Former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed passed away last night after a long illness. He was 84.
As a young man, Lougheed had a brief career a defensive end with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Footbal League. But Lougheed is best known for ending one political dynasty and creating another. In 1971, Lougheed led the Progressive Conservatives to power in Alberta ending Social Credit’s 36-year grip on power. Lougheed would be re-elected Premier in 1975, 1979 and 1982 before stepping aside in 1985 for Don Getty. The Tories have been in power ever since.
His most notable achievement was the creation of the Alberta Heritage Savings Fund in 1976. In its early years, it was largely funded by the province’s vast oil revenues and has kept Alberta in the black both figuratively and literally. The fund proved so successful in funding health care and education for Albertans that it began loaning out funds to other provinces.
Lougheed also stood firm against Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau over the National Energy Program (NEP) in the early 1980s. The program tried to set a floor price on Canadian oil which needless to say didn’t go over very well in the oil producing province. Lougheed and Trudeau eventually reached a compromise. The NEP was abolished shortly after the Liberals were swept from power by Brian Mulroney’s Tories in 1984.
He was also instrumental in the early research and development of oilsands in northern Alberta. It is estimated that the oil sands will generate over $1 trillion in revenue for Alberta over the next 35 years.
Lougheed leaves a legacy in Alberta which will be felt for many years to come.