The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) grew out of several farm, labour and socialist associations and local clubs. In Alberta, the most influential of these groups was the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA). While the UFA formed the government in the province, members of the farm organization had become disenchanted with the political party. The UFA government's answer to the Great Depression was to curtail spending and raise taxes. The farm organization had a different plan. In 1932, they adopted a ten-point program mandating broad economic changes to relieve Canadians from poverty. They agreed that the UFA must cooperate with other people's organizations across Canada to achieve these reforms.
The UFA invited these other organizations to a meeting in Calgary on August 1 to discuss their platform. At the meeting, the Political Labour Parties of Canada decided to unite with the UFA under the CCF banner. The following year, the group met in Regina to adopt a platform similar to the UFA's. The Regina Manifesto, as it became known, guided the CCF for the next twenty-three years.
The CCF was a national movement, but it also ran candidates in provincial elections. The CCF did not challenge the UFA in the 1935 Alberta election; however, after the Social Credit League wiped out the UFA in that election, the CCF looked toward replacing the party. In 1936, the first Alberta CCF convention was held and William Irvine was elected President. The following year, the UFA decided to leave provincial politics. In 1938, the Alberta CCF committed to running in the next provincial election. It set up local clubs and constituency associations and nominated candidates to run in several provincial and federal ridings .