Excerpts of the Provincial Leader’s Address at PCAA AGM in Calgary on March 31, 1984 [Continued from Part I]

Then we came to the 1971 campaign. There were some other fundamentals that arose out of that campaign. We made a decision in 1971 to take our message to the people – to go to the doorsteps and to the farm houses all over this province and we have never let up on that fundamental. We also developed a platform of new directions and an undertaking that we would follow through with our election platform commitments.

1971 Campaign
PCAA Party Leader, Peter Lougheed, and Party volunteers supporting Gerry Amerongen, Edmonton-Meadowlark, during the 1971 Alberta general election.

Another part of the 1971 campaign was that we had a game plan. The game plan, while we were in opposition, was to say nothing about the government. Don’t believe that wasn’t difficult! Don’t think I didn’t get the skeptics coming to me as we went through those weeks in August 1971 saying, “This won’t work, it is too quiet out there. You have got to make some noise, you have to tear people down, you have got to start fighting with good people on the other side who are well motivated.” I said, we have a game plan and we have to stay with that game plan. It clearly worked despite the skeptics. It was perhaps the only time a new government was elected in the sense that the people weren’t voting against the existing government in 1971, they were voting for the Progressive Conservatives. That is another fundamental.

There is another. We formed the government and together as a Caucus we committed ourselves to follow through on our election promises. We distributed a document in the last election campaign called ‘Pledge and Progress’, of which I am very proud.

The next decision we made was in relationship to the Caucus itself. Again, the skeptics don’t believe this – we vote at Caucus. In our first Caucus meeting after the election in 1982 – well there was a decision we were arguing about – I think it was the percentage of the Alberta Energy Company that the government should hold. There was quite a difference of view.

So, I said, ten minutes from now we are going to vote. We voted. That is a fundamental principle.

It isn’t followed by any other government Party in Canada. Our decisions are made by the Caucus and we do it by votes. If you want to talk about teamwork, that is the way to have teamwork because everybody then really is a part of it.

There is another fundamental called responsiveness. The hardest thing in politics is to listen. Why is it hard? Because it isn’t the loudest noises that count. What you have to listen to is the quiet majority of Albertans out there. That is the key. Let’s keep listening to them.

There is one other fundamental. In 1971, I remember a discussion whereby someone said they didn’t vote for us on August 30, 1971 down south of Calgary, so why should we worry about them? Wow, that would have been a drastic mistake because what is important is that you are elected to represent all the people. That is a principle of what’s involved. Some of you new to this Party won’t believe the next line. Do you know that the senior citizens didn’t vote for us in very large numbers in 1971? We decided that maybe we ought to consider the senior citizens more positively. They are the pioneers that built this great province. We should bring in programs to really help them. The public would accept those programs. We introduced new program after new program. I think most of you who have been out there campaigning know, that the senior citizens in a very significant percentage now vote for this Party. So the principle is – never conclude that a group doesn’t support our Party. Never say that. We are a Party of individuals and it is each individual that is important. It is not groups, not occupational groups, it is the citizens at large. So, that is another fundamental of our provincial Party.

I want to mention another one. It is hard for me to communicate the concept but let me try. If you want to see me wince, just stand up and say, when we came to “power” in 1971. My whole idea about being in politics is the absolute antithesis of the word power. The concept of power is not the concept of serving. We are here to serve the public. Power means that you come down from on top. We are here to serve. That is important and from your reaction I sense you understand this concept.

When we were first elected we were asked – “why don’t you be bold?” We have been – we were bold when we brought in the Heritage Savings Trust Fund – we were bold when we took the stand on the Constitutional amending formula – only one of eleven governments at the start. We were bold when we sat down on the Syncrude deal and out-negotiated the others. We have been bold since we were first elected – thank gosh we have been – it has been good for this province.

There is another basic one and is it ever important for the government that is seeking re-election. They may have voted for you but you have got to continue to hold their support. If you are Neil Webber or Jim Horsman and you go out knocking on doors between election campaigns – I tell you it is worth ten doors knocked on during an election campaign. Don’t take a single vote for granted, ever. We never have and we live by that concept.

Continued in Part III