Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein gravely ill
Published Wednesday, March 20, 2013 1:20PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 20, 2013 2:38PM EDT
Former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, who has been battling dementia and lung disease in recent years, has been moved to palliative care.
Don Martin, the host of CTV’s Power Play and the author of a book on Klein, took to Twitter Wednesday to report that the former premier is in the late stages of his illnesses.
“Ralph Klein under palliative care. Albertans should brace for the worst as the people's premier prepares to move on. Very sad days ahead,” Martin tweeted.
In an interview with CTV Calgary, Martin said he’s been told by family and friends of Klein that his condition has deteriorated.
“He’s been sleeping an awful lot. He’s lost a lot of weight. He knows fewer and fewer people,” Martin said. “…It is definitely a sad state of affairs and he is in very grave condition.”
Klein has been living in a long-term care facility since the fall of 2011, suffering from a form of dementia as well as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, a lung disease associated with smoking.
The Calgary Herald reported Tuesday that Klein’s health has declined significantly in recent weeks. Marisa Etmanski, Klein’s former press secretary, told the Herald there were no plans to move Klein to a hospital.
“I know he is not well, and his condition, of course, is progressing,” she told the paper.
Klein, who was premier of Alberta from 1993 until 2006, began experiencing chronic lung problems shortly after leaving office.
He was diagnosed in the spring of 2011, with frontotemporal dementia, a disease that affects areas of the brain that control behaviour and speech. Klein lost the ability to speak later that year.
After learning Tuesday that Klein’s health had taken a turn, a number of political analysts and aides took to social media to say their thoughts were with the Klein family.
Martin expects an outpouring of support from residents of the province too.
“I think Albertans really bonded to Ralph Klein. He made a lot of mistakes but he was a guy they could relate to, someone they could have a beer with and say, 'Yup, I had a drink with the premier and he's just like one of us’,” Martin said.
“That was always his magic, both as the mayor of Calgary and as the premier, and that will be his legacy.”