From remarks to the Institute for Research on Public Policy Tribute Dinner for Peter Lougheed
Calgary, June 6, 2012
The foundation of good policy is engagement. It’s getting people excited about where they live and what they think and what they want their future to be. And that means being able to discuss the issues of the day, not only in political forums or formal consultations but in our backyards, across our fences and around the dinner table.
And I want Albertans to do this. I want to invite people who have felt themselves to be outside the circle of decision-making to get involved. I want Albertans to feel they have a voice in the decisions that affect them, and to use that voice. I want these things because public policy matters.
We shouldn’t be surprised when bad policy leads to bad results, as it inevitably does. So I believe that as government and as an engaged citizenry we have a shared moral obligation to craft the best policy that we can. And this happens when people are fully engaged, fully engaged in the issues, when they debate and they discuss and they come to a consensus on what the outcomes of policy should be, what our future should be and when together we find ways to reach those outcomes. That builds the trust we need to achieve greatness in Alberta and in Canada.
I was seven years old when Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservatives defeated Social Credit, launching a political dynasty that I have been honoured to be part of as a volunteer, as a door-knocker, as someone who cared about the future. I was always interested in politics from a very early age, so I was very excited to meet Peter Lougheed at a 1982 policy conference at the airport hotel in Edmonton. This was a man who came to political conventions, and he sat in the room and he listened to what Albertans said. He listened. He listened to what mattered to Albertans. And he made his ministers sit right there with him. Those sessions went on for hours.
In Peter Lougheed, I found a role model I could look up to. [He] didn’t see Alberta succeeding despite or at the expense of the rest of Canada. He saw his province as a proud and contributing member of the Canadian family, in which all members needed to succeed together…Albertans want to engage with our country and our world around us. Peter Lougheed saw those qualities in Albertans, even before many saw them in themselves…He was not easily defined as right wing or left wing, and I’m not sure these labels had any more relevance then than they do now. He was simply someone who was dedicated to providing leadership for the real world, with common-sense solutions for real problems.