This is a melancholy week for all taxpayers in Alberta. Ralph Klein passed away a year ago this week. We can only live in hope that another like him arises in the days to come. Perhaps our hopes are pinned on Danielle Smith.
As we survey the wreckage in Edmonton, we can only weep for the man we knew and loved. Without economic credentials, he turned our province around and paid down the provincial debt during a time of low energy prices and hard times. This set the stage for stupendous growth, the Alberta Advantage. Turns out that Advantage was prudence rooted in frugality.
There are so many stories about that great man. Perhaps the most telling was told by Rod Love. During an inter provincial conference, he and Ralph gathered up all the mini bottles of booze from the rooms of the other premiers to complete their evening – a simple and evocative act of frugality that could only come from the heart. Our modern leaders would have champagne flown in. Ralph made do with mini bottles taken from the other provincial hospitality suites. What a contrast.
And these small acts reflect the deepest character of the man. He was aware of how hard we worked for our money and respected and honored that with governmental prudence and fiscal discipline.
Of course, the other side of the story, Jim Dinning, is still alive and well thank God; serving Alberta as Chancellor at the University of Calgary. He was the one who took the principles and translated them to action. Together, they made a great team.
And it was not easy. Jim tells of calling Ralph late at night with doubts and fears. And Ralph shared them, he did not dismiss them or downplay them. They were two leaders facing the slings and arrows of public fortune. And the payoff is a permanent place in every fiscal conservative heart and mind.
Image: Photo by Chuck Szmurlo taken September 1, 2005