Tributes to Ralph Klein: 'He could walk with kings and the common man'

Politicians from across Canada remember an original

What people are saying about the death of former Alberta premier Ralph Klein:

Tributes to Ralph Klein

The former Alberta premier died Friday at the age of 70. The Governor General, Prime Minister and politicians from across the country paid tribute to his life:

Storified by Maclean’s Magazine· Sat, Mar 30 2013 04:17:32

Premier Ralph Klein’s portrait at #ableg. #abgov Lukaszuk
I am saddened by the loss of Ralph Klein. May his resilience and dedication live on in our memories.David Johnston
Laureen & I join Albertans & Canadians in paying tribute to Ralph Klein. We have lost a unique & significant leader. Harper
May Premier Klein rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers are with Colleen and the Klein family.… #ableg #pcaaAlison Redford
Ralph Klein never ran for national office, but profoundly changed the arc of Canadian politics. In many ways, he was our Thatcher.Jason Kenney
Very sorry about Ralph Klein’s passing – he was an original, a gifted politician and a man without pretense. He will be missed.Bob Rae
RIP Ralph Klein, a great conservative, a greater Albertan, and one of the greatest Canadians I have known.Tony Clement
Ralph Klein was a shining example of government by the people, of the people, for the people. RIP Ralph. #alberta #ralph #RalphKleinBlake Richards, MP
A straight talking leader with vision, capacity for the toughest decisions & a grassroots touch is a very special leader. RIP Ralph KleinBrad Wall
Rest In Peace Ralph Klein. Our sincerest condolences to the Klein family.Mayor Rob Ford
L’ancien premier ministre de l’Alberta Ralph Klein est décédé. Homme du peuple. My thoughts and prayers to the family #Respect #RIPDenisCoderre
Alberta and Canada lost a great leader today. Rest in Peace Ralph Klein. You will be forever remembered.Diane Ablonczy

Here are more comments gathered by the Canadian Press:

“He was a very simple man, very direct, authentic, but who could baffle us because he was so transparent. If he happened to make a mistake, he would say very honestly ‘I made a mistake, my government made a mistake, we apologize and let’s start all over’. You don’t see often that much candor. He had that candor which, in politics, is a very rare ingredient.” — former Quebec premier Jean Charest.

“Ralph Klein had a common touch that truly connected with everyday Albertans and he was known across Canada for his one-of-a-kind leadership.” — Greg Selinger, Manitoba premier.

“He was not a harsh, religious-right type of guy. He was a moderate in my book and very reasonable people. When we had tough problems, he would not go on his high horse just to score political points. Of course we had disagreements, it’s natural, we were representing different levels of government but on a personal basis, I always enjoyed his company and I had the feeling he enjoyed mine.” — Jean Chrétien, former prime minister.

“Ralph could walk with kings and the common man, and everybody was important to him. Despite a differing political approach, one cannot help but admire his incomparable ability to communicate and connect with Albertans. He never took himself too seriously or lost pride in his working-class roots.” — Bob Rae, federal Liberal leader and former premier of Ontario.

“We certainly had our ideological differences but one thing I knew is that I could work with Ralph Klein and his commitment was to not only his province but to the country so it is a big loss. He was a committed Canadian and I think when the full story is written he will get much more credit for that and for me that is a very important contribution for any premier to make.” — Roy Rowmanow, former Saskatchewan premier.

“Ralph Klein was a premier who knew how to not take himself too seriously, even while he treated the challenges his province faced with a seriousness of focus,” — Darrell Dexter, Nova Scotia premier.

“We lost our much-beloved ‘Ralph’ who served this city and our province for over 25 years. His record and his efforts have created a wonderful legacy. He touched the lives of every single Albertan.” — University of Calgary chancellor Jim Dinning, who served as Klein’s provincial treasurer from 1992 to 1997.

“Mr. Ralph Klein was a great politician, a very kind person and an excellent leader. The growing Muslim community in Alberta has great respect and admiration for him. This is indeed a big loss for all Canadians.” — Imam Soharwardy, the Executive Council of Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.

“His legacy is one of fiscal conservatism at a time when Alberta’s economy needed it most. He made tough, controversial decisions that have been embraced by Albertans as common sense. Ralph Klein leaves a legacy of balanced budgets, debt reduction and austerity measures.” — Rona Ambrose, federal minister of public works.

“Ralph was a true supporter of Canada’s athletes, through his enthusiastic engagement with Calgary’s bid for, and eventual hosting of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games. There is no question that Canada’s success at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and its current status as a leading Winter nation, is directly attributable Calgary’s hosting of the 1988 Games, and to the state of the art facilities still in use today.” — Marcel Aubut, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

“I am saddened by the loss of Ralph Klein. May his resilience and dedication live on in our memories.” — David Johnston, Governor General.