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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The origins of the NPA : a study in Vancouver politics 1930-1940 Smith, Andrea Barbara


This thesis attempts to explain the emergence and success of 'non-partisan' politics in Vancouver in the 1930s. It contends that the formation of the Non-Partisan Association in 1937 hinged on the structural change in municipal government from a ward system to an at-large system in 1935; and further, that the NPA was the defensive reaction of provincial Liberals and Conservatives to the success of the CCF in municipal politics under the new system. This author proceeds from the premise that the 'nonpartisan' nature of civic politics is a myth. In Chapter I the conservative ideological foundations of the 'non-partisan' philosophy are revealed in the alarmist response of the province's political and business elites to the depression. In Chapter II an examination of the origins of the change in the structure of Vancouver's government discloses the key role played by G.G. McGeer and other provincial politicians in the city's affairs. Chapter III examines the specific local developments that prompted the NPA's formation. The strength of the CCF in the city is assessed as well as the practical implications of the new at-large system for civic elections. Group biography confirms the partisan character of the NPA organization and reveals its provincial roots. Finally, this thesis discusses the reasons for the NPA's long term success and the implications for the city. An examination of the city's voting patterns in the 1930s reveals the effectiveness of the NPA's rhetoric and its organizational abilities under an at-large system.

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