Conservative columnist and former publisher Link Byfield dies at 63

Publisher's magazine was once a leading voice of Canadian conservatives has died.

EDMONTON — A conservative columnist, politician and publisher whose magazine was once a leading voice of Canadian conservatives has died.

The Edmonton Sun says Link Byfield died of cancer at 63, attributing the information to his son, Colman Byfield.

Link Byfield was a columnist for the Sun Media chain, which includes the Edmonton Sun.

“Part of his great legacy is that while he was not always in the middle of politics, he’s somebody who through writing, and then ultimately through running, helped create some political movements,” former Conservative MP Monte Solberg said when reached on Sunday.

Byfield was editor and publisher of the now defunct Alberta Report, founded by his father Ted Byfield, and Western Report magazines.

Byfield was elected as a so-called “senator in waiting” in a provincewide vote in 2004 but was never appointed to the Senate.

He was also a founding member of the Wildrose Party, now Alberta’s official Opposition.

The party’s interim leader, Heather Forsyth, tweeted on Sunday that her prayers “are with those whose lives he touched,” adding there were many.

Solberg said he first became familiar with Byfield through his writing for Alberta Report in the 1980s. At the time, Solberg said Alberta had endured the unpopular National Energy Policy and a recession, but conservatives were optimistic when the Progressive Conservatives under Brian Mulroney came to power.

Some of that hope turned into disappointment, Solberg said, particularly in 1986 when the government awarded a long-term contract to service CF-18 jets to Canadair in Montreal instead of Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg.

“The Byfields wrote all about that and really were the voice of a lot of that discontent for the way things were,” Solberg said.

Last September, Byfield was honoured with a tribute night at the Manning Centre for Building Democracy in Calgary.

Solberg, who was at the event, said the people there knew he was battling cancer. Nevertheless, he said it was a celebration of Byfield and his work.

“He was very genuine and believed completely in what he would tell his readers,” Solberg said. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of the written word.”

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