Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dave Hancock Got Life Changing Lesson in Politics as Junior Fire Warden

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dave Hancock Got Life Changing Lesson in Politics as Junior Fire Warden

Article excerpt

Former junior fire warden Alberta's next premier

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EDMONTON - The man who will officially become Alberta's 15th premier said he got his first life-changing lesson in public service as a 15-year-old junior fire warden.

It was the summer of 1971 when young Dave Hancock stood in the basement of the Catholic church in tiny Fort Vermilion, Alta., and demanded answers.

A provincial election was looming and Hancock wanted to know why his fire warden camp had been moved from Jarvis Lake to Blue Lake.

It was the dying days of the Social Credit dynasty in Alberta. Peter Lougheed's upstart Progressive Conservatives were taking on the governing party in an election the Tories would win and history would define as the demarcation line between political epochs.

The Socred candidate shrugged Hancock off like so much dandruff.

"I wasn't a voter at the time, so he wasn't too interested,'' said Hancock in an interview when he ran unsuccessfully for the job to replace former premier Ralph Klein in 2006.

The Tories had Al Adair in that church that day. The man known as Boomer took the time, answered Hancock's questions, showed an interest.

"It was probably my first lesson in politics. People will actually support you if you listen to them, hear them out and be responsive," said Hancock.

On Thursday, Hancock, now a five-term, 17-year veteran of the legislature, was picked by caucus to replace Premier Alison Redford.

She resigned Wednesday as scandals over lavish spending escalated into caucus infighting that destroyed her ability to lead. Two days before her resignation, Donna Kennedy-Glans, the associate minister for electricity, crossed the floor, saying she had almost no contact with Redford and that key legislation was pushed through with no prior consultation with caucus.

Hancock, now 58, was born in Fort Resolution, N.W.T., on Aug. 10, 1955, the youngest of seven children. They moved around the North from small community to small community.

His dad bought fur from trappers for the Hudson's Bay Co.

"He was the last of the fur traders."

His mom taught in a succession of one-room schoolhouses.

He went to high school in tiny Fort Vermilion in northern Alberta, known for the red ochre deposits on its riverbanks. …

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