“Everyone knows I have sins. I eat too much. I still drink. I gamble and, God forbid, I still see some of my old friends.” – In April, 1982, explaining how he hadn’t let being mayor completely alter his lifestyle.
“I’m telling you, it feels good to wake up without a hangover.” – He tells reporters in December, 2001 – his first public appearance since making a drunken early-morning visit to a homeless shelter – and pledges to cut down on his drinking.
“I don’t need this crap.” – He yells at a legislature page as he throws a booklet of the provincial Liberals’ health-care ideas in March, 2006.
“Even if we have to put them all in jail, on top of one another, we have to do it.” – A speech to the Calgary Newcomers’ Club in January, 1982, in which, as mayor of Calgary, he blasted “creeps” and “bums” who moved to Calgary from Eastern Canada “without jobs, without accommodation and without money to take care of themselves.”
“Sure I said creeps and bums, but that applied to people anywhere who rob banks and snatch purses and mug senior citizens. It just so happens that most of the robberies here last year were committed by recent arrivals.… I never said Easterners were creeps and bums.” – A February, 1982, interview with The Globe and Mail.
“John Crosbie said it looks like the mayor has elected himself chief bum by making an ass of himself.” – In October, 2000, laughing at Eastern outrage over the “bums and creeps” comment.
“Cities made up exclusively of greedy, vulgar, hard-drinking, cigar-chewing, cowboy, capitalist oilmen do not win the right to host Olympic Games.” – A speech to the Canadian Club in Burlington, Ont., February, 1982, on Calgary’s growth and prosperity when he was mayor.
“I guess any self-respecting rancher would have shot, shovelled and shut up, but he didn’t do that.” – He tells Western premiers and U.S. governors in September, 2003, about what the Alberta rancher who logged Canada’s first homegrown case of mad cow disease should have done to have avoided a positive test for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
“It tastes not bad.” – His first words after being slapped with a banana cream pie during a Calgary Stampede breakfast in July, 2003.
“Edmonton isn’t really the end of the world – although you can see it from there.” – Addressing the Olympic Writers Festival, as mayor of Calgary, in March, 1988.
“I’ve been to Vulcan where I’ve been vulcanized, Carbon where you get carbonated and Standard where you get standardized. Ernie Isley’s invited me to Castor … and I’m not looking forward to it.” – Referring to his travels while campaigning for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1992.
“You can call me every rotten, stinking name under the sun, but I ain’t going to blink.” – Speaking, in his first term as premier, to the legislature in response to teachers protests and other public-service demonstrations against spending cuts.
“The government should be getting out of the business of being in business.” – An interview with CBC Radio’s This Morning on March 23, 1998.
“He never calls us. He rarely writes. Maybe he’s been trying to e-mail me.” – In March, 2000, on then federal health minister Allan Rock’s lack of contact over Alberta legislation that opens the province’s health-care system to privately owned clinics.
“What is tough love? What, is he going to come out here and kiss me?” – In December, 2000, on then prime minister Jean Chrétien’s suggestion he would use “tough love” to deal with alienation in Western Canada.
“Welcome to Ralph’s World.” – Speaking to supporters on election night in March, 2001, on winning a third consecutive majority government.
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