If the German industrial and financial sector was worried about the success of Adolf Hitler, their Canadian counter parts were just as concerned with the election of William Aberhart.
In Alberta it was freely predicted that Messiah Aberhart will never be able to make Social Credit work unless he makes himself a Dictator. Canadian jurists meanwhile believed that Social Credit as proposed in the Province of Alberta is contrary to the North America Act" which is the fundamental law of Canada's Constitution. Being unconstitutional it should present the Government of Alberta with insuperable problems leading to a stalemate. Last week this thought kept holders of Alberta bonds from dumping them overboard. All Canada's great banks and nationally spread industries held emergency directors' meetings. Rich Albertans, as soon as election returns were known, began rapidly transferring their funds from the province to Montreal and Toronto. (1)He was proposing controversial changes to the way that Alberta did business, so reaction to the Social Credit victory was mixed.
The St. Catherines Standard claimed that, "The whole thing is a chimera, a nightmare that passeth all understanding."'
The Montreal Star reported:
They have voted for an untried man and a policy whose workings he ostentatiously refused to explain before polling day. He was reported as saying that it was not necessary for the electorate to understand electricity and yet they turned it on. Thus they could turn on his social credit scheme, and he would guarantee that the light would come.And even the religious fundamentalists were not entirely thrilled:
So they took his word and turned it on. They are in frame of mind to try anything once. It is a dangerous frame of mind, but it is a mental condition that our public men may well heed
The Toronto-based Pentecostal Testimony wrote: "Personally, we question whether the movement, however commendable, can ever attain its ends. We are rather inclined to believe conditions now extant are indicative of the end times... and we feel that only the Millennium can bring about a reign of justice and equity. (2)
And international papers were just as critical:The Philadelphia Record remarked: "The Alberta experiment ought to settle finally whether the Social Credit theory is economic hogwash, or something smarter and more genuine than most people suspect", and the Boston Herald: "Alberta goes crazy", while the Chicago Daily Tribune simply asked: "Greetings to the Canadians. Who's loony now?"
Time magazine ran a full story, suggesting that his success came about because of the $ 25.00 a month he promised to every "legitimate" citizen of Alberta.
Chapter Twenty Continued: Father Charles Coughlin
Canadians boast the greatest per capita wealth in the world, $3,148. Even more blessed is the Province of Alberta, with $3,518 per head. Yet Depression has hit Alberta hard. For years its breezy, two-fisted, hospitable citizens have been feeling poorer & poorer. Galavanting to the polls last week, they raised merry Empire hell by turning over their province to a Bible-babbling high-school principal who promises to crack open Alberta's frozen wealth and pay dividend" of every at bona least fide $25. citizen a "monthly dividend" of at least $25.
... When returns began to trickle in, when Montreal's rock-ribbed conservative Place d'Armes — Canada's financial centre — learned that 57 of the 63 seats in Alberta's Legislature had been won by henchmen of Social Crediteer Aberhart their astonishment was as vast as their dismay. Only a very few Canadian tycoons took a calmer off-the-record view. Sniffed one: "Social credit is interesting and the sooner it fails in Alberta the bigger the lesson to the world will be."
Social Credit Is What? Few Alberta voters seemed to know much about Social Credit last week, merely having faith in Messiah Aberhart's assurances that it is not Communist, does not seek to abolish private property or Capitalism and is a positive sock at "The Bankers."
After pious rejoicing at the Prophetic Bible Institute and devout singing of Our God, Our Help in Ages Past, Messiah Aberhart announced that he was ready to accept the call to be Alberta's Premier, declared: "It has been a revolution not of bullets but of ballots!"
Hoboes and roustabouts, who might think they can get $25 in hard cash dividends per month by trekking into Alberta, were served notice that the dividend will only be paid to bona fide adult Albertans of some years standing, and then not in cash but in credit. Unemployed Albertans who refuse to work will receive no dividends.
An economic pontiff, William Aberhart makes his followers sign pledges that they accept Social Credit "on faith," forbids them to debate or argue its merits.
"They say what we propose to do is unconstitutional!" he snorted. "Just because an old paper was signed in the past doesn't say we can't do this. The British North America Act is a fool act. We can do what we want! . . . Social Credit is spreading like the measles." (1)
1. Messiah, Major, Money, Time Magazine, September 02, 1935
2. Bible Bill: A Biography of William Aberhart, By: David R. Elliot and Iris Miller, Edmonton: Reidmore Books, 1987, Pg. 202