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Tories plan to name riding after Klein

Ralph Klein may be gone from politics, but his old colleagues plan to put him on the electoral map.

Ralph Klein may be gone from politics, but his old colleagues plan to put him on the electoral map.

Government members have voted to amend a report into new electoral boundaries to include changing the name of Calgary-North Hill to Calgary-Klein.

The government must still pass a bill to make the change official, but has an overwhelming majority in the legislature in which to do it.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with partisanship. If people want to make it that, they do so on their own terms,” Tory backbencher Kyle Fawcett said Thursday.

“Too often we don’t say thank you soon enough, and I think it’s a great opportunity to do so,” he added.

Fawcett told the legislature in debate on Tuesday night that discussions he had with people in the riding prompted him to put Klein’s name forward.

“Some suggested proceeding with caution,” Fawcett told the legislature. “At times was Premier Klein controversial? Certainly he was.

“I don’t think there is anything we bring forward ... that is going to have 100 per cent unanimous agreement.”

Fawcett won the riding in 2008 despite capturing 38 per cent of just more than 11,000 votes cast.

He said he told Klein about the plan and Klein was “humbled by the gesture.”

Klein grew up in Tuxedo Park, in the centre of the North Hill riding, and went on to become mayor of Calgary in the 1980s before moving to provincial politics and the premiership in 1992. He stepped down late in 2006 after receiving a poor showing of support in a party leadership review.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann said the whole plan reflects badly on the government.

“Partisan influence or any perception of partisan influence on the naming of particular areas or institutions or buildings — I don’t think that’s appropriate,” said Swann. “It looks too cosy.”

“I think he was a lousy premier,” added Opposition NDP Leader Brian Mason. “I don’t think it’s suitable. His own party kicked him out. We wandered in the wilderness for years while he was the premier. It’s not appropriate.”