R.I.P., Ralph

Klein’s legacy is sadly lacking

An editorial by Stephen Whitworth

I don’t deliberately troll conservatives on Twitter but I might as well start if all the flak I got last weekend is anything to go by.

As everyone knows by now, former Alberta premier Ralph Klein passed away last weekend. That province’s long-time leader (1992-2006), who attacked Alberta’s debt by slashing health and education spending, was a polarizing figure to say the least. I was not a fan.

And when I heard that he’d died, late Good Friday afternoon while sitting in a pub with friends, I blasted off a short, surly Tweet.

Something along the lines of “I remember Ralph Klein drunkenly insulting the homeless. R.I.P. anyway, I suppose.”

Well, apparently you can’t speak ill of the dead, even when they were controversial public figures. Even when they once made national news for staggering into a homeless shelter during the Christmas season and berating the people there.. Within minutes I was getting tweets like “classy move blasting someone the day they die. Nice work you dickbags!”

Even John Gormley eventually chimed in with a “classy, aren’t they?”

You know guys, I’m not actually happy that someone died. Really. But as one of Prairie Dog’s many defenders tweeted: “Glorifying assholes and speaking nice of them simply because they’re dead is a societal ill. Thanks for being honest.”

Amen to that.

As the premier of a wealthy Canadian province, Ralph Klein had rare opportunity to do a lot of good in this world. He could have inspired his fellow citizens and helped them build something really amazing. Unfortunately, the biggest thing he inspired was enthusiasm for a petty and unfairly waged war on debt that, as all wars do, most hurt the people with the least.

I also remember Klein as yet another anti-gay conservative dinosaur—he once threatened to invoke the Constitution’s Notwithstanding Clause just to stop gay Albertans from marrying the people they loved.

Then there’s the smaller, but still character-revealing stuff, like the fact he cheated at university while pursuing a university degree.

And of course, drunkenly berating homeless people.

When you’re a major player in politics, you’re judged by a different standard. Ralph Klein was a successful politician but not a visionary one. And possibly not even a kind one.

I think it’s important someone points out that he wasn’t a very nice man.

Rest in peace, Ralph Klein.

[email protected]

2013-04-04

4 thoughts on “R.I.P., Ralph”

  1. I second the comment: “Glorifying assholes and speaking nice of them simply because they’re dead is a societal ill. Thanks for being honest.” And Stephen, just ignore gormley, he won’t know class if it hit him in the face!

  2. Kudos to all who are/were unhappy with Ralph Klein, I think he was a surly, unkind being who only cared for his “cronies”. And in Alberta that is a traitorous thing to voice.

  3. Sure, not every one will be a fan of the choices/decisions Ralph Klein made to get AB out of the red and into the black.

    However, he will go down in history as being the only premier in Canada to successfully have a province become debt free all under his time as premier using right wing conservative ideology. How many hard-core left wingers can argue against that?

    Unlike so many other politicians out there, Klein was one of those few who freely spoke his mind, rarely backed down and was more open and honest. He didn’t hide his faults and flaws.
    When he wanted to get something done, he got it done no matter the opposition or distractions.

  4. Forgot to add about “And of course, drunkenly berating homeless people.”

    Some of those homeless people still actually voted for Ralph.

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