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Hon. Ernest Charles Manning, P.C., C.C., A.O.E. (1908–1996)

 

To celebrate its 15th anniversary, the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame Society's board of directors decided to honour a particular individual with a special "lifetime" achievement induction. This meritorious recognition was not intended to bypass the Hall's normal external nomination process, but to ensure that the Society continues to enable Canadians to reflect on how today's petroleum sector was built on the legacies left by previous generations.

 

Ernest C. Manning was—and remains—Alberta's longest-serving premier, and presided at the dawn of the province's modern oil industry, represented by Imperial Oil Ltd.'s Leduc discovery in 1947, and of its modern oilsands industry, represented by the commissioning of the Great Canadian Oil Sands project 20 years later.

 

"Ernest Manning was a logical choice to not only let the Hall of Fame celebrate its own 15th anniversary milestone, but to remind us that he was there at the political helm when Alberta began to hit its stride as a serious industry player…and, arguably, the province has never looked back," noted board chair Bill Whitelaw.

 

Manning was born in Saskatchewan, but grew up listening to William Aberhart's radio broadcasts and, in 1927, enrolled as a student at the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute, sponsor of the radio broadcast.

 

He was the first graduate of the school, became secretary of the Institute in 1930 and in the same year began his own broadcasting career on the Institute's radio show, working alongside Aberhart right up until the Alberta premier's unexpected death in 1943.

 

Manning was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in the general election of 1935. He was a member of the Social Credit Party and represented the multi-member electoral district of Calgary. In September and October of 1935, he was appointed provincial secretary and minister of trade and industry, respectively, and served in these capacities from 1935 until 1943, when he became premier following Aberhart's death.

 

During his 25-year tenure as premier, Manning also held various cabinet positions: between 1944 and 1954 he was provincial treasurer; from 1952 to 1962 he was minister of mines and minerals; and from 1955 to 1968 he was attorney general. During the years from 1940 to 1968, he was re-elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta eight consecutive times, initially representing the multi-member electoral district of Edmonton from 1940 to 1959 and then Strathcona East until his retirement from provincial politics in 1968.

 

During Manning's period of service as premier, Alberta became Canada's major oil-producing province following the discovery of the Leduc field in 1947 and the Redwater field in 1948. To help Albertans benefit from that status, Manning introduced the Alberta Oil Royalty Dividend in 1956, issuing a $20 dividend that year and a $17 dividend the following year to every Albertan. The practice was widely criticized and, in 1958, was abandoned in favour of using oil royalties to fund public works and social programs.

 

Education, health and highways were priorities of premier Manning's government and, in 1947, it legislated free hospital and medical care for senior citizens. In 1965, provincial civil servants were given the right to engage in collective bargaining.

 

Ernest Manning's service has been recognized in many ways. In 1947, the community of Aurora, which is located in the Peace River district of Alberta, was renamed Manning, and in 1972 the City of Edmonton named a section of Highway 15 (which is located between the cities of Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan) the Manning Freeway in his honour. In 1982, the freeway was extended and has since been renamed Manning Drive.

 

   
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