Last night, I attended a lecture at the posh Hotel MacDonald. It was the Eighth Annual Western Canadian History Lecture hosted by the Department of History & Classics at the University of Alberta. The two guest speakers included former Saskatchewan Premier Allan Blakeney and Dr. Ray Blake from the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy at the University of Regina.
The two topics of discussion were “Reflections on ‘one province:’ Alberta and Saskatchewan 101 years later” and “From Mother’s Allowance to Medicare: Reflections on Canadian Social Welfare Polices From the West.”
It was a very interesting lecture and I have some thoughts…
1. I really wish all lectures (everywhere) were podcast so that I could listen to them again later.
2. Dr. Blake’s observations on the Mackenzie King Liberals implementation of Mother’s Allowance in the 1930’s was a very interesting one.
3. Allan Blakeney spoke quite a bit about the divergence in political direction between Alberta and Saskatchewan over the past 101 years and some of the many reasons for this. Following Premier Blakeney’s speech, someone in the audience brought up a good point that the partisan political divergence between Alberta and Saskatchewan could be seen in the 1921 provincial elections which occurred in both provinces – in Alberta, Henry Wise Wood and the United Farmers of Alberta succeeded in defeating the Liberal Party. In the 1921 Saskatchewan provincial election, an Independent candidates anti-establishment movement sparked which gained over 25% of the popular vote against the incumbent Liberal Party.
One wonders what would have happened to the political culture of the west had the Independent MLA movement achieved victory at the same time an independent mirror movement achieved dominance in its sister province, Alberta.