|8th Premier of Alberta|
May 31, 1943 – December 12, 1968
|Lieutenant Governor||John C. Bowen|
John J. Bowlen
John Percy Page
|Preceded by||William Aberhart|
|Succeeded by||Harry E. Strom|
|Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta|
November 4, 1935 – March 21, 1940
|Preceded by||William Ross|
|Succeeded by||Andrew Davison|
March 21, 1940 – June 18, 1959
|Preceded by||William Howson|
|Succeeded by||District Abolished|
June 18, 1959 – December 11, 1968
|Preceded by||New District|
|Succeeded by||William Yurko|
|Senator for Edmonton West|
October 7, 1970 – September 20, 1983
|Appointed by||Pierre Trudeau|
Ernest Charles Manning
September 20, 1908
Carnduff, Saskatchewan, Canada
|Died||February 19, 1996 (aged 87) |
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
|Political party||Social Credit Party of Alberta|
|Social Credit Party of Canada|
|Spouse||Muriel Aileen Preston (1911–2006)|
|Children||2, including Preston|
|Allegiance||Dominion of canada|
|Branch/service||Canadian Army Militia|
|Years of service||1939–1943|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Ernest Charles Manning,(September 20, 1908 – February 19, 1996), a Canadian politician, was the eighth premier of Alberta between 1943 and 1968 for the Social Credit Party of Alberta. He served longer than any other premier in the province's history and was the second longest-serving provincial premier in Canadian history (after George H. Murray of Nova Scotia). Manning's 25 consecutive years as Premier was defined by strong social conservatism and fiscal conservatism. He was also the only member of the Social Credit Party of Canada to sit in the Senate and, with the party shut out of the House of Commons in 1980, was its last representative in Parliament when he retired from the Senate in 1983.
Manning's son, Preston Manning, was the founder and leader of the Reform Party of Canada, a right-wing populist party based on Western Canadian conservative values. He served as the leader of the Official Opposition from 1997 to 2000.
Manning was born in Carnduff, Saskatchewan, in 1908 to George Henry Manning (1872–1956) and Elizabeth Mara Dixon (1870–1949). George had immigrated from England in 1900 and was followed by his fiancé in 1903. Their Carnduff homestead being inadequate, they moved to a new one in Rosewood in 1909. In his childhood, Ernest was not especially religious, only occasionally attending a Methodist church in town.
Manning was among the first students of Aberhart's Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute, which opened in 1927, and became its first graduate in April 1930. There he met his future wife, Muriel Preston, who was the institute’s pianist and later served as the National Bible Hour’s musical coordinator. There Manning caught the attention of Aberhart. who saw in the young Manning a person who could greatly help him. Soon afterward Manning became Aberhart’s assistant at CPBI. "Durning his second and third years at the institute, Manning lived in the Aberhart home. After graduation, the Aberhart devotee became a teacher at the institute and played a role in the management of the organization's business affairs." In 1930, he began preaching on Aberhart’s weekly "Back to the Bible Hour" radio program, a practice he continued throughout his life, even after entering politics. The broadcasts were eventually aired on over 90 radio stations across Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver, and had a large listening audience. In 1935, Manning went into the realm of provincial politics as Aberhart’s right-hand man. Together, they created the Social Credit party with the aim of bringing financial relief to Albertans who were suffering because of the Great Depression.
Main article: Alberta Social Credit Party
"Manning followed Aberhart into politics, becoming a key Social Credit organizer, and platform speaker before the 1935 election." In the 1935 provincial election, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta as a Social Credit MLA from Calgary. The Socreds won an unexpected victory in that election, with Manning at just 26 years old becoming Alberta's provincial secretary and minister of trade and industry in October 1935. Entrusted with the responsibilities of a cabinet minister, Manning devoted himself wholly to his work. Overworking himself to such an extent that he developed a bout of tuberculosis in November 1936. Before returning to work after just 3 months. In 1940, he switched seats and was elected from Edmonton. In 1943, he became Socred leader and premier of Alberta after Aberhart died.
In the 1935 provincial election, the Socreds won an unexpected victory, sweeping the legislature, with Social Credit winning a landslide victory. Winning 56 of the 63 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The UFA lost all of its seats in the worst defeat for a sitting provincial government in Canadian history. Continuing the UFA government's conservatism (which verged on prohibition) on the matter of drinking, Aberhart's government enacted several socially conservative laws, notably one restricting the sale and serving of alcohol. It was one of the strictest such laws in Canada. Well into the 1960s, airplanes could not serve alcohol while flying over the province.
At the outbreak of World War II, Manning patriotically joined the forty-ninth Battalion[disputed ] of the Canadian Army Militia, qualifying as a lieutenant. In 1943, he was promoted to the rank of captain. He had to discontinue his military duties when he was appointed Premier of Alberta.
"Manning's take-over of the premiership at Aberhart's sudden death in May 1943 was a foregone conclusion. He had been Aberhart's religious protege and his closest associate in cabinet. He was regarded by Aberhart, who had two daughters, almost as a son." Manning twice honoured Aberhart's 1935 promise to issue a Prosperity Certificate to Albertans. In 1957, his government announced a $20 Alberta Oil Royalty Dividend and issued a $17 dividend the next year. The policy was widely criticized and, the next year, Manning agreed to use oil royalties on public works and social programs instead.
Manning was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta as a Social Credit MLA from Calgary. In 1935, he famously entered the Alberta Government’s cabinet as Provincial Secretary at only 26 years old. He was the youngest cabinet minister in all of British parliamentary history since William Pitt the Younger, who served as the minister of Great Britain 152 years earlier. In 1940, he switched seats and was elected from Edmonton. In 1943, he became Socred leader and premier of Alberta after Aberhart died, becoming the province’s eighth and longest-serving premier. When he became premier at the age of only 35, he was the youngest first minister since Pitt, who ironically also served as the second longest-serving British prime minister of all time. Besides serving as Premier of Alberta, he also held numerous other positions including Provincial Treasurer from 1944 to 1954, Minister of Mines and Minerals from 1952 to 1962, minister of trade and industry, attorney general from 1955 to 1968, and president of the executive council.
Under Manning, Alberta became a virtual one-party province. He led Social Credit to an incredible seven consecutive election victories between 1944 and 1967, usually with more than 50% of the popular vote and only once having to face more than 10 opposition MLAs. The height of his popularity came in 1963, when the Socreds campaigned under the slogan "63 in '63"—i.e., a clean sweep of the then 63-seat legislature. They fell short of that goal, but still reduced the opposition to only three MLAs—two Liberals and one running with the support of both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives—in total. It is still the biggest majority government, in terms of percentage of seats won, in Alberta's history. Social Credit's electoral success was based in part on what was viewed as its good government of the province. Manning himself always held the view that "both God and the people had some say in how long he would be premier — and he was not about to argue with either."
However, an ominous sign came during Manning's last victory, when the once-moribund Progressive Conservatives led by Peter Lougheed won six seats, mostly in Calgary and Edmonton. More seriously, the PCs did well enough across the rest of the province to hold Social Credit to 45 percent of the vote, its lowest vote share since 1940. Manning retired in 1968, and Social Credit was knocked out of office three years later. It has never come within sight of power again. By the time Manning left the legislature, only he, Alfred Hooke, and William Tomyn were left from the original 1935 caucus. Of that trio, Hooke was the only MLA to see the government right through from its beginning to its very end in 1971 (Tomyn served a break from 1952 to 1959).
Under Manning, the party largely abandoned social credit theories. Premier Manning had been a devoutly loyal supporter of Aberhart from the very beginning, so it is not clear why he was so willing to abandon his party's traditional ideology. One likely explanation may have been pragmatic; many of Social Credit's policy goals infringed on responsibilities reserved to the federal government under the British North America Act. Manning however honored Aberhart's 1935 promise to issue a Prosperity Certificate to Albertans twice. In 1957, his government announced a $20 Alberta Oil Royalty Dividend and issued a $17 dividend the next year. The policy was widely criticized and, the next year, Manning agreed to use oil royalties on public works and social programs instead.
In 1945 the Abasand plant again burned down; this time it was not rebuilt. The huge discoveries of conventional oil at Leduc and Redwater cast even more doubt upon the development of the oil sands. Given the difficulty of accessing and processing the bitumen, and the numerous technical problems. Nevertheless, Manning wasn't dissuaded. Convinced that the oil sands would grant the province incredible wealth. Going so far as to even convince the entire Alberta legislature to visit the Bitumount plant in 1949. Believing they would agree to continue development after witnessing its success in separating the oil sands. Manning also commissioned a petroleum engineer by the name of Sidney Blair to prepare a report on the economic feasibility of the separation process. With Pew's support, in 1962 Sun Oil's majority-owned subsidiary, Great Canadian Oil Sands (GCOS), filed an application for a commercial oil sands project in Canada – the first-ever constructed.
At the opening ceremonies for the Great Canadian Oil Sands plant, Pew repeated Mannings belief of the need for the oil sands. Telling his audience that "No nation can long be secure in this atomic age unless it be amply supplied with petroleum... It is the considered opinion of our group that if the North American continent is to produce the oil to meet its requirements in the years ahead, oil from the Athabasca area must of necessity play an important role."
Around the time of the upcoming centennial celebration of Canadian Confederation petitions were submitted in November 1966 to Premier Manning by the Social Credit Women's Auxiliaries of the Alberta Social Credit League to give Alberta its own unique flag. The flag was designed and approved as the official provincial flag by the Alberta legislature on June 1, 1968.
Manning’s deep Christian faith gave him a sense of charity to the poor and needy, in a way unlike the Socialist premier of neighboring Saskatchewan, Tommy Douglas. Manning did not espouse a socialistic doctrine or use socialist rhetoric in regard to solving societal issues. On the contrary, he was an outspoken critic of government involvement in society. Constantly publicly denouncing socialism, and communism before, while, and after becoming premier, Manning remained a staunch anti-communist all his life. Instead, he encouraged strong religious, individual, and corporate initiatives in addressing and solving social issues. Manning believed that the "government was there to motivate and give direction, not to intervene and carry the load."
His views on health care and social issues were heavily shaped by his eldest son Keith, which "He and his wife Muriel lovingly raised. Keith had suffered oxygen deprivation at birth", suffering from cerebral palsy as a result.
Mannings's faith also heavily influenced his approach to politics. He was always prudent and careful in practicing politics, "always practicing Christian-based reconciliation and conflict resolution."
For the 1944 election, Manning campaigned on the labour protections that the party had implemented, using support from the Alberta Federation of Labour to fend off left-wing challenges from the radical socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the communist Labor-Progressive Party.: 128–129 Though other unions, particularly those affiliated with the Canadian Congress of Labour, took issue with the Social Credit Party's workers' protections, divisions within these unions and their leadership prevented any effective endorsement of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation.: 130 During the campaign, Manning engaged in red-baiting on a number of instances, likening the CCF to "the socialism of Germany".: 131 Saying in one "letter to a CCFer, who... had naively written to suggest CCF-Socal Credit electoral co-operation: "it's an insult to suggest to the Canadian people who are sacrificing their sons to remove the curse which the socialism of Germany has brought in the world that their own social and economical security can be attained only by introducing some form of socialism in Canada. the premise embodied in your proposed resolution, namely, that there is such a thing as democratic socialism, contradicts itself in that it attempts to associate two concepts of life which are diametrically opposed and opposite.""  And that socialists were trying to "enslave the ordinary people of the world, whose only real salvation lay in the issuance of Social Credit."
In the election, Manning led the Alberta Social Credit Party to retain a solid majority in the Legislative Assembly. Ernest Manning's government was starkly right-wing, attacking a number of unions with charges of communism, censoring films sympathetic to the New Left, and international cooperation due to allegations, and its connection to communism.: 131
Manning also fought against the media and education system, believing that they were full of Marxists and sympathetic to the communist cause. Stating that it is "evident, in my view, in the news media, which are very heavily slanted, as a general rule favorably slanted, to socialist philosophy. This isn't by chance, it's because communism has been smart enough to see... that there are always a goodly number of men in that field who are sympathetic to the socialistic and even communistic philosophy. You even have the same thing, to varying degrees, in the field of education. It isn't by chance that you find these agitations of Marxism and so forth in many of our universities. It isn't by chance."
The Manning administration now re-elected with a resounding majority of seats as a result of the 1944 ectetion, devoted itself to an anti-socialist crusade.: 131 In 1946, Manning's government began a red scare, censoring communist propaganda films in the hopes of "eliminating communist thought from Alberta-shown movies". Alberta's government quickly began banning films, including films produced by the British government which supported the United Nations, as well as Hollywood films such as The Wild One and Blackboard Jungle. The government's attempts at film censorship continued through the 1960s.: 131
Manning's administration also sought to disrupt Labour strikes, denouncing them as communist, totalitarian, and anti-Christian. In January 1948 a coal miners' strike broke out. With thousands of miners, threatening the provincial electrical grid, as most electricity was generated from coal. With this one strike alone accounting for 30% of all time lost to strikes in Canada in 1948. In Alberta, the time lost was even worse, with it being responsible for well over 99% of all person-lost days due to strikes for the entire year.: 133 Manning acted swiftly to avert the crisis, rewriting the province's labour laws in March to allow the government to shut down the strike. Labour, being greatly weakened by charges of communism, and Manning's stalwart defiance of union threats, caused the unions to attempt to persuade legislators instead of protesting using strikes, or violence. Manning's steadfast defiance in the face of union threats halted the rise of militant unionism in Alberta, as it did in other areas like Quebec and the rust belt.: 134–135
In 1945 the Wetaskiwin MP Norman Jaques "spoke for most of the party establishment when he charged... that communists had infiltrated the CBC "as they have every other organization."" In 1951, the province's Minister of Municipal Affairs, C. F. Gerhart, claimed that there were hundreds of communist spies among Albertan workers.: 137
A favorite target of Social Credit was the United Nations.
Manning also used his strong provincial standing to influence the federal Socreds. He told the 1961 federal leadership convention that Alberta would never accept francophone Catholic Real Caouette of Quebec as the party's leader, even though Caouette led the party's strongest branch east of Manitoba. Robert Thompson of Alberta won the election, although Manning's objections to Caouette led to suspicions that the vote was fixed. Indeed, Caouette later claimed that he had enough support to win, but the Quebec delegates all voted for Thompson after Manning told him, "Tell your people to vote for Thompson because the West will never accept a Roman Catholic French Canadian leader."
By this time, however, all but four members of the Social Credit federal caucus came from Quebec. In 1963, virtually all of the Socred MPs from Quebec followed Caouette into the Ralliement des créditistes, leaving behind a Social Credit rump in English Canada.
"In 1967, Manning's book Political Realignment: A Challenge to Thoughtful Canadians was published. This book is an outline of his views regarding the reorganization of the Canadian federal party system."
After retirement from provincial politics in 1968, Manning established his own consulting firm, Manning Consultants Limited, with his son Preston. In 1970, he was appointed to the Senate as the first (and as it turned out, only) Socred to serve in that body. The same year, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. He retired from the Senate in 1983, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 75. Ernest Manning died in Calgary in 1996.
In 1936, Manning married Muriel Aileen Preston, the pianist at the Prophetic Bible Institute. They had two sons.
Their first son, William Keith (commonly called Keith,) was born on May 2, 1939. Keith suffered from cerebral palsy; for stretches of time, he was interred at a hospital in upstate New York, the Red Deer School Hospital, and a nursing home in Edmonton. He married fellow nursing home resident Marilyn Brownell, and died from cardiac arrest on June 29, 1986.
Their second son, Ernest Preston (commonly called Preston) was born on June 10, 1942. Preston went on to found the Reform Party of Canada. Following in his father's footsteps, he fought against the federal government, and the heavily eastern-centered federal politics that controlled the national agenda.
Manning was appointed as the first member of Alberta Order of Excellence on September 23, 1981. Manning was also invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada by Governor-General Michener in 1970.
A high school and a business park road in Calgary, a freeway road in Edmonton and town in Northern Alberta are named after Ernest Manning. A person with a similar name, Ernest Callaway Manning, is the namesake of E. C. Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia.
In 1980, the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation was created, and the Manning Innovation Awards were started in 1982, with the purpose of promoting and honouring Canadian innovation.
In 2013, the federal riding of Edmonton Manning was established in Manning's name.