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Years of Government

United Farmers of Alberta MLAsThe UFA MLA 's entered the provincial assembly having had no experience in the Legislature. Some had served in local politics, and many had lobbied the former government directly from outside the Legislature. However, this experience had not prepared them for all the work they were now responsible for. The task of governing a province goes beyond organizing and expressing views. It also involves running departments with wide-ranging responsibilities and enacting legislation using complex legal procedures and language.

Partly for this reason, the UFA appealed to members outside the Legislature as well as the Opposition to help govern the province. Some members felt that Liberals should be included in the government's cabinet, pointing to the organization's principals of non-partisanship and group government. This proposal was narrowly defeated. They did admit a Labour MLA, Alex Ross, to the cabinet as Minister of Public Works.

The UFA political organization also had to select a leader. Henry Wise Wood, the Herbert Greenfield most obvious successor, chose to remain president of the UFA farmer's association. The political organization approached Liberal Charles Stewart, to remain Premier. He agreed to stay on until the UFA selected a leader, but he was not about to lead an assembly as an Opposition member. They then approached their legal advisor from Calgary, John Brownlee ; however, he and other UFA members felt that a farmer should be chosen to lead the organization. Finally, they asked UFA vice-president Herbert Greenfield to become Premier. He agreed reluctantly, on the condition that Brownlee remain an influential member. To that end, Brownlee was acclaimed an MLA of Ponoka, and Greenfield selected him as the province's Attorney General.

Alberta Wheat Pool grain elevatorThe UFA government under Greenfield achieved a number of reforms, despite its inexperience. In 1922, the government extended credit to various farmer-owned cooperatives in the province. This allowed the cooperatives to pay its farmers partly in advance of selling their crops or livestock. The largest of these organizations was the Alberta Wheat Pool, which the government helped establish in 1923. The Pool worked with other provincial pools to market their farmers' grain at fair prices. That year, the government also ended Prohibition, which was proving too difficult to enforce.

Even though Greenfield stood as Premier, it was Prohibition cartoon apparent that Brownlee was having a stronger hand in leading the government. On the assembly floor, Brownlee intervened to counter arguments calling for monetary reform. He did not see debt relief or the establishment of a provincial bank as solutions to farmers' financial problems. Brownlee also responded to frequent requests to "'kindly let Mr. Greenfield know what to reply to this.'" He often stood in the Legislature for Greenfield, who was more preoccupied with running his farm near Westlock than running the province.

Under pressure to resign, Greenfield stepped down as Premier in 1925. Brownlee agreed to succeed him, but only after Greenfield John E. Brownlee endorsed his leadership. As Premier, Brownlee committed to absolving his government of its money-losing railways in northern Alberta. He negotiated the sale of these railways jointly to the CPR and Canadian National in 1928. He also achieved provincial control over Alberta's natural resources . Following years of negotiations, in 1929, he signed an historic agreement with the federal government transferring to Alberta this long-awaited responsibility. Despite having alienated socialists within the UFA and Labour camps, Brownlee won much popularity for these achievements. He again led his party to victory in the 1930 provincial election.


Early Events - Political Parties - Issues - Timeline

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