First Published: Workers International Newsletter [publication of the U.S. Progressive Labor Party] Vol. 1, No. 1, January 1974
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Editor’s Note: This report was presented to the International Workshop at the PLP Third Convention [held July 13-15, 1973 – EROL] by the CPL representative.
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The Canadian Party of Labour came into being by fighting against the proposition that any “stages” or national “questions” superseded the necessity of the closest possible international working class unity. Specifically, the question was whether or not to forge close ties with the Progressive Labour Party. So we are glad to be here making this report.
The condition of the working class in Canada is substantially the same as that of the U. S. working class. Wages, costs, housing are approximately the same. The worker in this developed capitalist system works in the same industries, often for the same monopolist bosses; they belong to the same international unions, and they are now undergoing the same upheavals.
The same hold true for the working class in Quebec. Precisely as we began to reject the notions of “two stage” revolution and “national liberation”, our strategy became to build our Party and the fight for socialism in Quebec as everywhere else in Canada. Our line is: “one state, one class, one revolutionary communist Party.”
Canada’s ruling class is often described, fairly accurately, as the junior partner of U.S. imperialism. As capitalists go, “junior” isn’t doing bad. Canadian bosses have worldwide holdings from which they reap immense profits. They do particularly well in the West Indies, South Africa, Ireland and Indonesia. While there is much U. S. investment in Canada, the Canadian financial bosses have been careful to keep a tight grip on the banking system. David Rockefeller attempted to set up a bank in Canada and was given the bums’ rush. Canada’s rulers also have considerable capital invested in the U.S. Today the world capitalist order is undergoing a shake-up as the U.S. begins to fall off the pace. We don’t say they’re “gone”, but they are “going”. The Canadian ruling class waxes and wanes with the U.S. and keeps the same pulse rate.
The political hacks preferred by the bosses are the liberals. They talk a great deal of reform, but are quick to pounce when threatened. During the so-called “F.L.Q.” crisis, when it appeared workers might begin to take action, Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act and in one stroke denied everyone the simplest rights. When the Quebec General Strike occurred, the leaders of the major unions were thrown in jail in a flash.
Wiretapping is legal, and a special security force, something like the one planned by Nixon, has been instituted. It bypasses the R.C.M.P. so they’re “ready”.
Being a middle-power the Canadian leaders often play the role of the “middle-man”. When the imperialists get someone down they generally call on Canadian troops to mop up “neutrals”. This has been done in the middle-east, Cyprus, and twice in Vietnam. Recently the bosses have been having their own Pentagon Papers revelations. Pearsons, it now comes out, agreed to pass along a Johnson threat to use nuclear weapons on North Vietnam. Being a solid neutral he told L.B.J. he’d prefer the U. S. to use conventional bombs (moderation in all things even murder).
Given our proximity to the U.S., C.P.L. has always worked for close ties with P.L. Now, with the sharpening inter-imperialist rivalries and growing working class resistance to worsening conditions everywhere, we are convinced, as never before, that international ties must be sought and hopefully formalized. The Polish workers who rose up singing the “Internationale” against the capitalists of that country, show that internationalism is no pipe dream.
In this proposed campaign to win working class militants around the world to the communist strategy basically indicated by R.R. III [Road to Revolution III – EROL] we should pay particular attention to Eastern Europe. The workers have been in power in those countries and have a vast revolutionary experience. In Yugoslavia, for example, a deep crisis is emerging and there are many signs of a revolutionary specialist activity. The great imperialist powers are knocking down the doors of East Europe, we may as well walk right in. Take the cure right along with the ailment. As those workers see more and more of the Ford’s and Rockefellers, international class solidarity will grow.
The work of C.P.L. has been pegged on the twin strategies worked out in conjunction with P.L. – of fighting racism and organizing for 30 for 40. In these two vital struggles we are trying to build a base for communism and recruit to the Party.
Before we took up the 30 for 40 campaign in a serious way, we had foundered badly in sectarianism. CPLers in industry, such as they were, generally stood aloof from “reactionary” unions and did nothing to compromise the “purity” of our line. That is, they did nothing.
However, haltingly we had taken up the task of merging ourselves in the class, but, by means of “principle”, were keeping our distance.
The combination of inner party struggle and ruling class attacks on workers, through speed-up, overtime, and lay-offs woke us up to the necessity of the fight for shorter hours. Due to WAM [Workers Action Movement – EROL] and the Party, the 30 for 40 demand has begun to come to the fore. In Sudbury, WAM distributed several thousand 30 for 40 hard hat stickers to members of the largest steelworkers local in the district. The stickers also bore the names of a 30 for 40 slate which WAM members had helped to create.
Under pressure from 30 for 40 petitioning and leafletting, the UAW hacks at Douglas Aircraft are now having to pay lip service to the demand. Hundreds of names have been collected by a WAMer close to the Party in the Ford Talbotville plant.
Party members in the Postal Workers, Railway workers, Clerks, and hospital, and glass have all been able to organize caucusses, and WAM committees around the 30 for 40 effort. Incidentally, the N.Y.WAM Convention led directly to action in the Postal and Steelworkers as brand new people returned “charged-up” to do something.
A major portion of the workers in Canada are immigrants. Most of them, approximately three to four million, arrived since WW II. There are perhaps 300,000 Italian immigrants in Toronto. Our paper, the “Canadian Worker”, comes out in four languages and if it were feasible, there could be more. Fortunately, “Desafio” is of great assistance in bringing our line to Spanish workers.
The Canadian ruling class has made a mint from its super-exploitation of immigrants. CPL has, together with SDS, been in the midst of several fights against boss inspired racism that wrecks such havoc in the workers’ struggle. Through use of the immigration department, workers are harassed and intimidated by threat of deportation. Also, there is no shortage of racist theoreticians who provide rationale for the brutality and thievery of the bosses.
CPL and SDS are presently organizing hot-pursuit of a University of Toronto medical department big-wig who serves on the government’s Workmen’s Compensation Board. This Hitlerite has written that Italian workers, who work predominately in construction where the accident and fatality rate is extremely high, are “predisposed to feign injury”.
Our efforts against the racist immigration department led to the largest demonstrations on the issue, and more importantly, to the toughest head to head exchanges the racist big shots have had to face. Though their strategy of directing blame for the failures of capitalism onto the “foreigners” and harassment of immigrants remains unchanged, we have caused them to back peddle on several occasions.
In the anti-racism and 30 for 40 struggles we have shown a tendency to postpone promotion of communist ideas and recruitment to the Party until the “dust has cleared”. While we’ve won people from these struggles we have fallen far short of our potential. The “stages” theory has hurt us here too. “Tomorrow” won’t get it, militants must be won in the midst of militant struggle. CPL now has members functioning in most of the major industries and unions of this continent. Our Party Centre is in Toronto which is the financial and industrial hub of the country. Almost two-thirds of Canada’s industry is located within a one hundred and fifty mile radius of the city. Our paper has gone from a monthly schedule to coming out regularly every third week.
All this is not to say that we should not be self-critical. We have been slow to take up the fight against racism. We could have been, and still can be, a much greater force among the mass organizations of the working class, especially the unions, if we fought and continue to fight, our own fear of workers, our own anti-communism. We have been slow to build WAM. Our fight against sexism has not been sharp enough. These are all “do-or-die” questions. So we will do them.
We want to see an international communist movement emerge from this decade. Regular formal (quarterly?) meetings between PRSL [Puerto Rican Socialist League – EROL], PLP and CPL would be an important first step. We could do with lots of criticism (we certainly don’t want to see the kind of diplomatic exercises practiced by the Maoists and the Brezchnevists). If it is done conscientiously we may be of more help to such new and endangered groups as the “Red Front’’ in Israel.
Now that Mao has broken his east wind his camp followers in Canada are in disarray. Most have gone off the deep end with nationalism. The old-line (Khruschev-Browder-Buck-Kashton-Hall) revisionists are more of an obstacle to revolution due to the Soviets determination to put them to use and also the desire of the bosses to steer people into the swamp of “peaceful” everything.
Again the class struggle is sharpening – with most of the upheavals being unadulterated class fights. The missing link has been Communist leadership. Now, while Nixon, Brandt and Co. are handing medals for class betrayal is the time to announce the good news that our Parties are bent directing the proletarian war for STATE POWER.