The Honourable Jim Prentice, PC, QC, 2014-2015
The Honourable Jim Prentice was sworn in as Alberta's 16th Premier on September 15, 2014 after being elected leader of the Progressive Conservative party on September 6.
Peter Eric James Prentice was born on July 20, 1956 in South Porcupine, Ontario to Eric Prentice, a professional hockey player and later miner, and Wilma Mawhiney. Jim is the middle child with two older and two younger sisters.
In 1970, the family moved to Grande Cache, Alberta from Ontario and, four years later, settled in Coleman in the Crowsnest Pass area. His father worked in the mines and Jim did the same in order to pay for his university education. He received his Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta in 1977 and his Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie University in 1980. As a practicing lawyer, he specialized in corporate law, property rights, and First Nations issues.
After moving to Calgary to practice law, Jim Prentice married Calgary lawyer Karen Ziegler in 1983. They have three daughters: Christina, Cassia and Kate.
In 1976, Prentice became active in political affairs, volunteering on Joe Clark's federal Progressive Conservative leadership campaign. After the first vote, Clark was in third place, but ultimately won the leadership and went on to become Canada's youngest Prime Minister in 1979.
In 1985, he shifted focus to provincial politics when he worked on Don Getty's Progressive Conservative leadership campaign and then on Rick Orman's Progressive Conservative leadership campaign in 1992. Additionally, in the 1986 Alberta election, Prentice made his first run as a provincial candidate, and was narrowly defeated in the constituency of Calgary-Mountain View.
During subsequent years, he was a successful businessperson in Calgary, but also remained politically active serving as the federal Progressive Conservative party's treasurer from 1991 to 1995. He held the position of Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission of Canada from 1992 to 1994 and as the Co-Chair, Indian Claims Commission of Canada from 1994 to 2001. In 2002, Prentice won the federal Progressive Conservative nomination in Calgary-Southwest, but stepped down so Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper could run in a by-election. In 2003, he ran for the federal Progressive Conservative leadership to replace leader Joe Clark, but lost to Peter MacKay.
In 2004, he successfully contested the federal election in the riding of Calgary North Centre. He was re-elected in 2006 and in 2008 in the redistributed riding of Calgary Centre-North. During his federal tenure, he served as the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (February 6, 2006 to August 13, 2007), Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians (February 6, 2006 to August 13, 2007), Minister of Industry (August 14, 2007 to October 29, 2008); and, Minister of the Environment (October 30, 2008 to November 4, 2010). In November 2010, he announced his resignation from politics. On January 1, 2011, he became Vice-Chair and Senior Executive Vice President of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. In March 2014, his background in corporate and aboriginal affairs led him to be approached to work with Enbridge Inc. and First Nations in northern British Columbia to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement over the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Events in the spring of 2014 resulted in Prentice being encouraged to run for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative of Alberta party. In May, he formally entered the leadership race. After a summer of talking to Albertans, Prentice won the vote on the first ballot on September 6, 2014. He was sworn in as Premier on September 15, 2014. Prentice assumed responsibility for two additional portfolios: Aboriginal Relations and International and Intergovernmental Relations. His cabinet included two Ministers who were not Members of the Legislative Assembly. By-elections were held on October 27, 2014 and Prentice and his two previously unelected Ministers secured seats in the Legislative Assembly.
On November 17, 2014, the Third Session of the 28th Legislature commenced with the Speech from the Throne. Five themes were outlined: a commitment to conservative fiscal principles; ending entitlements and restoring public trust; maximizing the value of natural resources while respecting property rights; becoming an environmental leader; and enhancing the quality of life of Albertans.
The sitting was marked by two major issues: the rights of students to form gay/straight alliances and the dramatic fall of the price of oil. The latter eventually led to budget measures that called for the reduction of many expenditures across government programs and services while increasing taxes and developing other streams of revenue.
In November, Prentice's policies and actions had prompted two Members of the Official Opposition to cross the floor to his government. In December, unprecedented in Alberta's history, the Leader of the Official Opposition led eight Members across the floor to the Progressive Conservative party.
The Spring Sitting concluded after the Budget Address on March 26, 2015. On April 7, Prentice announced that he had asked the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the legislature. Stating that it was important for Albertans have the opportunity to endorse his government's proposed budget, a general election was called for May 5, 2015. Prentice won his seat of Calgary-Foothills, but immediately announced his departure from politics. In light of his party's election loss, Prentice disclaimed his seat, meaning his election was void. Prentice continued to serve as Premier until May 24 when the new Premier-Designate was officially sworn in.
Prentice was a Global Fellow at the Canada Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. between January and May 2016. He was working on a book about Canada-United States energy and climate policy. In June 2016, Prentice became an energy advisor at Warburg Pincus.
On October 13, 2016, at the age of 60, Mr. Prentice was killed in a plane crash just outside of Kelowna, BC.
Mr. Prentice has been recognized and honoured in many ways over the years. In 1992, he was appointed Queen's Counsel. In 2005, he was presented with the Alberta Centennial Medal. In 2006, he was named to the Privy Council for Canada. In 2010 and again in 2014, he was on Alberta Venture's list of Alberta's 50 Most Influential People. In 2012, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2013, he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Alberta.