Progressive Workers’ Movement Election Statement [1965]

First Published: 1965
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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MIA Introduction: In the 1965 Canadian federal elections, the Progressive Workers’ Movement ran Jerry Le Bourdais, an oilworker, as a candidate in the Vancouver East riding in British Columbia. He won 275 votes, 1.3% of the popular vote. This is the Election Statement issued by the PWM to accompany his campaign.


For the entire 98 years of its existence this country has been governed alternately by Conservative and Liberal regimes. The parties, in spite of all their differences (and they are more seeming than real, have one fundamental, common aim – the maintenance of a social system founded on the private ownership of the means of production (factories, workshops, resources, machinery, etc.) and the profitable exploitation of the working people. Their main aim is to promote the accumulation and concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a privileged minority, and they use the authority of the state to exercise political control over the common people for the specific purpose of furthering their plans in this respect.

Under the rule of both Tory and Liberal we have suffered long periods of unemployment, hunger and war. These miserable conditions are but rarely altered with the arrival of short-lived boom periods that are generally linked to preparations for a new round of wars and destruction.

During almost a century of power wielded by the capitalist political parties our country has been consistently sold out by the fast-buck artists: first to British imperialist interests; then to Britain and the U.S. between the wars. Now, following the decline of Britain since the war, the profit hungry monopolists are mortgaging our future to U.S. monopoly interests, and are plotting to hitch us to the American war chariot.

After this century of unbroken treachery and betrayal the old-line parties still try to lull the electorate with fairy tales about all the wonderful things they have in store for us if we will just give them a parliamentary majority. Has the history of the past 98 years not provided us with sufficient evidence to prove that capitalist politicians have nothing to offer us but more, and larger doses, of the same old medicine – exploitation, unemployment and war?


Pearson loudly laments the lack of a parliamentary majority and claims this prevented- his government from bringing in legislation to provide for the well being of the Canadian people. But the fact is that not a single piece of government legislation was defeated and Pearson brought about the dissolution of parliament by his own independent action. This government’s downfall was not caused by any opposition defeat – on the contrary, the opposition parties gave every indication of wanting to avoid an election at this time.

If Pearson had important legislation to propose he had every opportunity to introduce it in the house and let the opposition defeat it. This procedure would have clearly demonstrated to the electorate what the Liberals have in mind-but that might have proved embarrassing for Mr. Pearson and his colleagues.

The truth is that the Liberal government is racked by scandals. The evil effects of such economic integration deals are beginning to come to light. There are plans, as yet not made public, to commit Canada more deeply to U.S. war plans, such as more open aid (including sending troops) to the war in Vietnam and joining the O.A.S. to aid in promoting American interests in Latin America.

Cracks are beginning to appear in the economy and the stock market is far from stable. Pearson’s plan is to secure a parliamentary majority by means of a snap election and a “democratic vote” so he can claim the unchallenged right to rule in a manner acceptable to the privileged minority and in the way he thinks best.

The tory warriors, who are frantically trying to appear so much different from the Liberals, want to hold the reins of power for precisely the same reason as does Pearson and the Liberal Party.


Although neither Social Credit or N.D.P. have ever enjoyed the privilege of forming a government at Ottawa their record shows that any difference they might make to the existing situation would be purely superficial. Both would loyally and vigorously defend the present social system.

The “funny money” men of Social Credit have ruled two provinces for a number of years and have proven themselves to be loyal servants of the ruling class and ardent defenders of the “free enterprise” (capitalist) system.

The N.D.P., in 20 years of so-called “Socialist” administration in Saskatchewan, showed nothing fundamentally different from the old-line parties; and the unadorned capitalist government that succeeded them in power found it unnecessary to undo a single thing that the fake “Socialists” had done. The N.D.P. top brass has become so “respectable” of late that they have not only given up their empty chatter about “Socialism,” they are even renouncing most of the plans they previously supported for a system of nationalization that would not have presented any real challenge to the existence of the capitalist system.


The Progressive Workers Movement decided to enter the election campaign by nominating a candidate in the constituency of Vancouver East. We will here set forth our reasons for this action and outline a proposed MINIMUM programme of action to meet immediate needs.

We have selected Vancouver East because it is a solid working class area where the electorate has, for more than 30 years, demonstrated consistent and solid support for Socialist ideas. But, when it comes to a question of Socialism, the sitting member, Harold Winch is all talk and no action – and recently he has not been much for even talk along Socialist lines.

Not too long ago Mr. Winch was helping promote low-wage propaganda when he accused Canadian workers of pricing themselves out of the markets of the world instead of putting the blame where it rightfully belonged on the record profits being chalked up by the financiers.

We believe that the working people of Vancouver East deserve better than they have got so we are putting forward a candidate to provide them with the opportunity of voting for a Socialist candidate worthy of the name.

There are many episodes in Mr. Winch’s career that make him unworthy to sit as a labour representative and certainly supplies unassailable proof that he is far from being a Socialist. Here is but one item taken from Hansard for July 24, 1958 which by itself should ensure the defeat of Winch.

On that date the then Tory administration brought in legislation to appoint an administrator and force an end to a strike in the CP. Steamship B.C. coastal service. This bill carried a clause on compulsory arbitration and Mr. Winch cast one of the votes in favour in a house that found Tory, Liberal C.C.F. and Social Credit all in agreement. Here are several quotes from Winch’s speech on that occasion:

”I must accept responsibility... and so I say in these remarks... I do not think the government could have done anything else in the circumstances and it will have my support.”

On the question of compulsion to bargain Winch commented favourably on sections he contended would force company and union equally to seek agreement: “The CP.R. does not want the government running its business,” and, “Equally, the employees will not want to continue working with only an 8 per cent increase.”

Even the Liberal Pickersgill could see through this sham about company and employee equality. He remarked in direct reference to the Winch speech: “There can be no fair collective bargaining once this bill is in operation because the CP.R. will have no incentive whatever to agree. It is going to be paying an 8 per cent wage increase. The Union is demanding a lot more.” (He vanished when the vote was taken.)

There is more to the record of Harold Winch: this will suffice for now.

Our country, in these critical times, needs a parliamentary representative who is a revolutionary Socialist; one who will not be overwhelmed by the gaudy trappings of parliamentary hokus-pokus or stand awe-struck before the pomp and fanfare especially made to impress the unwary. We need a man who will not waste time and energy chasing after the unattainable mirage of reforming capitalism out of existence or in trying to “make it work better.” We need a representative who will use his position as a vantage point from which to challenge the fundamental social, economic and political basis of capitalist society and expose the condition of hunger, misery and war that are bred by it – one who will advance the fight for Socialism.


Our ultimate goal is Socialism – everything we propose will be pointed in the direction of that final objective. For the purpose of this campaign, and as a rallying point around which to mobilize now, we are proposing a MINIMUM programme of action. The fight for the realization of this programme could open up the way for a rapid advance toward Socialist objectives.


Outlaw law suits and the use of injunctions against the Trade Union movement. End the use of political police, courts and other state forces, for spying upon and harassing trade unions and other labour organizations.

Encourage and support the endeavours of working people to organize an independent Canadian labour movement that will embrace all branches of employment.

Recognize the right of government and other public employees to organize, bargain collectively and to strike.

Recognize the rightful claim of workers to their jobs putting that claim ahead of property rights and profit interests by making it unlawful for an employer to operate while a strike is in progress.

Compensation for injuries (including permanent disability) to be paid for at full rate of wages.

Guarantee full employment to all at established trade union wages and conditions.


Throughout our history the economy of our country has been under foreign imperialist domination and subject to the needs and whims of foreign monopoly interests. This control is now mainly in the hands of U.S. imperialists. Control is so effective that Canadian branch plants of American industry are even made subject to laws passed by the U.S. Congress (witness the recent refusal of several companies to fill orders of flour for Cuba).

Our country cannot properly develop and advance while these conditions exist. To open the road to progress we must break the foreign hold on our economy. We propose the immediate take-over of all foreign controlled industry. Such nationalized plants to be controlled and managed by committees of workers to give them a Socialist character.

Because of our character as a supplier of raw materials to feed the manufacturing industry of the most powerful capitalist nation in the world our industrial development has been distorted and uneven.

To correct this condition we must develop a secondary industry that will utilize a large part of our natural resources in the field of manufacturing. Such industry must be mainly developed by the state and based on Socialist principles of management as suggested for the appropriated foreign-owned industry.


To support the plan for a nationalized and secondary industry we must make drastic changes in the pattern of foreign trade. Our almost exclusive dependence on the U.S. market must cease. We urgently need development of trade with all nations of the world, and especially in the vast market of the so-called “underdeveloped” countries that are in dire need of the products we can supply them to assist in the development of their economy and the strengthening of their independence.

There must also be a greater and more diversified trade with those nations that are building a Socialist society.


Our national interest, our future as an independent nation demands that we cease playing the dangerous and undignified role of U.S. stooge in world affairs. Our foreign policy must be firmly based on peace and friendship with all nations and the recognition and solid support for the right of all peoples to self-determination and for those who are fighting to free themselves from foreign domination.

Withdraw from all military alliances, such as N.A.T.O. and N.O.R.A.D., and stay out of the Organization of American States which is an instrument of U.S. imperialist policy in Latin America.

Support the demand of the peoples of the world for the total destruction and banning of all nuclear weapons.


French Canada is a nation and her right to self-determination must be recognized. Only in this way, on the basis of equality, can there be any hope and expectation of unity between the two nations of Canada.


The Pearson programme, as it now stands, is not only inadequate – it is a fraud. Tentative proposals for medicare are in a state of chaos and, in any event, fall far short of what is needed and what the nation can afford to provide.

Unemployment insurance does not measure up to requirements and is being hard-pressed financially as unemployment increases.

The Canada Pension Plan, out of which the Liberals are trying to get a lot of mileage, is, to the majority of Canadians, just a lot of sound and fury signifying less than nothing. Hundreds of thousands will not be covered at all. For the vast majority of the rest the payments based on 25 per cent of average earnings from age 18 to time of retirement will provide a pension that is absolutely inadequate.

It should be noted, that all these schemes are paid for entirely by the working people out of all too meagre incomes. They pay a personal share through direct deductions from wages; the government share through taxation; and the employers share by way of increased prices.

Social assistance, in its present form, is a demeaning and demoralizing way of providing help for the needy as well as being totally inadequate. Government policies which provide full employment will sharply reduce the need for this form of assistance. But, where it is required, payments should be adequate to provide a standard of living in line with what Canada can afford.

We need, and we can well afford, a comprehensive social welfare plan that will provide:

Adequate medical, dental and hospital care coverage.

Retirement, widows’ and handicapped persons’ pensions that measure up to Canadian living standards.

Unemployment benefits on a scale equal to earnings.

This comprehensive scheme, instead of being paid for by working people, must be financed by a tax on the profits of industry rising to a tax of 100 per cent on all profits over 6 per cent on investment.


All education, up to and including university, to be free – including text-books. An allowance to be paid to all students in higher educational institutions so long as they maintain a set minimum standard of grades.


Equal pay for equal work to all working women. Full pay allowances for extended periods during confinements. Full seniority rights to be maintained on jobs for those desirous of returning to employment after childbirth.

Adequate pensions for widows and orphans to guarantee a widowed mother the opportunity to provide a decent living for orphaned children.

The provision of high-standard creches and nurseries for the children of working mothers – free or at low cost.


Full enfranchisement of Canadian Indians and Eskimos at all levels of government. The abolition of the Bureau of Indian affairs which limits and retards the civic and educational progress of native Indians: forces them to subsist on low wages doing unskilled labour; live in shanty houses with poor sanitation; and, degrades the dignity of the Native people.


In this statement we have touched only on the main points and then only partially. We will endeavour to elaborate on them as opportunity arises.

We would add only that we are under no illusion about Socialism being established in Canada by such a simple act as a vote in parliament. The entrenched and privileged class in a capitalist society is much too powerful, and jealous of their position of wealth and power, to surrender without a fight. The ruling class will violently oppose any attempt to change the social system to the bitter end, and by every means at their command, including the use of the state forces (police, army, courts, jails, etc.), which they control. Socialism will be victorious only when the working people take possession of all the basic means of production and organize a state force, under their own control, to keep their enemies in check and defend the workers’ socialist property rights. However, participation in elections and electing a true Socialist spokesman to parliament can contribute greatly to the task of rallying and organizing the working people for the final assault on the citadel of monopoly capitalism. Always provided, of course, that we build, at the same time, a Revolutionary Socialist Party firmly based on the working class. A party of which the elected representatives will remain the servants – not become the masters.