Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bracken was born in Ellesville, Ontario , and was educated at the Ontario Agricultural College. He was professor of animal husbandry at the University of Saskatchewan from 1910 to 1920 when he became President of the Manitoba Agricultural College.
The United Farmers of Manitoba won the provincial election of 1922 but did not have a leader, so they asked Bracken to head the party and become Premier of Manitoba. (A similar situation had occurred with Ernest C. Drury when the United Farmers of Ontario won the 1919 election in that province.)
Bracken was a political outsider, and gave the UFM the professional grounding it needed. The United Farmers generally rejected the partisanship of the Liberal and Conservative parties, and favoured government policies based on independence and principles of business management. Bracken accepted the UFM's request, and won a deferred election in the northern riding of The Pas. The UFM governed as the Progressive Party of Manitoba, and Bracken served as Manitoba's Premier for over twenty years.
Bracken's government was in most respects conservative and cautious. It was dominated by rural interests, who controlled the Manitoba legislature through an outmoded system of representation. Labour did not fare well under Bracken's leadership; the Premier had little sympathy for the leaders of the Winnipeg General Strike, and once fired a number of government workers to show his independence from organized labour.
In keeping with the UFM's "anti-party" philosophy, Bracken favoured non-partisan government. In 1931, his Progressives formed an alliance with the Manitoba Liberal Party, and the two parties eventually merged into one. In 1940, Bracken formed a wartime coalition government which included the Conservatives, the CCF and Social Credit. When Bracken left provincial politics in 1943, there were only 5 opposition MLAs in a 57-member parliament. His coalition remained intact until 1950, although the CCF left in 1943.
Bracken held several cabinet portfolios in addition to the office of Premier. He served as Minister of Education from August 8, 1922 to December 3, 1923, Provincial Lands Commissioner and Railway Commissioner from August 10, 1922 to December 3, 1923, Minister of Agriculture from December 3, 1923 to January 12, 1925, Provincial Treasurer from January 18, 1925 to May 27, 1932, Minister of Public Utilities from April 29, 1927 to April 19, 1928, Minister of Mines and Natural Resources from April 19, 1928 to October 25, 1930, Provincial Secretary from May 10, 1935 to November 28, 1939, Railway Commissioner (again) from May 10, 1935 to November 4, 1940, Minister of Agriculture (again) from April 28, 1936 to September 21, 1936, Minister of the Manitoba Power Commission from June 3, 1936 to November 4, 1940, and Minister of Dominion-Provincial Relations from November 22, 1939 to November 4, 1940. Quite obviously, he was intimately involved with many aspects of his government's operation.
Despite having cooperated with the Liberals at the provincial level, Bracken was asked by a number of senior federal Tories (including Arthur Meighen) to take over the leadership of the weak national Conservative Party in 1942. He agreed to seek the party's leadership on the condition that it change its name to the Progressive Conservative Party, and was elected at the 1942 Tory leadership convention. Bracken stepped down as Manitoba premier shortly thereafter, and was succeeded by Stuart S. Garson.
Bracken did not seek a seat in the House of Commons until the 1945 Canadian election, which the Conservatives lost. Bracken became Leader of the Opposition and remained leader of the Tories until he was pushed to resign in 1948. It has been argued, with some credibility, that Bracken never succeeded in impressing his personal authority over the national PC organization. As a western populist, he was distrusted by the party's eastern establishment. There are reports that some senior Conservatives wanted him removed as leader as early as 1944.
Bracken was defeated by Liberal James Matthews in the 1949 federal election, and did not return to political life thereafter.
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