The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.
Most politicians are given an advantage, they are inflated by the offices they hold. High office often takes the ordinary person and makes him or her a little less so. With your standard politician, the position they hold puffs them up somehow, they come to strut a little more, or seem – at least to themselves – a little taller.
Not so Peter Lougheed. He reversed this unhappy dynamic. When Peter Lougheed became premier, the role and office stretched to accommodate him. His maturity of manner, natural charisma and clarity of approach overflowed the office. He was instantly a national figure – a politician the whole country recognized had something to offer far from politics as usual.
There was something about his manner and person that spoke of largeness of design and vision, a seriousness about things that charged his political role with a force and impact not often experienced, and even more rarely embodied so thoroughly as it was in his case.
In short, he was a real leader, and part of this man’s remarkable gift was his utter naturalness, his “fit” for the role. Did ever anyone look more (can anyone ever again?) like a premier of Alberta than Peter Lougheed in his prime?
They invented the word patriarch for people, the very few people, who present like Peter Lougheed. The man walked straight out of central casting for the job, handsome, athletic, proud and intelligent.
He was the only Premier I have ever seen whose face could have been on the provincial flag.
In his days as premier, he personified what he was most concerned with: the New West. His presence and performance obliterated all the condescending images parts of the East held about the West and Alberta. All of the cliches, cheap putdowns and dismissals evaporated before his authority, competence and weight. When he, at those constitutional conferences, took on Pierre Trudeau, the provinces knew they had found their champion, that there was at least one of them in there who was easily a match for the hyperintelligent, formidably determined Mr. Trudeau.
Mr. Lougheed could manage a great quarrel, such as he had with Mr. Trudeau, with grace and aplomb. No childish outrages, or tantrums such as mark so many politicians of the present moment. He was strong but never a bully, confident but not righteous.
His performance mattered beyond particular issues. He presided in a period when the West and Alberta in particular were working towards some idea of their “new” presence in Confederation, when the West was claiming that it had ideas, resources and the people to join the table as an equal player.
For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://www.nationalpost.com/Alberta+Advantage/7247059/story.html