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Socialist Caucus Proposals to The 1967 Federal Convention Of the New Democratic Party

Page 1 (text file of cover.JPG )
Page 2Mobilize opposition to the Vietnam War
Page 3Support for the rights and struggles of the working people
Page 4(continuation) Today the working people
Page 5Public ownership of the CPR
Page 6The youth movement and internal democracy
Page 7What is the Socialist Caucus?
page 8 Contacts and Reading list

Published by the Socialist Caucus for the consideration of the 1967 Federal NDF convention. Caucus convention headquarters: Green Room, Walker House Hotel (3 minutes from the convention floor) 121 Front St. W., Phone: EM 3-4041. After the convention: Box 872, Station F, Toronto, Ontario. Produced by voluntary labour.

In the two years since the last convention the Party’s prospects for power have increased considerably. To a certain degree this increased support is due to the recognition by sections of the working people of the need for their own political party and a conscious abandonment of the parties of the corporate elite. But to a larger extent, as analysts have pointed out, it is based not on a clear programmatic alternative but on the disarray and unattractiveness of the old line parties. We maintain this later kind of support is built on sand. To build a firmly rooted mass political movement with the power and stamina to survive the attacks and shifts of the opposition, the Party must offer a program which gets at the roots of the problems of the working people.


The present program of liberal reforms differs little, at least not fundamentally, from the ones offered by the old line parties. Its core is support for the capitalist system made to work more equitably through various reforms and controls. Since this projects the NDP as an alternative by virtue of some greater ability to reform, the most serious problems confronting Canadian working people are reduced to changes in Parliamentary faces and personalities. The impossibility of a Party based on the working people creating an economic democracy with a reform capitalist program is demonstrated vividly by the British Labour Party which now as a virtual captive of the British corporate elite is putting forward policies the capitalist parties hesitated to push.

Within this framework, we think the 1967 Federal Convention faces four major issues. We think the position the party takes on these issues is crucial for its development and the struggle for a political and economic democracy. It is our contention that the socialist perspective on the following issues must become policy NOW if the Party is to move forward to build a movement capable of solving the problems of the workers and farmers of this country.

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Resolution C-17 of our 1965 Federal Convention expressed horror and apprehension at the agony of the Vietnamese people and the escalation of an internal social upheaval into a world wide war. The barbarism and slaughter of that period has been dwarfed into insignificance by the present U.S. onslaught against the Vietnamese people. Warnings of the drift to a world nuclear war have come from prominent world figures.

The role of the Canadian government has become clear. Our yearly “death to the Vietnamese” exports of chemicals, explosives and armaments have passed the $300,000.000 mark. Our “quiet diplomacy” has proven to be nothing but a front for American intervention in Vietnam and totally consistent with our criminal material complicity.

In this period world wide opposition to the U.S. war has developed. In the United States the opposition of millions of its citizens crystallized into a demonstration of over half a million last April 15. Canada has seen the development of a significant anti-war movement with student and civic committees in most Canadian cities.

In this period what has the NDP done to build opposition to the Vietnam war? Our Party is the only party with an anti- Vietnam war position. Yet it is fair to say that although the record has been made in the House of Commons and to a lesser extent outside the House, the Party has studiously avoided the Vietnam issue. Ridings have not been encouraged to spend energies in this direction and the fight against the war has been falsely counterposed to the job of building the NDP.

This tokenist approach is reflected in our failure to seriously expose the Pearson government’s criminal complicity in the War.

The U.S. government cares little about speeches in the Canadian Parliament. Governments, and this includes the U.S. government respond when masses of citizens begin to speak and act in an organized way. The consistent lying by the U.S. government on the nature of the war is a reflection of the effect of the anti- war sentiment which has been crystallized around the hundreds of demonstrations, meetings, and other actions of the anti-war movement inside and outside the United States. The fact that the anti-war movement has not yet been able to create conditions which can force the U.S. government to stop is not testimony to its futility but to the magnitude of the task.

The NDP can play a big role in strengthening the anti-war movement on this continent. It is false to say that NDP participation narrows opposition to the war. Since the question of war is the most profound of all political issues those serious about their feelings will gravitate to the party which expresses them. In other words, the NDP has the opportunity to make the anti-war feeling in this country into a powerful political movement.

But to do this means a serious effort to mobilize people. The failure of the parties of the German working people to mobilize the population against the Fascist movement led to the Second World War. This points to the kind of responsibility now facing the NDP. The convention must adopt a perspective of allocating resources, funds and party energy to the fight against the war.

  1. In practice this means:
  2. A clear and strong restatement of opposition to the war.
  3. Exposure of the criminal complicity of the Canadian government.
  4. Raising our policy demand of withdrawal from NATO and NORAD.
  5. Campaigning for a ban on arms shipments to the U.S.
  6. Distribution to our members and the public Vietnam speeches by our M.P.s.
  7. Vietnam speaking tours by our public figures.
  8. Active collaboration with the numerous anti-war organizations.
  9. Vietnam emphasis and discussion in the Party publications.

The War is escalating. Let the Party get serious and escalate its efforts to stop the War against the Vietnamese and the drive toward World War III.

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The struggle for a socialist Canada is inseparably linked to the continuing fight by the working people to defend their organizations and maintain and improve their standard of living. With the increasing intervention of the big business government through the courts and the legislatures against the workers and farmers, the working people have more and more accepted the necessity of building their own Party. The NDP is the product of this development and, as Canada s labour party, reflects the needs and aspirations of the majority of Canadians who make up one side of the struggle which characterizes capitalism.

Today the working people and hence the NDP are under attack to the point where the issue is fast becoming the very existence of the labour movement as an effective instrument for the defense of the rights and gains of the working people.

A tangle of legal restrictions curtails union organizing and bargaining. The right to strike is restricted to a small minority of the working population. Those who have maintained this most basic democratic right find themselves ineffective before the strike-breaking actions of the courts. In British Columbia and Ontario unionists have been jailed. Across the country, hospital, hydro, gas, railway workers and now teachers have been forced to compulsory arbitration. This entire campaign has been wrapped up in an orgy of anti-labour propaganda, pinning inflation on the organized workers as profits, prices, and rents rise steadily.

In general the Party is known for the defense of the working man and woman—its so-called labour bias. On the other hand it must be stated that there are serious weaknesses to the Party’s approach to the problems of the workers. The Party has accepted the illusion that the working people and the corporate elite have common interests and consequently has made some serious mistakes.

In 1962, at a time when the BC labour movement was being attacked by legislation and police dogs, NDP leader Strachan joined the Socred government in condemnation of the BC labour leaders. The failure of the NDP to oppose the 1963 trusteeship over five Great Lakes and Maritime Seamen’s unions strengthened attempts by the government to interfere in the internal affairs of the unions. In the 1966 railway strike, although the Party was clearly the voice of the demands of the railway workers, the parliamentary record shows the NDP position weakened by a seeming fear of a showdown between the liberal government and the railway workers with the consequent desire to make the totally unacceptable railway bill “palatable to the workers". The extension of this direction which brings the NDP to straddle the class fence is developed in David Lewis’ position on compulsory arbitration submitted to the CLC (Canadian Labour Congress—ed.) September 1966 Conference. In practice it would mean compulsory arbitration if necessary, but not necessarily compulsory arbitration. In a similar manner, Robert Cliche, apparently worried over the militant mood of the Quebec teachers, failed to come out in solid support for their demands and rights during last winter’s strike.

These examples, along with the prevalent view that the unions are merely sources for funds and organizers reveals a potentially dangerous trend illustrated by the British Labour Party which now supports wage freezes and unemployment. Adaptation to the needs of big business could destroy the NDP as a party of the working people which as Bert Gargraves, Regional representative of the United Steelworkers said, in a 1964 meeting of the Political Education Committee of the Toronto and District Labour Council, must be developed “in our own image”—that is the image of labour and not the image of the less- than-a-thousand who make the controlling economic elite.

This means the NDP must establish closer political as well as organizational ties with the workers. Ridings must give active support to workers struggles. Workers and trade union activists must have responsible positions in the Party. The weight of trade union participation in conventions must be increased. Party candidates at all levels must more and more come from the ranks of labour. Above all, the Party policy must be clear and unequivocal. It must reflect the Party’s class position as a labour party.

In a few words this means uncompromising active opposition to: 1) Compulsory arbitration in any form or other restrictions on the right to strike. 2) Strike breaking use of the courts through injunctions, intimidation, and police action. 3) Interference by the government in the internal affairs of the unions.

The party of the working people must speak and act like one. In this lies its future.

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One of the biggest economic problems facing Canadian working people are the effects of the anarchy of the railway transportation system. The core of this problem is the privately- owned Canadian Pacific Railway. In our opinion the case for nationalization of the CPR has been made many times and the Party is now called upon to raise this demand and through its campaigns as it moves towards power, and prepare itself for its implementation.

Since Canadian farmers through the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the National Farmers Union have adopted this policy, a similar NDP policy would serve to mould farmer-labour unity on a programmatic level. The Alberta NDP has called for nationalization of the CPR. To put meaning into this policy it must become a federal plank.

The validity of the demand becomes clear when the past record and present role of the CPR is examined. The picture presented is profit at the expense of service. Instead of being an instrument for national development, the CPR has become a fetter on the economy. For those who say the CPR could be “controlled” there is no supporting evidence for such a claim. A corporation of such power will continually seek loopholes in legislation if not simply ignore it.

CPR shareholders from the beginning have raked in large profits from the railway auxilliary enterprises: hotel, mining, airlines, etc. But in addition it has scandalously milked the public purse. Bill Dodge in the March 1964 CCF Comment, states that in the period since its inception in 1880 to 1940, the CPR received cash grants from all levels of government amounting to 119.1 million dollars. In addition, it has received land grants including mineral rights to 36.9 million acres.

In 1965 this corporation had an estimated 1.3 billion dollars in assets, netted 44 million plus another 19 million through its wholly owned holding company, Canadian Pacific Investments—profiting off the land grants previously mentioned.

A striking contrast to this picture is the publicly owned Canadian National Railway, formed by bailing out a number of bankrupt lines during the depression. The government laid out 100 million dollars to renew rolling stock and 90 million to turn the hodge-podge of lines into an integrated transcontinental system, as well as $804 million in accumulated debts.

As of 1954, the net capital debt of the CNR was one and a half billion (Canadian dollars -ed.) with the former owners still being paid. Small wonder the CNR requires an annual subsidy when this financial burden is compounded by the fact that the CNR serves less profitable areas and takes the risks of new development thus serving the needs of the CPR and big business in general.

From any view the Canadian people in one way or another, whether through poor transportation facilities, high costs, government subsidies are paying for the huge profits of the CPR. It is equally clear that over the year the Canadian workers and farmers have paid for the CPR many times over. Thus there can be no argument against adopting a policy which intends to give the Canadian people what is already theirs.

A rational, cheap, efficient transportation system is a vital need for Canadian working people. Nationalization of the CPR is the key to such a system. The NDP can demonstrate its

seriousness and committment to the workers and farmers by adopting as policy the demand for nationalization of the CPR now.

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The development of a powerful and efficient electoral machine is necessary for any party serious about taking power. But it is also true that meaningful power—power which can bring about the society we want requires a rooted and politically active mass base.

In our opinion the Party has tended to substitute an electoral machine for this politically active mass base. Riding associations tend to be shells to be activated during election campaigns. Party life has been reduced to the activity of the various provincial and municipal offices and paid staff. Conventions are more pep rallies than serious discussions of Party policy. There is a general acceptance of the concept that organization is everything and program and political discussion fruitless wasteful pastimes we cannot afford. Policy should be left mainly to the professionals. As a result of these trends the democratic structure of the Party tends increasingly to be without meaningful living content.

This development is a reflection of the party’s reformist program which projects social change through the manoeuvers and abilities of statesmen at the top rather than the mobilization of the people on the basis of a program for fundamental change.

The logic of this approach is expressed clearly in the developments in the youth movement. Here the drive by the Party to control and supervise it, in effect to destroy its autonomy has resulted in the elimination of the youth movement as a means of attracting radical youth to the ranks of the NDP. In Ontario, the YND has been reduced to a mere committtee of the Party with an appallingly low 150 members.

This attitude to what could be a vibrant politically active youth movement is a reflection of the general problem. In contrast to the youth where the caucuses of the right and left have flourished, the Party since its inception has never seen open, fraternal debate of fundamentally different views. Socialists have been continually expelled and red-baited (from the NDY and NDP -ed.), the most recent being the Ontario expulsions of last May.

The political witch hunt has characterized much of the internal life and in these periods the democratic rights of the membership have been ignored. The myth has been created that the present liberal reformist program is permanent and that Left criticism is tantamount to disloyalty to the Party.

The implications of this situation are enormous. Without a viable youth movement the Party’s future is considerably weaker. Without local organization which seriously discusses policy the Party loses one of its chief attractions—that of a political movement responsive to and controlled by the grass roots. It means a political organization which, despite its considerable resources and staff, is dead on its feet. The British Labour Party has not solved the problems of the British working people. The witch hunt, destruction of the youth movement, ossification of the local organizations, and the substitution of a machine for a movement are features of the BLP at this time.

These internal conditions lend credence to the saying that “all political parties and politicians are the same". Many New Democrats are disturbed by them. Steps should be taken to correct them. Concretely this means: 1) The building of a mass youth movement, autonomous and free to respond to the needs of Canadian youth. 2) Affirmation of the right of party minorities to organize caucuses within the party. 3) Opportunities guaranteed for minorities to present their views in the Party press. 4) Rigid adherence to procedures which protect the democratic rights of the membership. The building of a mass youth movement in the context of the flowering of internal democracy would go a long way to developing the kind of mass committed strength the Party needs.

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The Socialist Caucus is a grouping of members of the New Democratic Party who agree on the necessity to win the NDP to a socialist program.

We are concerned with the tendency of the Party as it moves closer to power to support the evils of a social system it has vowed to change. We have seen this happen to the British Labour Party which now supports a war to make the world safe for capitalism and the scourge of unemployment as a cure for economic ills.

We see the NDP, Canada’s labour party, as a tremendous and inspiring advancement for the Canadian working people, but maintain that the present program of liberal reforms will fail to bring about the economic and political democracy we desire.

We reject the panaceas of labour-management cooperation, and an independent Canadian capitalism, and stand by the basic concept of the Regina Manifesto, the founding document of the CCF, which called for the establishment of a socialist society—based on a publicly-owned and controlled planned economy as a first step to solving the problems of war, insecurity, alienation, discrimination, and unemployment.

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Contacts and Reading List

If you would like other literature or information about the Socialist Caucus then drop in to the convention headquarters at the Walker House Hotel, or write to the Caucus at Box 872, Station F, Toronto, Ontario. If you wish to contact Socialist Caucus supporters in your area, then write to the following New Democrats who are correspondents for the Socialist Caucus Bulletin:

British Columbia:

Vancouver, Nick Shugalo, c/o 2981 West 23rd Ave.,


Edmonton, Alberta Socialist Caucus, Box 5765.


Saskatoon, U.F., 1908 York Ave.
Lloydminster, Jean S., Box 572.


Ottawa, 335 Gloucester.
Hamilton, Rod M., 1214 Lakeshore, Burlington.
St. Catherines, Fred L., 19 Clarendon Avenue,
Sarnia, Z.H., 367 Nelson Avenue.,
Windsor, Dave H., 1420 Cadillac St.
Peterboro, Doug B., 192 Rubidge.


Montreal, Brenda Z., 877 Dollard St.
  1. Reading List
  2. The Socialist Caucus Bulletin—A news and discussion bulletin written by and for socialists in the NDP, who recognize the need to organize to bring a socialist program to the NDP. It is hoped that the bulletin which originated after the 1965 Federal Convention, will serve to organize and contribute to the development of socialist thought and forces within the NDP. Issues of the Bulletin are circulated to interested members of the party and costs are met through the donations of its readers. Order through Box 872, Station F, Toronto, Ontario.
  3. Manifesto for Alberta Socialists—Produced by the Alberta Socialist Caucus in the NDP. 25 cents: Box 5765, Edmonton, Alta.
  4. Ontario Socialist Caucus Program—Mail requests with donation c/o Secretary-Treasurer, Don O. Box 872, Station F, Toronto, Ontario.
  5. Canada/Vietnam_Newsletter—The Canadian Voice of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. $1.00 for 12 issues Box 141, Station F, Toronto, Ontario.
  6. The B.C. Forest Industry and the NDP, Monopoly or Public Ownership—produced by the Socialist Caucus of the BC NDP. 25cents. Write to Nick Shugalo c/o 2981 West 23rd Avenue, Vancouver, B.C.
  7. The Myth of Swedish Socialism—Produced by the Ontario Socialist caucus. 15 cents. Order from Box 872 Station F, Toronto, Ontario.