Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Not So Great Legacy of Ralph Klein

They say you are not supposed to speak ill of the dead.

So I'd rather not say anything about the life and legacy of Ralph Klein.

But unfortunately we live in a very sick democracy. A country corrupted by leaders like Stephen Harper.

So when I see the MSM falling over themselves to see who can write a more glowing  or fawning obituary, I believe some balance is required.

For they can gush like geysers and call him  "an extraordinary ordinary man" who was " fair, down-to-earth, beloved," the "greatest polician of his generation," a "great leader" and a "great Canadian."

But if you consult a more neutral record, the truth is quite different.

His government took a knife to funding for arts and health programs, going so far as to demolish hospitals, laying off thousands of nurses, and selling off the provincial public telephone company, AGT to private interests. Klein's social and environmental views were seen by opponents as uncaring.

For he was also a brutish right-wing Con who went after the poor and the sick. He was a tool of the dirty oil gang, and a mortal enemy of the environment.

He was an irresponsible redneck who called on farmers to cover-up an outbreak of mad cow disease. A callous bigot who went to extraordinary lengths to deny the equality of gay Albertans.

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.

Klein called for a national referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage. 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.

A vulgar, drunken boor, who called Easterners "bums," threw money at the feet of homeless people to humiliate them, once said this about 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)

Then refused to apologize.

A man who was a model for NOBODY.

With an economic legacy no Canadians should celebrate. 

Ralph Klein’s revolution changed the course of Alberta politics and had a major impact on Canada’s makeup as a whole, helping shift the political landscape firmly to the right and establishing a low-tax, small-government culture that has since been adopted by governments across the country.

For we are now living with that legacy in the monstrous shape of the Harper Cons. And it's killing this country.

So while Klein might have been a Great Alberta Leader, unlike Peter Lougheed he was NOT a great Canadian one.

And the problem is that in a country whose democracy the Cons have so corrupted, when you start calling people like Klein great leaders.

You end up with leaders like Stephen Harper.

Or leaders like this one...

Crass, brutish, Con demagogues, who would drag our highest ideals into the gutter, and turn our societies into JUNGLES.

And if Canadians hold their leaders to such low standards, they will end up living in a horrible country they deserve.

Oh well. I'm sorry I had to correct the record, and write these things about a dead man. I'm sorry Ralph Klein's last years were so miserable. I'm sorry for his family and all those who loved him.

But surely if Klein really was an "extraordinary ordinary man" or the "People's Premier" he  would agree with me eh?

A life is the sum of EVERYTHING you do.

Democracy demands honesty.

And the truth will set us FREE...

Click here to recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers.


  1. Anonymous5:34 AM The link to the video of the roast. Klein was blue collar but even if Stronach wasn't amused by the comment, it made all women ashamed. Just like the John Crosbie Tequila Sheila slur. Or Peter McKay's comment on Stronach calling her a dog, referring to her dumping him or crossing the floor.
    As for disgustingly inappropriate relationships, think Towes, Bruce Carson, Senator Rod Zimmer with drunken wife.

    1. hi anonymous...thanks for the link of the roast. But to be honest I can't bear to watch. I hate roasts, I'd rather not be reminded of what Klein could be like. And I don't want to hear his vulgar remark because it's not something I would even say in private. My parents raised me to be better than that. But yes, the way Cons treat women is absolutely disgusting...

  2. Anonymous8:16 AM

    They have not read or are ignoring the book 'Democracy Derailed' by Kevin Taft.

    1. hi anonymous...I hadn't heard of the book, but I looked it up, it does sound interesting. And I loved one reviewer's comment "a sordid litany of shame." For we can certainly say the same about the Harper government...

  3. Anonymous9:31 AM

    We live in very strange times. I agree with your analysis.

    Klein and Mike Harris, now Harper with Flaherty have started by cutting revenues. Klein could have been responsible, like Peter Lougheed, by charging an appropriate amount for resource extraction then putting the accumulated money into a fund to better serve Albertans. But no... once he repaid the debt he declared a dividend for citizens. Alberta has debt and deficit today despite more than 45 years of uninterrupted Conservative rule. Irresponsible. Completely irresponsible, but that's what you get with an electoral system that allows 64 of 83 ridings to be won with 47% of the popular vote.

    Klein then cut services, hoping to shrink government and he became the poster boy of the right. It was disaster for the province which became even more dependent on the tar sands and less economically diverse.

    And what about giving the Calgary homeless tickets to BC? The King of NIMBY.


    1. hi doing research for the post I came across an interesting article that showed how Klein was influenced by a hard right-wing former finance minister from of all places New Zealand. A man who championed brutish cuts to government and also influenced Cons like the thug Mike Harris. For Klein may have posed as an aw shucks populist, but he was an integral part of the the great neo-con conspiracy to drown government in a bath tub.
      And as you point out, he was also incompetent, increasing the province's dependence on oil, frittering away the money he had saved, and leaving Alberta with a huge infrastructure deficit.
      Wherever they rule from Alberta to Britain the resultsare always the same, misery and economic disaster...

  4. chuckstraight9:55 AM

    Agree with you entirely. Mr Klein, in my view was NOT a good Canadian.

    1. hi chuckstraight... As I said in my post, Peter Lougheed proved that you can be a leader of Alberta, and still be a classy guy and a good Canadian.
      But Klein was neither one or the other...

  5. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Thanks saves me the time looking all this stuff up to post somewhere.

    1. Anonymous8:31 PM

      If that isn't sarcastic this is the scariest comment I have heard in a long time. This articles is editorial and not journalism. Perspective could say he decided not to spend money the government didn't have. This article drops small government like it is know that government is good a doing things... it's not. He made hard choices and then returned that money after his policies succeeded instead of passing debt on to the next generation to get re-elected. Did he luck into an oil boom? Yes. But if he hadn't Alberta would still be a better place because of that early choice to listen to economists and not what is politically smart. Real reports with the people at the shelter described the event as a good conversation about real issues. It was the people working the shelter not the homeless people who were offended.

      Alberta has the largest most prosperous middle class in North America. Thank you Ralph.

    2. Anonymous8:33 PM

      Comments available after approval? Yeah, this is a fair open discussion.

    3. Maybe you should start your own blog.

    4. hi anonymous're welcome. The more Canadians inform themselves the better off we'll all be...

    5. hi anonymous 8:31...judging from the state of Alberta these days, Klein's legacy was just an illusion. He may have put the money he saved into the pockets of Albertans, but he left the province with a massive infrastructure deficit, will future generations will have to pay for. And I can believe that you would describe his drunken visit to a homeless shelter as a "good conversation about real issues." His behaviour was disgraceful, unworthy of a Premier, and since he tearfully apologized the next day he knew that too.
      Besides as I said in my post, I leave it up to Albertans to judge his legacy as Premier, but he was not a great Canadian...

    6. hi anonymous 8:33...the reason I moderate comments is that I receive all kinds of disgusting comments and veiled death threats from those of the Con persuasion. And although I'm forced to read them, I'd rather not inflict them upon my readers...

  6. Anonymous11:36 AM

    I agree with what you have written above. In addition, wasn't he the one who made the infamous quote about letting the eastern bastards freeze in the dark? A great Albetan perhaps, but a great Canadian? ... no.

    Guess the people in the ROC who are claiming he was a great Canadian are probably the same ones who vote for Harper and then complain endlessly that politicians are screwing us all ... sigh.

    1. hi I understand it that slogan preceded Klein, and first arose when Trudeau brought in the NEP. But Klein made many other anti-eastern comments, and helped create the swaggering image of Alberta which has offended so many Canadians. Even though if anyone in the rest of the country had called Albertans bums, or told them to freeze in the dark, they'd be screaming so loudly I'd be able to hear them from here. They can call Klein a lot of things, even some good ones. But they will never get away with calling him a great Canadian...

  7. Ralph was long out of power by the time I moved to Alberta but I always liked the idea of a provincial leader standing up to Ottawa and for what he believed in. I realize this may not be a popular comment here but, Klein, like Danny Williams, weren't afraid to stick up for their provinces and never backed down from a good fight.

    1. hi Way Way Up...look I'm from Quebec eh? So I know about provincial leaders standing up to Ottawa. And I did say Klein may have had his qualities. Even I have some. I also said I understand why he was popular in Alberta. But I just found him crass and vulgar, his opposition to gay equality was shameful, and he helped Alienate his province from the rest of Canada, so he was not a good Canadian leader. But then I also said I don't like to speak ill of the dead, so I'll shut up now... ;)

  8. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Peter Lougheed had six principles for government management of resource development, of which Ralph Klein ignored:

    1. Act like an owner (oil companies are not owners of the resource but developers)
    2. Get a fair price (owners should get a fair price, oil companies a fair return)
    3. Go slow (manage and stage industrial development to avoid inflation and to allow community and public infrastructure development to keep pace, including access to world markets via pipelines)
    4. Save for a rainy day (Norway has a $400 billion fund, Alberta less than $15 billion)
    5. Add value (upgrade and refine oil products in Alberta or Canada, with Klein, Alberta is shipping raw bitumen from oil sands to refineries in the US)
    6. Practise statecraft (be an activist government in the public interest with the long-term future as a priority, the private sector's interests are short term by comparison)

    Alberta's current financial "crisis" is a direct result of Klein's policies of low taxes, cutbacks, reduction in investments in public infrastructure, spending savings, and low royalties for energy industry.

    1. hi anonymous...That's a fine list of reasons Peter Lougheed was a better leader of Alberta than Klein ever was. And I should also add that Lougheed, even when I didn't agree with him, always acted with class. And to me, that's important....

  9. Anonymous5:48 PM

    Well, I guess the "severely normal" he was so happy to mention in order to insult the sick and the crippled will shout his praises, but the poor handicapped, born that way or unfortunate enough to get sick, won't be shedding too many tears.

    1. hi anonymous... "Severely normal" what a horrible expression. But that's what so many of those so-called populists are really like. They claim to be of the people, but serve only the powerful....

  10. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Here Here. I loathed the so called man. An utter disgrace to Canada.

  11. Anonymous2:17 AM

    Ralph Klein was a piece of garbage. His policies focused on supporting the capitalist pigs at the expense of average Albertans. However, average Albertans and their false consciousness kept voting Klein into office. I am happy he is dead. Thanks for your legacy, Ralph. I hope future Canadians "ralph" when they hear your name or see your picture.