As Albertans finally laid former Premier Peter Lougheed to rest, it seems that at least one Albertan had a little problem with the proceedings.
That person was none other than Rabble.ca contributor David Climenhaga, He took the opportunity to mount his soapbox and declare the public memorial for Lougheed to be a tad over the top. To quote:
“With his state funeral yesterday afternoon, the official adoration of former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed moved beyond canonization into deification.
If other Canadians happened to pause and listen to what was actually being said in Calgary’s 57-year-old Jubilee Auditorium, which was broadcast by the CBC, they could be forgiven for wondering if we Albertans had collectively taken leave of our senses.“
This screed was reproduced at Climenhaga’s union-funded version of this soapbox unless one of the *ahem* “editors” at Rabble thought better. Which is unlikely.
Of course, Climenhaga didn’t adopt even a remotely similar attitude when federal NDP leader — at the time Leader of the Opposition — Jack Layton passed away August 22, 2011. Again, to quote:
“It’s OK to mourn the loss of Jack Layton, of course, Joe Hill’s wise strategic counsel to social activists notwithstanding.
It’s also OK to take a moment to mourn before we start to talk about the implications for the Canadian New Democratic Party of the death of Mr Layton, which are very grave and must not be brushed away with glib optimism as I am sure many of us are tempted to do at a moment like this.
Canada’s New Democratic Party leader was beloved by many of us and respected by many more. His loss at the age of 61, still in the prime of his political life, comes as a profound shock, even to those of us who feared the worst after his news conference less than a month ago, at which he announced he was stepping down as leader of the Opposition to battle a new onslaught of cancer.
For those of us who have heard Mr Layton speak, let alone who have met and talked with him, it is very hard to comprehend that someone so full of life could be alive no more.“
Certainly, no one should begrudge Mr Climenhaga his grief for the passing of Mr Layton. And for reasons that are perfectly obvious. But when Layton’s state funeral — and remember that he was never Prime Minister of Canada, or even the Premier of a province — turned into a giant NDP partisan rally, Mr Climenhaga seemed to have nary a word to say about the bizarre excess of it.
That isn’t surprising. Nor should it be. But the ongoing tone of Climenhaga’s commentary on the Lougheed funeral — comparatively restrained by virtually every single measure — very much is surprising:
“Mr Lougheed was not the father of our country, and his record is as mixed as that of other politicians of his generation. Alberta would have been a great place to live, pretty much as it is today, had someone else become premier in his place in 1971. He most certainly was not born atop a mountain in the Kananaskis Range, which is what it was starting to sound like this afternoon!
Mr Lougheed’s family is entitled to its heartfelt grief. People who knew him or knew of him and respected him, even if they disagreed with him, are right to honor his memory. And his political allies and beneficiaries of the political dynasty he founded 41 years ago naturally remember him very fondly.
I am not so sure, however, if the occasion of a state funeral – Canadian provinces are indeed entitled to hold such events – is an appropriate venue to try to gain a political edge or revise history, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper most certainly did in his remarks.
And as for suggesting that “every single one of us woke up this morning in Peter Lougheed’s Alberta, it was the Alberta of which he dreamed, and it was the dream he was able to make real,” as Premier Alison Redford did, that seems just a little over the top.”
I’m sure a great many Canadians would like to refer Climenhaga to Stephen Lewis’ eulogy for Layton, which often literally reads like an NDP election pamphlet. Literally.
Even Climenhaga emblazoned his personal tribute to Layton with the words “don’t mourn, organize.” It takes some serious gravitas to criticize Prime Minister Harper and Premier Redford for doing something that he himself did.
But compare the tributes to Layton to the tributes to Lougheed. Lougheed may get an airport named after him. This author hopes he does.
Many Canadians took to covering the concrete at Nathan Phillips Square with messages of tribute to Layton. Occupy activists even took it upon themselves to unilaterally rename Nathan Phillips Square “Jack Layton Square.” (Screw Nathan Phillips, right?)
This author doesn’t begrudge NDP supporters their grief for Layton. But if what took place surrounding Layton’s passing wasn’t an attempt to deify him, what was?
No one should expect David Climenhaga to be particularly forthcoming with an answer to that question. But the next time he wants to cast aspersions on the grief of Albertans, perhaps he could at least wait until a little grass has grown over the grave. Really, that’s all anyone could ask.