Since leaving politics in 2006 after 13 years as premier, Alberta’s Ralph Klein has managed, difficult as it must have been, to keep a low profile. He fell into work as a business adviser at a major law firm, started teaching at Calgary’s Mount Royal College as the first “Ralph Klein Chair in Media Studies”—his debut lecture featured an admission he doesn’t read newspapers— and even produced a paper during three months at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington. “I think he just gets a bit restless,” says University of Lethbridge political scientist Peter McCormick. “He’s too young just to go to sleep, he’s too old to start anything new.”
Which explains why Klein’s back, sort of. Recently, Saskatchewan radio host John Gormley asked him how he thinks his successor, Ed Stelmach, is doing. “Well, you know, I don’t comment publicly on the Stelmach government.” Then Klein went on to do just that, zeroing in on Stelmach’s rejigging of the dues paid by oil and gas companies. “The one thing that I wouldn’t have done is, I wouldn’t have touched the royalty program. Because that is the program that is decided between the government and industry and it has worked quite well. And with oil now being $100 a barrel, we have given definitely the advantage to Saskatchewan.” Klein’s point is not without merit. Thanks in part to higher royalties, Alberta this year may see as much as $2 billion less investment from oil and gas firms than in 2007, with much of that money going to B.C. and Saskatchewan instead.
Not long ago, Klein revealed he’d supported Stelmach in his leadership bid, then cautioned, ;‘he will win the election... but I don’t know if his majority is as significant as it is now.” As King Ralph sees it, “Calgary and Edmonton are at risk—in fact, the whole city of Edmonton.” Stelmach must be regretting that Klein ever returned from Washington. M
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