I think he was fortunate to come into office at a time when the price of oil increased significantly. Compared to the other premiers. he was in a very privileged position, but he didn’t screw it up. He took steps [in creating the Heritage Fund] to make sure that the money would not be squandered. I had a lot of respect for him. He played like a pro. You just had to be as tough as he was and be ready to face the music and the consequences and try to work things out.
I met him on a number of occasions after we left politics and we always had good personal relationships. He told a friend of mine: “I have always been a Canadian first, an Albertan second and a Progressive Conservative third. A lot of people in my party do not seem to recognize this.”
David Peterson, Ontario premier, 1985-1990
I overlapped with him and Renè Lèvesque and went to the last federal/provincial meetings that those guys attended. They were the big boys of Confederation and I was the new kid. Peter Lougheed grabbed me and said, “Come, we’ll have lunch.” By the end of that lunch we were fast friends. He said, “I’m leaving, you are here, here’s the lay of the land.”
He went down the list, premier by premier, blow by blow, telling me here are the issues, here’s who you can trust, here’s who you can’t trust. This was a totally non-partisan thing. He gave me years of knowledge and institutional memory.
He could be a tough guy but he wasn’t mean-spirited. When I was in my own round of unity issues [Meech Lake], I would talk to him and say, “What do you think?” and phone him for honest advice or even a hug if I needed it. He had all his values straight and he made a great success of his life in politics and post-politics.
Bob Rae, Ontario premier, 1990-1995, and interim leader of the Liberal Party
I came to know him as an MP when the Constitution was being discussed. As time has gone on, people have realized that he has had a great sense of the country as well as a great sense of his own province. Because of the argument about the National Energy Policy, he was stereotyped as a defender of Alberta, which of course he was, but he had a much broader perspective. He knew the country very well from one coast to another, and he was a person of great generosity of spirit.
The last time I saw him was at Allan Blakeney’s funeral. He spoke very movingly and it reinforced my sense that Peter was a unique figure in the life of the country. He was a nation builder and a constructive, positive person and we need more people like him today and tomorrow.
Preston Manning, President and CEO, Manning Centre for Building Democracy
Albertans mourn the passing of one of Canada’s most accomplished public figures, Peter Lougheed – a man who moved during his own lifetime beyond the status of politician to that of statesman. Our mourning includes expressing our deepest sympathies to Jeanne Lougheed and the Lougheed family, with profound gratitude to them for sharing the life of a husband, father, and grandfather with a province and a country.
At the same time, we remember and celebrate Peter Lougheed’s accomplishments and legacy. His strengthening of the Alberta economy, especially the energy sector; his strengthening of our quality of life, through public investments in everything from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research to the massive recreational playground of Kananaskis Country; and his vigorous affirmation of provincial rights and responsibilities with respect to the ownership and management of natural resources.
But what is it that truly distinguishes the statesman, which Peter Lougheed became, from the run-of-the-mill politician? It is the statesman’s willingness and ability to foresee and prepare for the future, while still successfully managing the present.