Here was the truth about the world as William Aberhart learned it from social credit founder Major Douglas: In the modern age, technology has created the potential for an era of prosperity for all. What prevents this from happening are the operations of banks and other financial institutions which continually take money out of the system. This denies to the people the purchasing power they need to purchase the goods they produce. To eradicate this problem, the solution is "social credit", the provision by the government of monthly dividends to be paid to each "bona fide" citizen (Aberhart’s term) so that the people can make up the shortfall in purchasing power.

Aberhart took these insights back to Calgary and began inserting them into his Back to the Bible broadcasts. In the midst of the privation of the depression, Albertans learned about social credit as nothing less than revealed religious truth. From town to town across the province, Aberhart took his message, illustrating the validity of social credit on the blackboard where he displayed the A + B Theorem (write me and I’ll explain this theorem which all economists from Marxists to Monetarists agree is bogus.)

The preacher created a political movement (he wouldn’t call it a party), garbed in the style of western populism. It sounded very democratic, except that Aberhart reserved the right to dismiss any candidate for office he didn’t like.

In 1935, Social Credit swept to power in Alberta, and while Aberhart experimented with a few social credit measures, he ruled according to the maxims of orthodox economics. After Aberhart’s death during the Second World War, Ernest Manning, the boy from the bible class, took the reigns as premier and held the office longer than any other leader.

His son Preston, not so enamored with A + B, but imbued with the idea that Canada needed a right wing makeover, thought long and hard about the politics of a new beginning for the country that would be rooted in the market system, the limited state, individualism, evangelicalism, pro-Americanism, and the rejection of multiculturalism.

From his fertile brain and the thought of those who followed came the Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance and the Conservative Party of Canada with its odd political culture, combining populism and authoritarianism.

If Harper wins a majority, forget about Sir John A., but keep William Aberhart in the back of your mind.