Klein’s legacy is sadly lacking

An editorial by Stephen Whitworth

I don’t deliberately troll conservatives on Twitter but I might as well start if all the flak I got last weekend is anything to go by.

As everyone knows by now, former Alberta premier Ralph Klein passed away last weekend. That province’s long-time leader (1992-2006), who attacked Alberta’s debt by slashing health and education spending, was a polarizing figure to say the least. I was not a fan.

And when I heard that he’d died, late Good Friday afternoon while sitting in a pub with friends, I blasted off a short, surly Tweet.

Something along the lines of “I remember Ralph Klein drunkenly insulting the homeless. R.I.P. anyway, I suppose.”

Well, apparently you can’t speak ill of the dead, even when they were controversial public figures. Even when they once made national news for staggering into a homeless shelter during the Christmas season and berating the people there.. Within minutes I was getting tweets like “classy move blasting someone the day they die. Nice work you dickbags!”

Even John Gormley eventually chimed in with a “classy, aren’t they?”

You know guys, I’m not actually happy that someone died. Really. But as one of Prairie Dog’s many defenders tweeted: “Glorifying assholes and speaking nice of them simply because they’re dead is a societal ill. Thanks for being honest.”

Amen to that.

As the premier of a wealthy Canadian province, Ralph Klein had rare opportunity to do a lot of good in this world. He could have inspired his fellow citizens and helped them build something really amazing. Unfortunately, the biggest thing he inspired was enthusiasm for a petty and unfairly waged war on debt that, as all wars do, most hurt the people with the least.

I also remember Klein as yet another anti-gay conservative dinosaur—he once threatened to invoke the Constitution’s Notwithstanding Clause just to stop gay Albertans from marrying the people they loved.

Then there’s the smaller, but still character-revealing stuff, like the fact he cheated at university while pursuing a university degree.

And of course, drunkenly berating homeless people.

When you’re a major player in politics, you’re judged by a different standard. Ralph Klein was a successful politician but not a visionary one. And possibly not even a kind one.

I think it’s important someone points out that he wasn’t a very nice man.

Rest in peace, Ralph Klein.