1952 British Columbia general election
48 seats of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
25 seats needed for a majority
The 1952 British Columbia general election was the 23rd general election in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. It was held to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, alongside a plebiscite on daylight saving time and liquor. The election was called on April 10, 1952, and held on June 12, 1952. The new legislature met for the first time on February 3, 1953. It was the first general election to use a preferential ballot, a short-lived phenomenon in BC. The presence of multi-member districts such as Victoria City with 3 MLAs in conjunction with the Alternative voting system called for an innovation where the district's slate of candidates was split into three "ballots," each with one candidate from each party.
This system had been designed to enable the governing Liberal / Progressive Conservative coalition (the Conservatives had recently changed their name to match that of their federal cousins) to keep the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation out of power. As an added measure to lock out the CCF, the coalition devised an elimination ballot system. While they ran candidates under their own names, the Liberals and Tories believed that if Liberal voters picked a Tory on their second preference and vice versa, the two parties would gain enough votes between them to stay in power.
However, the coalition did not consider what CCF voters would do with their second preferences. Those votes flowed overwhelmingly to the British Columbia Social Credit League (BCSCL). Combined with second preference votes from the Liberals and Conservatives, this was enough to vault Social Credit to 19 seats, one more than the CCF. Meanwhile, the coalition was decimated, winning only 10 seats between them. Both Premier Byron "Boss" Johnson and Tory leader Herbert Anscomb lost their seats.
Not even the Socreds had expected to win the election. The party had no official leader, though Alberta Social Credit Member of Parliament Rev. Ernest George Hansell led the party during the election campaign without contesting a seat. The Socreds persuaded Tom Uphill, a Labour member of the Legislature (MLA), to support the party, and so the Socreds were able to form a minority government.
The party's next task was to elect a leader who would become the province's new premier. In a vote of the newly elected caucus, W.A.C. Bennett, a former Conservative MLA who joined the Socreds after losing a bid for the Tory leadership, won a caucus vote and became premier-elect on July 15, 1952. This began what would be 21 years–and 36 of the next 39 years–of Social Credit government in British Columbia.
In hopes of getting a stronger mandate, Bennett deliberately lost a confidence vote, forcing fresh elections in June 1953 at which Social Credit won a majority in its own right.
|Party||Party leader||# of
|1949||Elected||% Change||First count||%||Change||Final count||%|
|Social Credit||Ernest George Hansell||47||-||19||-||209,049||27.20%||+25.99%||203,932||30.18%|
|Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.||Harold Winch||48||7||18||+157.1%||236,562||30.78%||-4.32%||231,756||34.3%|
|Liberal||Byron Ingemar Johnson||48||391||6||n/a1||180,289||23.46%||n/a1||170,674||25.26%|
|Progressive Conservative||Herbert Anscomb||48||4||129,439||16.84%||65,285||9.66%|
|Labour Representation Committee||1||*||0||*||654||0.09%||*||-||-|
|Source: Elections BC|
* Party did not nominate candidates in the previous election.
1 In the previous election, the Liberal and Conservative parties ran candidates jointly as "Coalition" candidates, electing 39 MLAs. The Conservatives withdrew from the coalition in 1951 hastening the government's collapse.
Results by riding
- Hansell was an Alberta Member of Parliament and was appointed to lead the BC party during the election but did not contest a seat, himself. Following the election, W. A. C. Bennett was elected as the leader of the Social Credit party by the newly-elected caucus and became Premier-elect on July 15, 1952.
- The Liberal and Conservative parties ran as a coalition in the 1949 election.
- "1871-1986 Electoral History of BC", p. 231-2
- Argyle, Ray. Turning Points: The Campaigns That Changed Canada - 2011 and Before (2011) excerpt and text search ch 11