James “Bud” Miller was a strong advocate for all of Alberta, rural and urban, but mostly he was a major advocate for the Lloydminster region.
Miller, who passed away at the age of 91 in Edmonton over the weekend, was elected to provincial politics in 1971, when the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta defeated the governing Social Credit, under Premier Peter Lougheed.
Miller represented the riding of Lloydminster from 1971 to 1986 before leaving provincial politics to retire back to his hometown of Kitscoty, Alta.
Political ally and former mayor of Lloydminster during Miller’s tenure, William “Bill” Kondro, said that Miller contribution to Lloydminster extend far beyond the realm of politics.
“He was a great politician,” Kondro said. “He worked tirelessly for the people of Lloydminster, and would go to Edmonton from Monday to Friday, and be back in the riding Friday night, attending events or holding meetings on a range of issues effecting the Lloydminster people.”
Kondro said that no matter what political leanings someone had, Miller would take the time to sit down and hear their side of the story.
“He would take meetings with anyone,” said Kondro.
Current MLA Richard Starke, who took over for the riding of Vermilion-Lloydminster in 2012, said that the loss of Miller is a great one to Lloydminster, as the city would not have grown without the former MLA.
“Bud Miller worked very, very hard for his constituency, over the 15 years he was in office,” Starke said in a sit-down interview earlier this week.
“A lot of the things that happened in Lloydminster in the 1980s were direct result, or got started as a result of Bud Miller.”
Starke said that Miller believed in what he wanted to believe in, and believed in it forcefully.
“You didn’t want to disagree with Bud because he was quite good at arguing his position,” Starke said.
Starke added that’s what made him a great representative to have in Edmonton.
“Miller was a staunch advocate on behalf of the Lakeland region of Alberta,” he added.
One of the biggest projects that Miller undertook, and stands with his name now, was the creation of a regional park in Lloydminster.
Opened on June 19, 1986, the name chosen, Bud Miller All Seasons Park, was given to the new park.
Kondro said that Miller was pleased with the name, but always shied away from any public recognition for his work.
“Bud was pleased with the announcement, but he made sure that other people got the proper recognition and spotlight for the work that he was involved in.”
Kondro said that Miller’s determination to get the job done drove Miller to constantly work around the clock.
“He would call me up on a weekday and we would be off an hour later on the road to Regina to meet with government officials to get work done in the Border City,” Kondro said. “My role was to facilitate meetings and getting things going on the ground here in Lloydminster.”
Kondro said that Miller wasn’t the typical nine-to-five politician.
“We would jump in the car after an eight-hour day in Edmonton, and we would head to Regina for meetings with (Saskatchewan) government officials,” he said.
Ken Baker, currently a city councillor in Lloydminster, said that Bud was just that, Bud.
“Bud was a well known MLA and a strong supporter of this area,” Baker said. “He was a strong supporter during his time inside government and outside of government.”
Former MLA Lloyd Snelgrove said the passing of Miller was a blow to the area, as he had commitment to the region.
“He was always involved in hockey,” Snelgrove said. “It shows that he had commitment not only to Kitscoty, but to his family as well.”
Snelgrove said Miller was a friendly face that greeted him at every event he attended.
“Many, many times I would be stopped at an event, or even at the legislature, and he made sure he said hi to me,” Snelgrove said. “Miller left a very warm legacy.”
After his third successful election, Miller was admitted to cabinet by former premier Peter Lougheed.
Miller was named minister of public Lands and wildlife, a title he would hold until the next election in 1982.
That would be the last election Miller would run in provincially. In 1986, he stepped away from politics.
After retirement, Kondro says that Miller went back to his first love, coaching minor hockey.
“He really enjoyed it,” Kondro said. “Bud and I both decided around the same time, after some projects that we worked on that we would step away from elected office.”
Kondro said that he had the utmost respect for Bud Miller.
“He was never negative. He would get excited, but he was a good guy.”