Ralph Klein is probably Alberta's most
popular Premier. As leader of the
provincial Conservatives, he has led his
party to three consecutive election
victories. But why is this man so popular?
Despite his massive social spending cuts,
harebrained deregulation schemes, and those
whispered rumours about strange bedfellows in
the Oil and Gas Industry we keep voting
him in. Why?
Some might say that it's because he has no
competition. Though the Liberal party is
obviously disorganized within the province,
there is still the NDP which puts up a good
Others claim that it is because he makes
the province wealthy and successful. Then
again, that isn't really his doing; it's
more due to the thick black stuff that
spouts from the ground all over the place,
and California's insatiable thirst for
energy. Without oil, Alberta would be just
like any other boring
grain-producing western province. Like Saskatchewan.
Still others say that he's popular because
the Albertan public likes tough, right-wing
conservatives and because the Albertan
public is dumb. The first part is true, and
the second part, though also somewhat true, will get you shot.
However, Ralph Klein's popularity is only
partially due to these facts. Most of his
power comes from his secret weapon; a
weapon so subtle that it is often ignored,
yet so strong that it keeps him in power.
His weapon is his voice.
Long before Ralph Klein was Premier of
Alberta, or even Mayor of Calgary, he was a
radio disc jockey and journalist. He was a
popular one, too, because he had a great
radio voice. This radio voice has a
powerful subconscious effect, making
everything it says sound like a good thing,
no matter how bizarre, evil or just plain
wrong it was.
Consider the "Fireside Chat" (which was basically a
televised "State of the Province" address).
There's Ralph in a comfortable armchair
sitting by a fire (which was probably
Natural Gas burning) with a portrait of all
of Alberta's Premiers tacked up behind him.
Sitting with him in this log-cabin style
television studio is a young go-getter
management student type asking questions.
The young questioner leans forward and
geneally asks "your energy deregulation
policy kinda went to shit, didn't it Mr.
Klein?" (Okay, maybe not those words, but
that was what was implied.)
Ralph, as he likes to be called, leans even
further back and like some father figure
telling a story, explains that even though
energy prices jumped twice as high after
deregulation than before, it really had
nothing to do with him. Y'see, it was just
a bad time economically, and that damn
Kyoto accord made energy more expensive
(despite the fact that his government has
chosen to ignore this international
The words are the finest in political
, but the subtext; the subconscious
track playing in your head as he says it
sounds a little like this:
"Good. Good. It's aaaaalllll good. I'm
good. You're good. It's goooooooood..."
His voice is a bit grumbly, but very
distinct. It lives down deep at the back of
the throat but jumps up at just the right
moments for dramatic effect. There is a
very slight lisp. The voice is difficult to
describe, but highly memorable.
You can probably guess that, I don't like Mr. Klein's
policies, attitude, or even his
personality. But. I must respect the awesome
mesmerizing power of his voice.