Ralph Klein, 1942-2013

The former Alberta premier is mourned

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s statement on the death of former Alberta premier Ralph Klein.

“Alberta and Canada have lost a unique and significant leader. While Ralph’s beliefs about the role of government and fiscal responsibility were once considered radical, it is perhaps his greatest legacy that these ideas are now widely embraced across the political spectrum.

“A broadcast journalist, Ralph was a gifted story teller who earned the public’s trust long before he sought public office. Before entering provincial politics he served as Mayor of Calgary, helping to welcome the world during the 1988 Winter Olympics. Premier of Alberta from 1992 to 2006, Ralph played a crucial role in securing for his province and our entire country, the economic success from which both continue to benefit today.

“While Ralph had opponents, he made few personal enemies. To me, he wasn’t King Ralph, as some described him. Instead, during a colourful political career he remained Citizen Ralph – a man equally at home in the Petroleum Club as he was in the St. Louis Hotel. A man who said what he believed and did what he said.

“Laureen and I join Calgarians, Albertans and Canadians in paying tribute to Ralph. Our thoughts and prayers are with Colleen and all members of the Klein family at this difficult time.”

A statement from opposition leader Thomas Mulcair.

I was saddened to hear about the passing of Alberta’s 12th Premier and former Calgary Mayor Ralph Klein.

During his 26 years in elected office, Ralph Klein was a formidable voice for his constituents. He was an accomplished leader who should be remembered and honoured for his public service. Everyone appreciated his passion for the province of Alberta.

His work has left an indelible mark on his province.

On behalf of Canada’s New Democrats I extend sincere condolences to Mr. Klein’s family and all who knew him. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

And a statement from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.

“Arlene and I were terribly saddened to learn of Ralph Klein’s death today.

Ralph was always the man for the times. When a mayor was needed to showcase Calgary to the world, he was there. When tough fiscal times facing Alberta called for restraint, Ralph rose to the challenge.

Ralph could walk with kings and the common man, and everybody was important to him. Despite a differing political approach, one cannot help but admire his incomparable ability to communicate and connect with Albertans. He never took himself too seriously or lost pride in his working-class roots.

On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus, I offer my sincere and heartfelt sympathies to Ralph’s wife, Colleen, and their entire family at this most difficult time.”

Colby Cosh considers the former premier’s legacy.

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