RALPH PHILLIP KLEIN, OC AOE (November 1, 1942 – March 29, 2013)
was a Canadian politician who served as the 12th Premier of Alberta
and leader of the
Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta from
1992 until his retirement in 2006. Klein's tenure as premier ended
* 5 Premier
* 5.1 The
* 6 Later life * 7 Illness and death * 8 Honours * 9 See also * 10 References * 11 Further reading
Klein was born in
Calgary , to Phillip Andrew Klein (1917-2014) and
Florence Harper (1924–2004). His paternal grandparents were
immigrants, from Germany and England, respectively. His parents
separated when he was 6 and he lived with his maternal grandparents in
the city's north end. His father, Phil, was born in Rocky Mountain
MAYOR OF CALGARY
Klein rose to public prominence in
Calgary as a radio and television
personality. He was the Senior Civic Affairs reporter with CFCN-TV and
CFCN radio. Klein gained his first political experience when he was
elected 32nd mayor of Calgary,
He also oversaw the development of the Calgary's Light Rail Transit System and protection of the Bow River .
NATIONAL ENERGY PROGRAM
Main article: National Energy Program
The federal government introduced the National Energy Program (NEP) which "effectively imposed revenue-sharing burdens on oil and gas revenues in Alberta, shortly after Klein took office as mayor of Calgary.
While he was mayor, the city was enjoying an economic boom, attracting many unskilled labourers from all over the country. Klein gained unfavourable national attention by blaming eastern "creeps and bums" for straining the city's social services and police. Prior to entering provincial politics, Klein considered himself a Liberal Party supporter, although he did support the federal Progressive Conservative Party of Brian Mulroney in the 1988 federal election .
ENTRY INTO PROVINCIAL POLITICS
Klein made the transition from municipal to provincial politics,
becoming a member of the legislative assembly for the riding of
Calgary-Elbow in the 1989 general election . He was named the minister
of environment in
Don Getty 's government. Klein retained the title
"the Honourable" for the duration of his membership in the Executive
Getty knew that the Tories faced a statutory general election in 1993
. With polls showing the Liberals far ahead, Getty decided to retire
from politics. Under former
He was re-elected in 1997, this time with 51% of the popular vote and
winning 63 of the 83 seats in the legislature. He got his highest
amount of support ever in the 2001 election , winning 62% of the
popular vote and 74 of the 83 seats—the biggest majority that the
PCs had held since the
THE ALBERTA ADVANTAGE: KLEIN\'S AUSTERITY CAMPAIGN
By the mid-1980s there was a worldwide oil glut , a serious surplus of crude oil , with the world price of oil dropping from over US$ 35 per barrel to below $10. The glut began in the early 1980s as a result of slowed economic activity in industrial countries (due to the crises of the 1970s, especially in 1973 and 1979 ) and the energy conservation spurred by high fuel prices. _ Time Magazine _ stated, "the world temporarily floats in a glut of oil." By 1993, when Klein took office, Alberta's debt had reached C$ 23 billion.
The repayment of the debt was one of the most significant long-term
goals of Klein's premiership. During Klein's austerity campaign, the
"Klein Revolution", or The
At the 2004 Calgary Stampede , Klein announced that the province had set aside the necessary funds to repay its public debt in 2005. Klein was re-elected for a fourth term in the 2004 provincial election held on November 22, 2004 with a reduced majority, as he only won 47% of the vote, and only 62 out of the 83 ridings.
"Never again will this government or the people of this province have
to set aside another tax dollar on debt..."Those days are over and
they're over for good, as far as my government is concerned, and if
need be we will put in place legislation to make sure that we never
have a debt again." —
From the mid-1980s to September 2003, the inflation adjusted price of
a barrel of crude oil on NYMEX was generally under $25/barrel. A
rebound in the price of oil worldwide led to big provincial surpluses
Political analyst David Taras of
Mount Royal University argued that
although Klein was popular he failed at public policy. His focus on
paying down Alberta's fiscal debt during an oil boom, when the
interest rates on the debt were low, was done "at the expense of
hospitals, roads, light rail transit lines, and investing in better
health-care services or education." Rich Vivone, who was involved in
Main article: Prosperity Bonus
As the global price of oil increased Klein created the Prosperity
Bonus, known locally as "Ralph Bucks," in which the
"At the same time, the University of Calgary was looking at expanding. It had great plans for a downtown campus that was going to cost around $1 billion. I think we missed some great opportunities to invest in our post-secondary education systems; instead, we frittered away our money. People got a couple of dinners and put some gas in their Hummer, and that was about it." — Todd Hirsch, Senior Economist
In October 1998 Klein had the old Calgary General Hospital demolished with explosives.
In July 2005 Klein delivered a speech on the "third way" of health
care which would lie between the American system and the Canadian
system. He proposed a series of provincial health care reforms that
would potentially violate the
Klein responded by exclaiming, "I don't need this crap" and throwing
the Liberal health care policy book at a seventeen-year-old page who
had delivered the book during question period in the Alberta
legislature. The same booklet later sold on eBay for a reported
$1,400, signed by Alberta's Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, with the
caption, "Policy on the fly". Earlier in the question period he also
had to apologize for calling Liberal leader
Kevin Taft a liar on the
floor of the legislature, which is considered unparliamentary language
. His apology consisted of saying, "Sorry, Mr. Speaker. I won't use
the word 'fib.' I'll say that he doesn't tell the whole truth all the
time - most of the time." Reacting to comments made in March 2006 by
Dalton McGuinty opposing any two-tiered health care
system in Ontario that Klein has proposed in
"This was matched by the elimination of or reduction of hours for 14,753 positions in health care. Regionalization of Alberta’s health care was intended to rationalize health services."
RALPH KLEIN AND THE OIL SANDS
Calgary's economy was so closely tied to the oil industry that the city's boom peaked with the average annual price of oil in 1981. As the price of oil rose Alberta's budget surplus stood at $4 billion in 2004. The province used this surplus to eliminate its $3-billion debt.
The subsequent drops in oil prices were cited by industry as reasons for a collapse in the oil industry and consequently the overall Calgary economy. Low oil prices prevented a full recovery until the 1990s. Federal and provincial and federal major investment incentives for oil sands companies were introduced by both the federal government under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the provincial government under Klein. The Liberal federal government "reformed and streamlined the tax write-offs it allowed for oil sands firms." Klein "scrapped a welter of one-off royalty deals to create a generic royalty – one that demanded only token payments in the first years of the megaprojects." This facilitated oil sands development.
According to the Calgary Herald,
"Ralph Klein’s legacy is inextricably linked to his government’s role in encouraging the province’s energy industry – particularly his role in presiding over the province as development in northern Alberta’s oil sands flourished." — Kelly Cryderman
Klein changed Alberta's royalty system so that oil companies paid
only one per cent of their profits to
In late June 2003, Klein and U.S. Vice President
At the end of Klein's term one of the most common concerns "was that Albertans were not getting enough money for their resources."
Cheney had met with Klein to discuss the American ban on Albertan
beef that was in place following discovery of mad cow disease in a cow
In June 2003, an Ontario Superior Court Charter ruling removed federal restrictions on same-sex unions being recognized legally as marriage. Klein repeated a promise to use the Notwithstanding Clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to veto any requirement that the province register same-sex marriages. Contrary to many media reports which annoyed Klein, this was a position of the Alberta legislature itself, passed five years earlier, and not a new position of his own. In December 2004, Klein called for a national referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage. This plan was quickly rejected by the government of Paul Martin and by federal Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper .
Following the federal Parliament's approval of same-sex marriage in 2005 via Bill C-38 , Klein announced initially that his government would fight the distribution of same-sex marriage licences. However, he later recanted, stating publicly that there was no legal route to oppose the federal act (neither via the notwithstanding clause nor the province's power over civil marriage), and the government reluctantly acknowledged the marriages.
Economic diversification was one of Klein's goals. In December 1990 Klein announced the final approval for the construction of "North America’s newest and largest pulp mill" by Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac). It was the "first in a new generation of pulp mills constructed to meet higher environmental standards put in place in the late 1980s." Al-Pac received a loan of $264 million from Klein from the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund in what Klein called a "sweetheart deal." Against the advice of the Auditor General and the Provincial Treasurer on March 31, 1997 Klein wrote off the $140 million loan to the Alpac Joint Venture with Mitsubishi/Crestbrook/OJI et al. when prices were low for pulp.
It was under Klein's government that the Alberta Sheriffs Branch , was re-organized into its current state. The Klein government increasingly utilized CAPS, the precursor to the Sheriffs Branch, for special provincial law enforcement duties instead of the RCMP. In 2006, CAPS was renamed and the newly christened Sheriffs Branch was expanded rapidly to take on assignments that previously were the purview of the RCMP , the provincial policing authority.
It was at this time that the
Klein's social and environmental views were seen by opponents as uncaring. Supporters argued in response that Klein was merely choosing appropriate priorities for limited government funding.
Klein was opposed to the
Kyoto Accord , since
Klein made national headlines again as environment minister when he flipped off an environmental activist who was protesting the government\'s decision to allow the Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac) pulp mill to be constructed near Athabasca. Klein defended his actions by noting that it was the protester who made the offensive gesture first.
At a 2002 fund-raiser Klein joked,
"You know, my science is limited to the fact that I know that eons
ago there was an ice age. I know that for sure. I know that at one
time, the Arctic was the tropics. And I guess I wonder what caused
that? Was it dinosaur farts? I don’t know." —
MEMORABLE MOMENTS AND CONTROVERSIES
In the late 1980s Klein was photographed in a
Calgary bar drinking
with two members of the Grim Reapers Motorcycle Club , later to be
patched over to the
Hells Angels . Years later, this photo was used
against him by the
Hells Angels when he objected to them patching over
two motorcycle clubs in
After an embarrassing incident in 2001, where a drunken Klein berated
people in an
After the incident, Klein pledged to either severely curb or stop drinking, and did not acknowledge having another drink for the balance of his premiership. Klein resisted calls to acknowledge his drinking problem as alcoholism.
One comment Klein made on the radio, that a youth court judge (who
had suggested he would not sit in order to protest about judges'
salary) should be "very, very quickly fired," was brought before the
Supreme Court of
In February 2006, the _ Western Standard _ magazine came under fire for printing comments about Klein's wife Colleen Klein , who is Métis . A column by Ric Dolphin , arguing that Colleen Klein has too much influence over her husband, quoted an unnamed source who said "Once she stops being the premier's wife, she goes back to being just another Indian."
_ Wikinews has related news: ALBERTA PREMIER RALPH KLEIN JOKE OUTRAGES LIBERAL MP BELINDA STRONACH _
During a charity roast on November 9, 2006 Klein made a lewd joke at
the expense of former Conservative Member of Parliament Belinda
Stronach : "Belinda roasted me as a Conservative, but of course now
she's a Liberal.. and I wasn't surprised that she crossed over; I
don't think she ever did have a Conservative bone in her body.. well,
except for one." (Referring to
Peter MacKay , her former boyfriend,
who is a member of the Conservative Party of
LEADERSHIP REVIEW AND RETIREMENT
Further information: Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta leadership election, 2006
Prior to the 2004 election, Klein stated his intention to serve only one more term in office. Pressure mounted on Klein to set a firm date and, following such a request from party executive director Peter Elzinga , Klein announced on March 14, 2006, that he would be tendering his resignation on 31 October 2007. He subsequently stated that his resignation would take effect in early 2008 after a successor is chosen at the party\'s leadership election .
Klein announced his timetable days before party delegates were to vote in a review of his leadership on March 31, 2006. The drawn-out schedule for his retirement, along with his announcement that any cabinet minister who wished to run for leader must resign by June 2006, generated a large degree of controversy, including criticism from cabinet minister Lyle Oberg who was subsequently fired from cabinet and suspended from caucus.
When the leadership review ballot was held, Klein won the support of
only 55% of delegates, down from the 90% level of support he had won
at previous reviews and far lower than the 75% Klein felt he needed in
order to continue. The result was described as a "crushing blow" to
Klein's leadership. In 2006,
“ Given the results of this vote, I intend to meet with party officials and my staff to discuss my next step. I will do this as quickly as possible and announce a decision about my future shortly. ”
— Ralph Klein
At a press conference on April 4, 2006, Klein announced that as a result of the lukewarm vote for his continued leadership he would submit a letter in September to Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party urging them to convene a leadership contest. Klein said he would resign as party leader and Premier after a successor was named, and would assist the new leader in their transition to Premier.
Klein officially handed in his resignation as party leader on
September 20, 2006, officially kicking off the
On January 18, 2007, the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais announced that Klein, who is not a lawyer, would join their firm as a senior business adviser who would bring "valuable insights to our clients as they look to do business in Alberta, in Canada, and in North America".
In a July 9, 2007, interview on Business News Network , Klein criticized Conservative PM Stephen Harper and Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for their mishandling of the Income Trust issue and for not keeping their word on Income Trust taxation. According to the Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors, the change in tax rules cost investors $35 billion in market value. Stephen Harper specifically promised "not to raid seniors' nest eggs" during the 2006 federal election.
On March 27, 2008, Klein was created an Officer of the Order of the
Legion of Honour by the Government of France. The creation had been
approved by the Government of
On March 20, 2010, Klein appeared on his own television game show called _On the Clock_ on the Crossroads Television System network. Klein, shown perched on a golden throne, evaluates the responses and awards "Ralph Bucks" to the contestants whose answers he found the best. The person who has the most Ralph Bucks at the end of the game is declared the winner.
ILLNESS AND DEATH
On December 15, 2010, it was reported that Klein was suffering from COPD , a lung disease. His long-time friend Hal Walker commented that Klein was "not well."
On April 8, 2011, it was reported that Klein was suffering from Pick\'s disease , a form of progressive dementia.
Klein was hospitalized in September 2011 due to complications from COPD and dementia. He died in Calgary on March 29, 2013.
Klein held the Order of La Pléiade from the Assembly of La Francophonie .
He received the Queen
Klein was made an Officer of the Legion of Honour by France in 2008.
Klein was made an honorary member of the Blackfoot Siksika Nation , one of only two to be honoured as such.
Ralph Klein Park in Calgary is the first park to be named for a former mayor during his lifetime. The 30.35 hectare site contains an Environmental Education Centre and man-made wetland to improve stormwater quality before it enters the Bow River system.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "Stelmach sworn in as Alberta\'s 13th premier",
_CBC_, December 14, 2006, retrieved February 3, 2015
* ^ King Ralph\'s Long Reign - Macleans Article, February 16, 2004
* ^ Gerson, Jan (March 20, 2013), "Former
* ^ McCoy, Heath, _Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede
Wrestling, Revised Edition_
* ^ "Phil Klein dead at age 97". _
Calgary Sun_. December 16, 2014.
Retrieved December 18, 2014.
* ^ SANDS, David (April 18, 2001). "Klein sends best wishes to Stu
Hart". _Slam! Wrestling_. Canadian Online Explorer . Retrieved
* ^ Bergman, Brian (March 23, 2004). "
* ^ "Vancouver loses to \'big-ticket\' Games", _Vancouver Sun_, p.
F7, October 29, 1989, retrieved February 14, 2013
* ^ "Ralph Klein\'s Bums and Scums", _CBC_, CBC Archive Footage
* ^ "Ralph Klein\'s Biography
* ^ Henton, Darcy (March 2, 2006). "Ralph throws a fit". Edmonton
Sun. Retrieved March 26, 2006.
* ^ "Piece of Klein history once a real page turner". Toronto: The
Globe and Mail. July 5, 2006.
* ^ "Geez, Ralph. Chill!".
* ^ "
* Perry, Sandra E.; Craig, Jessica J. (2006). _The Mantle of
Leadership : Premiers of the Northwest Territories and Alberta_.
_ Wikimedia Commons has media related to RALPH KLEIN _.
_ Wikiquote has quotations related to: RALPH KLEIN _
_ Wikinews has news related to: RALPH KLEIN _
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