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Alberta Premier Ralph Klein jokingly shields his eyes with a pair of golf balls during a break between playing holes at his charity golf tournament in Spruce Grove, Alta., on June 4, 2003.DARRYL DYCK

Mr. Klein who loved to smoke, drink and gamble, was inclined to mouth off, play pranks, and react undiplomatically in public. Here are a few of his more memorable incidents.

  • 1970s: As a Calgary TV reporter looking for a human interest story, he persuaded a homeless man to check into the luxurious Palliser Hotel. The reservation came with a golf game at a swanky country club and Mr. Klein and his camera crew were there at tee time to record both his accomplice and the reaction of snooty Calgarians at the interloper in their midst.
  • 1990s: As Environment Minister, Mr. Klein was notorious for flipping his middle finger at a protester who disagreed with the government’s decision to allow Alberta Pacific Forest Industries to construct a pulp mill near Athabasca in the northern part of the province. The activist had given Mr. Klein the finger first, but that wasn’t the image that the photographer captured.
  • 1997: The premier was relaxing with a beverage in the hot tub in his backyard. While attempting to climb out, he slipped and fell over a patio table, cracking four ribs. Thinking he was only bruised, he got dressed, headed to a fundraiser in Edmonton, persuaded a doctor in the crowd to give him painkillers and launched into his speech. He barely got started when he doubled over in pain and had to be sent to hospital where he was admitted for a four-day stay. All the while his own government was slashing hospital budgets harder than any other jurisdiction in the country.
  • 2006: Shortly before he stepped down as Premier, he made a lewd comment about former Conservative Member of Parliament Belinda Stronach. Referring to her defection to the Liberal Party and her break up with politician Peter MacKay, he suggested she had only ever had one Conservative bone in her body. He refused to apologize on the grounds that “a roast is a roast is a roast.” Besides, an aide argued, Ms. Stronach had roasted the Premier in the past, making fun of his weight, his clothing and even his flatulence.

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