Canadian social credit movement

From Academic Kids

The Canadian social credit movement was a Canadian political movement originally based on the Social Credit theory of Major C. H. Douglas. Its supporters were colloquially known as Socreds. It reached its height of popularity in the 1930s, as a result of the Great Depression.


Federal Politics

The Social Credit Party of Canada was formed in 1935, taking many voters from the Progressive Party of Canada and the United Farmers movement. In the 1940 federal election, Socreds ran with supporters of William Duncan Herridge as New Democracy, but reverted to the Social Credit name in subsequent elections. The party was generally fairly small, and gradually declined.

In the 1960s, the Québécois wing of the party split off to form the Ralliement créditiste, and although the two wings reunited in 1971, the party was ultimately left without any parliamentary seats following the 1980 federal election, and thereafter declined into irrelevance.


The ideology was embraced by the Reverend "Bible Bill" William Aberhart, who formed the Alberta Social Credit League based on Douglas' ideology and conservative Christian social values. He was elected Premier of Alberta in the 1935 provincial election. His government was probably the only one in the world that adhered to the social credit ideology. In fact, he once tried to implement social credit by issuing "Prosperity Certificates" to Albertans, although this measure was disallowed by the Supreme Court of Canada on the basis that only the federal government of Canada was authorized to issue currency. Aberhart died in office, and was replaced by Ernest Manning, who discarded the theory and attempted to purge the party of anti-Semites, but kept the Social Credit name.

The Social Credit Party of Alberta formed nine consecutive majority governments spanning 36 years, one of the longest spans of a single party in government in Canadian history.

See: Social Credit Party of Alberta

British Columbia

The social credit movement in British Columbia was largely fractious, and made up of various small groups, the largest of which being the Social Credit League. The British Columbian movement was largely at odds with the Albertan wing, and sought to distance itself from William Aberhart's religious preaching.

The effective death of the movement came when W. A. C. Bennett was elected leader of the League in 1951. Bennett joined in order to use the party as a political vehicle, and was quick to dump the original ideology, and reorganize into the conservative populist British Columbia Social Credit Party.

Social Credit's first government in BC was a very small minority, but they were elected to a majority a year later. After the minority, and 20 years of majority government, the party was defeated by the New Democratic Party of British Columbia. The NDP served only one term in Government, before the Social Credit Party was returned to office for four more terms of majority government under W.A.C. Bennett's son, Bill Bennett. Bennett was succeeded by Bill Vander Zalm in 1986, but Vander Zalm was forced to resign in 1991 in favor of Rita Johnston.

The Social Credit government was defeated by the NDP in the 1991 election. The party effectively came to an end in the 1996 election when it failed to win a single seat in the legislature, and received only 0.4% of votes cast. Many of the party's mainstream members left to join the British Columbia Liberal Party, which emerged in the early 1990s as the new "free enterprise" coalition opposing the NDP.

However, a small Social Credit Party remains. It ran only two candidates in the 2001 election. The strongest candidate of the two, Grant Mitton, a former radio talk show host who received 17% of the vote in his riding, later left the party to form the British Columbia Party.

See: Social Credit Party of British Columbia


The movement also caught on in Quebec. It first nominated candidates under the New Democracy banner in the 1940 federal election, but none was elected. the movement was able to win a post World War II by-election under the Union des électeurs label, with Réal Caouette being sent to the Canadian House of Commons. He lost his seat in the 1949 federal election. Caouette founded Ralliement des créditistes in 1959. It achieved a major breakthrough in the 1962 federal election, and remained in the House of Commons under various names until 1980.

Social Credit was never able to form a provincial government in Quebec due to the near dominance of social conservative votes by the Union Nationale party from the 1930s into the 1960s. The Social Credit party, however, soon became a major contender in Quebec for seats to the federal parliament in the 1960s. Though B.C. and Alberta would elect a few Social credit MPs in that decade, it would be Quebec that maintained the party's national presence after 1962. Social Credit remained dominant in the other two provinces in provincial elections.

In the 1962 election, Social Credit won 26 of 75 seats in Quebec, beating the Progressive Conservatives. They continued to finish in second place in terms of federal seats from Quebec until their last MPs fell with the minority government of Joe Clark in 1980. The most Social Credit ever captured in terms of the Quebec popular vote was 27.3% federally, and 11.2% provincially.

The Quebec wing of the movement broke from the rest of the party in 1963 to form its own Quebec-only federal Social Credit party, the Ralliement des créditistes. As a social conservative party, the party generally attracted voters who supported of the Union Nationale in provincial elections.

The party formed a provincial wing in 1970, the Ralliement créditiste du Québec, which benefited as the UN declined after the death of Premier Daniel Johnson in 1968.

The growth of Quebec separatism stymied the rise of the provincial Créditistes. Although Parti Quebecois is a social democratic party, it drew nationalist voters away from the from the Créditistes.

In the 1970 Quebec election, the Liberals took 72 seats, followed by the Union Nationale with 17, and Ralliement créditiste du Québec with 12. The party was riven by internal dissent for the remainder of its history, capturing two seats in the 1973 election, and only one in the 1976 election, the last time a Créditiste was elected to the Quebec National Assembly.

There is also a religious group called the "Pilgrims of Saint Michael", based in Rougemont, Quebec, that promotes social credit monetary policy coupled with conservative Catholicism. The Pilgrims publish The Michael Journal in English and Vers Demain in French. The group was founded by Louis Even and Gilberte Côté-Mercier in 1939, and is nicknamed "the White Berets" for the headgear worn by members.

Even and Mercier also founded the Union des électeurs in 1939 from which Réal Caouette split on May 4, 1958 to form Ralliement des créditistes du Canada as the Quebec wing of the Social Credit Party of Canada with himself as leader.

See: Ralliement des créditistes and Ralliement créditiste du Québec

New Brunswick

While Social Credit never won any seats in the New Brunswick Legislature, it won 3.1% of the vote in 1948.


In Manitoba, the party was able to win a few seats in the Legislature, and was the third party in each at various times. From 1936 to 1940, the party supported John Bracken's minority government, and in 1940 it joined Bracken's coalition government.

Of the ten elections from 1936-1973, the party won seats in seven. In the 1936 provincial election, Social Credit finished third, and in the 1941 provincial election, it tied for third. However, Social Credit never won more than 14% of the popular vote.

See: Manitoba Social Credit Party


In Saskatchewan, Social Credit won seats in the Legislature in two elections - 2 seats in the 1938 election, and 3 in the 1956 election. In 1956, the party held third party status. Social Credit was never able to win more 16% of the popular vote.

See: Social Credit Party of Saskatchewan


See: Social Credit Party of Ontario

Other parties

Other political parties have also promoted social credit principles including John C. Turmel's Christian Credit Party and Abolitionist Party of Canada, and the short-lived Canada Party. The Global Party of Canada also appears to promote social credit economic policies.

The Canadian Action Party has monetary reform policies in its platform, but is not considered to be a social credit party.

See also

External link


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools