Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a great Albertan and a great Canadian: the Honourable Peter Lougheed, a former Alberta premier. The outpouring of sadness, affection and admiration we have witnessed in Alberta and across Canada since his passing earlier this month is a testament to the extraordinary accomplishments and exemplary character of this remarkable man. We are poorer for his passing but infinitely richer as a country for his selfless contributions to public life.
The nation-leading prosperity of Alberta today — prosperity that benefits all Canadians — can be traced directly to far-sighted energy policy decisions made by the Government of Alberta in the 1970s and 1980s under the leadership of Premier Lougheed. He laid the groundwork for the development of the province’s oil sands and petrochemical industries, in particular, which today provide direct and indirect employment for thousands and thousands of Canadians, and which generate public revenues that sustain our social programs and quality of life.
During the epic national debates over energy policy and the Constitution, he eloquently and successfully defended the core principles of Confederation, including the equality of provinces, free markets, the primacy of elected lawmakers and provincial autonomy over natural resources. Later, he led the national debate for freer international trade, which set Canada on course for unprecedented economic growth and an ever-larger role in the global economy.
Honourable senators, Premier Lougheed’s steady, principled and astute leadership was critical to Canada’s emergence from a period of national economic volatility and political disharmony, to a country that is stronger, wealthier, more balanced and more united. We will miss him dearly, but we will be guided by his wisdom long into our future