Social Credit Party of Ontario
The Social Credit Party of Ontario (SCPO) (also known as the Ontario Social Credit League, Social Credit Association of Ontario and the Union of Electors) was a minor political party at the provincial level in the Canadian province of Ontario from the 1940s to the early 1970s. The party never won any seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It was affiliated with the Social Credit Party of Canada and espoused social credit theories of monetary reform.
1940s and 1950s
Social Credit appears to have been inactive in Ontario until 1945 when eight candidates stood in the province for the federal party in the 1945 federal election. The Ontario Social Credit Party ran three candidates in the 1945 provincial election.
The official Ontario Social Credit League was headed by John J. Fitzgerald and William Ovens. Ron Gostick, a far right propagandist, established the Union of Electors as a rival organization inspired by the more radical Quebec social credit organization, Union des electeurs led by Louis Even.
Like Even's group, the Union rejected the party system and ran not as a partisan political party but as a citizen's organization compelling their elected representatives to represent the will of the people. Like the Quebec-based Union, it also believed in a more orthodox application of social credit economic theory and was more openly anti-Semitic. In October 1947, the Ontario Social Credit League held an emergency convention which repudiated Gostick and the Union for infringing the League's rights.
In the 1948 provincial election the official Social Credit League ran no candidates but the Union of Electors ran fifteen candidates. The Ontario Union of Electors was accused by the Toronto Labour Council of "disseminating racial hatred in its crudest form."
Both parties then went dormant running no candidates in the 1951 or 1955 provincial elections, although the federal party continued to run candidates in Ontario during federal elections throughout the 1950s. In the 1959 provincial election the Social Credit party ran five candidates under the leadership of Edgar Shipley Birrell. Birrell, a Toronto furrier, Social Credit member since 1944, and Leaside town councillor from 1955 to 1960 had been elected party leader in February 1959, and stood as the party's candidate in York East Birrell remained party leader until March 1962.
In 1963, the party split into two factions. "Social Credit Action" was established by Neil Carmichael, a stamp and coin dealer, who was chosen the group's leader, Carmichael's membership in the Ontario Social Credit Party had not been renewed after he made anti-Semitic statements. Other founders of the splinter group were James Audy, an accountant, who became party president, and David Hartman of Toronto. The group was formed when the official party refused to actively campaign in the 1963 provincial election. Audy had been the federal Social Credit Party's candidate in Spadina riding in the previous election.
Carmichael, 45, a five-time federal Socred candidate, had been the focus of controversy earlier that year when he was a federal Social Credit candidate in St. Paul's. He asserted at a public meeting that there was a Jewish conspiracy in which the Rothschilds were plotting to acquire all of Canada's mines through non-Jewish third party operatives, and that the family was part of an international Jewish conspiracy to take over all of Canada's businesses. Carmichael was cautioned by the Social Credit Party of Ontario that he was "skating on thin ice" and would not be permitted to stand as a candidate again. His promise that a Social Credit government would pay each Canadian $5,000 worth of goods and services was derided by the Ontario party as "irresponsible". David Lewis of the New Democratic Party accused Social Credit of "harbouring anti-Semites" and stated that "Carmichael is only a symptom. The disease goes much deeper." Carmichael denied he was anti-Semitic saying "I am not anti-Semitic.... I have many Jewish friends.... Many of my customers are Jewish." At a subsequent meeting, he said that his comments were "indiscreet", that had he known he was going to be quoted he would have "cloaked them in nice phrases", and accused the Jews of persecuting him for his remarks, blaming a reporter with a Jewish-sounding name for quoting him. In the same meeting Carmichael declared that Adolf Hitler's economic system was "a very good and sound system of money" and that the Nazis "had it all figured out so that there was no unemployment." Carmichael's Social Credit membership was not renewed prior to his formation of Social Credit Action.
Social Credit Action supported Réal Caouette when he took his Ralliement des creditistes out of the Social Credit Party of Canada in September 1963, while the official party remained loyal to federal party leader Robert N. Thompson. Audy accused the Ontario Social Credit Association of being dominated by Protestant clergyman who were prejudiced against Caouette because he was a Catholic. Richard Day, a spokesperson for the official Social Credit League of Ontario derided the views of Social Credit Action as being "anti-Semitic, economic trash and hypocritical".
Social Credit Action nominated six candidates in ridings in Toronto in the 1963 provincial election, while the official party nominated only three candidates in rural ridings. The Social Credit Action candidates included Carmichael, Audy, Hartman and fascist John Ross Taylor. However, when it was reported that "the former leader of the Canadian Union of Fascists was running", the splinter group disassociated itself from Taylor on the eve of the election and he instead ran as a "Natural Order of Social Credit Organization" candidate. Audy was announced by Caouette as his Ontario lieutenant but did not end up running in the 1965 federal election.
Subsequently, Carmichael was accused of allowing the Social Credit Action headquarters to become a meeting place and organizing centre for neo-Nazis disseminating anti-Semitic material, such as David Stanley and John Beattie. Carmichael denied the charge saying "we feel the Jews are trying to stir up hate this way to sell their Israel bonds." In October, the press reported that anti-Semitic leaflets were being distributed recruiting 14- to 21-year-olds to the right-wing "Canada Youth Corps" where they could be trained in explosives and weapons. The leaflets featured photographs of Carmichael and Stanley and promoted meetings at the Social Credit Action headquarters. Carmichael denied any knowledge of the leaflets or the Canada Youth Corps, and dissociated himself from Stanley. Carmichael and Beattie clashed in the press in April 1965 after Beattie announced the formation of the Canadian Nazi Party announcing that he intended to recruit the "snivelling cowards" in Carmichael's Social Credit movement. Carmichael accused Beattie of trying to discredit his party.
Fascist takeover and split
In the early 1970s the radical Edmund Burke Society (EBS) infiltrated the party electing Paul Fromm as the party's president and other EBSers to the executive. In the 1971 provincial election three of five Social Credit candidates running in the election were avowed "Burkers". By 1972, the party had been taken over by the EBS which now called itself the Western Guard. As a result, the party was put under trusteeship at the instigation of the federal party which declared membership in the Western Guard to be "incompatible" with membership in Social Credit. The federal Social Credit Party disavowed the Social Credit Association of Ontario led by John Ross Taylor of the Western Guard and instead recognized the "Ontario Social Credit League", established in 1973 under the leadership of Bruce Arnold.
In the 1975 Ontario election the "Ontario Social Credit League", led by Alcide Hamelin, fielded 12 candidates, mostly in rural areas, but they were not officially recognized as such as the party did not run enough candidates or otherwise qualify for official party status under the newly passed Election Finances Reform Act, 1975. while the "Social Credit Association of Ontario" ran three candidates as independents in Metro Toronto who were disavowed by the League as supporters of the Western Guard. In the 1974 federal election, the Ontario Social Credit Association endorsed Martin Weiche as a candidate in Trinity co-endorsed by the Western Guard though because the party was not officially registered with Elections Canada their federal candidates were officially listed as independents.
Neither Social Credit party ran candidates in the 1977 provincial election though several candidates ran as "Independent Social Credit". Also in 1977, Western Guard leader Don Andrews was convicted of plotting to bomb the Israeli basketball team and was forced to sever his ties with the Western Guard freeing the way for John Ross Taylor to become the group's leader. He folded his Social Credit Association and became leader of the renamed Western Guard Party.
Reg Gervais was leader of the Ontario Social Credit Party in 1981 and announced prior to the March 1981 provincial election that he planned to run in Nickel Belt, but did not follow through. John Turmel claimed to be the interim leader of the Ontario Social Credit Party during the campaign running 5 candidates in the Ottawa area.
In October 1981, the Ontario Social Credit Party conducted a leadership convention. The eleven delegates, who represented about 100 party members throughout the province, elected former Toronto mayoral candidate Anne C. McBride as their new leader in a vote of 7 to 1 with 3 spoiled ballots. McBride was a Nova Scotia-born ordained minister in the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal Christian denomination. She vowed to run the party "on Christian principles". At various times, McBride ran for mayor of Toronto, tried to form her own United Party of Canada in the early 1980s, and sought the leadership of the federal Social Credit Party of Canada at the 1982 Social Credit leadership convention. However, under her leadership, the party failed to run candidates for the Ontario legislature in any subsequent election and eventually became inactive.
By the 1985 provincial election the party was defunct though Turmel still claimed to be a "Social Credit" candidate in at least one provincial by-election in the late 1980s. Turmel attempted to create a new Social Credit Party of Ontario in the mid-1980s but was unable to meet the criteria in place by that time for the registration of new political parties which included filing a petition signed by 10,000 qualified voters.
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