Regarding the Withdrawal of the Ottawa Waffle Group From the Committee Against The Nixon Visit
First Published: New Canada, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 1972
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The Ottawa Waffle Group in the New Democratic Party yesterday issued a two-sentence statement announcing its withdrawal from the Committee Against the Nixon Visit, which is sponsoring demonstrations against Nixon’s visit to Canada on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 13, 14, 15 in Ottawa.
The following is the text of their statement: “The Ottawa Waffle has decided to concentrate its efforts on the Nixon Visit on this educational (see below-CLM). The Ottawa Waffle is therefore withdrawing formally from co-sponsorship of the previously-announced demonstrations April 13-15.”
What is the real reason that the Ottawa Waffle group in the NDP has withdrawn from the Committee?
A number of NDP party leaders, including David Lewis, NDP Federal leader and Stephen Lewis, NDP Ontario leader, threatened to expel the entire Ottawa Waffle Steering Committee from membership in the NDP if they did not withdraw from the Committee.
In addition, Waffle leader James Laxer informed the Ottawa Waffle that, he agreed with the party heirarchy that the Ottawa Waffle group must withdraw from the Committee. He added that both he and Melville Watkins would refuse to speak as scheduled, at an Ottawa Waffle educational at the University of Ottawa this Friday (see above) unless the Ottawa Waffle gave in.
Pressure on the Ottawa Waffle mounted during the week and an emergency meeting of the Ottawa Waffle Steering Committee was held on Thursday, April 6. At this meeting John Smart, one of the members of the Steering Committee, moved that the Ottawa Waffle withdraw from formal participation in the Committee Against the Nixon Visit. Smart pointed our that if the Ottawa Waffle did not immediately withdraw from the Committee, then the entire Ottawa Waffle Steering Committee would be expelled from the New Democratic Party – irrespective of how any individual voted.
To their credit, the Steering Committee members refused to pass the motion. They insisted that a special general meeting of the Ottawa Waffle would have to be called to consider the matter in view of the fact that the Ottawa Waffle’s participation in the Committee Against the Nixon Visit had been approved by the Ottawa Waffle membership at two general meetings.
The special meeting held Friday evening at Mr. Smart’s home lasted for over four hours. The upshot was that the motion of withdrawal from the Committee Against the Nixon Visit was carried. The meeting also voted to send a letter of apology for their misuse of the name NDP.
This arose from the three reasons given for the necessity to withdraw from the Committee:
1. The Ottawa Waffle was charged with misusing the name of the NDP, namely by describing themselves as the “Ottawa Waffle group in the New Democratic Party” on leaflets announcing the demonstrations – without the permission of NDP headquarters.
2. The Ottawa Waffle was charged with co-sponsoring an action with another organisation (i.e., the Canadian Liberation Movement) – without the permission of NDP headquarters.
3. The Ottawa Waffle was charged with publicly associating itself with the Canadian Liberation Movement, which is the only political organisation in Canada that stands 100 per cent in favour of independent Canadian unions.
It was again agreed by those at the meeting that withdrawal from the Committee was thoroughly unprincipled but unfortunately necessary because of the threat of expulsion from the NDP.
Because the motion was passed, one Waffle member removed his name from the Waffle mailing list. The meeting also voted that members of the Ottawa Waffle were free to retain membership in the Committee Against the Nixon Visit and to attend the demonstrations as individuals. All but one of the Waffle members on the Committee are continuing to work with the Committee.
The original basis of the Committee’s organisation was explained in its statement of March 30 (copy enclosed):
“Although our two groups have differences of political analysis and interpretation, we are both resolutely opposed to the U.S. takeover of Canada.”
It is now clear that, of the three reasons given, the first two are phoney.
FACT: The Ontario “Waffle group in the NDP” announced on April 9 that it is sponsoring a demonstration against the Nixon visit in Toronto on April 15 at 2 p.m. As per its usual practice, it the Canadian Liberation Movement.
Mr. Wheppler one of David Lewis’ assistants explained on Friday, April 7: “Because CLM is against ’International’ unions, CLM is against the whole trade union movement.”
It’s not surprising that persons who believe that U.S. unions equate with the whole trade union movement in Canada would welcome Nixon to Canada.
This is the real reason that the Ottawa Waffle as threatened with expulsion from the NDP: they associated themselves with the one organisation in this country that has shown itself capable of exposing the Achilles Heel of the NDP – and its base hypocrisy in criticising U.S. investment in Canada while itself being in the control of the American union leaders, the labour lieutenants of those very American corporations.
This incident provides farther evidence for the fact that the NDP leadership is nothing but the political arm of the American unions in Canada, that is, a front for U.S. imperialism.
It further demonstrates that Waffle leaders Laxer and Watkins have degenerated to the level of being nothing but left covers for the Lewis’s and the American unions. That is, they give the NDP the appearance of being in opposition to U.S. imperialism, when in fact party policy is precisely the opposite.
On April 7, the Ottawa Waffle group was forced by, among others, Prof. James Laxer, to withdraw from official participation in the demonstrations against the Nixon visit. On April 9, two days later, the self-same James Laxer announced that the Ontario Waffle group is sponsoring a demonstration in Toronto against the Nixon visit.
This is a bald-faced attempt to divert the people from the anti-Nixon demonstration in Ottawa organised by the Committee Against the Nixon Visit. It is a desperate move on the part of reactionaries caught in the act.
It is particularly significant that the Ontario Waffle group in the NDP is holding its demonstration against the Nixon visit in Toronto, but not in Ottawa. This is striking, since both Laxer and Watkins will be addressing a Waffle meeting in Ottawa on Friday – at the very time when Richard Nixon is at the National Arts Centre.
Yet they will not demonstrate in Ottawa. Only in Toronto and only at 2 p.m. – when the U.S. President is long gone from Canada.
Together, this cabal of the NDP leadership and the Waffle leadership is killing the Waffle.
In the September 1970 issue of New Canada (the newspaper of the Canadian Liberation Movement), we said of the Waffle:
There are those who believe the NDP can be fundamentally changed into a real workers’ party, a party of socialism. We are not among them. We wish well to those who would try, but it must be clear that only a principled anti-imperialist stand will do.
To be real and not phoney, that must very definitely include the demand for CANADIAN UNIONS FOR CANADIAN WORKERS.
The Waffle group has consistently refused to take a stand in favour of Canadian unions. A year and a half ago, we predicted that if they didn’t, they would be wiped out politically.
They haven’t and they are.
In the face of the Nixon visit and the increasing attacks on Canada by U.S. imperialism, the actions of the Waffle leadership constitute an outright betrayal of the Canadian people’s struggle for liberation.
The graphic design of the poster of the Committee Against the Nixon Visit is intended to illustrate the common struggle of Canadian workers, fanners and students against their common enemy, U.S. imperialism, stated Mrs. Esther Mathews when she was Waffle co-chairman of the Committee Against the Nixon Visit.
This is the spirit that will unify the Canadian people and give us the strength to win our struggle for national, liberation.
This is the banner that must be raised by all the progressive anti-imperialist forces in the Waffle group, in the NDP and throughout Canadian society.
The Committee Against the Nixon Visit regrets the circumstances that have forced the Ottawa Waffle group of the NDP to cease official participation in the Committee.
The Committee certainly never anticipated these sorts of difficulties in a co-sponsored action to organize the Canadian people around a single issue of such great national importance.
The Committee is however pleased that the University of Waterloo Student Federation and the Canadian-Arab Association of Toronto have recently decided to endorse and assist the Committee in its work.
The Committee re-iterates its demand that the Trudeau Government cancel the Nixon Visit and that this government stiffen its spine and refuse to grant any more concessions to the U.S. – concessions that are leading Canada to disaster.
Committee members are redoubling their efforts for the final week before the Nixon visit.