[Hpn] Alberta Premier Ralph Klein gets his just desserts

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Mon, 7 Jul 2003 14:22:10 -0400


Jul. 7, 2003. 12:38 PM The Toronto Star

Klein pied at Stampede breakfast
Alberta premier intends to press charges

JUDY MONCHUK
CANADIAN PRESS

CALGARY - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein got a pie square in the face Monday 
during his annual Stampede breakfast.

Klein had just started to address the crowd and was commenting on what a great 
job Agriculture Minister Shirley McClellan was doing with the mad cow crisis 
when a man, who appeared to be in his 20s, hit Klein hard with a banana cream 
pie.

As several breakfast-goers screamed, the man was tackled by provincial 
security officers as he tried to get away and was taken into police custody.

The Conservative premier who is more used to being accepted by the public 
because of his Every Man image, did not look shaken, although he did appear 
somewhat irritated. He then smiled as he tried to wipe away the pie remnants 
with his fingers before being handed a towel.

"It tastes not bad," he said.

He did not finish addressing the crowd before going inside McDougall Centre, 
which houses southern Alberta's government offices, to take a shower.

Klein emerged later to talk to reporters, although he did not finish the 
breakfast.

He said his first reaction was one of anger and the man's actions put him in a 
poor light.

"It speaks to his education or lack thereof to do this in front of 3,000 or 
4,000 people," the premier said

He intends to press charges, he said.

"If I want to say 'Let the poor fellow go' that gives everyone free rein to do 
this kind of thing or worse," he said.

"It doesn't say anything about politics. It says something about the stupidity 
of this young person, who will now have the criminal record and who will be 
in trouble, I think, at his university.

"I hope he's not studying political science."

He said he didn't see it coming until the man was right there.

"A pie today, it could be something else tomorrow, and that's why I'm not 
going to let this go without a prosecution."

Break

Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper was supposed to make an appearance at 
Klein's breakfast, but did not appear to be near the premier when he was 
pied.

The Calgary Stampede and Rodeo started Friday and runs for 10 days. Klein 
holds a flapjack breakfast every year during the event.

A single case of mad cow disease was confirmed in a northern Alberta animal 
May 20.

Klein is by no means the first politician to be pied in recent years.

Jean Charest was pied in April, two days before his Liberals ousted the Parti 
Quebecois and he was elected premier of Quebec. He was also struck in the 
face and head with a cream pie before he was to address supporters in the 
Laurentians north of Montreal. He blocked a second pie thrown by others, but 
it splattered on his wife Michele Dionne.

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Stephane 
Dion, Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay and former Quebec premier Jacques 
Parizeau have all been pied.

Chrétien was hit in the face with a cream pie in Charlottetown in August 2000. 
Evan Wade Brown served eight days in jail for assault.