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The 1935 Alberta Experiment

Written by Alain Pilote on Sunday, 01 August 2021. Posted in Canada

Some people may have thought — and others may still think it today — that promoting a "Social Credit party" is the best way to promote Social Credit, but C.H. Douglas and Louis Even thought the exact opposite.

As Douglas and Louis Even pointed out, the creation of a "Social Credit Party" was even a nuisance, and only prevented the establishment of genuine Social Credit. For example, as soon as one uses the words "Social Credit" to label a political party, the minds of people from other parties become closed and cease studying Social Credit principles, since they will consider it only as another of the opposing political parties.

Real democracy requires that elected representatives express the will of their constituents. In that case, the aim is not to create new parties, and divide people further, but to unite the people with common objectives, and then pressure the government to implement these objectives. MICHAEL advocates this method of applying pressure to the political process.

In a speech given to Social Crediters on March 7, 1936, Clifford Hugh Douglas stated that a Social Credit party should not exist as it was a "profound misconception". Douglas added:

"If you elect a Social Credit party... it would be to elect a set of amateurs to direct a set of very competent professionals. The professionals, I may tell you, would see that the amateurs got the blame for everything that was done."

This is what happened in Alberta in the 1930s. Douglas wrote in 1937 an interesting book on that subject entitled The Alberta Experiment, from which the following information is taken.

The Alberta Experiment

William Aberhart was the principal of a Calgary high school who commanded a province wide audience with a book on Social Credit, and impressed by this new "light", preached the "gospel" of Social Credit on his radio program and mobilized support for its principles. Hundreds of study groups soon emerged across the province, and a majority of Albertans supported Social Credit.

The "United Farmers" party, in political power at the time in Alberta, were interested in Social Credit but believed it could only be implemented on a national, rather than on a provincial, level.

Notice, as long as Aberhart's movement was limited to educating the people, all was well, much like the education movement launched by Louis Even around the same time in Quebec. Even, just like Aberhart, had come across a book explaining Douglas Social Credit, and stated, "It's a light on my path, everyone needs to know it." Unfortunately, things turned sour in Alberta when Aberhart's education movement morphed into a political party.

Aberhart disagreed with the United Farmers, and presented Social Credit candidates in the 1935 election, and won 56 of the 63 seats in the provincial legislature. In the 1935 election, Aberhart did not even run as a candidate. The newly-elected "social credit" members, claiming the presence of their teacher, one of them resigned to make way for him, and Aberhart had to take the office of prime minister, with the state coffers empty and civil servants awaiting their pay, not to mention the creditors of the public debt.

All these 56 "social credit" MLAs were new to politics, and formed, to use Douglas'expression, a "group of amateurs" who were no match for the Financiers, falling into their trap and committing several errors which could have been avoided, had they followed Douglas's advice.

For example, when Aberhart took office, rather than listening to Douglas'advice, he went to Ottawa seeking financial credits to implement Social Credit. The federal government provided instead an economic adviser, Mr. Robert Magor, whose apparent objective was to undermine Social Credit. Measures were adopted that were the opposite of Social Credit principles. Douglas described what occurred as "a policy of capitulation to orthodox finance. Almost every mistake of strategy which could be made in Alberta had been made."

It must be noted that although Aberhart was sincere, he had little knowledge of Social Credit and did not understand its technical basis. This often led him to simplify and thus distort Douglas'ideas. In the following years, fifteen Social Credit bills were successfully passed by the Alberta government, but were all vetoed by the federal government or ruled unconstitutional by Canada's Supreme Court.

The problem was that money and banking are under federal jurisdiction, according to the Canadian Constitution. Douglas explained to Aberhart that Alberta could overcome this difficulty by establishing a provincial credit system of its own as the Constitution granted the right to "raise loans upon the sole credit of the province." As Louis Even explained, money is based on the country's production, made by labor and natural resources, both under provincial jurisdiction, according to the same Canadian constitution.

Douglas wrote in The Social Crediter on September 11, 1948: "When Mr. Aberhart won his first electoral victory in 1935, all he did was to recruit an army for a war [against the monopoly of credit]. That war has never been fought."

Aberhart had learned from his mistakes during his first years in office and was ready, after World War II, to take up the fight again, but he died in May of 1943 (under suspicious circumstances; several spoke of poisoning following an official dinner).

His successor, Ernest Manning, declared, in 1947, that his government would no longer attempt to implement Social Credit in Alberta. Incidentally, after retiring from politics, Ernest Manning accepted a position on the Board of Directors of a bank, and was appointed a senator by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

So those who say that "Social Credit is that failed'funny money'scheme tried in Alberta" are incorrect. Social Credit did not fail in Alberta, for the simple reason that it was never tried. All attempts to implement Social Credit policies were opposed and defeated by a centralized power. Douglas said that if Social Credit was absurd and without value as an effective answer to the Great Depression, that the best way to have this demonstrated would have been allowing the government of Alberta to implement Social Credit policy. But it seemed that the credit monopolists feared that even a partial implementation of Social Credit would prove so successful that every effort had to be made to prevent it.

We firmly believe that the Social Credit principles will be, when implemented, a very efficient way to eliminate poverty. However, the only effective way to have the Social Credit proposals applied by governments is not to promote new parties, especially those called "social credit", but to make the Social Credit principles known among the population, in order to create public pressure that will be strong enough to get the government — of any party in power — to issue its own currency, without debt, and to implement the principles of real Douglas social credit... and thus fight the false "social credit" of Communist China.

About the Author

Alain Pilote

Alain Pilote

Alain Pilote has been the editor of the English edition of MICHAEL for several years. Twice a year we organize a week of study of the social doctrine of the Church and its application and Mr. Pilote is the instructor during these sessions.


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