|Subject:||[socialcredit] Bankers Toadies - 1937|
|Date:||Tuesday, July 11, 2006 09:12:37 (-0700)|
|From:||William B. Ryan <w_b_ryan @.....com>
The thirty-minute radio drama available at the site
referenced below is a nearly 30MB file, which I've
compressed to 4MB. I'll forward the compressed form
to anyone who requests via email attachment. Fair use
is claimed. The drama was produced in 1990 by the
CKUA Radio Network and the Alberta Law Foundation.
Attached is a short excerpt from the dramatized cross
examination of General Griesbach, being addressed in
this particular excerpt as "senator."
This is interesting to me from several perspectives.
First, from the perspective of an American, I find it
astounding that, in 1937 Canada, alleged libel could
be considered criminal rather than merely a civil
tort, as it is here. The right to free speech is here
constitutionally protected. And secondly, there is no
jury in this trial that sent two men to prison for
several months at "hard labour." Here, the right to
trial by jury is constitutionally protected for even
minor infractions in traffic court.
But also, in the excerpt from the dramatization
attached, General Griesbach admits under
cross-examination that he has committed greater libels
than those leveled toward him, against Premier
Aberhart and the Social Credit members of the Alberta
FAIR USE CLAIMED
In the politically charged atmosphere of 1937 Alberta,
nine men - seven of them lawyers – were identified in
a government-sponsored leaflet as “Bankers’ Toadies.”
The contents of this leaflet—a public information
circular—went on to discuss how human toadies were
related to the insect world. Between the opening and a
somewhat baffling dénouement, was an exhortation to
When Major General Griesbach, famous soldier and
sometime lawyer, saw his name on the list, he slapped
the pamphlet’s authors with criminal charges for libel
and for counseling murder. Although the latter charge
was quickly dismissed, the two men charged, Joseph
Unwin and George Powell, would still have to defend
themselves against the accusation of libel.
Before the trials were over, Unwin and Powell would
point fingers at the government, the printer, and each
other, in one of the most significant libel cases
Alberta had ever seen.
Bankers’ Toadies - Setting
During the 1930s, William Aberhart came to power,
heading the Social Credit government that had
successfully quashed the United Farmers Association in
its re-election bid. From the beginning, he put a
strong emphasis on the need for increased provincial
autonomy, and on breaking the perceived stranglehold
banks had on Western financial affairs.
While Aberhart had ridden into power on a wave of
popular support, the press was almost universally
hostile towards his government. The province's dailies
began criticizing the Social Credit party almost
immediately upon their ascent.
Though Aberhart was not amenable to criticism, it
seems he could handle attacks from small incendiary
papers, such as The Rebel in Calgary, with some
fortitude. When he found “insurgents” from within his
own government leaking information to The Calgary
Herald, he decided to take drastic action.
The Accurate News and Information Act
In October 1937, Aberhart’s government proffered a
piece of legislation called the “Accurate News and
Information Act” for the Governor General’s signature.
The “Press Act,” as it came to be known, would compel
any newspaper operating in Alberta to “…publish in
that newspaper any statement furnished by the Chairman
which has for its object the correction or
amplification of any statement relating to any policy
or activity of the Government of the Province
published by that newspaper within the next preceding
thirty-one days.” Furthermore, messages from the chair
would have to be printed in the same type and in the
same space as the statements they were written to
The papers found this egregious enough, but when the
bill went on to specify that writers and editors must
name their sources in any article involving the
government, it went entirely too far. The Edmonton
Journal published numerous pieces against the bill,
and won a Pulitzer Prize for its fight in 1938.
The government also proffered another bill the “Bank
Taxation Act” —which, among others things, raised
provincial taxes on financial institutions by 2,230
Ultimately, the Lieutenant-Governor, John Bowen,
disallowed both bills (as well as a third from that
session) by refusing to sign them into law: He had
turned the bills over to the Supreme Court of Canada
for comment, and all were found to be unconstitutional
under the British North America Act.
When the legislature convened again in 1938, the
Aberhart Government retaliated by cutting Bowen off by
refusing to pay their traditional share of the
On one side, the pamphlet read:
"Alberta Lieutenant Governor John Bowen. S.W. Field
K.C., Lawyer for the Mortgage and Loan Companies of
Canada. President of the Peoples’ (!) League. H.H.
Parlee K.C., Lawyer, Canadian Bank of Commerce.
President, Edmonton Liberal Association. H.R. Milner,
K.C., Lawyer, Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian
Bankers’ Association. President, Edmonton Conservative
Association. J.F. Lymburn, K.C., Lawyer, Bank of
Montreal. Peoples’ (!) League. G.D. Hunt, Investment
Broker, United Canada Association. L.Y. Cairns, K.C.,
Lawyer, Dominion Bank of Canada. Member Conservative
Executive. G.W. Auxier, Lawyer, National Trust
Company. Secretary, Peoples’ (!) League. W.A.
Griesbach, K.C., Represents several trust companies.
D.M. Duggan, Investment Broker. Peoples’ (!) League.
Provincial Leader, Conservative Party.
“EXTERMINATE THEM And To Prevent All Evasion, Demand
The Result You Want $25.00 A MONTH and a lower cost to
On the other, it said simply:
“My child, you should never say hard or unkind things
about Bankers’ Toadies. God made Bankers’ Toadies,
just as He made snakes, slugs, snails, and other
creepy-crawly, treacherous and poisonous things.
NEVER, therefore, abuse them – just exterminate them!
“AND TO PREVENT ALL EVASION Demand the Result you want
$25.00 a month and a lower cost to live.”
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