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John Edward Brownlee

Extracted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

See John Brownlee, painting by L.T. Newton

John Edward Brownlee (Port Ryerse, Lake Erie August 27, 1884 - July 15, 1961 Calgary) was a Canadian politician who was Premier of Alberta between 1925 and 1934. 

Brownlee became the lawyer for the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) in the early part of the 20tieth century. When the UFA entered electoral politics and unexpectedly won the 1921 provincial election, he was recruited to serve in the new government as Attorney-General. In 1925, due to dissatisfaction with the leadership of Premier Herbert Greenfield, Brownlee was recruited to become the new Premier and UFA leader. Brownlee led the party to victory in the 1926 and 1930 provincial elections. 

Brownlee's government was successful in negotiating a degree of control of Alberta's natural resources from the federal government, an achievement that became historically significant when oil was discovered at Leduc in 1947. 

The Brownlee government faced its most serious challenge during the Great Depression when the dust bowl impoverished the province's largely agrarian population. The government's policies of continued fiscal restraint in the face of widespread demands for relief led to the UFA's increasing unpopularity. Albertans began to look to the radical solutions offered by Social Credit and the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. 

Brownlee's personal reputation was destroyed by a sex scandal in which he was sued for seduction of a young woman and found guilty. He resigned in July 1934. The UFA's economic policies as well as the scandalizing of Alberta's conservative population led to the party's downfall in the 1935 election when it failed to win one seat in the legislature. William Aberhart and his Social Credit Party swept the province.