The Good Steward
The Ernest C. Manning StoryBook - 2008
The first book-length biography of Ernest Manning, the longest-serving premier of Alberta, who directed the transformation of the province from Depression-era poverty to modern, oil-based affluence.
Brian Brennan traces the story of a poor farm boy from Saskatchewan with little formal education who rose to become one of the most successful politicians in Western Canadian history while simultaneously attaining long-lasting success as the director of Canada's National Back to the Bible Hour radio program.
Drawing extensively from a series of oral-history interviews Manning did for the University of Alberta archives after he left provincial politics; from an unpublished memoir written by his wife Muriel; from interviews with family members, former colleagues and others; and from the various books and articles written about the rise and fall of the Social Credit in Alberta, Brennan tells how Manning:
1.) Left the farm as a teenager after hearing William Aberhart preaching the Bible on the radio and moved to Calgary with the intention of becoming a minister of the gospel.
2.) Became Aberhart's full-time assistant, helping run the Prophetic Bible Institute and participating in his radio broadcasts.
3.) Helped Aberhart organize study groups around the province to make Albertans aware of the social-credit monetary reform theories of an English economist named Major Clifford Douglas.
4.) Coordinated the initiative to turn Social Credit from an educational into a political movement when the ruling United Farmers of Alberta refused to adopt its economic policies.
5.) Stage-managed the successful 1935 provincial election campaign that saw Social Credit swept to power with fifty-six of sixty-three seats and, at age twenty-six, became the youngest cabinet minister in the British Empire.