The "Social Credit" Party, under the leadership of Premier E. C. Manning, was returned to office in Alberta last month. Both supporters AND opponents of the Government claim victory! Therefore, perhaps this is the time and place for a few facts and observations.
FACT NUMBER 1: The “Social Credit”. Party received nearly 50 percent of the total votes cast, while all other parties among them received just over 50 percent.
FACT NUMBER 2: The "Social Credit representation in the Legislature was reduced from over 50 to less than 40, while the opposition — mostly Liberal — was increased from about 10 to over 20.
FACT NUMBER 3: Alberta uses a transferable vote or "proportional representation" system, under which the elector expresses his second, third, etc., order of preference. A number of Social Credit candidates who received more first choice votes than their opponents, were defeated when the second and third choices of those voting number one for other parties were distributed. For instance, it would seem that CCF electors were giving substantial second-choice support to Liberal candidates.
FACT NUMBER 4: Under the voting system used in Ontario, Quebec, and most other provinces, the Manning Government would have been returned with a landslide comparable to the Frost victory in Ontario earlier this summer.
OBSERVATION NUMBER 1: Inasmuch as the electoral support was slightly down for the "Social Credit" Party, and up for the Liberals, and the "Social Credit" representation was reduced while the opposition was increased, it was a limited victory for the opposition.
It could only be described as a victory by "Social Credit" Party adherents in the sense that their administration will hold the reigns of office for another term.
OBSERVATION NUMBER 2: Going back to the early days of the Social Credit Movement in Alberta, the late William Aberhart's administration waged a resolute battle against the international financial octopus and against the surrender of provincial sovereignty and centralization of power in Ottawa.
Following Mr. Aberhart's passing, Mr. Manning assumed leadership, and shortly thereafter the Social Credit Movement began a reorientation along strictly "party" lines. Those who advocated a genuine Social Credit policy, which included identifying and exposing international finance and its ramifications, were purged; and the fight to gain control of their own credit and institute Social Credit proposals within the province was dropped, and as a substitute the Party adopted the slogan of "On To Ottawa."
OBSERVATION NUMBER 3: The "platform" of the Alberta Government became, in the main, “Good Government." And with unprecedented revenues pouring into provincial coffers from oil development, increased social services became feasible without raising the level of taxation. Actually, all provincial royalties collected on oil extracted from the ground are a TAX paid by the consumer. But inasmuch as a large percent of the oil is consumed outside Alberta, it is a tax paid by those outside the province to the Alberta treasury. A most fortunate situation — for Albertans.
In these circustances, the appearance of "good government" was not too difficult to maintain. And the Manning administration has, without doubt, done a creditable job of administration..
But "good government" — especially with nearly all the propaganda media in the hands of the enemy — is a flimsy base upon which to build a long-term policy. Because either an economic recession caused by a contraction of financial credit, or a few scandals resulting from human weakness, can be built up to make any government look "not so good."
It was a few questionable transactions, probably greatly exaggerated by the opposition and the press, which contributed most to the reduced electoral support for the "S. C." Party. And with electoral representation diminishing in Alberta itself, the party's "On To Ottawa" slogan takes on a hollow and sickly ring.
OBSERVATION NUMBER 4: Actually the policy of Social Credit was not even an issue in the Alberta election. But as the movement using that label, for the first time in 20 years was on the defensive in Alberta, it is significant to note the growing strength and influence of a dynamic Social Credit Movement in Eastern Canada, centred in Quebec Province. This Movement is non-"party," educational, is building from the grass-roots up with the philosophy and policy of Social Credit; it is pulling no punches and appeasing no non-Christian pressure group; and it has brilliant leadership and is permeated by a militant apostolic spirit. Indeed, the centre of gravity in Social Credit in Canada is shifting East.
If Premier Manning learns from this election the basic weakness of his "Good Government - On To Ottawa" policy, and turns to a genunine educational program, laying bare before the people the great conflict in the world today, stressing the philosophy and policy of Social Credit, and building responsible individuals instead of party machines, then in the end the result of this Alberta election might well be a real victory for Social Credit.