I miss Ralph Klein. I miss him a lot.
When I was coming of age as a young political animal, I had Ralph Klein and Deb Grey to harden my conservatism.
He had guts. He had that every man quality that made us trust him when he said he could get us back on track if we all just stuck to the program.
We called him King Ralph; but not because he was grand or regal. It was for just the opposite, in fact. We called him that out of pure irony. Klein is so “unregal” and so down to earth that sometimes we forgot he was the man in charge.
Ralph governed with us. When he tried to sell us on the public sector cuts he needed to make to save our province from an Ontario future, he got in a motorhome and took his plan to the people. He ended up in local coffee shops and community halls all across the province, listening to Albertans, telling us why we needed to buckle down and get our spending in check. He gave us answers to our questions. It’s a stark contrast to the sort of consultation we get from the NDP now. They show up tell us what they are going to do to us and leave us with fewer answers than when they came.
Ralph called what we were all building "The Alberta Advantage" and it was great. We had a business friendly tax structure and we were a safe place to work and live. Now the Notley government is chasing business out the door, with its royalty review, carbon tax, and hikes in corporate and personal income tax. Whatever advantage Alberta once had lives in Regina, now.
Klein knew the value, rather the moral imperative of unchaining ourselves and future generations from provincial debt. Who could forget the day King Ralph held up that sign that said PAID IN FULL? It was July 12, 2004. Oil spent the year hovering around the mid $30s per barrel. But we had done it and were really none the worse for wear. In fact we were headed into a boom. We were the envy of all of confederation. Now with the NDP's Grecian formula style spending, we will approach $47 billion in debt by 2020.
I wondered if Ralph was enjoying his retirement when I had to cast a ballot for Ed Stelmach. I thought about his modest personal expenses a lot when Alison Redford was premier. I cried when he died in 2013. I waxed nostalgic for Klein's down to earth premiership when Pretentious Prentice was the boss.
Now I just miss Ralph Klein, more and more every day.
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