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Social Credit

Social Credit, economic plan in Canada, based on the theories of Clifford Hugh Douglas. The central idea is that the problems fundamental to economic depression are those of unequal distribution owing to lack of purchasing power. To solve these difficulties Douglas proposed a system of issuing to every citizen dividends, the amount of which would be determined by an estimate of the nation's real wealth; the establishment of a just price for all goods would be the result. The program became highly influential in Alberta during the depression years, and the Social Credit party, led by William Aberhart, won a resounding victory in the provincial elections of 1935. The program included distribution of a social dividend of $25 a month, but it proved impossible to put this scheme into practice. Attempts to tax banks and to enter on currency schemes were declared unconstitutional by the courts. The party remained in power in Alberta until defeated in 1971 but was no longer a significant force there by the 1980s. In the federal parliament, the party retained 6 seats until 1980, when it lost them all. The Social Credit party in British Columbia diverged from the doctrines of the original party early on; it declined during the 1990s and no longer exists.

See M. Pinard, The Rise of a Third Party (1971); B. Monahan, Introduction to Social Credit (1982).

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