(Editor’s note: Bob Clark, one of Alberta’s last surviving Social Credit MLAs, died in 2020 at 83. Clark was first elected in 1960 and later served as Minister of Youth in then-Premier Ernest Manning’s cabinet. Clark recalled those years in a February 25, 2010 interview with Blacklock’s publisher Holly Doan. Following is a transcription of his remarks)
The 1950s were really an upheaval. We had the Depression, then the war, and all the veterans came back and had families. It was almost as if there was a load off everyone’s back. I remember attending the University of Calgary, and going home to tell my parents we’d marched on the president’s office because tuition fees were going up. Oh, my: “Bob! What in the world are you doing? You’re going to amount to nothing!”
Times were changing. Families were changing. Divorce rates were going up. Kids were leaving home at an early age. You can’t stop change, you prepare for it, and you have to believe in the future. People spend too much time looking back to see what happened in the rear view mirror.
I remember watching Ed Sullivan’s show. Elvis Presley was on, and they wouldn’t show anything below the waist because it was going to taint all the young people, with the wiggling and shaking. The problem with censorship is it tries to protect the values of the past.
There was a movie, God’s Little Acre. It caused all sorts of commotion. We had a censorship board right here in Alberta, and they decided the movie was not fit to be seen. I remember as an MLA going down to the censorship office with a number of colleagues to see this movie for ourselves. You said to yourself afterwards, “What was so shocking?”
There were suggestive scenes. I recall some older MLAs saying, “We have to stop this.” There was a debate. Do we have censorship or not?
There was a sense we were protecting people from the evils of this movie. I didn’t buy that. People should make up their own minds. But there was a sense things were changing too rapidly, and people wanted to preserve the old ways.
Looking back on it, hopefully with a little sober second thought, it may have been society was overreacting to what was happening with young people at that time. Change is hard for some people.
I remember Premier Manning. He was not a glad-hander. He was reserved. I don’t think he enjoyed meeting people a great deal. As you got to know him, you would see he was a very warm person. He told me once, “Young fellow, I don’t know how long you’re going to be in public life, but remember: It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it.” I never forgot that.
Times change, but many values don’t change. It’s been a great ride. I think people in my generation lived through some of the best times we may see.