Friday, December 17, 2010

Sterling Lyon, 1927-2010. R.I.P.

Sterling Lyon, who served as the Premier of Manitoba from 1977 to 1981, died yesterday after a brief illness. He was 83.

For those unfamiliar politics north of the border you could think of Lyon as an early version of a Tea Partier, Canadian style. Lyon came to power unexpectedly in 1977 when he defeated two term New Democratic Party (NDP) Premier Ed Schreyer. He was amongst the first conservative politicians in any jurisdiction to address the issue of deficits and debts. Lyon described his method of governing as "acute, protracted restraint."

Unfortunately, the pace of his reforms went too fast, too soon for Manitobans who tossed Lyon's Tories out of office in 1981 and returned the NDP to power, this time under Howard Pawley. However, a subsequent generation of Canadian politicians, conservative and otherwise, would adopt the practice of "acute, protracted restraint." They owe a debt to Sterling Lyon.

For a summary of Lyon's political career, here's a good piece in the Winnipeg Free Press co-written by Jared Wesley, an assistant professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba and David Stewart, the chair of the political science department at the University of Calgary.

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