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Pierre Elliott Trudeau:

Oil policies brought resentment: Westerners

Monday, October 2, 2000

EDMONTON and CALGARY -- Pierre Trudeau will be remembered fondly, though perhaps a little grudgingly, in Alberta, where his energy policies stirred deep and lingering resentment.

"There'll be a very mixed legacy," David Taras, a political scientist at the University of Calgary, said.

The bitterness is most notable in the province's oil and gas industry.

"I remember him for what happened one score ago," said Ian Doig, publisher of Calgary-based energy newsletter Doig's Digest.

Twenty years ago this month, in the wake of the 160-per-cent increase in world oil prices, Mr. Trudeau introduced the NEP. Aimed at increasing Canadian ownership in the sector, it allowed Ottawa to set the oil and gas pricing system and grab more of the revenues.

Despite the Liberal government's decision to water down the program when oil prices began to fall, Albertans blamed Mr. Trudeau for the dark days that followed the NEP.

But previously outspoken critics were more reserved after Mr. Trudeau's death. "I am very, very sad that he is gone, for he was, in my view, the most remarkable Canadian of our generation," former premier Peter Lougheed said.

In the House of Commons last week, federal Progressive Conservative Leader Joe Clark said policies implemented by his former adversary had the effect of estranging Canadians within their own country.

Calgary Mayor Al Duerr echoed the sentiment. "As Canadians, we may not always have agreed with his policies, but what we can never dispute is his commitment to Canada and doing what he believed was in the best interests of the country."

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein praised Mr. Trudeau's fire for public life, despite the province's battles with the former prime minister.

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