Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lougheed's Legacy

{A version of this posting appeared as a letter to the Editor in the Edmonton Journal on September 18, 2012 }

Last year I had the good fortune of meeting Peter Lougheed, at the Edmonton conference commemorating the 1981 Constitutional Agreement that led to the patriation of the Constitution.  He was blessed to have been lucid and articulate as ever to the end of his life. 

Maybe that is why, when  I visited him as he lay in state in the rotunda of the Alberta legislature this week, I couldn't help but think about the invisible elephant in the room.  If this is Canada's greatest premier of the past 40 years, why have so many of Canada's conservative politicians and pundits been ignoring his advice  for the past 20 years?

For example, his admonition to "think like an owner" during the royalty debates; to "reduce dependence on energy revenues" during budget and taxation debates; to replenish the Heritage Trust Fund; to demand more jobs in Alberta for the Keystone XL project; and to invest in public infrastructure for a rapidly growing province.  All  of these remarks have fallen upon the largely deaf ears of populist reform and neo-con types, many of whom always resented his patrician roots and Harvard degree, and  who fled his party either federally or provincially, because it wasn't ideologically "pure" enough.

Whereas  the legacy of Tommy Douglas  unites New Democrats in reminding them of what they are doing right, the policies of Peter Lougheed seem to divide conservatives, and remind the rest of us of what they are doing wrong.

1 comment:

Mark Crawford said...

P.S. for a more detailed view of Lougheed's approach to resources, in a very simloar vein to my own, see Andrew Nikoforuk's paper at