Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
British Columbia Social Credit Party
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.
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.
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).
There is always talk that the remnants of the party may decide to "merge" with another party, although this would likely be of little practical relevance at this point.
- Reverend Haskell (1951 - 1952 ?)
- W. A. C. Bennett (July 15, 1952-November 24, 1973) *
- William R. Bennett (November 24, 1973-July 30, 1986) *
- William Vander Zalm (July 30, 1986-April 1, 1991) *
- Rita Johnston (April 2, 1991-March 7, 1992) *
- Jack Weisgerber (interim) (March 7, 1992-November 6, 1993)
- Grace McCarthy (November 6, 1993-1994)
- Cliff Serwa (interim) (1994)
- Larry Gillanders (November 4, 1994-May 24, 1996)
- Ken Endean (interim) (1996)
- Eric Buckley (1996-October 2000)
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
In the 1937 election, the British Columbia Social Credit League endorsed candidates, but none were elected.
|# of candidates||Seats||Popular Vote||%|
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||%|
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)|
|1986||Bill Vander Zalm||69||35||47||+34.3%||954,516||49.32%||-0.44%|
- List of British Columbia general elections
- British Columbia Social Credit Party Leadership Conventions
- British Columbia Liberal Party
- Social Credit
- Social Credit Party of Canada
- Alberta Social Credit Party
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details