An RCMP honour guard carries former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed to lie in state at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Alberta on Sunday, September 16, 2012.
Credits: AMBER BRACKEN/QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON -- Albertans lined up inside the legislature and down the front stairs Monday for a chance to pay their respects to former premier Peter Lougheed.
Lougheed was lying in state in the legislature rotunda, flanked by Mounties, in a casket draped with a half-Canada, half-Alberta flag.
Family friend Mavis Thomson had tears in her eyes after walking through a hallway lined with photos of the late Tory premier.
"(Lougheed had) such class, such heart, such humanity," she said. "He wanted the best for Albertans, and he had a vision."
Premier Alison Redford led a long line of dignitaries who took turns viewing the casket and exchanging hugs and handshakes with Lougheed's sons Stephen and Joe and granddaughter Kathleen. The line included MLAs, opposition party leaders, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and former premiers, among them Don Getty.
Ex-premier Ed Stelmach said Lougheed was a man who commanded respect and "never, ever refused a call" from him.
He commended Lougheed for creating the Heritage Savings Trust Fund and the Medical Research Fund, for helping Alberta transform into a major oil industry power, and for standing up for better royalty rates in the early 1970s.
Stelmach fondly recalled Lougheed's constitutional battles with the federal government.
"I think the constitutional battle with Ottawa is something that I will remember," he said. "I was in university at that time and I got in a few arguments with my political science professor, because obviously I was not a supporter of the government in Ottawa at that time."
Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk said Lougheed was heavily engaged with Redford's government and always wanted to give advice.
"Many of us in elected office from time to time ask ourselves the question, ‘What would premier Lougheed do if he was faced with a situation like this?'" Lukaszuk said.
Calling Lougheed a "man of the people," Lukaszuk said Lougheed used to walk the legislature grounds every day and stop people to ask them questions about their personal lives.
"So now, to have the opportunity for Albertans to come up to him and share their thoughts, is very important," he said.
Former Stony Plain MLA Bill Purdy said Lougheed's legacy starts with his first piece of legislation, the Alberta Bill of Rights. He remembered Lougheed as a "very fair individual" who always listened to everyone's point of view.
"I think it's a real tribute to him and his family, and to Albertans, to have the numbers that are out today to say goodbye to a great Albertan and Canadian," Purdy said.
Lougheed will lie in state at the legislature through Tuesday, and Albertans can offer condolences online at alberta.ca/PeterLougheedTribute.
A state memorial will be held Friday in Calgary.