Peter Lougheed

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The Honourable
Peter Lougheed
File:Peter Lougheed.jpg
Lougheed in 1971
10th Premier of Alberta
In office
September 10, 1971 – November 1, 1985
Monarch Elizabeth II
Lieutenant Governor
Preceded by Harry E. Strom
Succeeded by Don Getty
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary West
In office
May 23, 1967 – February 28, 1986
Preceded by Donald S. Fleming
Succeeded by Elaine McCoy
Personal details
Born Edgar Peter Lougheed
(1928-07-26)July 26, 1928
Calgary, Alberta
Died September 13, 2012(2012-09-13) (aged 84)
Calgary, Alberta
Political party Progressive Conservative
Spouse(s) Jeanne Lougheed (née Rogers)
  • Stephen
  • Andrea
  • Pamela
  • Joseph
Residence Calgary, Alberta
Alma mater University of Alberta, Harvard University
Profession Lawyer
Religion Anglican
Signature Peter Lougheed's signature

Edgar Peter Lougheed, PC CC AOE QC, (/ˈlɔːhd/ LAW-heed; July 26, 1928 – September 13, 2012) was a Canadian lawyer and politician. He served as the tenth Premier of Alberta from 1971 to 1985 as a Progressive Conservative.

Lougheed was the grandson of Sir James Alexander Lougheed, an early senator and prominent Alberta businessman. After a short football career he entered business and practised law in Calgary. In 1965, he was elected leader of the Progressive Conservatives, a party that at the time had no seats in the legislature. He led the party back into the legislature in the 1967 provincial election. Four years later, the Tories won power with 49 of the 75 seats in the legislature, defeating the Social Credit Party which had governed the province since the 1935 election. Lougheed established a Tory dynasty in the province that was uninterrupted until 2015 when the Alberta NDP won a majority government, the longest unbroken run in government for a provincial party in Canadian history to date. Lougheed was reelected in 1975, 1979 and 1982 provincial elections, winning landslide majorities each time.

As premier, Lougheed furthered the development of the oil and gas resources, and started the Alberta Heritage Fund as a way of ensuring that the exploitation of non-renewable resources would be of long-term benefit to Alberta. He also introduced the Alberta Bill of Rights. Lougheed quarrelled with Pierre Trudeau's federal Liberal government over its 1980 introduction of the National Energy Program.[1] But Lougheed and Trudeau eventually reached an agreement for energy revenue sharing in 1982, after hard bargaining. The successful Calgary bid to host the 1988 Winter Olympics was developed during Lougheed's terms.

From 1996 to 2002, Lougheed served as Chancellor of Queen's University.

Lougheed sat on the boards of a variety of organizations and corporations. In a 2012 edition, the Institute for Research on Public Policy's magazine, Policy Options, named Lougheed the best Canadian premier of the last forty years.[2]

Early life

Peter Lougheed was born in Calgary on July 26, 1928, the son of Edgar Donald Lougheed (1893–1951)[3] and Edna Alexandria Bauld (1901–1972).[4][5] His paternal grandfather was Sir James Lougheed, a successful lawyer, federal cabinet minister, and senator.[6] Sir James accumulated a sizable fortune before his 1925 death, but the Great Depression wiped out much of it, and the first years of Peter's life were spent moving from one rented accommodation to another.[6] He was educated at the Strathcona School for Boys, Earl Grey School, Rideau Park School, and the Central Collegiate Institute, all in Calgary.[5] At the last of these, he proposed the formation of a students' union, and subsequently became its first president.[7] He also excelled at sports, particularly football.[6]

Upon graduating from Central Collegiate, Lougheed enrolled at the University of Alberta, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (in 1950 or 1951)[5][7] and a Bachelor of Laws (in 1952).[5] There, he played football for the University of Alberta Golden Bears and, in 1949 and 1950, the Edmonton Eskimos.[5][8] He also served as president of the Students' Union in 1951–1952 and was a writer in the sports section for the Gateway, the University of Alberta student newspaper.[9] While studying at the University of Alberta, he lived for a time in Rutherford House as a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity.[10] In 1952, he married Jeanne Rogers, whom he met during his schooling.[6] Soon after the wedding, the couple went to Massachusetts, where Lougheed pursued a Master of Business Administration at Harvard University, which he earned in 1954.[7] During this degree, he worked for a summer with Gulf Oil in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he witnessed an oil boom town after the oil ran out; political scientist Allan Tupper has suggested that Lougheed saw here a possible future of Alberta.[11]

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.[12] He anticipated spending time in business, law, and politics.[12] In pursuit of the first, he took a management position with Mannix Corporation, a Canadian construction firm.[12] Later, he left the company to establish a law practice.[12] During the early sixties, he began to turn his attention towards politics.[12]

Early political career

Lougheed was of Conservative stock, 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 Canadian House of Commons.[12] While this might have made federal politics appealing to Lougheed, he viewed it as a drawback; he considered the field of federal P.C. politicians from Alberta to be crowded, and the life of a backbencher held little appeal for him.[12] Instead, he turned his attention to the provincial Progressive Conservatives. The party had never come particularly close to winning government since Alberta joined Canada. It had captured only 13% of the vote in the 1963 election (when it had contested only 33 of the province's 63 constituencies), and lost its sole seat in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.[12] The province had been governed by the Social Crediters since 1935, with the government having been led for all but the first eight years of that period by Premier Ernest Manning.[12] Manning was popular, and had won 60 of 63 seats in the legislature in 1963, but Lougheed felt that the time was ripe for change.[12] He believed that Albertans were beginning to find Social Credit too rural and insufficiently assertive in intergovernmental relations.[12] In Lougheed's view, Alberta should be a senior partner in Confederation, and Social Credit was out of touch with the province's potential.[12] He resolved to capture the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative party and to navigate it into government.[13]

The first phase of this was not difficult; despite having no provincial profile and little organization, Lougheed defeated Duncan McKillop, the candidate for Calgary Queens Park in 1963 and a fellow Calgary lawyer, on the first ballot of the party's 1965 convention.[14] Another candidate, Edson town councillor John Scott, had withdrawn on the convention's first day.[14] Lougheed was nominated from the floor by Lou Hyndman and Charles Arthur Clark, father of future Prime Minister Joe Clark.[14] Vote totals were not released.[14]

Lougheed's first challenge as leader was a 1966 by-election in Pincher Creek-Crowsnest. The riding had been represented by 18-year Socred incumbent William Kovach, who had died.[15] While the Tories finished third, Lougheed viewed it as only a minor setback; his real focus was building up momentum for a general election due a year later. In that race, Lougheed was elected to the legislature for Calgary-West along with five other PCs, becoming Leader of the Opposition. In a harbinger of things to come, all but one of the new PC MLAs were from either Calgary or Edmonton.

Leader of the Opposition

Manning retired as premier a year later, and Harry Strom was named his successor. However, after three decades in power, Social Credit had become tired and complacent. The first sign of a momentum shift came soon after Manning's retirement, when the PCs managed to take his former seat in a by-election. Over the next three years, the Tories built their tiny caucus up to 10 members with one other by-election win and two floor-crossings.

During the 1970 spring session, Lougheed moved to position the PCs as a credible alternative to the Socreds. His party introduced 21 bills, an unusual number for an opposition party in a Westminster system.


Strom called a snap election for August 1971. For the campaign, Lougheed crafted a simple slogan—"NOW!"—symbolizing his goal of increasing Alberta's clout in Canada. His platform combined fiscally conservative economic policies with a modern, urban outlook. Lougheed's urbane image also struck a responsive chord with the electorate, making a marked contrast with the dour Strom.

In the election, Lougheed and the Tories swept the Socreds from power, ending one of the longest unbroken runs in government at the provincial level in Canada. While the PCs finished only five percentage points ahead of the Socreds — 46 percent to 41 percent — they reaped a major windfall in the cities. They took every seat in Edmonton, and all but five in Calgary. Due to the nature of the first past the post system, which awards power solely on the basis of seats won, this gave Lougheed a strong majority government, with 49 seats to the Socreds' 25 and the NDP's one. As it turned out, this would be the most opposition Lougheed would face during his 14 years in office.

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. He won an even stronger mandate in 1975, reducing the opposition to only six MLAs in total (four Socreds, one New Democrat and one independent) on a record 62.7 percent of the popular vote, more than Manning had drawn during the height of Social Credit's power in the 1950s. He would lead the party to two more landslide victories in 1979 and 1982. His last victory netted the PCs a staggering 75 seats out of 79: in terms of percentage of seats won, the second-largest majority government in the province's history. As a result, he governed with very large majorities for virtually his entire tenure, and was in a position to enact practically any program he wanted. Indeed, the six MLAs he faced in 1975 would be the most opposition he would face during his last decade in office. This served him well, since he was a Red Tory leading a party whose base was dominated by social conservatives in rural parts of the province.

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.

Illness and death

Lougheed had long[vague] been suffering from a heart condition and high blood pressure. 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.[16] His body lay in state from September 17 to 18 inside the main rotunda of the Alberta Legislature Building.[17][18] The national and provincial flags were flown at half-mast throughout the province.[19] 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.[20] 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."[21] 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.[21] Former Prime Minister Joe Clark wrote a special commentary in The Globe and Mail praising Lougheed.[22]


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.[23]

The Tories were in office without interruption from 1971 until 2015, usually with large majorities--though nowhere near as large as the ones Lougheed enjoyed.


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 2001 he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

The Peter Lougheed Provincial Park was named after him in Kananaskis, Alberta. In Calgary an acute care hospital was named the Peter Lougheed Centre, where he would spend his last days. After his death proposals were made to rename Calgary International Airport in his honour.[24]

Electoral record

As party leader

1982 Alberta provincial election
Party Party leader # of
Seats Popular vote
1979 1982 % Change # % % Change
  Progressive Conservative
Peter Lougheed
79 74 75 +1.4% 588,485 62.28% +4.88%
  New Democrats
Grant Notley
79 1 2 +100% 177,166 18.75% +3.00%
  Independent 34 - 2   36,590 3.87% +3.10%
  Western Canada Concept
Gordon Kesler
78 - - - 111,131 11.76% -
Nicholas Taylor
29 - - - 17,074 1.81% −4.35%
  Social Credit 23 4 - −100% 7,843 0.83% −19.04%
  Alberta Reform Movement
Tom Sindlinger
14 - - - 6,258 0.66% *
  Communist 8 - - - 389 0.04% −0.01%
Total 344 79 79 - 944,936 100%
1979 Alberta provincial election
Party Party leader # of
Seats Popular vote
1975 1979 % Change # % % Change
  Progressive Conservative
Peter Lougheed
79 69 74 +7.2% 408,097 57.40% −5.25%
  Social Credit
Robert Curtis Clark
79 4 4 - 141,284 19.87% +1.70%
  New Democrats
Grant Notley
79 1 1 - 111,984 15.75% +2.81%
Nicholas Taylor
78 - - - 43,792 6.16% +1.18%
  Independent 8 - - - 3,430 0.48% +0.37%
  Independent Conservative 3 - - - 1,613 0.23% +0.05%
  Independent Christian 1 - - - 403 0.06% -
  Communist 7 - - - 357 0.05% −0.08%
Total 334 75 79 +5.3% 710,963 100%
1975 Alberta provincial election
Party Party leader # of
Seats Popular vote
1971 1975 % Change # % % Change
  Progressive Conservative
Peter Lougheed
75 49 69 +40.8% 369,764 62.65% +16.25%
  Social Credit
Werner Schmidt
70 25 4 −84.0% 107,211 18.17% −22.93%
  New Democrats
Grant Notley
75 1 1 0% 76,360 12.94% +1.52%
  Independent Social Credit 1 * 1 100% 4,428 0.75% *
Nicholas Taylor
46 - - - 29,424 4.98% +3.97%
  Independent Progressive Conservative 3 - - - 1,059 0.18% -
  Communist 14 - - - 768 0.13% -
  Independent 4 - -   625 0.11% +1.06%
  Independent Liberal 2 - - - 416 0.07% -
  Constitutional Socialist
Mike Uhryn
3 - - - 115 0.02% -
Total 293 75 75 - 590,200 100%
1971 Alberta provincial election
Party Party leader # of
Seats Popular vote
1967 1971 % Change # % % Change
  Progressive Conservative
Peter Lougheed
75 6 49 +717% 296,934 46.40% +20.40%
  Social Credit
Harry Strom
75 55 25 −54.5% 262,953 41.10% −3.5%
  New Democrats
Grant Notley
70 - 1   73,038 11.42% −4.56%
Bob Russell
20 3 - −100% 6,475 1.01% −9.80%
  Independent 3 1 - −100% 462 0.07% −1.31%
Total 243 65 75 +15.4% 639,862 100%
1967 Alberta provincial election
Party Party leader # of
Seats Popular vote
1963 1967 % Change # % % Change
  Social Credit
Ernest C. Manning
65 60 55 −8.3% 222,270 44.60% −10.21%
  Progressive Conservative
Peter Lougheed
47 - 6   129,544 26.00% +13.29%
Michael Maccagno
45 2 3 +50.0% 53,847 10.81% −8.95%
  Independent 7 - 1   6,916 1.38% +0.40%
  New Democrats
Neil Reimer
65 - - - 79,610 15.98% +6.53%
  Coalition 2 1 - −100% 3,654 0.73% +0.19%
  Independent Progressive Conservative 2 - - - 1,118 0.22% -
  Liberal/Progressive Conservative 1 - - - 699 0.14% −0.14%
  Independent Social Credit 2 - - - 693 0.14% −0.65%
Total 236 63 65 +3.2% 498,351 100%


1982 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)
Affiliation Candidate Votes %
  Progressive Conservative Peter Lougheed 11,668 78.8%
  NDP Ed Smith 1,175 7.9%
  WCC Bruce Roper 1,106 7.5%
  Liberal Barb Scott 598 4.0%
  Social Credit Leonard Petterson 251 1.7%
1979 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)
Affiliation Candidate Votes %
  Progressive Conservative Peter Lougheed 7,825 72.9%
  Social Credit Frank Cottingham 930 8.7%
  Liberal Barb Scott 874 8.1%
  NDP Ed Smith 699 6.5%
  Independent Christian Jacob Binnema 406 3.8%
1975 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)
Affiliation Candidate Votes %
  Progressive Conservative Peter Lougheed 8,983 78.6%
  Social Credit Charles Grey 1,213 10.6%
  NDP Neil Ellison 674 5.9%
  Liberal Steve Shaw 564 4.9%
1971 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)
Affiliation Candidate Votes %
  Progressive Conservative Peter Lougheed 7,049 55.2%
  Social Credit Charles Grey 4,319 33.8%
  NDP Joe Yanchula 1,066 8.3%
  Liberal Brian Stevenson 333 2.6%
1967 Alberta general election results (Calgary West)
Affiliation Candidate Votes %
  Progressive Conservative Peter Lougheed 8,548 61.7%
  Social Credit Donald S. Fleming 4,028 29.1%
  NDP Allan Early 868 6.3%
  Liberal Natalie Chapman 402 2.9%


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  4. Perry, Craig 2006, pg. 521
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  11. Tupper 205-206
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 Tupper 206
  13. Tupper 207
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Hustak, Allan (1979). Peter Lougheed: A Biography. Toronto: McLelland and Stewart. pp. 68–69.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  19. Bennett, Dean (September 14, 2012). "Flags at half-mast, white roses at legislature for former premier Lougheed". The Winnipeg Free Press. The Canadian Press. Retrieved June 6, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Kleiss, Karen. "Lougheed motorcade to wend its way through Edmonton before heading to Calgary". The Edmonton Journal. Edmonton, Alberta. Retrieved 18 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  22. Clark, Joe (September 14, 2012). "Joe Clark: Lougheed built Canada by looking to Alberta's future". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Gill, Alexandra (17 March 2009). "Alberta arts on the cusp". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 23 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Schneider, Katie (September 14, 2012). "MLAs on board with renaming Calgary International Airport after Lougheed". The Calgary Sun. Retrieved September 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fraser, Fil (2003). Alberta's Camelot: Culture and the Arts in the Lougheed Years. Lone Pine Publishing. ISBN 1-55105-393-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Academic offices
Preceded by
Agnes Benidickson
Chancellor of Queen's University
Succeeded by
A. Charles Baillie