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Politicians remember Ralph Klein with admiration

Politicians from across Canada and all political persuasions are paying tribute to Ralph Klein, the popular former premier of Alberta who died Friday.
Then Alberta Premier Ralph Klein attends a luncheon in Toronto in 2006. Klein, who was nicknamed "King Ralph," died Thursday at the age of 70. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Politicians from across Canada and from all political persuasions are paying tribute to Ralph Klein, the popular former premier of Alberta who died Friday at the age of 70.

"[M]any Albertans will mourn him as a beloved former Premier.  But Calgary was always the city he called home.  A true born-and-raised Calgarian, he served as mayor from 1980-1989 and, to me, he will always be Mayor Klein…Ralph Klein taught us, as Calgarians, that we don't need to put on airs. We don't need to pretend we're something we are not in order to be a truly great city in this world."

- Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Ralph Klein tosses a pancake to a volunteer as he cooks during the Premiers Stampede Breakfast in Calgary in 2000. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

"Ralph Klein's ability to connect with Albertans from all walks of life was absolutely remarkable. He could walk from the Petroleum Club in downtown Calgary to the curling rink in St. Paul and carry on a conversation with absolutely everyone he met. Ralph was a real man of the people."

- Alberta Premier Alison Redford

"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."

NDP Official Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair

"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."

- Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Ralph Klein declared the Alberta debt paid off on July 12, 2004. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

"As a leader, Ralph was tough enough to keep his promises, humble enough to admit his mistakes, and disciplined enough to follow through on his vision. His courageous leadership in eliminating Alberta's budget deficit, wiping out our debt and putting money in the bank made Alberta a world leader in fiscal responsibility and paved the way for other governments to follow suit."

- Alberta Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith

"It was his fiscal conservatism that brought Alberta out of debt and allowed for one of the most memorable photo ops in our legislatures' history; 'Paid in Full'. Even if you didn't agree with his politics there is something to be said for his determination and enthusiasm. He loved this province and no one before or since has had the ability to communicate with average, ordinary Albertans - as he affectionately called them 'Martha and Henry'. People loved him for it."

- Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman

"The nature of his illness made it very difficult to express his thoughts these past years which I know was a real challenge for him, but Ralph very much knew and appreciated the well wishes and warm messages he received. I want to thank everyone for their support and especially of the caregivers who helped us throughout. It has all made a tremendous difference."

- Colleen Klein, wife