British Columbia Social Credit Party

From Academic Kids

The British Columbia Social Credit Party, whose members are known as Socreds, was the governing political party of British Columbia for more than 30 years between the 1952 provincial election and the 1991 election, although there was a break between the 1972 and 1975 elections when the New Democratic Party of British Columbia was in power.

The party won the largest number of seats in the 1952 provincial election under the interim leadership of a Reverend Haskell, who was brought in from Alberta to lead the party. The 19 newly elected Social Credit Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) chose former BC Conservative MLA W.A.C. Bennett to lead the new government over Philip Gagliardi.

Although the party was ostensibly the British Columbia wing of the Canadian social credit movement, Bennett cast aside the party's social credit ideology in favour of a mixture of populism and conservatism. It became a political vehicle to unite opponents of the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, and to keep the CCF and its successor, the New Democratic Party (NDP), out of power. Bennett's Socreds took power in 1952, forming a minority government and, after changing the electoral system, swept to a majority the next year, staying in power until 1972. Bennett's party encouraged development of the economy through megaprojects and highway construction.

Despite being a free enterprise party, the Bennett government formed BC Hydro in 1961 by nationalizing the province's largest private hydroelectric concern to make sure that it could not oppose the government's hydroelectric dam construction program. It also formed the BC Ferries in 1958, and established the Bank of British Columbia, which was 25% owned by the provincial government.

Following the party's defeat in the 1972 election by the NDP, "Wacky" Bennett's son, William R. Bennett, took over the leadership of the party, and modernized it, putting populism behind and becoming an uneasy coalition of federal Liberals, Christian conservatives from the province's Bible Belt, and fiscal conservatives from the corporate sector with the latter firmly in control. On its treturn to power in the 1975 election, the party, for the most part, eschewed the megaprojects of the elder Bennett (with the exception of Expo 86 and the Coquihalla Highway), and embraced a fiscally conservative program.

As a result, the party built up a small political engine that managed to win the 1983 election, in spite of Bennett's controversial "Restraint" program. This was nicknamed the "Baby Blue Machine", and consisted of political advisors primarily imported from the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. It never became a major political apparatus like the Big Blue Machine in Ontario did, as Bennett decided to retire in 1986.

All Socred governments attempted to curb the power of trade unions and also limited social welfare spending.

Under Bennett's successor, Bill Vander Zalm, control of the party shifted from urban fiscal conservatives to social conservatives, causing the coalition to unravel. This process was exacerbated by Vander Zalm's eccentricity, and the constant scandals that plagued his government. As well, Vander Zalm allowed his principal secretary, David Poole, to amass a substantial amount of power, despite being unelected.

Contents

1 Party leaders
2 Electoral results
3 External links
4 See also

Decline

Social Credit was defeated in the 1991 election, and an NDP government was formed. Moderate former Socred voters had switched their support to the British Columbia Liberal Party, relegating the Socreds to third place, with only seven seats. Vander Zalm's successor as premier, Rita Johnston, failed to win her own seat, and resigned as leader of the party. More party infighting occurred as Grace McCarthy was elected to replace her.

Following its 1991 election defeat, the party sank into obscurity as most of its remaining members joined the socially conservative Reform Party or Unity Party. The Social Credit Party helped found the Unity Party, but left due to dissatisfaction with the way the party was run.

In the 1996 provincial election, Social Credit lost all of its remaining seats in the legislature, and received only 0.4% of the vote. At this point, the party was largely considered a dead force in BC politics

After 1996, the party continued to technically exist, but was essentially a fringe party, similar in status to the Marijuana Party. Largely ignored, it was not taken seriously by voters at large, the media, or even most past Socred members or politicians.

In the 2001 provincial election, the party only ran two candidates. Grant Mitton achieved some success in Peace River South, placing second with 1,726 votes (17.4%). He subsequently left to become leader of the British Columbia Party. The other candidate, Carrol Barbara Woolsey, in Vancouver-Hastings, placed 5th of 6 candidates with 222 votes (1.15% of the total).

In the 2005 election, the party nominated two candidates: Woolsey, who won 254 votes (1.28% of the total in Vancouver-Hastings, and Anthony Yao, who won 225 votes (0.95% of the total) in Port Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.

Party leaders

Eric Buckley left Social Credit in October 2000 to join the British Columbia Party. The position of party leader has been vacant since that time.

* = also served as Premier of British Columbia

Electoral results

In the 1937 election, the British Columbia Social Credit League endorsed candidates, but none were elected.

# of candidates Seats Popular Vote %
18 0 4,812 1.15%

In the 1941 election, no candidates ran under the social credit banner.

In the 1945 election, an alliance of social credit groups nominated candidates. None were elected.

# of candidates Seats Popular Vote %
16 0 6,627 1.42%

In the 1949 election, three different social credit groups nominated candidates. None were successful.

Name of Party # of candidates Seats Popular Vote %
Social Credit Party 7 0 8,464 1.21%
Social Credit League 9 0 3,072 0.44%
Union of Electors 12 0 2,790 0.40%
Total of social credit groups 28 0 14,326 2.05%

In subsequent elections, only the Social Credit Party of British Columbia emerged as the only social credit party, although it quickly abandoned social credit theories.

Election Party Leader # of candidates Seats Popular Vote Final round (1952-53 only)
Previous After % Change # % Change # %
1952 Rev. Haskell 47 0 19 - 209,049 27.20% +25.99% 203,932 30.18%
1953 W.A.C. Bennett 48 0 28 - 274,771 37.75% +10.55% 300,372 45.54%
1956 W.A.C. Bennett 52 28 39 39.3% 374,711 45.84% +8.09%
1960 W.A.C. Bennett 52 39 32 -17.9% 386,886 38.83% -7.01%
1963 W.A.C. Bennett 52 32 33 +3.1% 395,079 40.83% +2.00%
1966 W.A.C. Bennett 55 33 33 - 342,751 45.59% +4.76%
1969 W.A.C. Bennett 55 33 38 +15.2% 457,777 46.79% +1.20%
1972 W.A.C. Bennett 55 38 10 -73.7% 352,776 31.16% -15.63%
1975 Bill Bennett 55 10 35 +250% 635,482 49.25% +18.09%
1979 Bill Bennett 57 35 31 -11.4% 677,607 48.23% -1.02%
1983 Bill Bennett 57 31 35 +12.9% 820,807 49.76% +1.53%
1986 Bill Vander Zalm 69 35 47 +34.3% 954,516 49.32% -0.44%
1991 Rita Johnston 74 47 7 -85.1% 351,660 24.05% -25.27%
1996 Larry Gillanders 38 7 - -100% 6,276 0.40% -23.65%
2001 (vacant) 2 - - - 1,948 0.12% -0.27%
2005 (vacant) 2 - - - 479 0.02% -0.10%

External links

See also

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