There was an obvious volatility in Alberta, and an equally obvious
power vacuum, when Klan activity reached its peak in the early
1930s. Premier Brownlee seemed unable to cope with the impact of
the Great Depression and the personal scandal (losing a lawsuit
claiming he'd seduced a young secretary) that dogged his tenure.
He resigned. The UFA then faced an election.
Maloney, Snelgrove, and their followers and sympathizers could not
see or seize the opportunity. They persisted in a strategy of
dividing Albertans against themselves. In so doing, they left it
to a charismatic, fundamentalist preacher named William Aberhart
to play the populist card and unite Albertans against real or
imagined enemies on the distant horizon in Toronto, Montreal, and
Few would argue that Aberhart and Social Credit were not better
for Alberta than J.J. Maloney, R.C. Snelgrove and their ilk would
have been. Howard Palmer suggests that "Social Credit, by and
large, had a positive impact on ethnic relations," when it
first took the stage. But it is also true that Aberhart's
demonstration of a successful "unite the right" strategy
did not exclude people who had embraced Maloney's and Snelgrove's
gospels of fear, anger, and prejudice.
Baergen points out that Alberta is the only Canadian jurisdiction
ever to have accepted formal registration of the Ku Klux Klan
under its Societies Act. And it did so not once, but twice; first
under Brownlee's beleaguered UFA government, in 1932, and again in
1972, the year the government of Premier Peter Lougheed introduced
the Individual's Rights Protection Act (IRPA), Alberta's first
human rights legislation. The current government of Premier Ralph
Klein replaced-critics in the Opposition and the press said,
"weakened" -the IRPA with the 1996 Human Rights,
Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act.