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One Country.
One Community.
One Day.

September 20, 2006
Premier Ralph Klein meets more of the media after speaking to a room full of journalists in Calgary at noon on Friday. Nine other people who hope to take over the premier’s chair after Klein soon retires debated that day. Watching the crowd directly behind him is Klein’s bodyguard. ©Provost News Photo.
‘I’ve Always Tried to be Open, Honest With Media’—Klein at Newspaper Convention
Premier Ralph Klein recalled being “a dark horse” when he first ran to take the reins of the office of political power in Alberta. Those and other remarks were made when he addressed the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association’s annual convention in Calgary on Friday.

The Provost News obtained the copy of Klein’s speech—one of his last major ones to editors and publishers before he retires.

Following is the full, unabridged text of what he said that day:

“It’s always a pleasure to speak to members of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association, but I think it’s particularly fitting today.

This event gives me the chance to close a circle that opened 14 years ago, almost to the day.

On September 17, 1992, I attended an AWNA event at this hotel, although back then it was called the Crossroads Hotel.
After the luncheon, I wandered down the hall and announced that I would be running as a leadership candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta.

As you know, that leadership bid ended up working out pretty well for me, despite the fact that I was a dark horse in the race.

One year to the day after I announced my leadership bid, I addressed the AWNA annual convention in Edmonton . . . this time as premier.

Here’s an excerpt of what I said:
“If ever there was a time for effective communication between an Alberta government and her people it is now. Because we are entering a period of great change.

The need for change is urgent, and the need for Albertans to understand what we are doing, and why we are doing it, is critical to our success.”

I went on to talk about my government’s priorities:
About running government like a business and stopping the waste of taxpayer dollars . . .

About privatizing operations where the private sector could do a better job . . .

And, of course, about the belt tightening that would need to happen to balance the budget.

I also talked about how government doesn’t have all the answers, recognizing that we’d need help and solutions from Albertans and their communities to make change happen.

I end the speech saying:
“We seek these solutions, in order to leave a legacy for our children of a strong, prosperous Alberta, where an independent and self-reliant people live within their means.”

As bold as that vision was, it doesn’t fully describe Alberta today because the province has become even more prosperous and stronger than I had dreamed. Lately, people have been asking me what I want my legacy as premier to be.

A big part of it is the fact that my government accomplished the vision I described in that speech so many years ago. We achieved the vision and then some.

Today, government business plans and accountable spending are standard operating procedures in Alberta.

Today, government lets business do what it does best . . . take risks, be innovative and create success and create jobs.

Today, balanced budgets are a way of life for the Alberta government. The word of the day isn’t debt, it’s surplus.

And, today, Albertans are more aware of what government is doing and more engaged in making sure their voices are heard. And my government has stayed committed to keeping Albertans informed, listening to their priorities, and acting on them.

Alberta’s weekly newspapers have had an important role to play in that process.

For most Albertans, what they know about government is what they hear or see in the media. And for most Albertans, that means reading their community’s weekly paper.

I can’t think of a profession that I respect or understand better than yours. In fact, next to politics, journalism is the only career I’ve ever really known. And as a journalist and a politician I’ve sat on both sides of the table.

Now, I’m not saying every interaction I’ve had with the media has been a love-in.

I’ve had more than a few tough moments with the Alberta media during my political career. But I’ve always understood your perspective and I’ve always tried to be open and honest with members of the media. I like to think that I’ve never been one to hide from tough questions.

Sometimes my answers have put me in hot water, but I’ve always tried to be straight with you.
I’m sure there have been many times when my staff were wishing they could yank me away from the microphones before I got myself in even more trouble.

But I think, on balance, the media has treated me fairly, particularly the men and women of Alberta’s weeklies.
In particular, I think you’ve done a great job of making sure your stories are well-balanced and well-researched.
Those of you who have been covering provincial politics for awhile have probably heard me talk about how the media has changed . . . about how it’s thrown the five W’s (who, what, when where, why) out the window in favour of chasing down and selling the five C’s.

Those five C’s are crisis, controversy, conflict, confusion and chaos.

I used to joke that I left journalism when I realized time constraints and other pressures were causing me to write one-sided stories. That’s when I decided to get out and look for more honest work . . . like politics.

But while some media have moved away from the five W’s, Alberta’s weeklies have stayed true to what really matters in the day-to-day lives of the people you serve.

And that’s the classic who, what, when, where and why of a story—of what it means to readers and their families.

You’ve always worked hard to keep your communities well informed about what government was doing, and you’ve acted as honest brokers in the process.

And you’ve given your community members a voice to carry their concerns back to government.

You know, I got into politics because I wanted to serve Albertans. I wanted to see their concerns addressed and contribute in some small way to their quality of life.

I think the members of AWNA share that commitment.

You want the best for the people you serve and you provide valuable leadership in your communities.

I don’t know if I’ve ever really properly thanked you for all of that . . . so thank you all.

Now, I understand that the PC Party leadership hopefuls were invited to be here today.

I’m going to give them all a piece of advice that I strongly encourage them to take to heart.

It’s simply this—never under estimate the importance of Alberta’s weeklies because they are a perfect antidote to a disease that commonly afflicts politicians.

It’s called dome disease . . . and you know what I’m talking about, now.

It’s a condition politicians develop over time that makes it hard to focus on things happening outside the legislature . . . on the real world.

The real world is what you read about in Alberta’s weeklies.

It’s the world that you experience when you get out from under the dome and into Alberta communities. I see a totally different reality. The day-to-day world is the day-to-day aspects of living life . . . things like working, raising a family, getting to work and home again safely, running a business or a farm, and the importance of volunteering time to make the community better.

I’ve always been happiest when I’m out in communities, meeting Albertans and hearing what they have to say. That’s really been the best part of my job.

I’ve also enjoyed the many opportunities I’ve had over the years to meet with AWNA members—both at our annual conventions and talking to you in your communities.

You’ve given me some good ink . . . and some not-so-good ink . . .

And you’ve been, and will continue to be, an important part of the strength and spirit of Alberta communities. Thank you for that.

Best of luck to you all and keep up the great work!”

Print version of story in September 20 edition of The Provost News.
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Website Earns Provincial Award For Provost News
The Provost News was awarded third place by judges from Mount Royal College’s Centre for Communications Studies for its website in the 2006 better newspaper competitions.

The award was presented on Saturday afternoon, September 16 in Calgary at the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association’s annual convention.

First place winner was the St. Albert Gazette while second was the Red Deer Express newspapers. The competition was wide open and not restricted to the size categories of the newspapers competing. St. Albert has over 56,000 people living there while Red Deer has a population of over 82,000. Provost has under 2,100.

The site, originally created by Ron Holmes and staff at Internet Alberta has been modified, improved and maintained by Brett Holmes over the last several years.

The site has well over 100 visits every day to its main page alone and has a cumulative total of approximately 140,000 visits since its inception.

Editor of The News Rich Holmes, said that he was pleased that the “quality site” competes so well with so many other news outlets both in Alberta and the rest of the nation. He was also re-elected to serve as one of the AWNA’s representatives to the Canadian Community Newspapers Association.

Brett Holmes as webmaster and who updates the site weekly, created in March an addition called “Career and Employment Opportunities” for the local Economic Development Committee. It now has an average of approximately 70 hits per day for those seeking employment and has now had a total of over 8,900 visits. Also newly created on The Provost News site is a link that opens archived stories by clicking on news photographs.

Holmes is working on a Management Information Systems degree and also a degree in Economics at the University of Lethbridge but is currently on an eight month work term with Shell Canada in its downtown Calgary office where he is working on IT (information technology) projects. In his spare time he is learning to speak Mandarin and also enjoys weightlifting (see link on The News website).

Story and photo in September 20 edition of The Provost News.
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‘Honest Clown’ Made Sure Ole Got All His Cash Back
Provost resident Ole Paulgaard is happy with the example set recently by a man who found his wallet and returned “quite a few hundreds of dollars” in it intact. He did not want it revealed exactly how much money was in the missing wallet.

Paulgaard told The News that he and his wife travelled to a funeral in Lloydminster recently but first went to a restaurant with former Provost pastor, Ta Tumu and his wife. When Paulgaard went to pay the bill, there was “no purse.”

Rest of story and photo in September 20 edition of The Provost News.
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Street Spokesman
This week we ask : "What’s The Trick to Stay On a Wild, Bucking Animal?"
. . . and we heard opinions from Micheal Ostashek, Jerett Nash, Kelton Watson, Jordan Ness, and Joe Guze.
Check out the September 20 edition of The Provost News for their answers.
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This, along with many other stories and pictures can be found in this week's edition of The Provost News.
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