First Published: Canadian Worker, Vol. 4, No. 8, December 1972
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The Ontario Waffle, abandoned by large numbers of its former members, met in Ottawa the weekend of October 14, to chart a new, right-wing course. The meeting was completely run by Jim Laxer and his sidekicks; it was terrible small – a mere 50 compared to previous gatherings last summer of three or four hundred. Laxer expounded his programme of “independence” with fewer and fewer references to socialism.
The first order of business was the expulsion of members and supporters of the Canadian Party of Labour. CPL members joined the Waffle in order to work and discuss the politics of socialism with the movements’ supporters. But CPL members were not even permitted to defend their position. One Waffler complained that the Waffle was reacting far worse than the FBI, but she was told to “shut up” by chairwoman Ellie Prepas. Even Stephen Lewis would have hesitated at the kind of stuff pulled by Laxer. After the expulsion of CPL members came the purging of any Wafflers friendly to CPL. The need for a loyalty oath was discussed in this context.
The politics of the “new” Waffle are becoming more and more “national socialist”. Gone are most references to socialism – they are replaced by a renewed emphasis on independence; i.e., nationalism. Laxer took this one step further, to blatant racism, as he launched into denunciations of Americans in general. Waffle hack Bela Egyed claimed that working class internationalism is a “front” for US imperialism, and claimed that US workers are complicit with US bosses in the exploitation of Canadian workers.
As the arguments and the politics competed for zaniness, Laxer claimed that Southern Ontario is “imperialist” towards Northern Ontario, and that Toronto workers are “complicit” in the exploitation of Thunder Bay workers!
The Wafflers held a forum on Saturday night and produced their latest “star” recruit, Professor Robin Matthews. Matthews, a notorious racist against Americans, talked about how “Americans” are taking over Canadian universities. This alleged recruit to socialism later stated it would be better to hire a Canadian fascist than an American Marxist (This might explain the thinking of the man who hired him! )
All the nationalism and racism reached farcical proportions when a general session on Sunday morning decided to replace Roberts Rules of Order because Roberts was an American! Of course the real reason is that Laxer needs procedures that will guarantee himself total control and 100 per cent loyalty. Too bad Hitler was an Austrian, because his “rules of order” would be just right for Jim Laxer.
The racist fixations of these clowns was really shown up at the foreign policy workshop, when the Waffle decided not to take a position on the Palestinian question because “it would split the Waffle right down the middle.” Obviously it’s hard to choose between two sets of nationalists – when you’re a nationalist, one ought to be as good as the other – and how could the Waffle ever take so rash a step as to support the workers and peasants, and their struggle for socialism.
Regardless of any lip service to socialism, the Waffle seems destined to play the role of apologist for Canadian capitalism. It does Trudeau and the Toronto Star a big favour as it tries to deflect growing working class militancy and anger away from attacks on the capitalist system into racist attacks on American workers. Waffles’ fixation on American imperialism will lead it to shield Canadian capitalism. (As an example, it decided to “research” the role of US Imperalism in the Carribean. But Canadian capitalism is also a significant force there. Mind you, exposure of this exploitation would destroy the Waffle’s concept of Canada as a ’colony’.)
The Wafflers talk about action, but they really only do more and more “research” for the further glory and careers of Professors Laxer, Watkins, and Matthews.
The absense of the Waffle from the federal campaign comes as a surprise to nobody, including many Wafflers who realized the contradiction in not supporting the NDP and not attacking the NDP. Best thing was to “lie low”.
Stephen Lewis gave his own explanation recently (Toronto Star, Sat. Oct. 7) “If we have learned anything, it is that perhaps we waited too long to act; once confronted, the Waffle simply faded away.” John Harney, NDP candidate in Scarborough West, and a “moderate” in the Waffle fight, said “Once the election bell went the party came together again.”
And from another camp in the NDP, Cy Gonick’s Canadian Dimension, came what amounted to total neglect of the internal struggles the NDP has gone through this summer. Aside from a rather pitiful exchange in the letters column between NDP Ontario Secretary Gordon Vichert and Dimension editor Cy Gonick, the Orillia conference, the Delaware conference, the formation of MISC, the role of Stephen Lewis, etc., is totally ignored. Gonick, a Waffle supporter who is also an NDP MPP in Manitoba, is clearly embarrassed by the whole affair. He finds it hard to take sides with either his political ally Laxer or the bureaucrats to whom he owes his career. And so Gonick at least shows he knows what to say when it’s best to say nothing...