First Published: People’s Canada Daily News, Vol 2, No 19, December 11-12, 1972
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Note: Between November 7th and December 7th 1972 the majority of CPC(M-L) supporters arrested during the demonstrations on September 4th and September 13th in Toronto have been brought into the provincial courts in Toronto’s Old City Hall. The 28 court appearances have resulted in (a) 19 convictions ranging from 3 days to 5 months, (b)4 postponements (c) 2 referrals to trial by judge and jury, (d) 2 charges all dropped due to the people being convicted on charges from the other demonstration, and (e) 1 acquittal. The following article is a summary of the trials and the events which led up to them.
In September, 1972, in Toronto a new stage began in the people’s resistance movement against fascist attacks on workers, immigrants, other progressives, and their political organisation, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). On September 4th, the bourgeois Labour Day, 12 friends and supporters of CPC(M-L) assembled outside Maple Leaf Gardens to listen to a short denunciation of the policies of the sell out Trudeau Government by Robert A. Cruise, National Secretary of CPC(M-L), and to disseminate 5,000 leaflets outlining the anti-people nature of some of these policies, and urging the people to support the CPC(M-L) in the federal election, which had been announced days earlier. On the evening of September 4th, the leaders of the big monopoly capitalist class Parties – the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats, were attending an international hockey game at Maple Leaf Gardens, hoping to launch their televised election campaigns in the warm glow of the Canada-Russia hockey contest.
No sooner had the supporters of CPC(M-L) arrived outside the Gardens to launch their own campaign for the federal election (on the street among the people, not among the empty smiles on the television screen) than they were swiftly attacked by a belligerent gang of traffic cops, security officers, detectives and RCMP agents. The Party supporters, most of whom were candidates in the federal election, waged a militant and spirited resistance to this attack, using fists, feet, placards and red flags to best advantage, thereby stopping streetcars and traffic and inspiring several people from the hockey crowd to join in the resistance – one woman who joined in to support the demonstrators was arrested and charged for having soundly thrashed a particularly repellant specimen of uniformed anti-communist goons. The comrades were all arrested and taken off to Station No. 52 where they were savagely beaten, punched and kicked while handcuffed, and subjected to a constant flow of anti-communist obscenities. Several hours later they were booked on charges of assaulting police, ’causing bodily harm’ and ’carrying dangerous weapons’. But the police thugs did not get off scot free either. Seven were hospitalized: others, worn out by the communists resistance, were unable to report for work for several days.
This was an open police attack on the people’s democratic right to freely assemble and disseminate progressive literature for a federal election campaign. It was met head on by a spirited and boisterous resistance. This police attack outraged the democratic spirit of the people of Toronto, and the militant resistance inspired them. Throughout the federal election campaign people wanted to discuss the spirit of resistance which the Marxist-Leninists exhibited in the two September demonstrations.
A week later, on September 13th, this spirit of active resistance to fascism reached a new high point when CPC(M-L) led a demonstration against the Canadian Nazi Party and the Western Guard (formerly the Edmund Burke Society) who were sponsoring a racist hate meeting entitled “Keep Canada White”, in an immigrant community in Toronto. This demonstration was given support by various left-wing organisations which had suffered numerous attacks on their members, meetings, and premises at the hands of the fascist Western Guard organisation. The active resistance, however, was led by workers supporting the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). Bristling with red flags, banners and placards, and shouting the following slogans: DEATH TO FASCISM! SMASH FASCISM THROUGH ACTIVE RESISTANCE! DOWN WITH THE RACIST WHITE CANADA MEETING! CANADA IS A LAND OF IMMIGRANTS! the communists strode off from the headquarters of the CPC (M-L) on College Street, and marched to Latvian House where the nazis were planning their anti-people meeting. The hall was guarded by scores of policemen: the assembled protesters picketed the entrance until the leader of the Nazi Party and the leaders of the Western Guard appeared on the steps of the building. The worker supporters of CPC(M-L)spearheaded an extremely just and long-deserved attack on these anti-people, forces, and set about the exhilarating task of beating the living daylights out of them when more than 100 police officers attacked the communists from behind with clubs: constables, inspectors, riot police, a mounted detachment and a motor cycle squad. But they were unable to save their nazi cohorts front the brunt of the working people’s just outrage. Sixteen anti-fascist demonstrators were arrested, fifteen of them supporters of CPC(M-L), several had to be beaten unconscious before they ceased their just attack on the nazis. A number suffered head wounds, from the clubs of the police. The scalp of one comrade was gashed by a blow from police photographer McDairmid’s camera. Five hours passed before the police allowed these wounds to be treated.
In the meanwhile the comrades were arrested and charged with assaulting the police. Almost 200 members of the local Immigrant-worker community turned out onto the street to watch and comment upon the events. Anti-fascists led mass democratic meetings up and down College Street late into the night to discuss the necessity of working people uniting to actively combat fascists and racists who do the bidding of the monopoly capitalist class. Numerous people phoned and visited the CPC (M-L) headquarters that night to express their solidarity and and offer their support. Truly the people of Canada have a long and glorious history of fighting fascism in the spirit of Comrade Norman Bethune.
The trials of the majority of these resistance fighters have been held in the past month. In all cases the proceedings in the bourgeois courts simply continued the collusion of the agents of monopoly capitalism (police, RCMP agents, prosecutors, magistrates and fascists) against the communists and working people. In the trials arising from the demonstration against “White Canada” meeting the magistrates and prosecution maintained (a)that the police were ’peace-keeping’, (b)the communists were bent on assaulting police officers and bursting into Latvian House (c)there were no fascists or Nazi members on the scene (d)Attorney’s witnesses recalled hearing the slogans and reading the placards of the CPC(M-L) demonstrators (e)even if there were a question of fighting fascism, communists had no right to deprive fascists of their “democratic rights” and (f)no political discussion was allowed in court unless it supported the monopoly capitalist class. (the magistrate, on one occasion, interrupted a comrade’s delivery, saying that the comrade had no right to speak of Norman Bethune’s great contribution to the struggle against fascism and militarism in Spain and China unless, he, the comrade had been there! And on another occasion the prosecution and magistrate demonstrated that to protect their own bourgeois class interest they were willing to contravene their own legal procedure. When the accused comrade asked that the prosecution’s police witnesses be excluded from the proceedings until called upon to testify, the magistrate refused the request, saying, “Why do you want to follow the the rules when you obviously do not believe in them and obviously do not know why you are here?” In short, anyone not cowed down by the trappings of the bourgeois courts will be treated to a straight kangaroo court.
One magistrate said that we all want to oppose the growth of fascism, but to do so loudly and actively will only turn the people against the struggle, and strengthen the hand of the fascists. This is perhaps the most audacious piece of advice the monopoly capitalist class has given the communists since Harry Truman counselled the international communist movement that Comrade Stalin was not a true Marxist-Leninist! In brief, this man was using his position to try to convince the communists that the masses of the people are incipient fascists and must be pacified. This is not only a slander on the anti-fascist heritage of the Canadian working class but also an outright lie in so far as leading members of the monopoly capitalists’ judicial system want to oppose fascism! The same men who are the champions of fascism. In the trials arising from the Maple Leaf Gardens demonstration against the sellout policies of the Trudeau Government the magistrates and prosecutors maintained (a) if the supporters of CPC (M-L) persist in not following the dictates of monopoly capitalism’s police goons, then they, the communists, are “getting out of hand” and must be repressed, (b) that the poor police were attacked while ’keeping the peace’, (c) that the contradictory testimony of a brace of dimwit police dogs will always constitute “the Truth” and the testimony of a communist will be considered disrespectful and inadmissible, and (d) that the monopoly capitalist class is not conducting war on its class enemies when it lays civil and petty criminal charges on its opponents, the communists and working class but is only carrying out ’the laws of the land’. The leaders of the judicial system continue to obscure the class nature of their acts. The magistrate in Comrade Cruise’s trial, Mr. Godhouse, was so bold as to state “It is hard to differentiate between Nazis and Communists.”
In all the trials, for both demonstrations, the judges and prosecutors did their level best to legitimize the attacks of the police on the communists and workers by turning truth on its head, and and charging the victims with assaulting the assaulters. The communist supporters resisted these courtroom attacks as staunchly as they resisted the physical attacks of the police. Some comrades were justly quite inspired to have been through such resistance, joyfully recounting to the court how, in the course of defending themselves and their Party from attack, they had bruised a two police eyes, wrung a few police necks and stomped upon a few police toes. And just as joyously proclaimed to the court that they were proud to have participated in this resistance and would gladly do so again, and again if this is necessary to stamp out fascist and racist attacks on the people.
The comrades arrested on September 13th maintained that the Canadian working people have the right to actively and militantly resist fascism in this country, and that the Canadian people have a long history of fighting off the attacks of fascists in Spain and World War II, and in Canada and Quebec as well for many years. They pointed out that the Western Guard and its predecessor, the Edmund Burke Society, had a long history of cowardly goon-squad attacks on progressive people, immigrants, elderly people, meetings, gatherings and bookshops – acts committed under the oblivious gaze of the Toronto police and legal system. They emphasized that these racists and fascists were trying to hold a “Keep Canada White” meeting, to which the CPC(M-L) led the active resistance. The communists tried again and again to seek the truth of the event from the facts presented in the court by the police. These “facts” however, defied verification and proved to be piecemeal fabrication, only serving to turn truth on its head.
The truth of the matter is that in both demonstrations the police did not come to “keep the peace” but rather to defend the interests of the monopoly capitalist class by attacking communists and defending fascists of their own ilk. This is not the end, but rather just the beginning of the present chapter in the long history of the Canadian people’s active resistance to fascist attacks. In the coming months and years the monopoly capitalists will hear the slogan “Smash fascism through active resistance” ringing from coast to coast. End item.