Top Ten Reasons Why Jim Prentice is Nothing Like Peter Lougheed

“During a one-and-a-half hour editorial board meeting…with Progressive Conservative leadership candidate… Jim Prentice, I was struck by how often Lougheed’s legendary thoughtfulness, tone and command of all topics came to mind.”—Licia Corbella, Calgary Herald, July 11, 2014

It’s official. As far as Ms Corbella is concerned Jim Prentice is the answer to our prayers—the leader for those of us who “pine for the days of Peter Lougheed and all that he embodied”.

Are you kidding me?

This statement is so fatuous that Ms Soapbox is compelled to respond with her own Top Ten List:  Reasons Why Jim Prentice is Nothing like Peter Lougheed. Unlike David Letterman’s lists, this list is funny only if you ignore where we’ll end up if Jim Prentice and the PCs are re-elected in 2016.  

Drum roll please…

10. Lougheed galvanized all Albertans in a fight with the feds over ownership of provincial resources. Prentice is whipping up one faction of conservative Albertans against another faction of conservative Albertans and the rest of us be damned.

Mr Prentice

9. When it comes to dealing with Big Oil, Lougheed was GI Joe. Prentice is a Care Bear. The US State Department described Lougheed as “arrogant and belligerent, particularly if he encounters opposition from…oil company executives.”* The Financial Post describes Prentice as “Big Oil’s Kindred Spirit”**

8. Lougheed believed that Alberta’s natural resources belong to the people and wanted to see an increase in oilsands royalties. Prentice acts like our natural resources belong to the oil companies and refuses to increase royalties under any circumstances.

7. Lougheed wanted an increase in personal and corporate taxes in order to balance our strong economic performance with our weaker social and environmental performance. Prentice’s response? Read my lips, no new taxes.

6. Lougheed worried that the Alberta government let oilsands development get ahead of infrastructure and was paying the price in crumbling highways and crowded schools and hospitals. Prentice says damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead because there might be a “price correction” (read: oil price drop) as early as 2017 that will hit the oil producers right in the balance sheet.

5. Lougheed called Fort McMurray and the tar sands a “moonscape” and a “mess”.***He urged the government to revise its policies. Prentice pays lip service to finding the “right balance between resource extraction and the environment”, but concludes that “we’re actually very good at that.”***

4.   Lougheed said “no” to Keystone XL and “yes” to value-added upgrading in Alberta. Prentice said the exact opposite.

3. Lougheed was a fiscal conservative who believed that government had a role in encouraging industry to act for the greater good of all Albertans. He believed that natural resources should be managed with good public policy and created the Alberta Energy Company and Alberta’s petrochemical industry as vehicles for job creation and economic growth. What is Prentice’s view on the government’s role vis-a-vis industry? Let me guess…If Big Oil is happy the rest will take care of itself.

Premier Lougheed

2. Lougheed was a visionary leader with an eye to the future. He inspired Albertans who suffered through drought, depression and war to move into the mainstream of Confederation.****Prentice is yesterday’s man. He personifies the status quo—a stagnant 43 year old government responding to the demands of Big Oil with no inkling of how to address the challenges of the 21st century.

1.  In 2006 Peter Lougheed was asked what challenges would face the next premier of Alberta. He said would be many, but “on the economic side it will be trying to manage the development of the Alberta oilsands”. *****Prentice will turn management of the oilsands over to Big Oil because that’s what kindred spirits do.

Anyone who suggests that Jim Prentice can govern Alberta with Peter Lougheed’s “legendary thoughtfulness, tone and command” demonstrates an appalling lack of understanding of all that Premier Lougheed achieved in the 14 years he governed this province.  They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

*Wikileaks May 22, 2009

**May 16, 2015

***Fort McMurray News June 1, 2014

****The Other Alberta, by Doreen Barrie, p 89

*****Policy Options Interview, Sept 2006

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30 Responses to Top Ten Reasons Why Jim Prentice is Nothing Like Peter Lougheed

  1. nandouglas says:

    Fantastic post, Susan. This needs to be widely circulated. It’s brilliant! Cheers,Nan

    • It’s starting to make the rounds on twitter and facebook and has picked it up. Apparently there are quite a few of us out there who are not convinced that Jim Prentice is a politician of Peter Lougheed’s caliber–regardless of what his co-campaign manager and ex-Reformer Jay Hill would have us believe.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Jim Prentice is as much as of Peter Lougheed’s caliber as a sparrow is an eagle.
        This guy will pee his pants every time corporate oil barks.
        Only a Reformer could think of Prentice as anything by a corporate lackey.
        Give me a break – how old is Jay Hill? 12? 🙂

  2. ABCanuck says:

    I know of no one who could have said it better! Brilliant, with a gold star!

    • As ABCanuck and others know only too well when the Calgary Herald settles on a position (however ill-informed) it’s difficult to get it to consider another perspective. Sad statement on the independence of the press, but good news for political writers in the blogosphere.

  3. Harry says:

    Placating politicians… the death of a strong, publicly beneficial economy.

    • Absolutely right Harry. Prentice told Corbella he’s going to clean up the sense of entitlement that permeates the PC party by changing the rules, enforcing the rules and disciplining transgressors. My question is how? Is he going to revisit decisions like waiving ethics committee rules in order to appoint Evan Berger (the MLA who lost his seat) to a newly created role as government advisor or allowing Mike Allen (the MLA caught in a prostitution sting in Minnesota while on government business) to rejoin caucus? A good reporter should ask these questions.

  4. Liz says:

    Spot on, Susan!!!! And to compare (or paraphrase) the infamous Mulroney quote about John Turner…….Prentice is no Lougheed!

  5. Hi Susan. Great post! Would you be interested in reposting on Huffington Post Alberta? If so, please email us at alberta[at]huffingtonpost[dot]com. Thanks!

  6. Howard Van Schaick says:

    Great post. I agree with everything you said. But what happened to #5?

    • Yikes! I skipped #5. Thank goodness Jim added #11 and brought the total number of reasons back up to ten!
      I couldn’t stand it. I fixed the numbering and tightened up #1. Thanks for pointing this out Howard.

  7. Jim Lees says:

    Reason #11. Lougheed was a winner, Prentice well not so much….

    I worked at AEC for seven years before moving to the Alberta Cancer Board in 1986. AEC was a very interesting place to be at that time – a microcosm of economic diversification. Look at where its successor is now – the reverse process. Left to the private sector, diversifying our economy will not happen, there is too much $ and opportunity in oil and gas. Maybe it’s a good time to look at creating “AEC ll” and let the public participate. Anyone who held shares in AEC did very very well. Maybe that can happen again….

  8. ABCanuck says:

    Jim, an AEC II would allow all Albertans to directly benefit from the bitumen sands, will help reverse the tide of increasing foreign ownership, and will allow Albertans more control of the pace and type of development and over the environmental issues plaguing the bitumen sands. It would also give Albertans opportunity to upgrade and refine crude, send syncrude, not raw bitumen as dilbit down pipelines, and produce more petro-chemicals in Alberta through control of production volumes..

    As far as I am concerned there is also room for a federal crown corporation, PetroCanada II to do exactly the same things for the benefit of all Canadians.

    Depending on who is doing the tally and how foreign ownership is defined, between 50 and 70 percent of the bitumen sands are foreign-owned. This is shameful!

    • Jim and ABCanuck, excellent points.

      In her book, The Other Alberta, political scientist Doreen Barrie describes how Lougheed promoted free enterprise while allowing government to play an active role in strengthening and diversifying the economy. Ms Barrie points to PWA, AEC and Alberta Gas Trunk Line (AGTL) as examples. Klein said he was going to take government out of the business of business, then turned around and subsidized business to the tune of billions of dollars in tax breaks, royalty holidays and subsidies. The example that really rankles is Klein’s $4 billion rebate to Albertans to “cushion the effects of electricity deregulation” (p 78). If deregulation hurts the consumer to the tune of $4 billion but makes the provider rich (see earlier posts on TransAlta) something is terribly wrong here.

      • carlosbeca says:

        No surprise Susan. In my opinion Ralph Klein never did anything to benefit Albertans although he was good at doing it in a way that it seemed to be that way. Even the paying down the debt was questionable because after his first year in power the revenues were so high that he had 8 billion dollars each of the following 3 years which allowed easy sailing. Other than that what did he do really? Deregulation was and is a mess. Education is still dealing with up and down budgets. Health Care got to where it is because of the instability his government created in the sector. He just got out before the consequences were felt.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      AbCanuck you are absolutely right – it is darn shameful. I will add that only in countries controlled by gangs is foreign ownership as bad as here. The only reason I can understand any premier allowing this kind of foreign ownership is either because they are pure idiots or they are demented and in either case they have to be taken out no matter what.

      • Carlos, your comments about what, if anything, Klein or his successors achieved were bang on. Today’s Herald ran a piece by Livio Di Matteo and Jason Clemens, economists with the Fraser Institute. The Fraser Institute is not exactly a proponent of progressive values. Nevertheless the authors describe a number of areas where Alberta has performed poorly when compared to other energy producing jurisdictions (Alaska, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, Texas and Wyoming). For example, Alberta’s net debt position has eroded from a net asset position of $31.5 billion in 2007-08 to a net asset position of $12.1 billion in 2012-13. Alberta’s reliance on volatile natural resource revenues is “disproportionate” when compared to the other jurisdictions and that the per capital value of our trust fund ranks is 1/20th the value of Alaska’s, 1/3 the value of Wyoming’s and less than half the value of New Mexico’s.
        In a nutshell, the PCs ran Peter Lougheed’s aspirations for the “Alberta Advantage” into the ground.

  9. Sandy Simmie says:

    Once again Sue you nailed it.
    Scary how , although I’m sure there are good intensions somewhere in the mix,
    there is so little leadership in the PC leadership race. Imagine Peter Lougheed’s chagrin!

    • Sandy, “imagine Peter Lougheed’s chagrin”. You took the words right out of my mouth!

    • ABCanuck says:


      In Pat and Mike, Spencer Tracy’s character describes his romantic lead played by Katherine Hepburn as “Not much meat on her, but what there is, is cherce”. OK, it was another era!

      Unfortunately, recalling the campaign “assault” on Lukaszuk by a 67-year old asthmatic, Prentice’s “I’m the leader Alberta needs to build the Northern Gateway pipeline to B.C. coast,” and McIver’s recent parade gaff Albertans’ can only say, “There’s a lot of meat there but none of it is “cherce”.

  10. Jane Walker says:

    OMG … I am so pleased to read this wonderful piece, Susan, and do hope that as it goes ‘viral’ it will be picked up by the small town Alberta weekly newspapers.
    Thank you so much for your continuing great coverage of issues that must be brought to the attention of all Albertans!

    • Jane, it’s been picked up by the HuffingtonPost and who have retweeted it everywhere. The Calgary Herald ran it as the lead blog in their bloggers section (which surprised and impressed me given my take on Corbella’s comments) and of course it’s all over the place on Facebook and Twitter so that’s a good start. Hopefully it will put a stop to this Prentiec is Lougheed nonsense once and for all!

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Great, this is wonderful. Somehow we have to change this absurd going on in this province.
        As far as Corbella’s comments, I think only ultra conservatives read what she has to say anyway. The few times I had access to her articles, they were bizarre to say the least. I am not sure how old she was when Peter Lougheed was premier but comparing these two is just bogus. If anything, I could just say that Peter was a true Albertan and a good citizen. Jim is a corporate man and I am not sure he even understands the concept of citizenship.
        Congratulations on the post.

      • Thanks Carlos. A few months ago I ran into a staunch conservative at a Liberal function. I told him I was very surprised to see him there. His answer said it all: “I was a conservative under Premier Lougheed, but since then the PC party drifted away from me and I’m not a conservative any longer.” There are many disenfranchised progressive conservatives looking for a new political home. We’ll soon see how the Libs, NDs, Greens and Alberta Party respond to this incredible opportunity.

  11. Tom McPherson says:

    very good comments. Prentice will allow government heads to get on the gravy train same as. bank ceo’s are now. He does not exhibit strong reasoning power in attempting to be leader of a party at the end of its shelf life

    • I agree Tom. Jim Prentice responds to the ongoing revelations of cronyism with the same comment–“Not on my watch”. But I don’t think he’s got the power to do much about it. I don’t see him banishing half his caucus to the independent bench and combing through all of the agency appointments to weed out the friends of friends who never have been appointed, do you?

  12. edavisonopinion says:

    Once again you are so right Susan. The reason I miss Peter Lougheed is because of the reasons you said. He believed in free enterprise but also believe that the people of Alberta have to win first. He believed in service to Alberta and did so, and was smart enough to leave before he started to believe he owned being Premier. If his vision would have been carried out Alberta would be in a lot better position than we are now. Unfortunately there will never be another Peter Lougheed, but maybe there is someone out there who will champion those things that Peter Lougheed believed in and put our province back on track. Jim Prentice couldn’t even come close to walking in Peter Lougheed’s shadow. He’s just another in a long line of spineless pol’s when it comes to dealing with industry and self-interested when dealing with Alberta and Albertan’s. Oh well they will all be gone soon, there is no way they can turn this around now.

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