Premier of Alberta 1943-1968
Many thanks to AFHS member and volunteer, Heather Jaremko,
who provided the typescript of this page and obtained the permission
of the Calgary Herald
to reprint this work in the AFHS website. This work is based on
reports in the Calgary Herald between 1929 and 1939.
We will be pleased to hear from anyone who descends from
Ernest Manning and can fill us in on the family history of this
Alberta leader. Please contact the AFHS to start this dialogue
In 1943 William Aberhart died, and
was succeeded by Ernest Manning, who was to be premier for some
Alberta's Social Credit government ruled serenely through the 50s,
as it had through the 40s and would through the 60s. Premier Ernest
Manning had a mild setback in 1955, when he was reduced to 37 out
of 67 seats in the Legislature while the Liberals won 15. However,
Manning came back handsomely in 1959, winning 61 seats.
In the 15 years following the second world war, Social Credit reached
the middle of its long reign in Alberta. Under Premier Ernest Manning,
William Aberhart's economic dogma and bitter strife with Ottawa
were replaced by quiet, conservative government. Perhaps out of
nostalgia for Aberhart's $25.00-a-month "dividend" (never
paid), for a short time every adult Albertan was given $20.00 a
year out of the province's new oil wealth. Some accusations of wrong-doing
were lodged against the government, but they came to very little.
Social Credit continued to win substantial majorities. Even by the
standards of Alberta Politics, it was quite a time.
Alberta has been extraordinarily well-served by Hon. Ernest Manning.
It will miss his firm hand on the provincial tiller when he turns
over the office of premier to a successor yet to be named in December
Mr. Manning has been a member of the Social Credit government since
it first took office thirty-three years age. He was chief lieutenant
to the party founder William Aberhart during the early years and
succeeded Mr. Aberhart to the premiership in 1943.
The early years of Social Credit government in Alberta were concerned
largely with ineffectual efforts to make an unorthodox brand of
economics work on the provincial level. As depression and large-scale
unemployment faded out with the onset of the Second World War, Social
Credit theories faded out with them. Following Mr. Manning's accession
to the leadership, party decisions were ironed out and the government
settled down to the task of orthodox administration of provincial
Mr. Manning manoeuvred skillfully between the demands of commercial
oil interests and the rights of the people of Alberta which he held
in trusteeship. It is fair to say that the interests of both sides
have been well looked after. Today, as a result of this kind of
management Alberta is considered to be one of Canada's three most
Naturally, not all of the policies which Mr. Manning's governments
have introduced in the past quarter century have won total acclaim.
There have been marked differences in viewpoint regarding priorities
for expenditure of provincial revenues which have been set from
time to time in Edmonton.
The Social Credit government has failed to keep step with the times
and given urban populations their fair share of representation in
the Legislature, despite the shifts in population which have been
occurring. It has maintained old-fashioned complexes in the face
of altering social concepts in such spheres as liquor consumption,
blue laws and censorship. It has maintained an observable sense
of authoritarianism which, at times, has seemed scarcely indistinguishable
from the outmoded concept of divine right.
Premier Manning has never seemed to understand the functions, duties
and obligations of a free press. He has been notably sensitive to
criticism. He has considered opposition parties as being obstructive
and a hindrance to governmental administration when, in reality,
they are an essential element in government of the people, by the
people and for the people.
Small oppositions in Legislature by no means betoken overpowering
popular support for the government at election time. Mr. Manning,
an extraordinarily capable politician, has never ignored this and
it has doubtless served to keep his governments from lapsing into
the apathy and decay typical of most one-party regimes.
Alberta will not seem the same without him.