Condolences began pouring in from across Canada on Friday amid news former Alberta premier Don Getty had passed away at the age of 82.
Getty, born in Quebec in 1933, headed to Alberta in 1955 to play for the Edmonton Eskimos. He played for 10 years, winning two Grey Cups. There, he met teammate and fellow former premier Peter Lougheed. It was Lougheed who drafted Getty into politics with the Progressive Conservative party.
Both were elected in 1967, and in 1971, their party, with Lougheed at the helm, formed the Alberta government beginning a Conservative dynasty that would last until 2015.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley released a statement on Friday, calling Getty a “dedicated Albertan” and “committed Canadian.”
“Don distinguished himself not only in politics, but also in the worlds of sport and business, through leadership, hard work and service,” Notley said. “His contributions to our province are many, including his work to establish Albertans’ constitutional rights as owners of our province’s natural resources, his role in the creation of the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, the introduction of self-government for Metis settlements, and economic diversification in the sectors of forestry, tourism, technology and non-conventional energy.”
“His greatest legacy was his support of families and the introduction of Family Day – a holiday where Alberta families could spend time together, strengthen bonds and reconnect,” Notley said.
Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Ric McIver, meanwhile, said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of Getty’s passing.
“Don was as a kind man with a great sense of humour,” McIver said in a Friday statement. “His legacy as one of the architects of our party, as a Cabinet Minister and as Premier has played a major role in shaping Alberta into the strong and resilient province it is today and we are grateful for his many contributions.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement after learning about Getty’s death:
“I learned with sadness today of the passing of former Alberta Premier Don Getty. On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and to the people of the province. Mr. Getty was a gifted politician, athlete, and businessman. He guided Alberta through challenging economic times, was a strong proponent of Senate reform, and worked in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples across the province,” Trudeau said.
“Over his long career of public service, Mr. Getty received many honours, including being made an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence.
“Mr. Getty was a tireless champion of strengthening Alberta’s presence in Canada. His immense contributions to both the province and the country will be honoured and remembered.”
Alberta’s Lt.-Gov. Lois E. Mitchell also extended her sympathies to his family.
“Don Getty will be remembered for the importance he placed on family, for the care and dedication he brought to his duties as a minister and premier and for the great pride he always carried as an Albertan and a Canadian,” Mitchell said.
“His contributions over the course of his varied and distinguished career are part of the Alberta story, from his pioneering role as the first Canadian to quarterback a Grey Cup game to his thoughtful service as leader of our province.
“I join with my fellow Albertans in honouring Don Getty’s memory and offering thanks for the strengths and abilities he shared with our province. I also extend sincere condolences to his wife Margaret, their children and the many friends and family members who are mourning his loss.”
WATCH: Premier Rachel Notley, Mayor Don Iveson and conservative icon Preston Manning were among those to share messages of sympathy today. Emily Mertz has reaction.
Alberta Liberal Leader Davide Swann expressed his sadness upon learning of Getty’s passing in a news release, saying “Don served Albertans with commitment and dedication for many years as MLA, Cabinet Minister and, of course, premier.”
“Don was tasked with guiding the province through challenging economic times, much like today’s,” Swann said.
“Don was dedicated to Alberta and all Albertans, he will be missed.”
Memorial books for Getty have been set up in the Alberta Legislature rotunda and at McDougall Centre in Calgary.
Here are some of the many tributes to Getty posted to Twitter: