Gone before his time

Al Huddlestan's passing leaves a huge void for the North Island.

Canada’s media has focused much of its attention in the past week on the passing of former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, who died Friday at the age of 70.

Klein departs with his legacy secure as a larger-than-life public figure, the “King of Alberta,” whose reach extended well beyond the province.

Port Hardy’s Al Huddlestan never achieved that reach — though he did run for the federal Liberal Party’s nomination in the early 1990s — but his death just days before Klein’s is a greater blow for North Islanders.

Huddlestan, 62, was still in the prime of his career, still building a legacy for himself and the North Island when his life was cut short.

He was ideally suited for his position as chair of the Regional District of Mount Waddington Board of Directors. A physically imposing figure, he relished the rough-and-tumble of public life. But a withering glare was merely a shield used periodically in the political arena; he preferred to wield charm and diplomacy as his weapons.

Possessed of a stilleto-sharp and droll wit, Huddleston more than once defused escalating conflict around the RDMW board table with a well-placed barb or anecdote that stopped the bickering in its tracks.

Cancer ravaged Huddlestan’s body, but it couldn’t break the essential Al inside. We thank him for his service, and offer our condolences to his loved ones and friends.