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Fall from Power

Alberta Wheat Pool boothThe years between the elections of 1926 and 1930 were generally prosperous for Alberta. High grain prices and a buoyant economy overshadowed years of drought and continuing farm foreclosures. However, when the Stock Market Crash of 1929 sent Alberta and the rest of North America into depression, these economic problems became more obvious. People who had questioned the UFA government's ability to deal with these problems became more numerous and outspoken. 

More radical UFA members took control after their Henry Wise Wood conservative leader Henry Wise Wood resigned in 1931; however, the government ignored their resolutions. These members came to understand that they could not achieve major reforms through the existing provincial administration. Many quit their memberships and joined the burgeoning Social Credit League. On the federal level, the UFA joined the newly-created Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932.

The Alberta government was not well-prepared when depression struck. The government had added significantly to its debt when it bailed the Alberta Wheat Pool out of bankruptcy in 1929. Many farmers were also heavily in debt because they had anticipated continuing high grain prices. The government helped these farmers by reorganizing loan credit programs, but it did not prevent banks from repossessing Farming family their farms until 1933. As the Great Depression deepened, the UFA government was forced to cut its spending to half its 1929 budget. It laid off almost every Alberta Research Council staff member, and it disbanded the Alberta Provincial Police in the early 1930's.

The final blow to the UFA came when Premier Brownlee was accused of seducing a young woman he had promoted to a government clerk position. The widely publicized trial that ensued discredited Brownlee so much that he was forced to resign in 1934. Richard Reid replaced him as Premier but could not regain his party's popularity. In the 1935 provincial election, the upstart Social Credit Party soundly defeated the faltering UFA, ending their fourteen-year reign.

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