This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
The television reporter-turned politician, Ralph Klein, who remained a well renowned national figure during his 14 years as Alberta premier, passed away on Saturday at his home town of Calgary. 70-years-old Ralph was often named as “King Ralph.” He was a straight-forward, but sometimes polarizing, politician who managed to form an eternal career that spanned decades and two levels of government.
Klein was elected as Alberta’s premier in 1992, he quickly got to work and chopped the provincial budget in order to balance the books with a long list of deep public cuts that resulted in him being targeted by envious conservatives across the country. Thanks to the rise of oil and gas fortunes in the province in the 1990s, Klein was able was able to repay more than $23 billion in provincial debt by 2004. Klein was an overly prominent public figure due to his unsophisticated public character, clear cut wit and no-nonsense political style that he cultivated during his time as a television reporter.
Klein stepped into politics in 1980, as he scored a surprise victory as mayor of Calgary. He speedily made his place in headlines, blaming the city’s rising crime rate on “creeps” and “bums” from eastern Canada who were only there for the jobs. Anyhow, his voters adored his style, and re-elected him in 1983 and again in 1986 with some of the largest victories in Calgary history. Klein shifted to provincial politics in 1989, becoming minister of the environment under Premier Don Getty. Three years later, when Getty stepped down, Klein was a natural replacement.