The Social Credit Board was a committee in Alberta, Canada from 1937 until 1948. Composed of Social Credit backbenchers in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, it was created in the aftermath of the 1937 Social Credit backbenchers' revolt. Its mandate was to oversee the implementation of social credit in Alberta. To this end, it secured the services of L. Dennis Byrne and George Powell, two lieutenants of social credit's British founder, C. H. Douglas.
After requiring all Social Credit Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to sign loyalty oaths to it, the Social Credit Board proceeded to recommend radical legislation regulating banking, taxing banks, and restricting freedom of the press and access to courts. Most of this legislation was either disallowed by the federal government or ruled ultra vires (beyond the powers of) the province by the Supreme Court of Canada; these defeats and the advent of World War II made the Social Credit Board increasingly irrelevant. In its later years it became highly anti-Semitic, and it was dissolved by the government of Ernest Manning in 1948.
William Aberhart's Social Credit League won the 1935 Alberta general election on a platform of ending the Great Depression by implementing social credit, a new economic theory that posited that poverty could be ended by increasing citizens' purchasing power. By 1937, many Social Credit backbenchers in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta were becoming frustrated with the government's lack of progress. This frustration became the 1937 Social Credit backbenchers' revolt.As a condition of regaining the rebels' support, Aberhart agreed to create the Social Credit Board, to be composed of five Social Credit MLAs and responsible for the implementation of social credit in Alberta. The chair of the Social Credit Board was Glenville MacLachlan; he and three other members had been insurgents during the revolt, while the fifth member, Floyd Baker, had remained loyal to Aberhart.
The Social Credit Board was tasked with the appointment of a Social Credit commission, composed of experts on social credit, to advise on the implementation of social credit in Alberta.Most Social Crediters hoped that C. H. Douglas, the British founder of the social credit movement, would agree to head this commission. Douglas refused MacLachlan's entreaties to do so, but sent two representatives, George Frederick Powell and L. Dennis Byrne, in his stead. One of Powell's first acts was to demand that all Social Credit MLAs sign an oath of loyalty to the Social Credit Board, which almost all did.
The first round of legislation recommended by the commission and subsequently passed by the legislature included the Credit of Alberta Regulation Act, which required every bank and all their employees to be licensed by the provincial government and to be overseen by a Social Credit Board-appointed directorate, the Bank Employees Civil Rights Act, which prohibited unlicensed banks and their employees from initiating legal proceedings, and amendments to the Judicature Act prohibiting court actions alleging that any of Alberta's legislation was unconstitutional.Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta John Campbell Bowen, asked to give royal assent to these bills, asked Attorney-General John Hugill if he considered them to be valid under the Canadian constitution. Hugill responded in the negative and, after being asked to do so by Aberhart, resigned. Aberhart appointed himself Attorney-General and told Bowen that it was his opinion that the laws were constitutional. Bowen provided royal assent, but all three acts were subsequently disallowed by the federal government.
In 1937's Bankers' Toadies incident, Powell (along with Social Credit whip Joe Unwin) was convicted of criminal libel, sentenced to six months hard labour, and deported to the United Kingdom. The charges stemmed from a pamphlet listing nine men as "bankers' toadies" and advocating their "extermination".
The Social Credit Board's second round of bills included a rewritten version of the Credit of Alberta Regulation Act. The previous version had been disallowed partly on the basis that, under the British North America Act, 1867, banking was a responsibility of the federal government, and the government of Alberta therefore lacked the authority to regulate it. In an attempt to address this concern, the new version substituted the words "credit institutions" for "banks". The Social Credit Board's proposals also included the Bank Taxation Act, which imposed extremely high taxes on banks operating in Alberta, and the Accurate News and Information Act , which severely restricted freedom of the press. All of these bills were passed by the legislature.Bowen, not wishing to have more laws to which he had assented disallowed, reserved assent from all three until the Supreme Court of Canada could comment on their constitutional validity. It did so in 1938's Reference re Alberta Statutes, which found all three to be unconstitutional. The Social Credit Board's major initiatives had failed.
World War II further reduced the Social Credit Board's importance, as implementation of social credit took a backseat to the war effort. Instead of proposing new policy, the board devoted itself to propaganda;its members spoke across the province about social credit, and it distributed vast numbers of pamphlets and leaflets (272,900 in 1939). When Aberhart died in 1943, he was replaced by Ernest Manning, who was by this time considerably less open to radical social credit proposals than Aberhart had been. He soon transferred many of the Social Credit Board's responsibilities to the new department of Economic Affairs, of which L. D. Byrne was the deputy minister.
Byrne, the remaining Douglas lieutenant after Powell's deportation, shared both Douglas's economic theories and his antisemitism.Under his influence, the Social Credit Board began to propagate anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, including those espoused by the Russian forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion . Its 1943 report alleged "a plot, world-wide in scope, deliberately engineered by a small number of ruthless international financiers", most of whom were Jewish. Its 1947 report repeated these allegations, and also proposed a new voting system in which voters would state their choices publicly, and be taxed only for those government programs they supported during the election. Political parties were to be abolished in favour of "leagues of electors", and all farmland was to be appropriated by the government. Manning, benignly neglectful of the Social Credit Board to this point, took this as "a direct challenge to his leadership, a shot across the bow". He quickly introduced a resolution in the legislature to "condemn, repudiate, and completely dissociate" the legislature from "any statements or publications which are incompatible with the established British ideals of democratic freedom, or which endorse, excuse, or incite anti-Semitism or racial or religious intolerance in any form". In November 1947 he announced that the Social Credit Board would cease to exist effective March 1948, and in February 1948 he asked for and received Byrne's resignation as deputy minister of Economic Affairs.
Despite its beginnings as a vehicle of intended economic revolution, the board achieved nothing of lasting importance. Once its early efforts were foiled by the federal government and the courts, it ceased to have much influence. By 1948, the dire conditions that had sparked Albertans' enthusiasm for radical economic reform had vanished, and with it their interest in social credit.While the Social Crediters remained in government until 1971, the revolutionary spirit of the 1930s was all but forgotten: as Athabasca University historian Alvin Finkel notes, post-war Social Credit "had been transformed from a mass, eclectic movement for social reform led by monetary reformers to a relatively small government party that enjoyed considerable support from various sectors of the Alberta population for its judicious combination of right-wing rhetoric and social service and road-building programs." The Social Credit Board, with its reform mandate and its direct pipeline to Douglas, was no longer needed.
William Aberhart, also known as "Bible Bill" for his outspoken Baptist views, was a Canadian politician and the seventh Premier of Alberta. He was the founder and first leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party, which believed the Great Depression was caused by ordinary people not having enough to spend. Therefore, Aberhart argued that the government should give each Albertan $25 per month to spend to stimulate the economy, by providing needed purchasing power to allow needy customers to buy from waiting businesses.
Richard Gavin "Dick" Reid was a Canadian politician who served as the sixth premier of Alberta from 1934 to 1935. He was the last member of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) to hold the office, and that party's defeat at the hands of the upstart Social Credit League in the 1935 election made him the shortest serving premier to that point in Alberta's history.
The Canadian social credit movement is a Canadian political movement originally based on the Social Credit theory of Major C. H. Douglas. Its supporters were colloquially known as Socreds in English and créditistes in French. It gained popularity and its own political party in the 1930s, as a result of the Great Depression.
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Reference Re Alberta Statutes, also known as the Alberta Press case and the Alberta Press Act Reference, is a landmark reference of the Supreme Court of Canada where several provincial laws, including one restricting the press, were struck down and the existence of an implied bill of rights protecting civil liberties such as a free press was first proposed.
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Herbert Joseph Ash was a provincial level politician from Alberta, Canada. He served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1935 to 1940. Ash served as a member of the Governing Social Credit caucus, and later as an Independent Social Credit member while representing the electoral district of Olds.
John William Hugill was a Canadian lawyer and politician who served as Attorney General of the province of Alberta from 1935 until 1937. Born in England, he came to Canada and studied law before setting up a practice in Calgary. He became a prominent resident of that city, and served two years on its city council. In the early 1930s, he was one of the few prominent and respectable Calgarians to support William Aberhart's Social Credit League. He ran as a candidate for it in the 1935 provincial election and, when it won, was named Attorney General by Aberhart.
A caucus revolt occurs when enough members of a political party pressure its leadership to step down or to remove planned bills, legislation or policies from its platform. A caucus revolt generally concludes with the party leader resigning their position as such a revolt is usually seen to show poor leadership skills. Often the mere appearance of a revolt in the caucus maybe enough to force a leader to step down.
John Farquhar Lymburn was a Canadian politician who served as Attorney-General of Alberta from 1926 until 1935. Born and educated in Scotland, he came to Canada in 1911 and practiced law in Edmonton. In 1925, John Edward Brownlee became Premier of Alberta, and sought a lawyer without partisan affiliation to succeed him as attorney-general. Lymburn accepted the position, and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in the 1926 election. As attorney-general, Lymburn took part in negotiations between the Alberta and federal governments over natural resource rights, prepared Alberta's submission in the Persons case, and played a minor role in the sex scandal that forced Brownlee from office. In the 1935 provincial election, Lymburn and all other United Farmers of Alberta candidates were defeated, as William Aberhart led the Social Credit League to victory. Lymburn made an unsuccessful attempt to return to the legislature in 1942, and briefly returned to prominence during the Bankers' Toadies incident, before dying in 1969.
Edith Blanche Rogers was a Canadian politician who served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1935 until 1940. Born in Nova Scotia, she came west to Alberta to accept a job as a teacher. She later moved to Calgary where she encountered evangelist William Aberhart and became a convert to his social credit economic theories. After advocating these theories across the province, she was elected in the 1935 provincial election as a candidate of Aberhart's newly formed Social Credit League.
The 1937 Social Credit backbenchers' revolt took place from March to June 1937 in the Canadian province of Alberta. It was a rebellion against Premier William Aberhart by a group of backbench members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from his Social Credit League. The dissidents were unhappy with Aberhart's failure to provide Albertans with C$25 monthly dividends through social credit as he had promised before his 1935 election. When the government's 1937 budget made no move to implement the dividends, many MLAs revolted openly and threatened to defeat the government in a confidence vote.
The Accurate News and Information Act was a statute passed by the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Canada, in 1937, at the instigation of William Aberhart's Social Credit government. It would have required newspapers to print "clarifications" of stories that a committee of Social Credit legislators deemed inaccurate, and to reveal their sources on demand.
The Bankers' Toadies incident occurred in 1937 in Alberta, Canada when a pamphlet advocating the "extermination" of nine men identified as "Bankers' Toadies" was distributed to Alberta MLAs. The men were opponents of the Social Credit government of Premier William Aberhart, which had been elected on a promise of giving Albertans monthly dividends; Aberhart blamed the banking system for his failure to follow through on this pledge.
The following is a bibliography of Alberta history.
Glenville Lawrence MacLachlan was a provincial politician from Alberta, Canada. He served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1935 to 1940, sitting with the Social Credit caucus in government. MacLachlan was one of the leaders of the 1937 Social Credit backbenchers' revolt and became chairman of the Social Credit Board, a body created as a result of the revolt, that had the purpose of overseeing the implementation of social credit economic theory in Alberta. In 1940, the Social Credit Association denied him the right to run as a party candidate in that year's election.