For a Lasting Peace, For a People’s Democracy!
March 14, 1952, No. 11 (175)

30th Anniversary of the Workers’ Party in Canada

Tim Buck, General Secretary, Labor-Progressive Party of Canada

The February plenary of the central committee of the Labor Progressive Party of Canada marked the 30th anniversary of the founding by Canadian Communists of the first mass legal party of the working class, the Workers’ Party of Canada. On February 22nd,1922, the plenum launched a broad campaign of public activities to bring the record of the Party, its contribution to the Canadian working class movement, the lessons of its struggle, its program of struggle for peace and Canadian independence, to the widest circle of the Canadian working class.

The anniversary celebrations were marked with the appearance of the Party’s new program, “Canada’s Road to Socialism”, which is the most important document published by our Party since its foundation.

The new program, adopted by the plenum as a draft to be submitted to the Party membership and dealt with definitely by the next national convention, outlines the path of popular political struggle for a broad coalition of all democratic forces, of all democratic forces, a government of people’s unity and the achievement of People’s Democracy as the path of struggle for Canadian independence, for Peace and Socialism. The conception set forth in the program was inspired by international development, successful construction of Communist society in the Soviet Union, the great victory of the People’s Revolution in China, the tremendous success achieved by the People’s Democracies, the program of the British Communist Party and the new theoretical contribution being made on the question of People’s Democracy as a form of the organisation of society in the transition from capitalism to socialism; but its applicability in Canada derives from the profound developments that have taken place since our Party was founded.

The Canadian working class in 1922 had not yet been politically organised and had not yet turned to independent working class political action. The two traditional parties of the bourgeoisie (Conservative and Liberal) enjoyed a complete and unquestioned monopoly of Parliament; small petty-bourgeois local labor parties received limited support from the workers in half a dozen of the biggest industrial centres, but the Socialist Party of Canada was isolated from the masses of the working class.

The trade union movement was small and weak, dominated by the American Federation of Labor. The craft unions were limited, in the main, to narrow strata of highly-skilled workers. The big mass production industries in which the great majority of workers were employed were completely unorganised.

Because the widespread healthy hostility to the reactionary policies of the A.F. of L. bureaucrats was diverted to false paths, the tremendous upsurge of working-class enthusiasm and energy generated in Canada by the Great October Socialist Revolution was very largely frittered away.

Thus, at the time of the foundation of the Workers’ Party, organisational division and internecine struggle within the weak trade unions characterised the working-class movement,

Among the tasks to which the foundation convention committed the Workers’ Party, particularly emphasis was placed upon the necessity for tireless and systematic struggle to overcome the syndicalist confusion and illusions which were dissipating the energies of the working class. The convention committed the new party to organise a “back to the unions” campaign, to take the great teachings in Lenin’s “Left-Wing Communism” to the militant workers, to fight within the craft unions for the idea and aim of industrial unionism, to organise the unorganised workers in the great mass production industries. Other tactical tasks that were then unprecedented for militant workers in Canada were the fight to develop independent working-class political action and farm-labor unity.

The tactical tasks set by that founding convention have not been accomplished fully even today. But an important part of them has, particularly in the field of trade union activity. The party won recognition of the necessity for industrial unionism.

Through the struggle by which industrial have been established in most, not yet all, Canadian industries, the workers have turned as a class to trade unionism. The workers have started to free themselves from ideological enslavement to the bourgeoisie, and together with important circles of the farmers and urban petty-bourgeoisie, are recognising now that the policies of monopoly-capital and its henchmen are, in fact, not Canadian policies at all. They are the policies of United States imperialism in Canada, dictated from Washington, made known to the people of Canada as “decisions” of the present Canadian government. The government of Louis St. Laurent has betrayed the sovereignty of Canada. Canada although it is in the British Empire, is now in fact an exploited satellite of the United States. Instead of developing Canada’s national economy for which Canadian have all the material requisites, varied and immensely abundant natural resources, the St. Laurent government is reducing our country to a raw material hinterland for the monopolists in the United States, a cheap wide open training ground for U.S military forces, transforming decisive areas of Canada into literally “U.S. occupied Territory”, subordinating Canada’s domestic and foreign policies entirely to U.S. interests and arms.

The profit garnered by Canadian monopolists and their political representatives by their large-scale sale of Canada is enormous. The Canadian monopolists are least of all concerned with developing steel production and the production of finished manufactured products in Canada; her timber being chopped down and minerals dug up and shipped to the United States for processing. They are transforming Canada into source of cheap raw material, a market for U.S. manufactured products and a subservient satellite partner in the drive to war – instead of carrying out an independent economic policy. In return they personally get enough to enable them to become shareholders in United States monopolies. The betrayers of the national interests find service to United States and British imperialism more profitable. But, for Canada and the masses of Canada’s people, particularly the working class, the pernicious results of their betrayal are ever more telling. All the elements of national disaster are accumulating.

Recognition of the growing resentment against and the certainty of mass popular resistance to its betrayal of Canada, as well as the government’s obedience to United States dictation, was mirrored recently in the government’s hurried enactment of fascist-type amendments to the criminal code. The amendments to the criminal code. The amendments were directed immediately against the great and rapidly growing Canadian peace movement. It is evident, however that they are directed also against the growing great popular movement aiming to organise national repudiation of the anti-people’s aims of the present government. The deliberately anti-democratic manner in which the St. Laurent government is preparing to meet such a challenge is illustrated above all by its calculated and evidently carefully staged repudiation of the theory of the supremacy of parliament in Canada.

Such measures will not save the government, however. The people’s struggle to restore Canada’s independence will overwhelm it.

Until recently, the Labor-Progressive Party stood almost alone in its battle for Canadian independence; today, our struggle evokes wide support throughout the working class. In addition to the growing realization that the actual source of the danger of war is the predatory strivings of the United States imperialists to rule the world and exploit its people, there is a marked growth of interest in and friendship towards the Soviet Union. In addition to working-class recognition that U.S. imperialism is the real enemy of our country, evidence accumulates that allies are emerging from other class interests.

Even among sections of the capitalist class which welcomed the St. Laurent government’s involvement of Canada in the war plans of U.S. imperialism, voices are being raised now in protest against the fact that “integration” of Canadian economy in U.S. economy, and threatening many Canadian capitalist enterprises with ruin. Those interests which depend upon the economic development of Canada, particularly those which are already suffering reduction of profits as a result of the government’s discriminatory measures which favour United States monopolies, are now quite vehement. Even some influential spokesmen of finance-capital have protested recently against the recklessness with which Canada’s trade with countries other than United States is being sacrificed.

The February plenum warned the working-class movement against any illusions to the effect that the path of struggle for Canadian independence, peace and Socialism, through People’s Democracy is the path of bourgeois parliamentarism. At the same time, the plenum warned the working class movement against the danger of under-estimating the profound and far-reaching new possibilities opened up by the change in the relationship of class forces in Canada and on a world scale; expressed in most striking form in the contrast between the rapid growing strength of all the countries of the socialist sector, particularly Soviet Union, and the ever deepening crisis which besets the imperialist system.

To transform parliament, by obtaining a majority from an instrument of capitalist class dictatorship into a lever for the transformation of social life and complete elimination of capitalist property relations, that is, to transform it into the organ of people’s democracy, will require marvels of proletarian energy, organisation and courage. The decisive role of the masses is not lessened and the struggles they must wage are not bypassed by the path of People’s Democracy; on the contrary, they will be carried through successfully only if the united working-class core of the people’s democratic movement retains the initiative through the sharpening struggle which must characterize the advance of the people’s forces. But, against the danger of world war in the imperialist madmen’s final attempt to preserve their crumbling system, a people’s coalition to establish the supremacy of the elected representatives of the people, to restore Canadian independence, to withdraw Canada from the U.S. imperialist war camp, and through people’s democracy to establish Socialism in Canada, offers the only correct democratic alternative and helps to draw the masses of the workers and their democratic allies into the great struggle by which alone that great goal will be achieved.

Thus, the three months’ campaign in which Canadian communists will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their Party will be more than a review of past struggles and achievements. With popularization of the Party’s consistent struggle for democratic progress throughout the past 30 years, the celebration will merge with great movement for peace, with the inspiring and unifying perspective epitomized in the strategic slogan of People’s Democracy. Not as the property of any one party, but as the unifying aim for all democratic organisations and individual Canadians, our anniversary celebrations will emphasize the path of struggle for a broad coalition of democratic forces, a government of people’s unity, a government standing four-square for peace for the restoration of Canadian independence, for Socialism through people’s democracy.

Click here to return to the index of archival material.