Donald Ross "Don" Getty, OC AOE (born August 30, 1933) is a retired Canadian politician who served as the 11th Premier of Alberta between 1985 and 1992. A member of the Progressive Conservatives, he served as Energy Minister and Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister in the government of Peter Lougheed before leaving politics for the private sector in 1979. He returned to politics six years later to contest the leadership contest resulting from Lougheed's retirement. He defeated two other candidates, and became Premier November 1, 1985.
As Premier, Getty was faced with an economic slowdown and falling energy prices, which hit Alberta's petroleum-dominated economy hard. Faced with mounting government deficits and increasing unemployment, he cut social spending and intervened with government money to prevent businesses from failing. Several of these interventions backfired in high profile fashion, failing at their intended objective and costing scarce public funds as well. While some analysts argue that Getty's fiscal program laid the groundwork for Ralph Klein's later balancing of the provincial budget, on Getty's departure from office the government's debt had reached $11 billion, setting the stage for his successor to characterize the Getty years as an era of wasteful and excessive spending.
His efforts at strengthening Alberta's presence in Canada initially appeared more successful, as he won the agreement of Canada's other first ministers in including elements of Senate reform in the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords, but these efforts came to naught when both accords were rejected—the second by the Canadian public, including a majority of Albertans. Getty was also facing political problems within Alberta, including a defeat in his home riding of Edmonton-Whitemud in the 1989 election (leading to a successful by-election in Stettler, vacated by a P.C. MLA) and leadership machinations from some of his own ministers. In light of this, he resigned the Premiership in 1992.
Before entering politics, Getty had been a quarterback for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. He passed for more than eight thousand yards over his ten-year career, and was put on the team's Wall of Fame in 1992.
By Dean Hanley
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