The 1917 Alberta general election was held on 7 June 1917 to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The Liberals won a fourth term in office, defeating the Conservative Party of Edward Michener.
58 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
30 seats were needed for a majority
Because of World War I, eleven Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) were re-elected by acclamation, under Section 38 of the Election Act, which stipulated that any member of the 3rd Alberta Legislative Assembly, would be guaranteed re-election, with no contest held, if members joined for war time service. Eleven MLAs were automatically re-elected through this clause. (None were re-elected in the next election.)
In addition, soldiers and nurses from Alberta serving in the First World War elected two MLAs. Two extra seats were thus added just for this election. The MLAs were non-partisan officially. But both Robert Pearson and Roberta MacAdams allied themselves to Labour and Non-Partisan League MLAs by showing social consciousness in regards the conditions available for returned soldiers and working families. These two members were elected in one contest, while each other MLA was elected through first past the post in a single-member district.
In 1917, the main issue facing the nation was conscription. In Alberta, where support for conscription was high, the incumbent Liberal government of Arthur Sifton decided to break with federal Liberal leader Wilfrid Laurier and support Conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden's efforts to form a coalition government. The two major parties both supported conscription, but growing labour and farmer activism, and the entry of women into politics, both as voters and candidates, made the election exciting enough that 30,000 more votes were cast than in the previous election (although they were nothing like the high numbers that would be cast in the 1921 election).
This was the last time Liberals won an Alberta provincial election. The 1917 election was the tightest majority ever formed in Alberta history, with the combined opposition equaling 71% of the MLAs on the government benches. Premier Sifton resigned in October 1917 in order to serve in the federal Unionist government of Prime Minister Borden and was replaced by Charles Stewart.
This was the first election in Alberta that women (those who were British subjects or Canadian citizens more than 20 years of age who were not Treaty Indian) had the right to vote and run. Two women were elected in the legislature that year. One of these was Roberta MacAdams, elected as one of two representatives of soldiers and nurses serving in the war. The other, Louise McKinney, was elected as a candidate of the Non-Partisan League. Her election and the election of fellow NPL candidate James Weir were harbingers of the rise of farmer politics that would see the election of the UFA government in 1921.
The vote in the Athabasca district was conducted on 27 June 1917 due to the remoteness of the riding.
All but two of the MLAs elected in this election were elected through first past the post. Alberta had used multiple-member districts in Edmonton and Calgary previously, but for this election they had been split into single-member districts.
|Party||Party Leader||# of
|1913||Elected||% Change||#||%[a]||% Change|
|Labor Representation||William Irvine||2||1||3,576||3.17%|
|Socialist||Charles M. O'Brien||3||-||-||-||784||0.70%||-1.17%|
|Soldiers' vote (Province at large)||2||2||8,000||30%|
|Soldiers' vote (Province at large)||19||0||17,000||70%|
|Source: Elections Alberta|
- Percentage based on votes cast in Alberta districts, excluding the overseas army vote. No vote was held in 11 districts where the sitting member was re-elected without contest.
- Charles Cross represented two ridings during the previous legislative assembly.
Members of the Legislative AssemblyEdit
For complete electoral history, see individual districts
Members acclaimed under Section 38Edit
Eleven Liberal and Conservative MLAs serving in the army were allowed to retain their seats without election.
|Hand Hills||Robert Eaton||Liberal|
|Lethbridge City||John Smith Stewart||Conservative|
|Medicine Hat||Nelson Spencer||Conservative|
|Ribstone||James Gray Turgeon||Liberal|
|Rocky Mountain||Robert Campbell||Conservative|
|Victoria||Francis A. Walker||Liberal|
|Wainwright||George LeRoy Hudson||Conservative|
1917 soldiers' and nurses' voteEdit
Two extra seats were added for this election. Two MLAs were elected to represent the soldiers and nurses serving overseas. They were elected through plurality block voting, with each soldier and nurse having two votes. Roberta MacAdams, the sole woman in the race, capitalized on the two-vote system by instructing the soldiers to "give one vote to the man of your choice and the other vote to the Sister" (herself). She was successful, becoming the second woman elected in Alberta and in the whole of the British Empire.
Candidates and voters were Albertans who were enlisted for overseas military, naval or nursing service. The MLAs sat on the opposition benches. They were non-partisan officially, although both Robert Pearson and Roberta MacAdams allied themselves to Labour and NPL MLAs by showing social consciousness in regards the conditions available for returned soldiers and working families.
The vote was held on 18 September 1917.
|Lieutenant Colonel||James Cornwall||2,331||%|
|Lieutenant Colonel||I.F. Page||1,782||%|
|Lieutenant Colonel||W.H. Hewgill||1,744||%|
|Lieutenant Colonel||J.W.H. McKinnery||918||%|
|Lieutenant Colonel||P.E. Bowen||882||%|
|Lieutenant Colonel||A.M. Jarvis||425||%|
|Company Sergeant Major||H.L. Bateson||221||%|
|Lieutenant Colonel||A.E. Myatt||186||%|
|Order Room Sergeant||A. Joyce||180||%|
|Acting Staff Sergeant||C.M. Camroux||97||%|
- An Act amending The Election Act respecting Members of the Legislative Assembly on Active Service., SA 1917, c. 38
- A Report on Alberta Elections
- Hopkins, J. Castell (1918). The Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs, 1917. Toronto: The Annual Review.