History: Red Deer area has been leaning right for 80 years

Red Deer has been conservative country for generations.

It’s been that way for more than 80 years, explains Red Deer historian Michael Dawe.

Dawe said central Alberta has been a right-leaning, conservative area since around 1940, when former MP Frederick Shaw was elected with the Social Credit Party of Canada.

“They’ve been very much right wing or small c-conservative members of Parliament. From Fred Shaw on, every one of them has been.”

Asked what this means for the left-leaning candidates in the upcoming federal election, Dawe said they have a high mountain to climb.

Many parties, such as the United Farmers of Alberta, the Progressive Conservative Party and the Social Credit Party of Canada have had their turns in the Red Deer area.

The former Red Deer riding dissolved into Red Deer-Lacombe and Red Deer-Mountain View during the 2015 federal election.

Dawe explained central Albertans align themselves with right-leaning parties and their philosophy.

Michael Clark was first elected as the local MP in 1908 with the Liberal Party of Canada, and then again in 1911 – the last time the riding had a Liberal representative.

Clark was re-elected in 1917 under the Unionist party banner.

“I would call them (Unionists) a central one, but their main focus was on the successful completion of the First World War. That’s why it was formed.”

The United Farmers of Alberta won the Red Deer election in 1921, making Alfred Speakman the MP.

Dawe said Speakman leaned toward the left, and was defeated in 1935 by Eric Poole, with the Social Credit Party of Canada – a right-leaning party.

“This was around the depths of the Depression, and people were looking for solutions for anything to try and break the long Depression, and so they turned to Social Credit.

“Some of them were very right wing, but Poole was left wing side of Social Credit,” explained Dawe.

“The longer they were around politically, the more right wing they became over time,” Dawe said about the Social Credit Party of Canada.

Former MP Frederick Shaw then took over the riding in 1940 under the Social Credit banner.

“Shaw came in and he was in the more right wing side of Social Credit.

Harris Rogers took over the district with the Progressive Conservative Party in 1958, followed by Robert Thompson, who first won with Social Credit in 1962, and later switched to the Progressive Conservative Party around 1968.

The riding then experienced the Bob Mills era with the Reform Party of Canada in 1993, then with the Canadian Reform Conservatives Alliance in 2000, followed by the Conservative Party of Canada in 2003.

Incumbent Earl Dreeshen took over the riding in 2008. He then became the MP for the Red Deer-Mountain View riding in 2015, when the constituency was divided into two.


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