Ralph Klein, once a reporter for CFCN TV and Radio, was elected mayor of Calgary in 1980. He served as mayor for nine years. In 1989 he was elected into the Alberta Legislature as a member of Don Getty's Conservative party. He served as Minister of the Environment until 1992, when he was elected leader of Alberta Conservatives on December 5th, and sworn in as Premier of Alberta on December 12th. In 1993, the Conservative party was reelected with a majority government. In 1997, they won again, increasing their majority; in 2001 they increased it again.

As Premier of Alberta, Klein implemented a controversial policy of cost-cutting, tax cuts, and debt reduction. As a result of this, and helped by rising oil and gas prices, Alberta now has no public debt and a strong economy. Klein's policies became much emulated by conservative governments throughout Canada; most notably by Mike Harris in Ontario.

Klein was born November 1, 1942 in Calgary, Alberta. He dropped out of high school to enlist in the Air Force. After leaving the service, he completed his schooling, and went on to become principal of the Calgary Business College.

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 fight. Arguably.

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. *shudder*.

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 recommendation).

The words are the finest in political bullshit, 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.

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