Friday, October 10, 2008

Alberta's Founding Fathers & Other Craziness

I'm currently reading a great book, Alberta Premier's of the Twentieth Century (published by the University of Regina press), edited by Bradford Rennie. For a history lover like myself this is one of those books that's hard to put down. (Reviewer's pun). The book proceeds in chronological order from the early Liberal Premiers Rutherford, Sifton and Stewart, through to the final essay on Ralph Klein. The essay on Klein was kind of mediocre because Klein was still in office at the time of writing. I suppose they were afraid if they said anything bad Rod Love would come over and kill their puppy or something.

The authors have a diverse background, but most of them are academics. Mark Lisac who once wrote for the Edmonton Journal wrote the chapter on Donald Ross Getty.

It's hard for me to say which chapter I liked the most. There isn't a single premier who isn't interesting to read about. This is one of the few books that I keep reading over and over again.

If I have to pick, my favourite chapters are on William Aberhart, Harry Strom, and Peter Lougheed. I also enjoyed the chapter on Getty.

Aberthart's theological views were atypical and seem odd now. He was basically a fundamentalist who believed in dispensationalism, the secret existence of the Antichrist in the current age, and the imminent rapturing up of God's elect. (i.e. Social Credit supporters) Aberhart also believed that the only acceptable version of the Bible was the King James Version. These types of beliefs were not uncommon in the 1930's and they are not even uncommon today. Aberhard and Manning were unable to distinguish between religious views and public policy. Both Aberhard and Manning gave weekly sermons from the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute.

This chapter also has a lengthy discussion about the Social Credit movement. It seem that for a long period of time no one really knew what Social Credit meant. Aberhart was not that bright and was repeatedly taken advantage of by charlatans.

The chapter on Harry Strom was interesting and he comes across as a decent and honest man who didn't like party politics very much and didn't realize until too late that Social Credit was over. The transition from Strom to Lougheed reads like it was the birth of modern Alberta. More recent comparisons of Ed Stelmach® to Harry Strom are more of an insult to Strom than to Stelmach.

If you find Alberta politics confusing, as I always have, you should read this book.

SBN 0889771510 Please recommend this post

No comments: