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The Government of Alberta

Seven Persons - Once Hundred Sixty Acres and a Dream

Chapter 36

The United Farmers of Alberta became a political party. In 1921 it contested a provincial election and elected thirty-nine members of a sixty-one seat legislature. When it went into power it was Canada's first farmer-party-controlled provincial government. Herbert Greenfield was its premier and J. E. Brownlee its Attorney General.

In July of 1921 crop prospects in western Canada and especially in Alberta were encouraging. It was thought that sixty thousand men should be brought out from the east to assist in the harvest. They were charged a cent a mile. Unfortunately the crop did not measure up to expectations and not nearly so many men were needed.

By the nineteen thirties, Alberta, and indeed all of Canada, was in a depression. There was no money anywhere. Prices for farm and manufactured products became so low workers could not exist on them. Mr. William Aberhart, a high school principal and a preacher of the Bible Institute, saw the seriousness of the situation and he devised a plan. He said, "In a province, such as Alberta, there should be food, money and work for everyone. Look at our province's wealth in land, minerals, gas and oil, and other potentials. Each citizen owns this. It is his right to receive a dividend."

In 1935 the Social Credit Movement was drawn up.
1. Basic dividends of $25 per month must be given to every adult citizen to buy
necessities of life: food, clothing and shelter.
2. Control of the monetary system must be taken away from the small privileged
group of bankers and financiers and returned to the common people.
3. Prices must be controlled to stop inflation.
4. The government must assist in marketing agricultural and dairy products.
5. Government departments must be re-organized to reduce waste and inefficiency.

The bait was good. In the 1935 Provincial Election the Social Credit Party defeated the United Farmers of Alberta Party by a "Smashing" majority. Although cheques of twenty-five dollars were not given out, economic times did improve. In fact at one time each adult citizen did receive a bonus of twenty dollars and at another time a bonus of seventeen dollars.

This Prosperity Certificate is of interest. These dollar bills were put out as legal tender. The owner of each would be obliged to put a one cent stamp on the back in the designated place. This was an incentive to spend this bill and so keep it circulating. When the bill was filled with stamps it was called back to the government. It had done a dollars worth of business and paid for itself.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup