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UBC Theses and Dissertations

William Vander Zalm to Rita Johnston : the 1991 leadership choice of the Social Credit Party of British Columbia Schmidt, Kenneth J.


The traditional objectives of leadership conventions have been two-fold; First, the choice of a new party leader; second, the reaffirmation and renewal of party activists as well as unification of them behind the newly chosen leader. This thesis analyzes the Social Credit party leadership selection process with particular focus on the 1991 leadership convention. The study draws upon data and written material with respect to the 1986 leadership convention, but primarily information gathered from an extensive survey of behavior and attitudes of the nearly 1900 delegates to the 1991 leadership convention as well as newspapers and personal observation and interviews with attendees. It explores how the Social Credit party tried but failed to achieve both of the traditional objectives with their 1991 leadership convention. They chose a new party leader. However, entering the 1991 convention, the party was divided by numerous rifts which had developed during the 1986 leadership convention and since that event. Rather than heal the rifts, the 1991 leadership convention exacerbated them. Thus, as the 1991 leadership convention closed the party was more divided than when the year's leadership politics had begun.

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