A lot of people who knew Peter Lougheed have had a lot to say about the great former Alberta premier who died recently at age 84. I met him on a few occasions on the campaign trail and was impressed with his ability to reach out and connect with Albertans of every stripe — from farmers to lawyers and everyone in between. A King Ralph with polish and without liquid fortification.
I’m sure I wrote some editorials criticizing his government over the years but I can’t remember what they might have been about. The eulogists are telling us he did no wrong.
For me, his influence is captured at a political rally somewhere in the old Rocky Mountain House constituency, probably a hall in Eckville or Leslieville. We all stood to sing O Canada to open the meeting and in his best Sunday Baptist singing voice the premier led the group — forgetting, or choosing, I’m not sure — to sing the old words to the national anthem. Not wanting to drown out or embarrass him, we all mumbled along, trying to catch up to where he was taking us.
Something Albertans are still doing.
Grudge Match 3: Millionaires vs Billionaires
It’s hard to feel sorry for the millionaire players or the billionaire owners in this latest NHL lockout. The team owners are running a business and the players are unionized employees who want to be fairly compensated. It doesn’t help matters that the owners need commissioner Gary Bettman to protect them from themselves. The professional game would be in better shape if the owners could keep their egos in check and refuse to offer bonehead contracts to players, such as Roberto Luongo’s 12-year, $64 million deal; Ilya Kovalchuk’s 15-year, $100 million paycheque; and Shea Weber’s 14-year, $110 million stipend.
Personally, I think the players shouldn’t have guaranteed contracts and could be cut for non-performance, much as professional football payers are. I expect that will never happen.
And is it not somewhat disingenuous for NHL superstars to cry the blues about needing to earn a living wage and then head off to Europe to take jobs away from has-beens and wannabes playing for club teams?
I remember being in a theatre in 1995 during the first lockout and Oilers goalie Bill Ranford was sitting behind me, telling all who could hear him, that he was holding out because he needed more than his paltry $2-point-whatever million annual salary to care for his family.
It’s true, if you won a million bucks in the lotto at age 29 and your wife stayed home to look after the kids, it would be gone before the kids graduated high school. Maybe your wife should go back to teaching school.
Ranford made $12 million in his NHL career, more than half of it after that lockout. I expect he’s doing just fine.