The ones that I found interesting were from 1935, when William "Bible Bill" Aberhart was first named Premier of Alberta.
He wasn't elected premier, but was founder and leader of the new Social Credit Party, when they won 56 of 63 seats in the provincial election.
Now there were no negative connotations with comparing him to Adolph Hitler at the time. You've got to remember that the German leader was highly thought of then, and in fact was the 1938 Times Man of the Year.
The new leader, William Aberhart, whose ancestors were German, followed the tactic of Adolf Hitler in not standing for election to a legislative seat but devoting all his energies to boosting the Social Credit Party into power. This accomplished, plain Mr. Aberhart accepted from one of his Party henchmen last week the seat he had to have before he could be named Premier. (1)
But there was something else of Hitler's that Aberhart emulated, that is far more striking. His propaganda machine.
Without crudely borrowing the name of Germany's "Ministry of Propaganda & Public Enlightenment," Premier Aberhart announced that Alberta Government news will hereafter be "dished out in platters" by a bureau with exclusive monopoly of statements from the Premier & Cabinet so that ''there will be no more scoops." .... According to Alberta reporters they are going to be stuffed with Aberhart press handouts, barred from ferreting out real news. (1)
I've written on the history of Social Credit before, since they were the forerunner to the Reform Party. Ernest Manning, Preston Manning's father took over from Aberhart when he died, and the SC ran Alberta for decades. It was considered to be pretty radical back in the day, but started off slowly.
Adolf Hitler's first moves when he reached power were adroitly Conservative, and so last week were William Aberhart's. (1)
So while everyone is comparing Stephen Harper's tight message control to Adolph Hitler, which is so often dismissed as fear mongering; it would appear that Stephen Harper isn't copying the notorious German chancellor at all.
He's obviously researched the success of the Social Credit Party and is taking his lead from William Aberhart; who in fact did copy his style from none other than Adolph Hitler. How about that?
Bill Aberhart Radio Star
Anyone who has studied the Social Credit Party knows that Bill Aberhart had a popular evangelical radio show, but he was also the subject of another radio program.
Beginning in 1931, Times Magazine dramatized some of their news stories, called The March of Time and on August 28, 1935; they reenacted the story of none other than William "Bible Bill" Aberhart. This is how they billed it: A socialist has been elected to head the Alberta, Canada government. He plans to pay all citizens $25 per month. A 'socialist'? Oh, my!
Now I don't know who played his part, though two of the male 'voices' under contract at the time were Orson Welles and Art Carney.
Stephen Harper, Bill Aberhart and Pulpit Politics
So we now know, or can surmise, that Stephen Harper learned how to manipulate the press from the first leader of this party, William Aberhart, who learned it from Adolph Hitler; which explains a lot.
But that was not the only thing that contributed to Social Credit's success that our fearless leader has copied. He's also learned how to manipulate religious fervour.
In 1935 Times magazine dubbed Aberhart "The Messiah" and referred to him as "a Bible-babbling high-school principal ..." After pious rejoicing at the Prophetic Bible Institute and devout singing of Our God, Our Help in Ages Past, Messiah Aberhart announced that he was ready to accept the call to be Alberta's Premier. (2)
William Aberhart was able to own his people mind, body and soul.
Stephen Harper, William Aberhart and a Dictatorial Style
This new Social Credit movement was certainly controversial, and most people had their doubts that it could work at all. But Aberhart was going to make it work, no matter what. He would never accept defeat.
Stephen Harper, William Aberhart and no Fraucus in the Caucus
In Alberta it was freely predicted that Messiah Aberhart will never be able to make Social Credit work unless he makes himself a Dictator. Canadian jurists meanwhile believed that Social Credit as proposed in the Province of Alberta is "contrary to the North America Act" which is the fundamental law of Canada's Constitution.
... "They say what we propose to do is unconstitutional!" he snorted. "Just because an old paper was signed in the past doesn't say we can't do this. The British North America Act is a fool act. We can do what we want! (2)
Like Stephen Harper, Aberhart ruled his caucus, and it would seem everyone else, with an iron fist. Time referred to him as a " ... political bigot who makes his followers take vows to read nothing and listen to nothing uttered by anyone against either himself or Social Credit. (3)
He actually made them sign an oath that they wouldn't read anything against the party. This meant that they wouldn't have been allowed to read these Times articles.
And also like Harper, he knew how to utilize attack ads to get what he wanted. When then prime minister, R.B. Bennet was running for re-election:
An economic pontiff, William Aberhart makes his followers sign pledges that they accept Social Credit "on faith," forbids them to debate or argue its merits.(2)
As his most distasteful chore of the week, the Dominion Premier, who holds his House of Commons seat from Alberta, made a Federal loan of $2,500,000 to that Province's newly-victorious Social Credit Premier William Aberhart. Such seemed to be the price charged by Social Crediteers for withholding their attacks from Mr. Bennett personally in the election. (4)
Bennet lost anyway.
I think I may have actually read somewhere that Harper did study the history of the Social Credit Party to tap into their success, but I didn't realize that it was to this extent. And since Aberhart modeled his party, at least in the beginning, after Hitler's success, it's not that difficult to see where our new Messiah's style came from.
I'm definitely going to look into this a little more. Who knew that I may be able to figure out our little dictator from reading seventy-five year old issues of Times Magazine.
And yes, he also adopted the worst of the Republican system, but Newt Gingrich claims to have drawn on Preston Manning's success, by watching his television ads.
This is certainly a mystery, but I'm on it. (Forward to Part Two)
(1) Social Credit Improved, Times Magazine, September 16, 1935
(2) Messiah, Major, Money, Times Magazine, September 2, 1935
(3) New Viceroy, General Election, Times Magazine, October 21, 1935
(4) King or Chaos, Times Magazine, September 23, 1935