Robert Curtis Clark

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Robert Curtis Clark
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
In office
Preceded by James Lawrence Owens
Succeeded by Gordon Kesler
Constituency Didsbury (1960–63)
Olds-Didsbury (1963–81)
Personal details
Born (1937-07-02) July 2, 1937 (age 79)
Acme, Alberta
Political party Alberta Social Credit Party
Occupation teacher

Robert "Bob" Curtis Clark (born July 2, 1937) is a former teacher, civil servant and provincial level politician. He served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1960 to 1981. During his career he served as Leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party and Leader of the Official Opposition. After his provincial political career, he served as the Alberta Ethics Commissioner from April 1, 1992 to March 31, 2003.

Early life[edit]

Robert Curtis Clark was born on July 2, 1937 in Acme, Alberta, Canada. He became a school teacher at the age of nineteen in 1956 for Mountain View County. Four years later he made a run for provincial political office.[1]

Political career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Clark was first elected to the Alberta Legislature in a by-election held in the electoral district of Didsbury on November 30, 1960. The by-election was caused by the death of the previous member James Owens. Clark won the hotly contested three way race for the Socreds by doubling the votes of second place candidate J.A. Lore of the Liberals.[2] He became the youngest Alberta provincial MLA winning the electoral district at age of twenty-three years.[1]

For the 1963 Alberta general election, Didsbury was abolished, and Clark followed most of his constituents into the new Olds-Didsbury riding. He won the new district in a landslide three way race.[3]

Cabinet Minister[edit]

Clark was appointed to the cabinet by Premier Ernest Manning in 1966. Manning appointed Clark as Minister of Youth due to his young age.[1] Clark would run for a third term in office, this time as a Cabinet Minister in the 1967 general election. In that election Clark slightly increased his plurality as he finished well ahead in the field of four candidates.[4] In 1968 Clark was appointed as Minister of Education by Premier Harry Strom.[1] Clark ran for a fourth term in office in the 1971 general election. Despite the defeat of the Social Credit government, Clark was easily returned to his seat.[5]

Opposition leader[edit]

Clark was chosen as Official Opposition leader by the Social Credit caucus in September 1973 after James Henderson left the caucus to sit as an independent.[6] He had earlier run for the leadership of the party, and had the support of half the party's MLAs. However, he was defeated in an upset by Werner Schmidt, who did not have a seat in the legislature, which led to Henderson and then Clark taking the role of Leader of the Opposition.

Schmidt led the party to a very poor showing in the 1975 general election. The party lost almost 23% of its popular vote and dropped from 25 to four seats in the Legislature, barely holding onto official status. Clark easily won his home district, defeating two other candidates with a large majority.[7] Schmidt resigned shortly after the election, and Clark took the leadership unopposed. In six years as opposition leader, he unable to make any real headway on the Tories under Peter Lougheed, who had rapidly built up a machine that was every bit as dominant as the Social Credit MLA's had been in their heyday.

Clark led Social Credit to a larger share of the popular vote in the 1979 general election, but failed to pick up any seats. In his home district he won that election with the biggest plurality of his career as he remained personally popular.[8] Less than a year after the election Clark resigned as Social Credit leader, and resigned his seat on November 30, 1981. The separatist Western Canada Concept won his former riding by a resounding margin in the subsequent by-election; it and its predecessors had been in Socred hands for all but four of the previous 46 years. This marked the beginning of the end of Social Credit as a force in Alberta politics.[9] In a snap election held a year later, Social Credit lost its remaining seats in the legislature, never to return.

After politics[edit]

After leaving political office, Clark became a consultant for Hill and Knowlton and Public Affairs International. He served both those roles from 1981 until his appointed as Ethics Commissioner in 1992. In 1986 he became a member of the Board of Directors and later Chairman of the Board for the Special Waste Management Corporation.[1]

Clark did not go to University when he was younger but he was awarded an honorary doctorate of law degree by the University of Calgary on June 8, 1988.[10]

Public servant[edit]

Clark was appointed as the first Alberta Ethics Commissioner by the provincial government in 1992.[11] He has served that post from April 1, 1992 to March 31, 2003.[1]

He was also appointed as Alberta's first Information and Privacy Commissioner from 1995 to 2001.[11] On March 12, 2002 he would serve the government in another capacity as he was appointed Chairman of the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission in 2002.[11]

In 2003 Clark was awarded the Alberta Lieutenant Governor's Award for his dedication to public service.[12]

After resigning from his post as Alberta Ethics Commissioner he worked as the Ethics Advisor for the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board and serving from 2002 until 2007. Since 2006 he has worked as the Chair of Rural Alberta's Development Fund.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Robert C. Clark Former Ethics Commissioner". Archived from the original on June 12, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  2. ^ "By-elections 1905-1973". Elections Alberta. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  3. ^ "Olds-Didsbury election results 1963". Alberta Heritage. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  4. ^ "Olds-Didsbury election results 1967". Alberta Heritage. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  5. ^ "Olds-Didsbury election results 1971". Alberta Heritage. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  6. ^ Finkel, Albert (1989). The Social Credit Phenomenon in Alberta. University of Toronto Press. p. 196. ISBN 0-8020-5821-3. 
  7. ^ "Olds-Didsbury election results 1975". Alberta Heritage. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  8. ^ "Olds-Didsbury election results 1979". Alberta Heritage. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  9. ^ "Olds-Didsbury by-election results". Elections Alberta. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  10. ^ "Honorary Degree List" (PDF). University of Calgary. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  11. ^ a b c "Frequently Asked Questions". Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission 2002/2003. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  12. ^ "Regional Honours Award". The Institute of Public Administration of Canada. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 

External links[edit]

Legislative Assembly of Alberta
Preceded by
James Lawrence Owens
MLA Didsbury
Succeeded by
District Abolished
Preceded by
New District
MLA Olds-Didsbury
Succeeded by
Gordon Kesler
Preceded by
James Henderson
Leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta
Succeeded by
Raymond Speaker
Party political offices
Preceded by
Werner Schmidt
Social Credit Party of Alberta Leader
Succeeded by
Rod Sykes