Letnick: Remembering Peter Lougheed

So here I was, a business student at the University of Calgary, thinking what to do after I graduate.

So here I was, a business student at the University of Calgary in my graduating year (1979-80), thinking what to do after I graduate with a bachelor of commerce degree . There were options, of course—but how to choose?

My professors suggested I should go on and apply to Harvard to join their MBA program. Like most people I was well aware of Harvard’s reputation, but until then I had little idea of the stature of their business school.

Not one for passing up an opportunity to conduct a little research for credit, I did what many students would do and began researching their program at the library—which was more work than it may sound. Young as I tell myself I still look, there was no Internet or research-friendly websites in those days.

I became familiar with their offerings and some of their outstanding graduates. Imagine my surprise when I discovered then-Premier Peter Lougheed was among them.

To top up my paper, there was nothing better than a conversation with a graduate—so why not speak to several?

Off I went contacting a number of Harvard graduates who lived in Alberta—some in the oil patch, some in marketing, and one in particular in politics.

I made a request to interview the Premier, but not for a moment did I think his assistants would let me anywhere near him. And even if they had, he would almost certainly be too busy.

I never thought he might actually say yes.

Seldom have I been happier, or more surprised, to be wrong.

I heard back that Premier Lougheed would agree to an interview by telephone about his experience at the business school, and how it had helped him in his career and public life.

The interview went well and lasted a little over 15 minutes. I remember him very fondly not just as a great leader in our country, but also as a person who took the time to talk to a student, and showed interest in what I was doing.

He inspired me to continue to serve my community and one day to enter public life. You never want to play “might have been,” but had he been too busy to speak with a student about his alma mater, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be writing this as an MLA and Minister of Agriculture.

I’m no Peter Lougheed, but so much of how I live my life has been shaped by his simple gesture over 30 years ago.

Goodbye Premier Lougheed, and thank you again for making time for me. You will be missed, you are already.