mayor of Calgary, starting in 1980 after a career in the media.

With files from