Ernest Manning

Ernest Manning

name = Ernest Charles Manning

caption = Ernest Charles Manning
office = Premier of Alberta
term_start = 1943
term_end = 1968
predecessor = William Aberhart
successor = Harry E. Strom
birth_date = birth date|1908|9|20|mf=y
birth_place = Carnduff, Saskatchewan
death_date = death date and age |1996|02|19|1908|09|20
death_place = Calgary, Alberta
party = Social Credit Party of Alberta
spouse = Muriel Aileen Preston
religion = Evangelical Baptist [ [ The Honourable Ernest C. Manning, 1943-68 ] ] |

Ernest Charles Manning, PC , CC , AOE , LL.D (September 20, 1908 - February 19, 1996), a Canadian politician, was Premier of Alberta between 1943 and 1968 for the Social Credit Party of Alberta. He served longer than any premier in the province's history, and was the second longest serving provincial premier in Canadian history (only after George H. Murray of Nova Scotia). For a period of time, Manning was the longest continually serving democratically elected official in the world. He was also the only member of the Social Credit Party of Canada to ever sit in the Senate.


Manning was born in Carnduff, Saskatchewan in 1908 and was raised on a farm. A devoted listener of the evangelistic radio broadcasts of future Premier William Aberhart, Manning enrolled in Aberhart's Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute in 1927, becoming the first graduate of that institution.

In 1930, Manning himself began speaking on the Prophetic Bible Institute Sunday radio hours, which were broadcast to a large audience across Canada, a practice he kept up throughout his life even while in politics.

In 1936, Manning married Muriel Aileen Preston, the pianist at the Prophetic Bible Institute, with William Aberhart giving the bride away. They had two sons, Keith who died in 1986, and Ernest Preston (commonly called Preston) who founded the Reform Party of Canada, a Canadian federal political party later known as the Canadian Alliance, and one of the forebears of today's Conservative Party of Canada which currently forms the government. Ernest and Preston have both been honoured as Companions of the Order of Canada.

Provincial Politics

In the 1935 provincial election, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta as a Social Credit MLA from Calgary. That same year he became Alberta's Provincial Secretary and Minister of Trade and Industry. In 1940, he switched seats and was elected from Edmonton. In 1943, he became premier of Alberta after Aberhart died.


Under Manning, the party largely abandoned social credit theories. Manning had been a loyal supporter of Aberhart from the beginning, so it is not clear why he was so willing to abandon his party's traditional ideology. One likely explanation may have been pragmatic; many of Social Credit's policy goals infringed on responsibilities reserved to the federal government under the British North America Act. However, Manning twice honoured Aberhart's 1935 promise to issue a Prosperity Certificate to Albertans. In 1957, his government announced a $20 Alberta Oil Royalty Dividend and issued a $17 dividend the next year. The policy was widely criticized and, the next year, Manning agreed to use oil royalties on public works and social programs instead. [Donn Downey, "OBITUARY / Ernest Charles Manning History of former Alberta premier also history of Socreds," "Globe and Mail", February 20, 1996]

Manning also sought to purge anti-Semitic influences from the party. Anti-Semitism had long been a staple of Socred rhetoric, but became less fashionable after World War II. Manning, however, continued Social Credit's conservative social policies. For many years, airplanes could not serve alcohol while flying over the province.

Under Manning, Alberta became a virtual one-party state. He led Social Credit to seven consecutive election victories between 1944 and 1967, usually with more than 50% of the popular vote. Social Credit's electoral success was based in part on what was viewed as its good government of the province. Another factor was that until the mid-1960s there was no credible alternative.Fact|date=August 2008

However, an ominous sign came during Manning's last victory, when the once-moribund Progressive Conservatives led by Peter Lougheed won six seats, mostly in Calgary and Edmonton. More seriously, the PCs did well enough across the rest of the province to hold Social Credit under 50% of the vote. Despite its longstanding popularity, Social Credit was, at bottom, a rural-based party. It never really adapted to the changes in Alberta as its two largest cities gained increasing influence. Manning retired in 1968, and Social Credit was knocked out of office three years later, never to hold power again.

Federal Politics

Manning also used his strong provincial standing to influence the federal Socreds. He told the 1961 federal leadership convention that Alberta would never accept francophone Catholic Real Caouette of Quebec as the party's leader, even though Caouette led the party's strongest branch east of Manitoba. Robert Thompson of Alberta won the election, although Manning's objections to Caouette led to suspicions that the vote was fixed. The majority of the federal caucus was from Quebec, however. It followed Caouette into the Ralliement des créditistes, leaving behind a Social Credit rump in English Canada.

Afterwards, Manning did not provide much support to Thompson's tiny caucus, being concerned with the leftward trajectory of both the federal Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives, and encouraged Thompson to try to bring about a merger of the federal Socred and PC parties. Negotiations failed but in 1967, with the support of both Manning and PC leader Robert Stanfield, Thompson ran in the next election with the PCs.


Upon retirement in 1968, Manning established his own consulting firm, Manning Consultants Limited, with his son Preston. In 1970, he was appointed to the Senate as the first (and as it turned out, only) Socred to serve in that body. In the same year, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. He retired in 1983, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 75. Ernest Manning died in Calgary in 1996.

There is a high school in Calgary, a freeway road in Edmonton and a town in Northern Alberta named after Ernest Manning.

In 1980, the Ernest C Manning Awards Foundation was created and the Manning Innovation Awards were started in 1982. The program promotes and celebrates Canadian innovation and has awarded over $3.6 million in its first 25 years (see

ee also

* Thomas Playford IV
* George Henry Murray


External links

* [ Alberta legislative assembly]
* [ Ernest Manning's Order of Canada Citation]
* [ Political Biography from the Library of Parliament]

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