Jean Chrétien, prime minister of Canada, 1993-2003
We didn’t agree on issues, but it was never anything personal. We were representing different points of view and different jurisdictions.
The province of Alberta had a great servant in him. He defended their interests and he made Alberta a more modern society. It was an agricultural society when he defeated the Socreds in 1971 and he moved the province into a modern age. Of course, you know that my family on my mother’s side has been in Alberta since 1907. So we had this thing in common which is not known by a lot of people, but he knew that.
He was part of what we call the Group of Eight [in the constitutional negotiations] and it was going nowhere. The goals that he had were different from the separatist government of Quebec, and eventually he saw that Canadians wanted to have the patriation of the constitution and a Charter of Rights and he was in agreement with that.
He himself was knowledgeable because the first piece of legislation he had passed as premier of Alberta was a charter of rights for the province. But we wanted to have a national one. You could make a deal with him in the interests of the nation and of Alberta, of course. He was a very strong man and a person of quality.
William Thorsell, Alberta-born journalist and former director of the Royal Ontario Museum
One of the most important things Peter Lougheed did for Alberta was to stay “home.” As early as 1975, and then again in 1982, he was urged by many insiders to run for the federal Progressive Conservative Party leadership, and might well have won in both cases over “Joe Who” in 1976, and Brian Mulroney in 1983.
Had he done so, he would have confirmed the view in Alberta that the emerging province was dispensable in some way – that there wasn’t quite enough of Canada to define a Canadian politician there. Peter Lougheed, by insisting on his primary definition as a Canadian in staying home, and by playing decisive roles in national affairs from Edmonton, made it fully Canadian to be an Albertan and Westerner at a time of great national trial.
Brian Mulroney, prime minister of Canada, 1984-1993
Peter’s contribution to his province and our country is second to none in our lifetime. In four terms in office from 1971-85, Peter built the modern Alberta: schools, universities, hospitals, highways and whole communities. He always defended Alberta’s interests brilliantly around the federal-provincial table. At the same time, he would be the first to say, as he did at his tribute dinner in Calgary in June this year: “We were Canadians first.”
Peter was very supportive of me in my leadership campaign and in government. His advice in those early years and throughout his retirement was always constructive and, yes, he always did put Canada first. He also built a political dynasty that endures to this day. Under the leadership of Alison Redford, the Alberta PCs won their 12th consecutive election last spring. The torch has truly been passed.
Ian Tyson, singer
I have been in Alberta for 35 years now and his influence preceded that. I did not know him personally, but he was prescient about where the culture and the Alberta economy was headed. I think he was a nationalist. I admired his image, but I was not conversant with all his game plans. I think he was a nationalist; that’s my impression. He stayed current and he was a very intelligent guy. I think he listened to my music.
Marc Lalonde, Trudeau-era cabinet minister
He was a formidable adversary [in the negotiations about the National Energy Program]. He was a guy who had been a good football player at university, so he was playing just as tough a game in politics. But he was a man of conviction.