Ernest Manning

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Ernest Manning

Ernest Manning.jpg
Ernest Charles Manning, 1943
8th Premier of Alberta
In office
May 31, 1943 – December 12, 1968
MonarchGeorge VI
Elizabeth II
Lieutenant GovernorJohn C. Bowen
John J. Bowlen
John Percy Page
Grant MacEwan
Preceded byWilliam Aberhart
Succeeded byHarry E. Strom
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
In office
November 4, 1935 – March 21, 1940
Preceded byWilliam Ross
Hugh Farthing
Norman Hindsley
Succeeded byAndrew Davison
William Aberhart
James Mahaffey
In office
March 21, 1940 – June 18, 1959
Preceded byWilliam Howson
Succeeded byDistrict Abolished
In office
June 18, 1959 – December 11, 1968
Preceded byNew District
Succeeded byWilliam Yurko
ConstituencyStrathcona East
Senator for Edmonton West
In office
October 7, 1970 – September 20, 1983
Appointed byPierre Trudeau
Personal details
Ernest Charles Manning

(1908-09-20)September 20, 1908
Carnduff, Saskatchewan, Canada
DiedFebruary 19, 1996(1996-02-19) (aged 87)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Political partySocial Credit Party of Alberta
Other political
Social Credit Party of Canada
Spouse(s)Muriel Aileen Preston (1911–2006)
Children2, including Preston

Ernest Charles Manning, PC CC AOE (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 (only after George H. Murray of Nova Scotia). 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.

Early life and career[edit]

Manning was born in Carnduff, Saskatchewan, in 1908 to English immigrants 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.[1] In his childhood, Ernest wasn't especially religious, only occasionally attending a Methodist church in town.[2]

In 1924, he ordered a Philco radio receiver from a Sears catalog; he soon discovered William Aberhart's Back to the Bible Hour, which broadcast three-hour sermons every Sunday on CFCN. Aberhart's beliefs, expressed on the program, included Biblical literalism and an emphasis on the coming Rapture. Manning was among the first students of Aberhart's Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute, opening in 1927, and became its first graduate in April 1930.[3] That year, he began speaking on the Back to the Bible Hour, continuing to do so both during and after his premiership.[4][5]

Ernest C. Manning, 1935

Provincial politics[edit]

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, and Manning became Alberta's Provincial Secretary and Minister of Trade and Industry. In 1940, he switched seats and was elected from Edmonton. In 1943, he became Socred leader and premier of Alberta after Aberhart died.


Under Manning, the party largely abandoned social credit theories. Manning had been a loyal supporter of Aberhart from the 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.

However, 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.[6]

Manning also sought to purge anti-Semitic influences from the party. Anti-Semitism had long been a staple of Socred rhetoric, but became less fashionable after World War II. Manning, however, continued Social Credit's conservative social policies. For many years, airplanes could not serve alcohol while flying over the province.

Under Manning, Alberta became a virtual one-party province. He led Social Credit to 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.

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. Despite its longstanding popularity, Social Credit was a rural-based party, and never lost that essential character. It never really adapted to the changes in Alberta as its two largest cities gained increasing influence, though Manning himself represented urban ridings for his entire career. 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).

Federal politics[edit]

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."[7]

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.

Afterwards, Manning did not provide much support to Thompson's tiny caucus and, being concerned with the leftward trajectory of both the federal Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives, encouraged Thompson to try to bring about a merger of the federal Socred and PC parties. Negotiations failed but in 1967, with the support of both Manning and PC leader Robert Stanfield, Thompson ran in the next election with the PCs.

Senate and Death[edit]

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.

Personal life[edit]

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.[8][9][10]

Their second son, Ernest Preston (commonly called Preston,) was born on June 10, 1942. Preston went on to found the Reform Party of Canada.


Manning was appointed as the first member of Alberta Order of Excellence on September 23, 1981.[11] Manning was also invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada by Governor-General Michener in 1970.[12]

A high school and a business park road in Calgary, a freeway road in Edmonton, and a town in Northern Alberta, are named after Ernest Manning.

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.


  1. ^ Perry & Craig 2006, p. 451.
  2. ^ Brennan 2008, p. 1-5.
  3. ^ Brennan 2008, p. 4-11.
  4. ^ "Ernest Charles Manning". Britannica Online. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  5. ^ David Marshall (2001). "11: Premier E.C. Manning, Back to the Bible Hour, and Fundamentalism in Canada". In Marguerite Van Die (ed.). Religion and Public Life in Canada: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9780802082459. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
  6. ^ Donn Downey, "OBITUARY / Ernest Charles Manning History of former Alberta premier also history of Socreds," Globe and Mail, February 20, 1996
  7. ^ Dufresne, Bernard, "Quebec's Socreds vote to Disown Thompson," Globe and Mail, 2 September 1963, p.1
  8. ^ Mackey 1997, p. 78.
  9. ^ "Keith Manning dies in hospital". Edmonton Journal. 30 Jun 1986. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  10. ^ "MANNING, William Keith". Edmonton Journal. 2 July 1986. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Ex-premier gets award". Calgary Herald. The Canadian Press. 24 September 1981. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Order of Canada honors to 28". The Ottawa Citizen. The Canadian Press. 22 April 1970. Retrieved 6 March 2021.


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William Ross
Hugh Farthing
Norman Hindsley
MLA Calgary #1
Succeeded by
Andrew Davison
William Aberhart
James Mahaffey
Preceded by
William Howson
MLA Edmonton #1
Succeeded by
District Abolished
Preceded by
New District
MLA Strathcona East
Succeeded by
William Yurko