Now I was under the impression that the Social Credit Party had gone out of action years ago, but a weekend trip back to my hometown of Stettler proves this theory wrong. I saw Party posters on two homes and can’t say for sure just how much support it has there but, as usual, Stettler has surprised me (on two counts, specifically: with the existence of a political movement that is not exactly right wing and with the fact that its recycling facilities have actually diminished in the last four or five years).
For those of us who reached adulthood after 1971, Social Credit is the political party that governed Alberta for 36 years beginning in 1935. Claiming affiliation with neither right- nor left-wing policies, this group concentrated on local ownership and the creation of the Alberta Credit Union so that Albertans had access to low-interest loans. The Party was promoted by Calgary’s Christian pastor William Aberhart during the Depression, as the ideology appealed to a failing economy. Aberhart believed in the Social Credit Party as he agreed with their idea that each citizen had the right to a part of the wealth he helped produce. Instead of detached federal governments or economies controlled by hugely successful companies, Social Credit wanted to make the provincial monetary system work in benefit of its own people.
It’s an idea that has openly been promoted by left-wing parties for a long time, but the obvious difference between Social Credit and the New Democratic Party is the former’s basis on Christian principles. This must also be the reason an otherwise socialist-sounding idea has been picked up in the heart of Christian conservative country. Following the death of the Party’s first leader Aberhart in 1943, Ernest Manning took up the position and tried to rid the organization of its inherent anti-Jewish theories, and also worked to rid the province of its overwhelming debt with the discovery of significant oil reserves. After a strong run, the Party was defeated in 1971 by the Progressive Conservatives and in the 1980s joined together with other fringe parties to form the Alberta Political Alliance, a party which in turn soon dissolved.
You see why I had assumed Social Credit dead and gone? Well a few diehards have apparently refused to quit, and under the leadership of Lavern Ahlstrom they’re congregating on the 31st of March to talk about ending ?poverty in the midst of plenty?(1). If they’re talking about those run-down houses on the market priced for more money than ever, or the fact that the only jobs you can get in much of Alberta are minimum wage yet we are still said to be the richest province in the country, all I can say is It’s about time someone mentioned it.
1) Alberta Social Credit Party website. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.socialcredit.com/index.php