Canada is about to lose one of its most colourful politicians. “King Ralph”, they call him.
Ralph Klein, the Premier of Alberta, hopes to hang on to his job until October 31, 2007. But tonight, provincial Conservative Party members will pass judgement on his leadership in a secret ballot. Klein says he will resign unless a “significant majority” express support, and no one is predicting the outcome.
Klein may have weakened his position by throwing a booklet at a page in the legislature at the end of last month. CTV News reports:
- Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has apologized to a 17-year-old legislative page after he threw a booklet near her. …
Klein told the Liberals in the provincial legislature that if they had any good ideas about health care, they should send them over to him.
The Liberals used the invitation to send over a copy of their health policy red book, which a page took over to the premier.
“The premier admits he threw it back at her and called it crap,” Kobe said.
Later, Klein said: “I ought not to have thrown the Liberal health policy at our page Jennifer, and to Jennifer, I apologize most sincerely. … And I also apologize for referring to the document as crap, Mr. Speaker.”
But Klein has survived other such incidents in the course of his storied career. CTV provides a convenient précis:
- As mayor of Calgary during the 1970s, Klein caused an uproar by blaming “eastern creeps and bums” for his city’s rising crime rate.
As environment minister, he once flipped the middle digit to an environmentalist at a news conference.
In December 2001, Klein hit bottom when he showed up inebriated late one evening at an Edmonton homeless shelter.
After berating some of the residents for not having jobs, he threw some money on the floor and left.
“I drink too much from time to time,” Klein told reporters days later. “I’m going to resolve to control and curb my drinking.” …
In a 2002 speech, Klein blamed “dinosaur farts” for causing the Ice Age as part of a reference to global warning.
During the 2004 provincial election campaign, Klein told a crowd he suspected some people were abusing a guaranteed income program for the severely handicapped. He described an encounter with two women, “yipping about AISH payments.”
“They didn’t look severely handicapped to me, I tell you that for sure,” the premier told the crowd. “They both had cigarettes dangling from their mouth and cowboy hats.”
The end of an era is coming, some time in the next eighteen months.
Ralph Klein has been the Premier of Alberta for thirteen years. (The Conservatives have been in office since 1971!)
Where can Albertans — and other Canadians! — turn to find someone to fill King Ralph’s shoes?