Peter Lougheed

Legal Archives Society of Alberta

Premiers in Defence of Alberta's Natural Resources

Alberta has had 12 Premiers since its inception in 1905. Of those, four or 1/3 have been lawyers: Alexander Rutherford, 1905-1910, Arthur L. Sifton, 1910-1917, John E. Brownlee, 1925-1934, and Peter Lougheed, 1971-1985. The final two on this list are recognized for securing and protecting Alberta's rights to its natural resources.

Peter Lougheed
Many years and several Premiers' hence, Peter Lougheed became known as Alberta's foremost province builder, a formidable negotiator, a determined defender of Alberta's interests, and a person capable of decisive nation action.

In 1973 Pierre Trudeau announced an export tax on oil, a policy that Lougheed called "the most discriminatory action by a federal government against a particular province in the entire history of confederation." In condemning the export tax, Lougheed stressed the province's rights as resource owner.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's National Energy Program (NEP) contended that changing oil prices benefited Alberta to the detriment of other Canadians and the Government of Canada. The NEP asserted a national patrimony, a term implying that all Canadians should share the burdens and benefits of price increases. Ottawa under Pierre Trudeau argued that it needed greater resource revenues from oil and gas to undertake its national obligations. The NEP stressesd that Alberta would fare very well under its proposed revenue sharing and pricing agreements, while insisting that the federal government deserved a larger slice of the pie. Lougheed's goal was to reverse the NEP, enhance Alberta's national stature, and to maximize its resource wealth. He fought tirelessly to achieve this end. A settlement in 1982 began to reverse the process and in 1984 the NEP was cancelled.

During Peter Lougheed's tenure as Premier he established the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, introduced the Alberta Bill of Rights, affirmed provincial rights during the patriation of Canada's Constitution and encouraged economic diversification. All in defence of Alberta.

Peter Lougheed (LASA photo number 47-G-12).

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