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

Now, I want to pause on my list of fundamentals to remind a few of you of the last Party Convention two years ago at the Edmonton Inn. I went around the hotel and visited with many delegates. Everywhere I went there was one phrase that everybody talked to me about. I went back into the room and I said, what had occurred – I couldn’t get anybody to talk about anything other than W.C.C. [Editor’s note: Western Canada Concept] Well, I like a real challenge so we said, let’s pull ourselves together and be happy warriors with a new challenge. From that annual meeting in 1982, we devised a new game plan. It started with getting out from under the Legislative dome – out talking to people – travelling the province and communicating. It involved going back to the people who had supported us as volunteers and encouraging their involvement again. It involved responding to the issues that were brought up at our 1982 convention. Remember those issues? One of them was mortgage interest rates. Another one was surface rights. Another one was Widows’ pensions. So, let’s always listen carefully at our annual meetings. Then let’s sit down at Caucus and discuss what we’ve learned from the delegates at the annual meeting. We have listened and have responded to them.

In the Spring of 1982 we then considered what is the way to campaign in the next election campaign? How could we say what we felt in almost one word? We campaigned as you remember not against anything – we campaigned for Alberta. How did we campaign? Again, door to door! With a door to door message and a complimentary electronic message by the leader – we campaigned positively! We developed a brand new theme for the Party. It is a theme that I hope you will keep front and centre as a Party – “Free Enterprise – Yes – but, free enterprise that cares”.

Campaign speech in 1982

Campaign speech in 1982

So, let’s not forget the fundamentals upon which this Party was built. Feel good about these fundamentals. Don’t forget them – don’t forsake them. We do so at our peril because they are basic to our success.

Let me move next to where we have come from as a province since 1971.

We have come a long way and it is important, at an annual convention, to review where we have come from. Yes, we have made mistakes. Most of them have been by commission rather than omission. Some we have adjusted and with others we need to do better. But, we have made Alberta a much better place to live in terms of people services. Since 1971 we have developed here, in Alberta, perhaps the best health care delivery system in the whole world. We have put together educational facilities overall that are also unparalleled. We have brought in an array of special people programs – to help the senior citizens, the aged, the pioneers and the disadvantaged.

What about individual personal income? The personal income in this province was in fourth place when we came to office. We are now in first place. We are in first place in terms of family income and we have more people in this province – in relationship to the population even today than any province. We have created – even with the present economic downturn – between 1971 and 1984, more new jobs in the province of Alberta on a comparative basis than any other part of Canada. That’s another important accomplishment.

What about quality of life? Well, I believe we have done fairly well to preserve our environment. We also have developed parks and recreation facilities, historical facilities and cultural facilities together with program content to go with them so as to improve the quality of life for our people. We have done all this but at the same time we have been able to essentially preserve our values, including one that is absolutely crucial. That is helping one’s neighbour – part of our pioneer spirit!

Yes, I realize we are now into an economic adjustment period which I believe will be short term. But, let’s admit something, this province was on an upward curve, that could not be sustained. Even aside from external events we just had to come back to earth and adjust.

Continued in Part IV