Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
United Farmers of Alberta
The United Farmers of Alberta was founded in 1909 as a lobby organization representing the interests of farmers. In 1913 it was able to pressure Alberta's Liberal government to oraganise the Alberta Farmers' Co-operative Elevator Co which eventually became the United Grain Growers.
The UFA was a believer in the cooperative movement and supported women's suffrage. Under pressure from the Non-Partisan League and out of frustration with the lack of responsiveness of government to political issues the UFA entered electoral politics as part of a national United Farmers movement that became politically active after World War I. The group was led by Henry Wise Wood who provided the theoretical and motivational backing to the movement, but who refused to enter politics himself.
As in other provinces a split developed between the United Farmers organization and the United Farmers government with the former supporting group government (or Non-partisan democracy) as well as radical economic measures. Though the UFA government initially included Labour MLAs the party soon became pragmatic, cautious and relatively conservative and was unable to deal with the economic torment caused by the Great Depression. While the UFA organizationally supported the Progressive Party of Canada (while running UFA candidates federally) in the 1920s and then the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation after it was founded in 1932 the UFA government rejected socialist measures.
As was the case with other United Farmer governments in Manitoba and Ontario, the UFA won its first election unexpectedly and without a leader. Forced to form a government it, like the other United Farmer governments, went outside the legislature to recruit a Premier.
The UFA ran candidates in the federal elections of 1921, 1925, 1926 and 1930. MPs elected in the 1920s sat with the Progressive Party of Canada. Of the nine UFA MPs elected in 1930, eight went on to join the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation after it was formed in 1932. Herbert Greenfield was considered ineffective and the real leader of the government was Brownlee who soon displaced Greenfield to become Premier in 1925. Brownlee was a lawyer rather than a farmer and led the UFA government in a conservative direction of fiscal restraint, political conservatism and lack of initiative which frustrated Albertans after the onset of the Great Depression. Brownlee was further hurt by personal scandal when he was sued and found guilty of the seduction of a young clerk working in the Attorney-General's office. The scandal forced Brownlee's resignation on July 10, 1934 and hurt the UFA's reputation among socially conservative Albertans. The UFA's fiscal conservatism and the taint of moral turpitude led to the government's defeat in the 1935 election at the hands of Social Credit and its leader evangelist William Aberhart whose combination of economic populism with Christian social conservatism highlighted the UFA's weaknesses. The UFA was routed by Social Credit in the 1935 provincial elections with all its candidates being defeated.
After the Alberta United Farmers government was defeated the group withdrew from electoral politics with many of its supporters joining the Social Credit party while much of the leadership of the UFA organization joined the CCF.
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