|10th Premier of Alberta|
September 10, 1971 – November 1, 1985
|Preceded by||Harry E. Strom|
|Succeeded by||Don Getty|
|Leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta|
February 15, 1968 – April 27, 1971
|Preceded by||Michael Maccagno|
|Succeeded by||Harry Strom|
|Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary West|
May 23, 1967 – February 28, 1986
|Preceded by||Donald S. Fleming|
|Succeeded by||Elaine McCoy|
Edgar Peter Lougheed
July 26, 1928
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
|Died||September 13, 2012 (aged 84)|
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
|Political party||Progressive Conservative|
Edgar Peter Lougheed // LAW-heed; July 26, 1928 – September 13, 2012) was a Canadian lawyer and politician who served as the tenth premier of Alberta from 1971 to 1985 as a Progressive Conservative, presiding over a period of reform and economic growth. In 2012 he was selected as one of the best premiers of the previous four decades by a group of “30 historians, political scientists, economists, journalists and policy advisers from across Canada” by Policy Options magazine.(
Born in Calgary, Alberta, Peter was the son of Edgar Donald Lougheed and Edna Alexandria Bauld and grandson of Canadian Senator Sir James Alexander Lougheed, a prominent Alberta businessman. Peter Lougheed attended the University of Alberta where he attained his Bachelor of Laws while playing football at the University of Alberta before joining the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League for two seasons in 1949 and 1950. After graduating, he entered business and practised law in Calgary.
In 1965, he was elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, which at that time had no seats in the legislature. He led the party back into the legislature in the 1967 provincial election as the leader of the Official Opposition, then elected as Premier with 49 of 75 seats in the 1971 election, defeating the Social Credit Party and ending the dynasty which had governed Alberta since 1935.
Lougheed established a Tory dynasty in the province that lasted until 2015, when the New Democratic Party won a majority government; it was the longest unbroken run in government for a provincial party in Canadian history. Lougheed led the Tories to victory in 1975, 1979 and 1982, winning landslide majorities each time.
As premier, Lougheed furthered the development of the oil and gas resources, and started the Alberta Heritage Fund to ensure that the exploitation of non-renewable resources would be of long-term benefit to Alberta. He introduced the Alberta Bill of Rights. He quarrelled with Pierre Trudeau's federal Liberal government over its 1980 introduction of the National Energy Program. After hard bargaining, Lougheed and Trudeau eventually reached an agreement for energy revenue sharing in 1982. Calgary's bid to host the 1988 Winter Olympics was developed during Lougheed's terms. Alberta also experienced economic success and went through significant social reform under the Lougheed administration.
From 1996 to 2002, Lougheed served as Chancellor of Queen's University. He sat on the boards of a variety of organizations and corporations. In a 2012 edition of Policy Options, the Institute for Research on Public Policy named Lougheed the best Canadian premier of the last forty years.
Edgar Peter Lougheed was born in Calgary, Alberta on July 26, 1928, the second biological son to Edgar Donald Lougheed (1893–1951) a lawyer, and Edna Alexandria Lougheed (née Bauld) (1901–1972) of Halifax. Lougheed's paternal grandfather Sir James Alexander Lougheed (1854–1925) was Senator, federal cabinet minister in the Robert Borden and Arthur Meighen governments, and early pioneer lawyer in Calgary. Lougheed's paternal great-grandfather Richard Hardisty (1831–1889) was Canada's first Métis Senator.
James Lougheed was able to accumulate a sizable fortune much of which was held in real-estate and oil firms prior to his death in 1925. Much of James Lougheed's oil securities were sold following his death to pay the estate tax. James Lougheed's home Beaulieu went into tax recovery proceedings after his death, however the City of Calgary permitted James' widow to continue to reside in the home until her death. The onset of the Great Depression resulted in lower demand for the family's office real-estate leading to financial difficulties for Edgar Lougheed and his family who continued to manage several properties. Many of Peter Lougheed's early years were spent moving from one rented home or apartment to another in Calgary. The family's fortune recovered in the 1940s as Calgary's economy rebounded from the Depression, as demand for occupancy in Lougheed family buildings grew steadier.
Lougheed was educated at the Strathcona School for Boys, Earl Grey School, Rideau Park School, and the Central Collegiate Institute, all in Calgary. At the Central Collegiate Institute Lougheed proposed the formation of a students' union, and became the union's first president.
Upon graduating from the Central Collegiate Institute in 1947, Lougheed enrolled at the University of Alberta from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1950 or 1951 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1952. Lougheed was elected president of the Students' Union in 1951, defeating Ivan Head and two other candidates. In an interview for Wood's biography for Lougheed, Head complemented Lougheed's campaign, recognizing his first-rate organizational abilities. Despite his athletic success and popularity, Lougheed was an unsuccessful candidate for the University's Athletic Board, and also served as the editor for the sports section for The Gateway, the University of Alberta student newspaper. While studying at the University of Alberta, he lived for a time in Rutherford House as a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity.
Lougheed took a strong interest in football in his youth. Prior to attending the University of Alberta, Lougheed played for the junior Calgary Tornadoes as a halfback, with the sports writers of the Calgary Herald describing Lougheed as "speedy and elusive back", and the Edmonton Journal as "gifted with the fine turn of speed" and "an elusive handful".
After completing law school Lougheed worked at the Calgary law firm of Fenerty, McGillivray and Robertson, however Lougheed set his sights on Harvard University to pursue a Master of Business Administration, which he earned in 1954. While still a student at Harvard, Lougheed had a number of jobs include a brief time at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City, and a summer with Gulf Oil in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he witnessed an oil boom town after the oil ran out; political scientist and biographer Allan Tupper has suggested that Lougheed saw here a possible future of Alberta.
After Harvard, Lougheed had to make decisions about his career. He believed that people should avoid excessive specialization in favour of maximizing their diversity of experience. He anticipated spending time in business, law, and politics. In pursuit of business, he took a legal assistant role with Mannix Corporation, a Canadian construction firm in June 1956, which progressed to a corporate law and management position. Later in early 1962, Lougheed left Mannix to establish an independent law practice, partnering with John Ballem who brought oil and gas experience, and later adding Marvin McDill. Lougheed also served on a number of boards including the Calgary Stampeders football club, and the Calgary Stampede and Exhibition board in 1963. During the early 1960s, he began to turn his attention towards politics.
Early political career
Lougheed came from a Conservative family, and it was with that party that he decided to pursue his political career. At the time, Alberta was represented almost entirely by Progressive Conservatives in the House of Commons of Canada. While that might have made federal politics appealing to Lougheed, he viewed it as a drawback; he considered the field of federal PC politicians from Alberta to be crowded, and the life of a backbencher held little appeal for him.
Instead, he turned his attention to the provincial Progressive Conservatives. The party had never formed government since Alberta's founding as a province in 1905 and under leader Milt Harradence had captured only 13 per cent of the vote in the 1963 election and failed to capture a single seat in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The party also lacked a network of constituency associations capable of organizing a capable campaign. Lougheed sought to differentiate his party from the federal Progressive Conservatives, and felt voters should be well aware that the dominant figure for the party was the himself, and not the leader of the federal party.
The Social Credit had formed every government since 1935, led initially by Premier William Aberhart, and following his death in 1943, by Premier Ernest Manning. Manning was popular and his party had received 55 per cent of the vote in the 1963 election to capture 60 of 63 seats in the legislature. Albertans however were reluctant to support the Social Credit party at the federal level, instead electing Progressive Conservative Party of Canada candidates consistently. The provincial Social Credit constituency associations often shared the same members with the federal Progressive Conservatives.
But Lougheed felt that the time was ripe for change, he believed that Albertans were beginning to find Social Credit too rural and insufficiently assertive in intergovernmental relations. In Lougheed's view, Alberta should be a senior partner in Confederation, and Social Credit was out of touch with the province's potential. He resolved to capture the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative party and to navigate it into government. In order to build support prior to the leadership convention Lougheed traveled around the province eagerly meeting supporters and constituency members. Lougheed began assembling a team of supports who followed him throughout his career including Roy Deyell, Merv Leitch, and Rod McDaniel who took prominent positions in the Progressive Conservative Party.
At the party's leadership convention in March 1965, Lougheed defeated Duncan McKillop, a fellow Calgary lawyer who had been the party's candidate for Calgary Queens Park in 1963. The only other candidate, Edson town councillor John Scott, had withdrawn on the convention's first day. Lougheed was nominated from the floor by Lou Hyndman and Charles Arthur Clark, father of future Prime Minister Joe Clark. Vote totals were not released, however biographer David G. Wood claimed 91 per cent of the delegates voted for Lougheed.
Lougheed's first challenge as leader was a 1966 by-election in Pincher Creek-Crowsnest following the death of eighteen year Social Credit representative William Kovach. Lougheed and his team campaigned viguorsly for candidate Alexander Wells, however the Conservatives finished third with 18.6 per cent of the vote, behind the successful NDP candidate Garth Turcott and the Social Credit candidate. Lougheed said he viewed it as only a minor setback.
During his time as leader of the Progressive Conservative Association, Lougheed took on the role of Vice-President of the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) for the Banff bid for the 1972 Winter Olympics, which eventually finished second in International Olympic Committee voting to the bid from Sapporo, Japan.
1967 Alberta election
Lougheed focused on building momentum for the next general election. In the May 1967 election, Lougheed and his supporters worked tirelessly to convince candidates to run in all 65 constituencies, however the Progressive Conservatives were only able to nominate 47 candidates, two more than the Liberal Party, but less than a full slate put forward by the Social Credit Party and the New Democratic Party. Lougheed sought candidates who were already public figures, often meeting with editors of local weekly newspapers, mayors and presidents of boards of trade to inquire who the community's leaders were. As the writ came closer Lougheed and the Progressive Conservative realized they could not form government and instead focused on a strategy of capturing Lougheed's seat in Calgary-West and forming opposition. The campaign created red, white and blue promotional materials with the slogan "Alberta Needs an Alternative", while Lougheed's own material added his personal slogan "Let's Start It in Calgary West".
Lougheed sought a public debate amongst the four party leaders, however as a long time incumbent Manning was not willing to risk a debate which could not benefit him. Manning's position on the debate changed when a group of Edmonton church leaders decided to host a leaders debate, Manning a devout Christian and host of "Back to the Bible Hour" radio broadcasts accepted the debate. Lougheed's performance in the debate was lauded by the Edmonton Journal and was credited by biographer George Wood with the growth in the Conservative movement in the Edmonton area, including Don Getty's improbable victory over Social Credit Education Minister Randolph McKinnon in Strathcona West. Other media began to take notice with Maclean's stating the only politician capable of having "an outside chance of challenging Manning" was Lougheed.
Lougheed was subsequently elected to the legislature in Calgary-West capturing 62 per cent of the vote, and the Progressive Conservatives captured 26 per cent of the vote province-wide with five other successful candidates, and subsequently Lougheed became Leader of the Opposition. The group of elected Conservatives known as the "original six" included Calgary MLAs Len Werry, David Russell; Edmonton area MLAs Lou Hyndman and Don Getty, and the party's only rural candidate and former federal Member of Parliament Hugh Horner. The Edmonton Journal positively remarked on Lougheed's success following the 1967 election, stating Albertans had a responsible and credible alternative as opposition.
Leader of the Opposition
Ernest Manning who had served as Premier since 1943 was aware of Social Credit's declining support capturing a disappointing 44.6 per cent of the popular vote in the 1967 election, marking the first instance under his leadership with the party failed to secure at least 50 per cent of the popular vote. Manning announced his intention to retire from public office on September 27, 1968, and following a leadership contest was succeeded as Premier by Harry Strom on December 12, 1968. In an ominous sign of the rise of Lougheed's Progressive Conservatives, the Social Credit party was defeated in the February 1969 by-election in Manning's constituency by Conservative candidate William Yurko, who captured 45.7 per cent of the vote compared to the Social Credit candidate's 40.3 per cent.
As Premier, Strom was described by Lougheed biographer Allan Tupper as an "easier opponent" than Manning, and biographers Tupper and Wood considered him earnest and of high integrity, but lacked dynamism, experience and shrewdness. Strom had a challenge to rejuvenate the rural focused Social Credit Party to better reflect the growing urbanization in Alberta, something he was not able to effectively accomplish. Furthermore, the Social Credit government made of generally older members, with the average age in 1969 being 54 years of age with 16 of the 54 members being above the age of 60. In contrast the Progressive Conservative caucus had an average under 40 years of age.
Strom pressed for "a new and more positive relationship with the federal government".
In the Legislature Lougheed oversaw daily caucus strategy meetings to plan and rehearse questions. Each day the Lougheed opposition developed and focused questions for only one government Minister, ignoring all other Ministers, with the target Minister changing each day. The strategy combined with Lougheed's legal training and sophistication was effective at creating suspense and concern in the government caucus.
Other Conservatives in Canada noticed Lougheed's success in Alberta, and he was invited to be the keynote speaker by federal Progressive Conservatives in the 1968 convention in Toronto. During the 1970 spring session, Lougheed moved to position the Progressive Conservatives as a credible alternative to the Social Credit party. His party introduced 21 bills, an unusual number for an opposition party in a Westminster system.
Lougheed's Progressive Conservative caucus further grew from the "Original Six" with the election of Robert Dowling in the October 1969 Edson by-election, Bill Dickie a long time friend of Lougheed crossing the floor from the Liberals to join his caucus in November 1969, and Banff-Cochrane independent representative Clarence Copithorne joining the party in April 1971. This growth saw the popular Lougheed led Progressive Conservatives enter the August 1971 election with 10 incumbents.
1971 general election
The 16th Legislature was prorogued on April 27, 1971 and dissolved three months later on July 22 with an election day set on August 30, 1971. A number of changes to electoral process occurred, electoral constituencies boundaries were redrawn and the number of members was increased from 65 to 75, and the Age of Majority Act lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years.
The Progressive Conservative Party had been preparing for an election to be called since mid-1970. The party developed slogans and branding which was one of the first instances in Alberta where printing and branding was centrally controlled, meaning constituencies were not permitted to develop their own materials. This centralization was intended to reinforce the parties key messages and ensure repetition in the eyes of voters. An advertising budget of $120,000 was set to provide $80,000 for television advertisements and the rest of other materials for constituencies across the province. Lougheed's focus on television contrasted Social Credit's use of radio for the less gregarious Strom. Lougheed's team was careful with messaging, stressing the idea of the Progressive Conservative providing an "alternative" rather than "opposition". Lougheed developed a 40 day schedule that brought him to each constituency to "meet and greet" with potential voters.
On August 30th Albertans went to the polls and supported Peter Lougheed's Progressive Conservative Party. The Conservatives captured 49 of 75 seats in the 17th Alberta Legislature with 46.4 per cent of the popular vote, the victory included a complete sweep of 16 seats in Edmonton and 9 of 13 in Calgary. Lougheed himself captured 55.2 per cent of the vote in Calgary-West, easily retaining his seat.
Many observers argue that the Progressive Conservative victory in 1971 was primarily a result of Lougheed's charisma, combined with growing urbanization and an out-of-touch Social Credit government. Lewis G. Thomas argues that Lougheed provided an image of the traditional elite with his business background which appealed to the province which was undergoing economic growth and prosperity brought on by non-renewable resources, which contrasted well with the old-fashioned image of the Social Credit party. Other similar views include Lougheed as the savior of the urban middle-class that was seeking a revigorated government aligned with the province's new resource age. Edward Bell counters this argument stating that Lougheed's victory in 1971 was in no way guaranteed before the writ was dropped, Bell argues the Social Credit's poor relations with unions and Strom's weak campaign led to a Conservatives narrow victory of 5.3 percentage points. The media heralded Lougheed's victory as an upset, with The Calgary Albertan claiming "PC's Pull Off Socred Upset", and the Calgary Herald headline "It Is 'Now' for Lougheed; Stunning Alberta Upset Puts PC's in Power".
On September 10, 1971, Peter Lougheed was sworn in Alberta's 10th Premier by Lieutenant Governor Grant MacEwan. Lougheed was set with a majority government in the legislature and an Social Credit opposition of 25 members, which would be the largest opposition Lougheed would face in his 14 year career as Premier.
In the leadup to the 1975 election Lougheed enjoyed strong support in his own constituency which allowed him to focus his campaign efforts across the province. The Progressive Conservatives campaigned a platform on administrative competence and promises outlined in a unpassed 1975–76 budget. Leaning on successful negotiations with the federal and Ontario governments and oil companies for the development of oil sands in the Winnipeg Agreement only 11 days before the legislature was dissolved. Other promises included the creation of the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, reduction of personal income taxes by at least 28 per cent, and increased social program spending, all of which were built on growing non-renewable natural resource revenue resulting from 1970s energy crisis. Lougheed was the centre of the campaign evidenced by the Progressive Conservative slogans "Lougheed Leadership", "43 Months of Progress", and "Vote Today for Alberta". While opposition criticism focused on Lougheed's interference with the free market, which was exemplified with the 1974 purchase of Pacific Western Airlines for $37.5-million and significant government spending authorized through Order-in-Council instead of appropriations through the Legislature, neither were effective for swaying voters. To no one's surprise, the Progressive Conservative Party won a lopsided victory in 1975, capturing 62.7 per cent of the vote and 69 of 75 seats in the Legislature. The Edmonton Report cover featured a caricature of Peter Lougheed following the victory accompanied with the title "Peter The Greatest".
Lougheed and the Progressive Conservative popularity continued to rise and the 1979 election saw Lougheed campaign on the unofficial slogan of "79 in '79", alluding to capturing all 79 seats in the Legislature. Lougheed's Progressive Conservatives lost some of the popular vote compared to 1975, capturing 57.4 per cent, but gained five seats for a total of 74 of 79 seats in the Legislature.
The 1982 election marked Lougheed's final as Premier. Lougheed utilized the constitutional debates and focus on Alberta's complete control over natural resources to gain increased support from the electorates. The Progressive Conservatives improved their popular support to capture 62.3 per cent of the popular vote and 75 of the 79 seats in the Legislature, the second largest majority government in Alberta's history.
Lougheed's electoral success and massive majority governments ensured he could implement his agenda with minimal opposition.
Lougheed spent most of his tenure as premier in a bitter fight with the federal government over control of Alberta's resources. His first term also saw the start of a decade-long development boom, and he later established the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, which used oil revenues to invest for the long term in such areas as health care and research.
Lougheed retired in 1985. Don Getty, a member of the original PC caucus from 1967 and later a longtime member of the Lougheed cabinet, came out of retirement to succeed him.
Alberta Legislature and governance
Upon his election in 1971, Lougheed sought to increase contact between Albertans and legislators, including addressing accessibility, visibility and accountability of the Assembly. In his first Speech from the Throne for the Progressive Conservative government, Lieutenant Governor Grant MacEwan spoke of the principles of open government. One of his first steps was the implementation of cameras to record and broadcast meetings of the Legislature beginning on March 15, 1972 and beginning of the Hansard series to create a written record of debates on March 8, 1972.
Lougheed's government made significant transformations to policy and finance through the Legislature. Several legislative policy committees were created in 1975 consisting of members of the Progressive Conservative caucus, which did not include members of the opposition. Lougheed also consistently funded programs using special warrants authorized by cabinet and issued by the Lieutenant Governor, these warrants were not included in any budgets provided to the Legislature and were not made public until after the decision to spend was approved. This removed the ability for the opposition, members of caucus or the public to hold the government to account.
Lougheed's popularity resulted in significant majority governments with only a limited number of opposition members. Lougheed became creative to provide additional responsibility to members of his caucus, including mandatory full caucus meetings which he chaired. In 1975 he removed the requirement for caucus to operate by consensus, owing to the large number of members, instead a vote was called on all issues, and Lougheed often required a two-thirds majority for important issues. Furthermore, Cabinet members were required to attend and all members were seated in alphabetical order, and refused to use the term backbencher instead referring to caucus members as "ministers" and "private members". As well, non-political attendance in caucus meetings was limited to only four staff members from the Premier's Office. Lougheed also required legislators to seek caucus approval to miss caucus meetings or publicly dissent with a position of caucus, which required either a reason of conscience or constituency issue. When Progressive Conservative MLA Tom Sindlinger publicly disagreed with matters related to the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, Constitutional patriation, and freedom of information, he was expelled from caucus and the Progressive Conservative Party.
"Attracting good candidates."
— Peter Lougheed, Response to "single out one item as your political legacy, what would it be?"
When selecting his Cabinets, Lougheed took the approach that first hand knowledge may be a determent to the success of the Minister, who he wanted to take on the role without any preconceived notions. For instance Hugh Horner a doctor was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Lou Hyndman a lawyer was appointed Minister of Education. Lougheed completely shuffled his Cabinet upon re-election in 1975 and 1979, with no Minister retaining the same position, although after the 1982 election he reappointed several Ministers to the same portfolios. Lougheed also oversaw an expansion of the size of Cabinet, which assisted in providing regional representation.
Based on his experience in opposition Lougheed named an opposition member as the chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. However, political scientist Engelmann called the appointment "window-dressing" as the committee consists of a majority of government caucus members, and prior to changes under Premier Don Getty in 1990, the chair was not permitted to present a report of the committee to the Legislature.
As the leader of the opposition Lougheed charged the Social Credit government failed to ensure Albertans received fair value from the exploitation of public non-renewable natural resources, and as Premier Lougheed implemented a number of policies to increase the value of Alberta's resources, counter federal programs he viewed as threats and expand development in the oil sands.
"This appears to be the most discriminatory action taken by a federal government against a particular province in the entire history of confederation"
— Peter Lougheed, Canadian Club speech in Calgary, September 14, 1973. In regards to export taxes instituted by the federal government.
In 1972 Lougheed announced major changes to the province's oil and gas royalty structures to increase Alberta's share of resource revenue and entrench the provincial government's control over those resources. The Social Credit government had capped the maximum royalty rate at 16.66 per cent, and Lougheed was willing to permit existing leases to continue until they expired and all new leases would be issued at a new higher rate. However, in the wake of 1973 oil crisis Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau implemented an expanded National Oil Policy which included an export tax on oil and created domestic pricing standards below international levels, all of which disproportionally effected Alberta. Lougheed used the export tax to claim force majeure and cancel all existing oil and gas leases to be reissued under the new higher royalty rate. These higher royalty rates became contentious later in 1974 when the federal government revised corporate tax code to no longer permit petroleum companies to deduct provincial royalties from taxable income. Lougheed and Trudeau came to a compromise in early 1975 which allowed the gradual increase in domestic oil prices to near world prices, while creating a buffer to protect manufacturing centres and consumers.
The early 1970s brought the possibility of large scale oil and gas exploration in the Athabasca oil sands through the Syncrude project. The major negotiations between the Government of Alberta and the consortium of Imperial Oil, Gulf Canada, Atlantic Richfield Canada, and Canada-Cities Service occurred in August 1973, and was led by Lougheed and Energy Minister Don Getty. Lougheed's goals with Syncrude were to get the project off the ground with the province receiving a fair royalty, and Albertans having the opportunity to invest in the project. Lougheed negotiated the royalty to take a similar form to profit sharing, and insisted the connecting pipeline be 80 per cent owned by the province, the site powerplant 50 per cent owned by the province, and an option to acquire a 20 per cent ownership stake in the Syncrude project at a later date. The negotiations between the consortium were tense, with Don Getty staging a walk-out following an ultimatum letter sent to the Province from the consortium. While an agreement was reached in late-August 1973 which met Lougheed's intended goals, the project began to unraveled one year later when in December 1974 Atlantic Richfield backed out of the project when cost estimates doubled. The project was not feasible without a federal government commitment for petroleum price assurances and financial backing. Lougheed and Getty met with other firms to fill Atlantic Richfield's place, and in February 1975 the consortium met with the governments of Alberta, Ontario and Canada in the neutral site of Winnipeg with negotiations include federal Ministers Jean Chretien and Donald Macdonald, Ontario contingent led by Premier Bill Davis, and the Alberta contingent led by Lougheed, Getty, Leitch and Dickie. The Winnipeg Agreement resulted in Ontario purchasing 5 per cent of the project, Alberta 10 per cent, and the federal government 15 per cent. Alberta also took full cost and ownership of the pipeline and powerplant through the Alberta Energy Company, and provided a $200 million loan. A legacy of the Syncrude deal was the growth of Fort McMurray, a small community of 6,847 in 1971 grew to 31,000 by 1981. Future developments in the Athabasca oil sands were not as successful for Lougheed, with the $13.5 billion Alsands project falling apart in 1982.
Lougheed sought greater control over provincial oil and gas resources, to reduce federal incursions in resources, and quite successfully leveraged public investment to achieve his goal. The province took administrative control over natural gas pricing with the Natural Gas Pricing Agreement Act, and incorporated the Alberta Energy Company in 1974 to focus on petroleum, pipeline, and petrochemical processing. The establishment of the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission further expanded the government's authority in the sale of non-renewable natural resources, as well as construction, purchasing and leases related to petroleum facilities.
In 1980, the Trudeau government implemented the National Energy Program which argued that Canadian ownership and control of natural resources was paramount to energy security, while also arguing that energy policy had become divisive and must achieve greater fairness in revenue sharing. While the program increased domestic price controls, the emphasis on revenue sharing and incentives for oil exploration on federally owned lands was viewed critically by Lougheed. Lougheed fought the program vigorously in the courts and in public, where he actively stoked Alberta nationalism in a television address claiming the program would bring more "Ottawa" to the province. Prior to the announcement of the National Energy Program, Lougheed had threatened to reduce Alberta's production of oil and gas to counter any federal program to increase taxes. If Alberta reduced production, Central Canada refineries and other businesses would need to purchase foreign oil which would be heavily subsidized by the federal government which could not afford to with a $13.7 billion deficit in 1980. Lougheed finally decided to exercise the authority to force Trudeau to concede some measures of the Program, and Lougheed announced on television a 60,000 barrel reduction to Alberta's production of crude oil to take place over nine months beginning in April 1981, and the suspension of two oil sands projects. Lougheed however pledged that he would not allow a national shortage occur, and would suspend the cuts if a shortage occurred. The threat was successful as negotiations between the federal and provincial governments to amend the National Energy Program proceeded in 1981 to remove certain unpalatable aspects. Lougheed's success in the simply named Oil Accord was marked with a widely published photograph of a celebratory toast with himself and Trudeau. Lougheed later admitted to regretting the toast.  Lougheed's battle with the National Energy Program corresponded with the 1980s oil glut which energy prices drop dramatically due to falling demand. Lougheed was forced to lower royalty rates through the Oil and Gas Activity Program and focused the government's efforts on natural gas diversification to stem falling revenues and declining economy. Finally in March 1985, only months before his retirement Lougheed, British Columbia Premier Bill Bennett, Saskatchewan Premier Grant Devine, and federal Progressive Conservative Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Patricia Carney agreed to the Western Accord which removed the remaining aspects of the National Energy Program and returned the energy industry to market driven prices.
Critics have argued that Lougheed undertook a hostile and polarizing campaign towards federal oil and gas policy which forced Albertans to choose between provincial and national citizenship. The growing hostility fueled Alberta separatism which most visibly manifested itself in the election of separatist Gordon Kesler to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in 1982. Furthermore, when Alberta Conservative Joe Clark became Prime Minister for a short period in 1979–1980, very little was done in the way of aligning domestic oil prices with the higher international prices, in part due to the significant hardship the prices would have other provinces and Canadian consumers.
Lougheed's provincial-dominated view of Canadian federalism remains one of his most visible and longstanding impacts on Albertan and Canadian history. Historian Michael D. Behiels compares Lougheed's role in the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution to that of 19th century Ontario Premier Oliver Mowat who helped transform John A. Macdonald's vision of Canadian government to one of co-ordinate sovereign powers. Amongst his most significant accomplishments in the 1970–1980s constitutional debates was the inclusion of the amending formula based on Alberta's proposal, which requires an amendment to the constitution to take place with agreement of the federal government and at least seven provinces representing 50 per cent of the Canadian population. The amending formula also included an opt-out provision which requires the consent of the province if amendments affecting existing provincial rights were considered. Lougheed's vision for the amending formula highlighted the rights of individual provinces rather than regions to ensure equity, and there would be no effective veto for a single province, which represented a major deviation from amending formulas proposed in prior constitutional talks. Along with the amending formula, Lougheed's Constitutional legacy includes the inclusion of the notwithstanding clause which provides Legislatures the authority to supersede certain provisions the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Lougheed's constitutional influence began following his election in 1971 through two actions, first by rejecting the basis of the proposed Victoria Charter, and second by creating the Ministry of Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs. The Ministry was tasked with overseeing all intergovernmental matters and grew into the center of the political battles between the provincial and federal government. The Ministry proved effective helped usher the transition of Alberta as a junior province into one viewed with the reputation as a leader amongst provinces.
Prime Minister Trudeau's failure to gain support for the Victoria Charter did not deter the Prime Minister from continuing to push for major constitutional reform. Trudeau sought at minimum the patriation of the Canadian constitution, and above patriation targeted reforms such as a palatable amending formula, a Charter of Rights, and further enhancement of federal powers. Trudeau's goals were in contrast with those of the provincial governments which were primarily led by Lougheed and Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa, and later René Lévesque. Lougheed sought greater authorities over resources, Senate reform and reforms to the Supreme Court, while Bourassa and Lévesque sought greater recognition of Quebec's culture and language.
Intergovernmental tensions were further inflamed in late 1973 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis after Pierre Trudeau's Liberal government implemented an export tax on Alberta oil, which Lougheed described as the most discriminatory action in Canadian history. Trudeau's actions further reinforced Lougheed's position that Alberta would only support Constitutional changes on the condition that provincial jurisdiction over resources was maintained. In the 1975 First Minister's conference Trudeau discussed reopening constitutional discussions which were limited to patriation exclusively. While all Premiers agreed patriation was desirable, Lougheed led the Premiers in demanding a general review of distribution of powers, control of resources, and duplication of programs. Trudeau followed up the 1975 conference by submitting to each province a draft proclamation which provided three options, simple patriation, patriation with the Victoria amending formula, and patriation with an updated Victoria Charter. Lougheed rejected the proposal and found an ally with Bourassa who created his own list of constitutional demands which expanded provincial jurisdiction.
Lougheed's government released the position paper Harmony in Diversity: A New Federalism for Canada in 1978 which formally outlined the province's position including the requirement for federal-provincial division of power to be protected by an amending formula which requires consent of the province's whose rights are subject to change.
Following an unsuccessful First Ministers Conference in September 1981, Trudeau began the process of unilateral constitutional repatriation which would be led by the federal government alone. Ontario and New Brunswick were supportive of the federal government while the remaining province's formed the "Gang of Eight", whose positions Lougheed became the principal architect. Reference questions were submitted to the Court of Appeals in Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland by their respective governments on the question of unilateral patriation, while Lougheed brought forward a resolution in the Legislature stating Alberta would only support patriation if there were safeguards for provincial rights, there was no amendments diminishing provincial rights, and the federal government did not proceed unilaterally. Lougheed then boycotted parliamentary hearings on patriation and joined the other Premiers in warning Trudeau against patriation before the Supreme Court ruled on whether unilateral patriation was constitutional.
At the national level, Lougheed led the provincial call for a new initiative on bilateral trade, culminating in the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement. Lougheed championed the concept in a televised 1985 First Ministers' Conference in Regina, arguing the opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs to compete in the North American market. As with all aspects of his Premiership, Lougheed’s trips to Washington would be planned meticulously, “mastering every last tiny detail” and Canadian ambassador to the United States Allan Gotlieb (1981–1989) described Lougheed as "one of the most effective Canadian politicians to walk the corridors of Congress". Lougheed used his friendship with Washington Senator Henry M. Jackson to gain access to elected officials in congress throughout in his early trips to the U.S. Capital.
Lougheed established a full time Minister of Foreign Trade in 1979 appointing Horst Schmid to the role. Lougheed undertook a number of official international trips during his tenure, and in almost every trip he brought his wife Jeanne. Lougheed felt by being accompanied by Jeanne, foreign dignitaries would also require their spouse to be in attendance, which had the effect of changing the atmosphere of the visit. Lougheed's official visits included Japan in 1972, Europe in 1975, United States in 1976, China and Japan in 1983. As well Lougheed took an ambitious official visit in 1977 through the Middle East, Soviet Union and Switzerland, with Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin making a public acknowledgement of Lougheed's contribution to Canadian public life.
Lougheed's tenure as Premier saw major environmental changes in the province. The government evaluated a number of ways to improve environmental and recreational access for Albertans. In 1975 Fish Creek Park was created in Calgary, purchasing land from Lougheed's former boss Frederick Charles Mannix, and later in 1977 created Kananaskis Provincial Park, which would eventually be renamed Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Lougheed credited Calgary architect Bill Milne and Highways and Transport Minister Clarence Copithorne with the idea for the park. Other efforts were taken to create urban parks in Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Medicine Hat funded through the Heritage Savings Trust Fund.
Peter Lougheed sought to use the province's natural resource revenues to incite economic development and diversification in Alberta. In 1984 Lougheed's government released a White Paper on industrial and science strategy that acknowledged the oil-led boom was over. The report described oil and gas as the "engine of growth", and described financial institutions quite positively despite the government knowing the dire financial status of several Alberta-based businesses such as the Principal Group, Canadian Commercial Bank, and Northland Bank.
Late in his Premiership Lougheed oversaw the early stages of the collapse of Principal Group, a group of Canadian financial companies headquartered in Edmonton. The operating licences for two of the Principal Group's subsidiaries were cancelled by Alberta Treasurer Dick Johnston on June 30, 1987, and six weeks later the Principal Group declared bankruptcy owing more than 67,000 investors approximately $468 million. While the collapse occurred under Don Getty's premiership, Lougheed created a special cabinet task force that met weekly in 1985 to discuss the impending collapse, and financial regulators had pressed for action a year earlier. The inquiry found the Progressive Conservative government went to considerable lengths to prevent enforcement actions against certain companies to preserve public confidence. While Lougheed was not directly named, the actions by Ministers aligned with Lougheed's "province-building" policy.
In 1974, the Lougheed government purchased Pacific Western Airlines in part to assure the development of the North and Western Canada, and position Alberta as the gateway to the north. The province purchased the airline for $37.5 million (equivalent to $196 million in 2020) during a secret takeover bid. The Alberta government moved quickly out of worries British Columbia NDP Premier Dave Barrett had a similar plan to purchase the airline. The decision was highly controversial in Alberta and drew criticism from the business community and fiscal conservatives in the Progressive Conservative caucus. Following the acquisition, the headquarters for the airline were moved to Calgary, and Calgary International Airport became the new hub. In 1983 the Peter Lougheed government sold the airline for $37.7 million (equivalent to $89 million in 2020) after promising to do so during the 1982 Alberta general election.
Relationship with federal Progressive Conservatives
Lougheed transformed the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta from a marginal party into a dynasty that governed Alberta for over 40 years. Prior to his leadership the provincial party was unable to attract significant attention or high quality candidates, despite the success of the federal Progressive Conservatives in Alberta. In fact many of the active members and volunteers for the federal Progressive Conservatives were members and volunteers for the provincial Social Credit party. Under Lougheed this dramatically changed, he was able to build a party from scratch bringing political and apolitical people under the Progressive Conservative tent that would not only bring himself into power, but support the federal party as well. Lougheed thought it was important that the public perceive the dominant figure in any provincial party be the leader, and not the leader of the federal equivalent.
Starting in 1965, future Prime Minister Joe Clark took a significant role in Lougheed's Progressive Conservatives, moving from volunteer to paid full-time field worker assisting Lougheed in finding candidates for the 1967 election. Clark became a candidate himself in the 1967 election in Calgary South, losing a close bid to Arthur J. Dixon. Robert Dinkel served as a campaign manager for the 1967 Progressive Conservatives, and later served as the Alberta manager for Joe Clark's successful 1979 federal bid.
Later during his Premiership, Lougheed was viewed as a potential leader for the federal Progressive Conservatives, and biographer David Wood describes several instances where federal organizers attempted to woo Lougheed into leading the party. Wood describes a meeting in Halifax in 1975 where Lougheed attended the Nova Scotia provincial Progressive Conservative meeting which occurred simultaneously with a federal meeting. Federal leader Robert Stanfield allegedly asked if Lougheed was interested in taking over the leadership from him, and later "twenty or more" federal party members visited his hotel room urging him to run. Later Hal Jackman and other Ontario Conservatives led a movement to gain support in Ontario for a Lougheed federal run, going so far as to send a five foot Christmas card with 800 signatures on it, and holding rallies in support, however Lougheed rejected the offer from Jackman on several occasions. Lougheed described his reason for not making the move federally in 1976 as a responsibility to Albertans after the recent election win in 1975, although Lougheed did remark "the timing wasn't right. It might have been right in 1977 or 1978". Lougheed was also rumored to make the move to the federal party in the 1983 Progressive Conservative leadership election, and there was growing party and media attention on Lougheed. Even his wife Jeanne and son Joe urged Lougheed to make the jump to federal politics. However, Lougheed once again declined to make the jump to federal politics, admitting his age (54), inability to speak French fluently, and that he did not have the energy to campaign and learn French at the same time. Lougheed did not see his inability to speak French as a significant issue in the mid-1970s, but acknowledged the growing Quebec nationalist movement had made fluency a prerequisite for any federal candidate. To put the issue to rest, Lougheed who was on vacation in Hawaii at the time returned to Edmonton early and held a news conference to take himself out of the race.
Ontario Premier Bill Davis sought the federal Progressive Conservative leadership in 1983, and asked for Lougheed's endorsement. Lougheed emphatically declined, owning to Davis' refusal to join other Premiers in 1981 on a united energy policy for Canada. Furthermore Lougheed could not support Joe Clark in retaining his position, and while Lougheed pledged to remain neutral, he did encourage Albertans to "take a good look" at the eventual winner Brian Mulroney for leader.
Lougheed official resigned his seat in the Alberta Legislature on February 27, 1986 and returned to private life at the age of 57. After his retirement from politics Lougheed remained active in government, legal and business affairs, joining Calgary based law firm Bennett Jones as a partner in 1985, sitting on the Canadian Alliance for Trade and Job Opportunities to promote the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement in 1987 and serving as the co-chair of the Canada-Japan Forum in 1991. Lougheed served as an honorary chair of the Calgary Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee.
Lougheed was named to the board of directors of a number of Canadian businesses, and at one time holding a seat on 17 different boards. These corporations included ATCO, Royal Bank of Canada, Princeton Developments, Nortel, CFCN Communications, Bombardier, Canadian Pacific Railway, Keyera, Carlson Construction and a number of other businesses. Lougheed continued to support the development of Alberta's natural gas industry, becoming the chair of the Alberta Northeast Gas project which promoted the construction of the Iroquois Pipeline. Lougheed was named a member of the Trilateral Commission.
In 1996 Lougheed was appointed Chancellor of Queen's University, succeeding Agnes Benidickson, a title he held until 2002. Lougheed made the decision on the advice of his two sons who attended Queen's.
Lougheed rarely commented on Alberta's public policy or the Progressive Conservative Party following his resignation as Premier. Lougheed did not endorse any candidate as his successor, nor did he endorse a candidate in the 1992 Progressive Conservative leadership race. This changed after the resignation of Premier Klein in 2006, where Lougheed began to make occasional political statements and take interviews. Late in the 2006 Progressive Conservative leadership election Lougheed endorsed the eventually runner-up Jim Dinning and in the 2011 leadership race Lougheed's endorsement of the eventually winner Alison Redford was seen by observers as a difference maker.
Lougheed did make occasional statements in support or opposition of successor Progressive Conservative Premiers. In a 1995 interview, Lougheed was critical of Conservative government cuts to social services following the early 1990s recession, both targeting Ontario Premier Mike Harris and Ralph Klein. In June 2006 Lougheed granted an interview to Edmonton Journal reporter Gordon Jaremko where he criticized the province's royalty structure and called for a review of non-renewable resource royalties, which had been significantly reduced in the 1990s to spur development. The interview came months after Klein announced his retirement and created a significant policy issue in the 2006 Progressive Conservative leadership race. Shortly after his election, Ed Stelmach called a for the Alberta Royalty Review.
Lougheed was a staunch supporter of the Charlottetown Accord and saw it as an opportunity for Quebec to sign onto the Constitution as a full partner. In an essay for Maclean's in 1992, Lougheed supported the elected Senate with equal representation from each province, agreed it was fair for Quebec to guarantee 25 per cent representation in the House of Commons, a majority of Quebec Senators approve legislation affecting French language or culture, and three members of the Supreme Court of Canada from Quebec and trained in Quebec's civil code. Lougheed did not support additional engrained rights for Aboriginal persons which he claimed would create a new order of government, but accepted the consensus to include the provisions in the Accord. Lougheed also advocated for a "citizen assembly" composed of elected representatives from each province to negotiate Constitutional reforms as a fallback measure if Charlottetown failed. Under his plan, no current MPs or MLAs would have been eligible, and no member could run for a seat in federal or provincial parliament for six years.
Illness and death
Lougheed had long been suffering from a heart condition and high blood pressure which required a triple bypass surgery in 1995. In early September 2012, his health severely deteriorated and he was taken to hospital, where he died of natural causes at the hospital named after him in Calgary. His body lay in state from September 17 to 18 inside the main rotunda of the Alberta Legislature Building. The national and provincial flags were flown at half-mast throughout the province. After lying in state, Lougheed's body travelled back to Calgary in a motorcade from Edmonton that followed a procession through the city, passing places of significance to Lougheed. A state memorial was held on September 21, 2012, at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary.
In response to his death, Prime Minister Stephen Harper described Lougheed as "one of the most remarkable Canadians of his generation." Alberta Premier Alison Redford cut short her trip to Asia in order to attend his funeral. Alberta's opposition leader Danielle Smith, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (who was the Minister of Justice during negotiations to patriate the Canadian constitution), federal opposition leader Thomas Mulcair and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi issued statements condoling his death. Former Prime Minister Joe Clark wrote a special commentary in The Globe and Mail praising Lougheed.
In Alberta's Camelot: Culture and the Arts in the Lougheed Years, Fil Fraser explores how Lougheed government programs created a period of unprecedented growth for provincial arts sector, from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s.
The Tories were in office without interruption from 1971 until 2015, usually with large majorities but nowhere near as large as the ones Lougheed enjoyed.
In 2012, Policy Options a magazine published by the public policy think tank Institute for Research on Public Policy brought together a jury of 30 prominent Canadians which named Peter Lougheed the best Canadian Premier in the last 40 years (1972–2012). Lougheed was ranked first amongst 21 of the 30 jurors.
Lougheed was styled "The Honourable" for the duration of his membership in the Executive Council of Alberta from 1971 to 1986. When he was appointed a privy councillor (postnominal: "PC") on April 17, 1982, the style "The Honourable" was extended for life. In 1986, he was named a Companion of the Order of Canada (postnominal: "CC"), and in 1989 he was named to the Alberta Order of Excellence (postnominal: "AOE").
In 1986 the University of Alberta established the Peter Lougheed Scholarship, and later established other scholarships in health sciences, law and arts in his name. In 2001 he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame which established the Peter Lougheed/CIHR Scholarship. Harvard University awarded Lougheed the University's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1986.
The Kananaskis Provincial Park was renamed Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in 1986 after Lougheed's retirement as Premier. The new Calgary General Hospital constructed in 1988 was named the Peter Lougheed Centre, Lougheed received his end of life care and died in the hospital. Other sites named in honour of Lougheed include Edmonton's Peter Lougheed Multicultural Village, the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Building at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, a residence hall at the University of Alberta, and Lougheed Avenue in Heisler, Alberta. After his death proposals were made to rename Calgary International Airport in his honour.
As party leader
|1982 Alberta provincial election|
|Party||Party leader||# of
|1979||1982||% Change||#||%||% Change|
|Western Canada Concept||78||-||-||-||111,131||11.76%||-|
|Alberta Reform Movement||14||-||-||-||6,258||0.66%||*|
|1979 Alberta provincial election|
|Party||Party leader||# of
|1975||1979||% Change||#||%||% Change|
|1975 Alberta provincial election|
|Party||Party leader||# of
|1971||1975||% Change||#||%||% Change|
|Independent Social Credit||1||*||1||100%||4,428||0.75%||*|
|Independent Progressive Conservative||3||-||-||-||1,059||0.18%||-|
|1971 Alberta provincial election|
|Party||Party leader||# of
|1967||1971||% Change||#||%||% Change|
|1967 Alberta provincial election|
|Party||Party leader||# of
|1963||1967||% Change||#||%||% Change|
|Independent Progressive Conservative||2||-||-||-||1,118||0.22%||-|
|Independent Social Credit||2||-||-||-||693||0.14%||−0.65%|
|1982 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)|
|Progressive Conservative||Peter Lougheed||11,668||78.8%|
|Social Credit||Leonard Petterson||251||1.7%|
|1979 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)|
|Progressive Conservative||Peter Lougheed||7,825||72.9%|
|Social Credit||Frank Cottingham||930||8.7%|
|Independent Christian||Jacob Binnema||406||3.8%|
|1975 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)|
|Progressive Conservative||Peter Lougheed||8,983||78.6%|
|Social Credit||Charles Grey||1,213||10.6%|
|1971 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)|
|Progressive Conservative||Peter Lougheed||7,049||55.2%|
|Social Credit||Charles Grey||4,319||33.8%|
|1967 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)|
|Progressive Conservative||Peter Lougheed||8,548||61.7%|
|Social Credit||Donald S. Fleming||4,028||29.1%|
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Biographies of Lougheed
- Fraser, Fil (2003). Alberta's Camelot: Culture and the Arts in the Lougheed Years. Lone Pine Publishing. ISBN 1-55105-393-4.
- Hustak, Alan (1979). Peter Lougheed: A Biography. McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 9780771042997.
- Perry, Sandra E.; Craig, Jessica J. (2006). The Mantle of Leadership: Premiers of the Northwest Territories and Alberta. Edmonton, Alberta: Legislative Assembly of Alberta. ISBN 0-9689217-2-8.
- Tupper, Allan (2004). "Peter Lougheed". In Bradford J. Rennie (ed.). Alberta Premiers of the Twentieth Century. Regina, Saskatchewan: Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. ISBN 0-88977-151-0.
- Wood, David G. (1985). The Lougheed legacy. Toronto: Key Porter Books. ISBN 0-919493-48-3. OCLC 910363674.
- Behiels, Michael D. (2005). "Premiere Peter Lougheed, Alberta and the Transformation of Constitutionalism in Canada, 1971-1985". In Connors, Richard; Law, John M. (eds.). Forging Alberta's Constitutional Framework. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press. ISBN 0888644574.
- Elton, David (1976). "Alberta". In Saywell, John (ed.). Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs, 1975. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442671898.
- Engelmann, Frederick C. (1992). "The Legislature". In Tupper, Allan; Gibbins, Roger (eds.). Government and Politics in Alberta. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press. ISBN 0-88864-243-1.
- Tupper, Allan; Pratt, Larry; Urquhart, Ian (1992). "The Role of Government". In Tupper, Allan; Gibbins, Roger (eds.). Government and Politics in Alberta. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press. ISBN 0-88864-243-1.
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