Rough Notes by Ross Dowson—names of majority of activists of SYL

(handwritten document)

Mar 1 1937

The purpose of this statement is to give the Workers Party of Canada a correct analysis of the work done by the Spartacus Youth League in the Cooperative Commonwealth Youth Movement in the past 8 months. We hope that it may be of value to that organization in making its decision concerning entry into the CCF.

The Spartacus Youth League decided to enter the CCYM in June on a vote of 17 for, 15 against. Work was not really started until the end of September. At the time of the decision there were about 32 members, today there are 29. Since the decision 12 have dropped away to be replaced by 9. Of the 32 who were active at the time of the decision 10 are now in the CCYM. Altogether there are 19 in the CCYM, the other 9 being new recruits put in the CCYM by us. Not one person has been gained by our entering the CCYM and putting our propaganda across. All the new recruits had been flirting around the movement for the past year or more. Of the 10 who are not members of the CCYM, 7 have been members of the executive of the SYL. Thus 7 who may be considered the most valuable members of the organization are doing no CCYM work.

The morale of the organization on the whole is very poor. When the question of working towards a split from the CCYM was brought up and voted upon, the vote was 8 for, 10 against. A question of such vital importance was considered important enough to vote on, only by 18 members. The attendance at city wide caucus meetings has been dropping off, and the unit caucus directors find it very difficult to call caucus meetings. Many of those who are in the CCYM have been attending the CCYM meetings very irregularly. At the last meeting of Beverley unit, where there is a membership list of 25, where we have a majority, and where there are 9 caucus members, only six people turned up, 4 of our caucus members and 2 contacts which they brought with them to hear a guest speaker. Observe the high morale of our comrades, observe just what the CCYM offers our comrades to turn into Trotskyites. Our work has been confined entirely to the city of Toronto and district. In spite of the fact that the CYM exists in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, etc., in spite of the fact that it exists in Peterborough, Hamilton, etc., there is no connection between them. Not only has our work been limited to Toronto & district but even there, we are working in only 4 units.
Bickford 2   East York 2   Grant 6   Beverley 9

In order to avoid ambiguity and to get a true picture of the SYL activity it is necessary to analyze unit by unit.

In East York there are 2 caucus members. To understand their work and the possibilities of its effectiveness one must know that East York is an organization of unemployed youth and has very loose connections with the CCYM central office. This unit owes about $20 to the central office, was expelled last year for participating in May Day and allows Stalinites & Trotskyites in, in spite of the convention decision. The influence of Stalinism is very strong there; the leader of the unit being very close to them. In the last election for the executive, the Lovestonites who had for a long time held a position on that body failed to do so—the election was almost a complete victory for Stalinism. It is important to note that H. Kennedy is a member of that group but not of the CCYM and that he is not allowed to stand for an executive position. The left wingers are gradually being pushed out. Any work that our comrades do at the meetings is undone during the week by the Stalinites, who have the advantage of living in East York & having close contact with the members of that unit during the week. Both of the comrades have unfortunately been unable to attend regularly lately. Comrade Kennedy has been unable to conduct the study class for the past 3 wks. The class in Canadian History which is not a burning issue and which in its early stages will not bring contacts much closer to Trotskyism than to the CCFism or Stalinism—or are we still after 8 months of work and expulsions integrating ourselves.

In Beverley unit there are 9 caucus members. One of the 9 still has no membership card from the central office and another has just been expelled by the provincial executive on his record of 2 years ago. The average attendance at that unit although it has a membership list of 25 is 10. There are only 4 members outside of our caucus who attend with any sign of regularity and these 4 with regard to potentialities are very poor. Our comrades in reality are talking to themselves. Even the 9 caucus members are irregular in attendance, at the last meeting only 4 turning up.

In Beckford unit there are 2 caucus members (…) the other was assigned to that unit on Feb. 28, 1937. Little is known about the situation there. Up until Feb. 28 our tactic was to smash that unit and we had long since withdrawn other caucus members because of the futility of working there.

In Grant unit there are 6 caucus members only 4 of which are able to or do attend regularly. The CCYM executive is so powerful in this unit that it is apparently necessary to sacrifice one of the 4 to them for informational purposes. A Study class on Canadian History which our comrades attempted to organize collapsed. One of the members of the former CYL who has applied for membership has so far been refused on the ground that he has Trotskyite connections. A short while ago our comrades brought up the question of a minimum wage for men. The vote was 6 against (4 caucus members + 2 others), 9 for. A simple trade union question such as this reveals the potentialities that this unit offers to the members of our caucus. (earlier drafts attached …)

Over 1 year ago today the Spartacus Youth League, the official group of the 4th international in Canada formally decided to dissolve and enter the Canadian Socialist movement the CYM as so many of its sister groups had done. By September as many comrades that ever were able to enter the CCYM were in. With almost 9 months of work behind let us pause. Where have we failed, what have we gained and what remains to be gained. Before entry the Spartacus Youth League had almost 40 members, holding regular meetings once a week in 2 districts of Toronto, regular study courses street meetings and a paper. After entry membership about 25, meetings about every 3 wks and a total lack of centralization, discipline & enthusiasm.

(groups of lists of names attached) (earlier drafts of notes attached …)

…CCYM entry has exposed itself as totally false (…) There was no attempt on the part of the majority to build up Socialist Youth Clubs & thus to enter the CYM thru the back door. Why—because they themselves realized its futility. The whole theory of the Socialist Youth Clubs was an opportunistic trick used by the majority to save its own face. What tidbit will the majority (take to) the membership now. (…?) Just what was the bait that made the membership of the SYL vote for CCYM entry. We were told that the CCYM was … SYL yesterday & today. Analysis unit by unit. Future CCYM holds—false idea—Socialist Youth Club—perspective towards unity with Field group. Fraction work in CCYM. Today one year after the Spartacus Youth League decided to enter the CCYM to work therein as an illegal fraction. Let us pause here—has & will our work be fertile enough to warrant further entrenching. Today when the word of Trotskyism is no longer heard.

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