Peter Lougheed's integrity remembered at state memorial

Politicians and dignitaries from across Canada were among Albertans who gathered at Calgary's Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium for a state memorial service honouring former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed on Friday.

After members of Lougheed’s family took their seats, the memorial started with RCMP officers solemnly carrying an Alberta and a Canadian flag to raise on stage.

Soon after, a slideshow flashed a series of key moments from the former premier’s life. It was accompanied with sound clips of Lougheed during his time in office.

“Let’s keep reaching for the sky,” the recording of Lougheed said. "Let’s continue to be the party that causes people not to divide, but to come together in a common purpose."

CBC’s Rex Murphy was next to take the stage.

“It is indeed a wonderful thing, and it truly is, to see a great and good man get something of his extremely just due from the people that most knew him and the people who most worked with him,” he said.

“So it is a great thing that Alberta and other citizens of this country are engaging in an honoured salute to the greatest premier that this country has ever seen.”

Many of Lougheed’s former colleagues and friends also made speeches.

Former MP Conservative Lee Richardson said Lougheed once told him a person couldn’t be a good leader without listening.

"As both a nation and province builder, he has no equal," Richardson said.

Jim Dinning, who worked under Lougheed, said the former premier was always curious.

“That’s what I admire the most,” he said, adding that his inquisitive nature helped Lougheed pinpoint the needs of Alberta as a province.

A performance of Gershwin's Someone to Watch Over Me was performed by Jens Lindemann before Premier Alison Redford spoke.

"Peter Lougheed had a golden touch," she said. "He excelled at everything he tried."

As she passed over the podium to Lougheed’s children — Stephen, Andrea, Pam and Joe — she said, “Thank you for sharing him with us.”

Stephen Lougheed said his father was driven to make the world a better place, and was also a great coach and mentor.

"Dad always found the best in people and found ways to surround himself with good people," he said.

"He was a tireless worker, and that tended to bring out the best in others and even occasionally rubbed off on his kids," Stephen added with a smile.

Next on stage was a vocalist from Calgary Opera, with a tribute to Lougheed and his wife Jeanne, who were strong supporters of the arts in Alberta.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper followed by saying Lougheed brought intelligence, integrity, energy, a clear and practical sense of direction and an unwavering commitment in what he believed to a wider public interest.

“Let me assure you, that across all the times and places in political history, this combination is rare indeed,” said Harper.

Lougheed, who served as premier from 1971 to 1985, died peacefully in the hospital that bears his name in Calgary on Sept. 13 from natural causes. He was 84.

His death has caused an outpouring of condolences across the country. He is the first former premier in Alberta to have a state memorial.

Lougheed was also the first former premier to lie in state at the Alberta legislature rotunda, which allowed members of the public to pay their respects earlier this week.

Former prime minister Joe Clark, also from Alberta, said part of Lougheed's legacy will be how he helped change attitudes about the province.

"This is a generous place and I would hope that Canada will recognize that what is emerging in Alberta — what really started with the transformations Peter Lougheed triggered — is a very strong willing partner in Canada and willing partner in Canada's exercises internationally and overseas," he said.

More than 1,000 people were expected at the service.

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