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Social Credit and the Banks

William Aberhart, 1936

The Social Credit government held the central Canadian financial institutions, most notably the banks, responsible for the economic hardship that the province of Alberta was enduring in the 1930s. Throughout his time in office, Premier William Aberhart would pass various legislations to reduce the power and the influence of the financial institutions and their allies, the federal government and the newspapers. 

Prosperity Certificate, or Scrip

One of the first Acts that Aberhart passed established the 'prosperity certificates' or 'funny money'. Albertans began to discover that the certificates were worthless. Soon enough, the Supreme Court of Canada would decide that the certificates were illegal tender, invalidating the certificates. The Social Credit government, despite this setback, would continue to pass legislation that sought to increase provincial control in the area of banking. The first round of legislation saw the Aberhart government passing the Credit of Alberta Regulation Act, the Bank Employees Civil Rights Act, and the Judicature Act. The first two acts sought to increase provincial autonomy in the area of banking while the Judicature Act would halt any challenges to provincial legislations in a court of law. 

Social Credit pamphlet

The federal government disallowed these acts. Aberhart amended the Acts and re-passed them along with two new acts. The Accurate News and Information Act would seek to restrict the power of the newspapers whom he felt were the allies of the financial institutions. The Bank Taxation Act would raise the provincial tax on the banks by 2,230%. The Acts never took effect as they were eventually declared to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada. Aberhart blamed central Canadian institutions, most notably the banks, the federal government, and the Supreme Court of Canada for the failure to successfully implement any Social Credit policies.

 

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Information written and provided by Maria Elizabeth Vicente, MA

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