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Ex-premier Lougheed rises to Redford's defence

Former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed pledged support for Alison Redford as she seeks the premiership in the province's elections this month.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

In case anyone was wondering, the first premier of Alberta's Progressive Conservative dynasty supports its current leader.

With the party he built now on the brink of collapse, PC premier Peter Lougheed affirmed his support of current leader Alison Redford in a CTV interview aired Friday. The PCs sent a notice of the interview to party supports Saturday.

"She's positive, and she's a positive thinker. And she has an up-to-date view of the province. She knows the issues, she knows the province," Mr. Lougheed told CTV, extending a plea to former PC supporters who've drifted over to the right-wing Wildrose Party, which polls show is on pace to form government. "You're darn right. I want them to do a rethink. I want them to think about it. I want them to listen carefully to what Alison Redford's been saying."

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Mr. Lougheed avoided backing a horse during last year's PC leadership race, which Ms. Redford won as somewhat of a long-shot candidate, but is clearly a fan of Ms. Redford now. He recently spoke enthusiastically to The Globe about her vision, contrasting it with that of Ralph Klein.

"Mr. Klein came along and he reverted the party backward to what I call the old Social Credit days, when Alberta was the whole focus and it wasn't a cross-Canada focus," Mr. Lougheed said at the time. He praised Ms. Redford's attention to the rest of Canada as "exceptionally important."

Ms. Redford has also pledged to revive some of Mr. Lougheed's legacy, saying she'd revive his Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority with $150-million in annual funding for research in the province, meant to diversify the economy. Mr. Lougheed's program was essential in kick-starting oil sands development, which now pours billions into provincial coffers each year.

Both Ms. Redford and Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith invoke Mr. Lougheed's name regularly on the campaign trail. In an election that amounts to warring factions that have splintered off from the legacy he founded, Mr. Lougheed has made his choice. Albertans go to the polls April 23.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Josh is a parliamentary reporter in Ottawa. Before moving to the nation's capital in 2013, he covered provincial affairs in Edmonton and throughout Alberta. He joined the Globe in 2008 in Toronto before returning to his home province in 2010. More

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