ALBERTA

Ralph Klein Funeral: Politicians Share War Stories At Memorial

04/05/2013 05:07 EDT | Updated 06/05/2013 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - Many politicians who attended a memorial for former Alberta premier Ralph Klein in Calgary on Friday, took a moment to reflect back on humourous, personal moments they shared with the former Alberta Premier.

From Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Alberta Premier Alison Redford, here's a look at what they had to say.

War Stories From The Klein Memorial

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Klein's plainspoken style:

"Ralph had, as many have noted, many opponents, but precious few enemies. He was affable, straightforward and he had a gift for saying what ordinary people were thinking, often in a way that made us smile. Asked once, I recall seeing on the news ... about reducing the deficit, saving money by cutting into some very popular services and programs, he said: 'Well, you've got to hunt where the ducks are.'"

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Alberta Premier Alison Redford recalling a story she heard about how Klein related to Albertans:

"It was a Saturday afternoon and he had just finished some event, was driving down the highway and there was a hockey arena and there were a whole bunch of cars parked in the arena. So he said: 'Pull over. We are going to go in.' And he sat down — I think it was in Vermilion — and he just sat and had coffee. And he talked to people about what was going on in their lives and what was going on in their community. And what struck me about that wasn't only that he did it. It was that I didn't hear about that story in Vermilion. I heard about it in Pincher Creek because somebody who was at the arena in Vermilion called their aunt in Pincher Creek and told them they just sat and had coffee with the premier. And that was Ralph Klein."

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Former Ontario premier Mike Harris on a fishing trip with Klein:

"I remember three things from that trip. One: I caught a 61-pound spring salmon, set the record for the lodge that year and I won all the pool money. Ralph didn't. Two: As we waited for the fish to bite, we played cards. I won all that money too. And three: As steamed as he was about one and two, Ralph never had a real drink. He did, however, drink this half-a-per-cent near beer — O'Doul's, I think it was called. About 27 or 28 of them."

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Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on opening Ralph Klein Park after Klein had retired:

"It came time to symbolically start the waterfall to officially open Ralph Klein Park and I had a button in my hand. And I turned to Mayor Klein and I said: 'Mayor Klein, let's open this park, help me make a splash,' which was the code word to turn the waterfall on. He looked at the button in my hand and he gave me that Ralph Klein glint and the mischievous smile and he thought, 'Let's make this a little more fun.' He took the button out of my hand and he threw it into the waterfall. He made a splash."

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Former Ontario premier Mike Harris on golfing with Klein:

"Ralph started playing golf. The first term he learned was mulligan and he took lots of them. He never cheated. He just took them — an important part of the game. I remember one golf game, I was driving the ball about 100 yards further than him, but I had been playing 40 years longer. He eyed my driver. It was a new Accuform ... it had the new big head. Ralph looked at that big head and he looked at how far I was hitting the ball and he looked at his ball and he kind of figured out it was the club ... He figured it was the key. He actually hit it pretty well that day when he borrowed it, so I had the company send him one ... Ralph called it Big Mike."

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Former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow on a premiers conference hosted by then Manitoba premier Gary Doer in 2000:

"Gary approached me the night before the conference and said: 'Look, what advice would you give me to handle the meeting tomorrow to make sure that all the competing views on how you reform medicare would go smoothly?' My suggestion was that we have a casual meeting that night with Ralph and a few of the other premiers, maybe over a bottle of beer, and I predicted that after some discussion we would find some common ground guaranteeing success the next day. So much for my advice. The next day broke and what amounted to a political equivalent of a full hockey brawl broke out on medicare ... Eventually an honourable and workable compromise was achieved, and in large measure because of that unvarnished truth that Ralph Klein communicated. Before we could pick up our hockey sticks and go home, however — here's the part I think is even more important: Ralph Klein made one final request of us, that before we break up we order Chinese food for everybody and that we enjoy it together as friends and Canadians from sea to sea to sea bound by this great country."