Sunday, September 16, 2012 | Categories: Episodes
(Photo: CP/Keith McNichol)
Peter Lougheed: A tribute to the man they called Mr. Alberta - former premier Peter Lougheed, who died this week.
David Carr: Michael's discussion with the New York Times' media columnist and culture reporter at an event sponsored by the Canadian Journalism Foundation.
For more information and music used in this hour ...
He had a smile that could warm up a Calgary banquet hall in the middle of February.
But he had a steely, laser-like mind and sharp tongue that could puncture the arrogance of prime ministers.
The battles between Peter Lougheed and Pierre Elliot Trudeau were epic, almost as tumultuous as those between Rene Levesque and Trudeau.
He was one of those rare politicians, a regional leader who became a national force through a series of sometimes bruising encounters with a strong central government.
If any one person can be said to have invented modern Alberta, it was Peter Lougheed.
He transformed the province from a rural, ranching community into a powerful, rich, urban colossus.
He molded the province's Progressive Conservative party literally from nothing in 1965, into a devastating political machine which ended the decades-old Social Credit dynasty six years later.
Edgar Peter Lougheed came from a prominent and rich Calgary family that lost all its money in the great Depression; Lougheed himself grew up in poverty.
He became a lawyer at 23 and a Harvard graduate a few years later.
He would go on to lead the first Conservative government in the province's history.
As premier he provided support for the oil industry, spent money on education, health care and the arts and established the multi-billion dollar nest egg known as the Heritage Savings Trust Fund.
Far from being red of neck, he was a cultured intellectual who championed, among other things, the concept of bilingualism.
But it was his fights with Trudeau, first over oil revenues and later over the Constitution, that made his name nationally.
He argued that the natural resources of a province belong to that province and not to the federal government. Trudeau responded with the infamous National Energy Program in 1980, which tried to control domestic oil prices and which curdles the blood of Albertans to this day.
Lougheed won. As he did when he forced Ottawa to devolve more power to the provinces, including his own, during the Constitutional battles.
But he always maintained he was a Canadian first and an Albertan second.
He was proud to be both.
This is an excerpt from an interview Michael did with Mr. Lougheed in January, 2006, on the occasion of Stephen Harper's first election victory.
Peter Lougheed died Thursday at the age of 84.
Music in Hour One
Blues in My Shower, by the Nat "King" Cole Trio
Invention by J.S. Bach, performed by Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer and Evelyn Glennie
Dallas Rag by Paul Mills, Trevor Mills
Tell Me More and More, by Shakura S'Aida
Walkin' After Midnight by Ken Jefferson