jd adidas Alberta ‘lucky’ to have Lougheed
The accomplishments and vision of Lougheed’s 14 year rule would, ironically, be put into perspective by the long serving Socred premier who preceded him, Warrack said.
“The longer I was in government, the more I came to appreciate him, because the only comparison would be to Ernest Manning with all his honesty and integrity,” he said.
“How lucky was Alberta?”
While Lougheed had humble political beginnings when he first decided to challenge Alberta’s ingrained status quo, so, too, was his childhood.
Alberta’s future 10th premier was the grandson of Sir James Lougheed, a senator and federal cabinet minister whose name graces the 3,107 metre peak visible from his hometown of Calgary.
But Sir James’ fortune was decimated in the Great Depression and after Peter was born in Calgary on July 26, 1928, his family lived an uprooted life of shifting addresses.
Evidence of his coming leadership role came in Lougheed’s forming the first students’ union at his Calgary high school,
He also developed a taste for football while attending the University of Alberta, where he earned bachelors of arts and law.
Lougheed played for the U of A Golden Bears,
going on to pound the gridiron for the Edmonton Eskimos in 1949 50.
But it was more towards academics that the young Lougheed would turn, seeking a masters of business administration at Harvard.
It’s believed that, while toiling in an oil industry summer job in Oklahoma, he witnessed the fate of a town whose petroleum fortunes had run dry.
Some say it’s possible that experience influenced Lougheed’s determination to leave Alberta a legacy fund for his home province’s post petroleum days.
By the early 1960s, he began leaning towards the one field that could consummate that vision politics.
But he entered the fray at a time when being a Tory in Alberta was a hand to mouth existence.
“The party used to meet in a phone booth, then they graduated to church basements,” Warrack said.
“It was a little cadre of Calgary supporters who were simple, straight to the point but it was tough slogging, literally from being on the ground.
“He built the party, not the other way around.”
In the early 1960s, the PC party held no seats and had captured only 13% of the vote.
But a tireless Lougheed was to become a pesky David to the Socred Goliath, issuing a sterner challenge in the 1967 provincial election that chisel a crack into the political dynasty’s armour.
The party finished in second place, with Lougheed elected in the riding of Calgary West, easily outdistancing his rivals with 62% of the vote.
He was joined by five other Tories, almost all elected in Alberta’s two largest cities.
Manning was soon replaced by the staid Harry Strom and Lougheed smelled a prime opportunity to topple what he and more than a few other Albertans considered a stagnant, overly rural government.
Calgary lawyer Ron Ghitter remembers the recruiting effort that ensued,
featuring an opposition leader appealing to the better nature’s of prospective candidates.