Ralph Klein – A Politician Who Kept his Promise

Canada was in the midst of their Federal Election campaign. By law, campaigns can be no shorter than 36 days and are rarely over 60 days. That seems to give politicians plenty of time to make promises they have no ability nor, probably, any intention of keeping.

Calgary mayor Ralph Klein fishing
1986 – Ralph Klein while Mayor of Calgary. Photo from the Calgary Herald

The Province of Alberta had one politician, however, who made a promise, and then carried it out. It was Alberta’s Premier, Ralph Klein. He was a hard drinking, politically incorrect, Wild West kind of man who, in 1993, vowed to eliminate Alberta’s Debt and Deficit. Which his party did. He didn’t rely on raising taxes – he cut expenditures – and it earned him as much hate as it did gratitude. Ralph recognized that the Alberta government had to do what many Albertans don’t do, and that is to live within their means.

This isn’t a message that anyone likes to hear, yet it is one that people and governments all over the world will have to adopt soon. Canada and the United States, in particular, have achieved a level of expenditure and expectation that is unsustainable. Too many people want it all but too few are responsible for paying for it.

Ralph saw this reality in Canada’s Health Care System. He spent 11 years trying to reform the model, believing it should be a basic service Volkswagen, not the costly Cadillac that everyone thinks they should have. And while some of the public still bemoan what they view as Ralph’s attempt to dilute Heath Care, our family can attest to the fact that when an emergency strikes, it is there for you.

Ralph’s own health started to decline several years ago. He and his family waited for two years before they got the diagnosis that was delivered last week. Ralph has frontal temporal dementia. It is robbing him of everything that was Ralph, and that is sad.

We need more straight shooters in government, and Ralph was one of the most famous:

A fine city with too many socialists and mosquitoes. At least you can spray the mosquitoes.
– Klein speaking in 1990 as a Progressive Conservative MLA from Calgary –

(Ralph died in 2013 at the age of 70. Here is his obit in The Globe and Mail.)

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