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UFA Forms Government

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UFA Forms Government

Involvement with the UFA


United Farmers of Alberta members elect in front of Lougheed Building, Calgary, Alberta, July 1921. Irene Parlby at center.In Alberta, the Liberal government under Premier Charles Stewart was quite receptive to the United Farmers of Alberta's (UFA) demands, possibly because Stewart was a farmer himself. Although the UFA's approach was to cooperate with the Liberals, the organization grew disillusioned by the red tape that prevented improvements to health services, rural education, and social welfare from being implemented. They were also concerned with political patronage.

In 1919, the UFA formed a Political Association, which worked closely with the Non-Partisan League—under whose banner Louise McKinney had won a seat in the 1917 election. Although the Association originally intended to represent farmers as an economic organization, in a 1919 by-election, they successfully ran their own candidate.

Cartoon on dissolution of the Canadian Wheat Board, November 24, 1920.In 1921, the Political Association was abolished, and the decision to run UFA candidates was made by the individual constituencies. Despite this movement towards political involvement, Irene Parlby continued to encourage members not to forget about the community work and educational initiatives that the UFA had long been focused on. But with grain prices collapsing, and post-war farm-life growing ever harder, the UFA sprang into a flurry of election organizing when Premier Stewart called a general election.

Some of the major components of the UFA platform included cooperation, elimination of patronage, referendum, compulsory recall, and natural resources. The campaign was highly idealistic; hoping to eliminate patronage and corruption from Alberta's political landscape.

On election day, an unprecedented number of voters turned out and—to their own amazement—the UFA was swept to power gaining 39 seats out of a total of 61. The UFA formed the government from 1921 until 1935, when the Social Credit Party formed the majority.

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