[Article] Policy autism or double-edged dismissiveness? by Peter Christoff

By Peter Christoff

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Territorial Government to Social Credit, 1888-1935 The achievement of provincial status in 1905 was the culmination of twenty years of territorial political struggle. Until 1888, the Northwest Territories were governed by the Lieutenant Governor and a territorial council comprising both elected and appointed members. G. Haultain, a recent British immigrant to the Territories, was elected to the council. His was a consistent voice demanding responsible government from Ottawa and he rapidly emerged as the council's leader.

PAL of thirty-one and married, moved with his family to Calgary where he had been offered a teaching position. Within a year he was given a principalship, and in 1915 he became principal of the newly organized Crescent Heights High School in Calgary. He remained principal there until becoming premier in 1935. 36 His intellectual style was inflexible, given to rote learning with a strong dose of authoritarianism. He could also be a great raconteur and social companion, and his religious preaching honed his flair for story telling and public speaking.

44 Moreover, Aberhart had promised to implement the Social Credit platform within eighteen months of being elected, only to discover on taking office that the province was on the verge of bankruptcy. Aberhart had been repudiated by the Douglas organization in London before the 1935 election, and after it Douglas refused Aberhart's urgent pleas for specific advice on the implementation of social credit in Alberta. Patience among his more ideological followers was wearing thin by 1937, and in the face of a party revolt Aberhart agreed to pass the Alberta Social Credit Act.

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