The Manitoba Social Credit Party (originally the Manitoba Social Credit League) was a political party in the Canadian province of Manitoba. In its early years, it espoused the monetary reform theories of social credit.
It was formed in the 1935-36, shortly after William Aberhart's supporters formed a Social Credit government in Alberta. While the party never elected many MLAs, it maintained a presence in the provincial legislature for most of the period from 1936 to 1973.
In its earliest years, the Social Credit League took the form of a populist protest movement. Like other Social Credit parties in Canada, it eventually became as a party of conservatism while retaining an anti-establishment message. The party's leadership was consistently anti-socialist.
The Social Credit Party ran 19 candidates in the provincial election of 1936, five of whom were elected. It did not have a leader during the election, but chose Stanley Fox to lead the parliamentary group shortly thereafter. During this period, the party supported the monetary reforms of Major Douglas, which Aberhart had been promoting in Alberta for several years.
The 1936 election produced a minority government, with 23 Liberal-Progressives, 16 Conservatives, 7 Independent Labour Party members, the 5 Social Crediters and 4 others. After early talks for a Liberal-Progressive/Conservative coalition broke down, the Social Crediters made a surprise offer to keep the outgoing Liberal-Progressive government of John Bracken in power. Some party members may have hoped for a formal coalition, but this came to nothing and the party supported the government from the outside for the next four years.
Fox stepped down as party leader in 1937, and was replaced by S.E. Rogers.
After the start of World War II, Bracken promoted a "non-partisan government" for Manitoba, in which all four major parties would hold cabinet portfolios in a demonstration of provincial unity. The plan was approved by the other parties, and Social Credit joined the government in late 1940. Social Credit MLA Norman Turnbull was sworn in as a minister without portfolio on November 4, 1940, and served in this capacity until February 14, 1946.
The decision to join government caused a split in the party. In the election of 1941, several Social Credit candidates ran in opposition to the coalition, while others supported it. This division damaged the party's credibility with the electorate, and only three Social Credit candidates were elected: Fox, Turnbull and Rogers (all government supporters).
The party does not seem to have had a leader in the parliament which followed, and in fact became little more than an appendage of the Liberal-Conservative coalition as the 1940s progressed. Fox and Turnbull were re-elected in the 1945 election, but the party ran only two other candidates in the rest of the province. It completely lost its coherence as a parliamentary force in the late 1940s, and did not run any candidates in the 1949 election.
The Social Credit Party re-emerged for the election of 1953: William Bullmore was elected in the constituency of Dauphin, and Gilbert Hutton won in Minnedosa. The party was again marginalized in the parliament which followed, however, and none of its candidates were elected in the provincial elections of 1958 and 1959. Although the Social Credit parties of Alberta and British Columbia had largely abandoned their monetary policies by this time, Bullmore and Hutton continued to promote social credit during their time in parliament.
During the late 1940s and the 1950s, the President of the Manitoba Social Credit League was Wilbert James Tinkler. He was the closest that the party had to an official leader in this period, as neither Bullmore nor Hutton held an official role in the legislature.
The party received another lease on life in November 1959, when Jacob Froese won a by-election in the riding of Rhineland. Froese remained a member of the legislature until the 1973 election, when he was defeated by a Progressive Conservative candidate. The party was unable to win any other seats, however, and Froese effectively acted as an independent MLA during his time in parliament. He served as party leader for most, if not all of the period from 1959 to 1977. Froese was sometimes called the "conscience of parliament", and does not appear to have endorsed his party's original views on monetary reform.
The Manitoba Social Credit Party ran five candidates in the 1977 election, all of whom fared poorly. Even Froese was reduced to a fourth-place finish in Rhineland. In the 1981 election, the party announced that it would not run any candidates. Froese was by this time a member of Sidney Green's Progressive Party.
The Social Credit Party seems to have dissolved itself shortly thereafter.