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A.J. Muste

Muste, Cannon in Canada; Find Workers Party Active There

(19 January 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 6, 19 January 1935, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Making a couple of preliminary stops in Canada, A.J. Muste, national secretary of the Workers Party of the United States, and James P. Cannon, editor of the New Militant, have launched their tour to present the W.P. program to the workers of the country.

First reports from Comrades Muste and Cannon tell of a growing miltancy among Canadian workers, and of Tory Premier Bennett’s “new deal” gestures to try to halt this ferment.

In Toronto the Workers Party of Canada, sister organization to the W.P. of the U.S., has an important and widening influence. In Hamilton, Ont., where labor has long been conservative, and in Tonawanda, N.Y., where as recently as last year a Democratic politician dominated the unemployed organization, workers listened eagerly to the message of the Workers Party.

From week to week the New Militant will follow Comrades Muste and Cannon in their tour across the country.

* * *

TORONTO, Ont. – The first stop Comrade Cannon and I are making on our tour to present the Workers Party program to the workers of the United States is in Canada! This we may take as a symbol of international working class solidarity and a prophecy of an international Workers’ Republic.

Speak to 400

For our mass meeting here more than 400 workers crowded the Labor Lyceum, notwithstanding the fact that the Communist party staged a rival meeting. The worker’s stayed until almost midnight, asking questions. They showed intense interest in recent events in the Soviet Union; Comrade Cannon’s replies completely silenced the Communist party members of the audience.

The Canadian Worker admits that two Ukrainian workers who went to Russia, one deported from Canada for C.P. activities, were recently executed by the Communist party in the S.U.!

The Workers Party of Canada has a flourishing branch here, another in nearby Hamilton, and in Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver, with contacts in other towns. Its Program of Action includes: 1) a $1,500 fund to enable it to issue a weekly organ; 2) a tour by Secretary Jack MacDonald in the spring; 3) a national conference following the tour.

Here in Toronto, our WP. comrades are the leading influence in a promising unemployed movement.

At the office of Vapaa Sana, a bi-weekly Finnish paper, we found Comrade Eero Boman of New York translating the Declaration of Principles of the W.P.U.S., which is running in the paper.

Canada’s “New Deal”

There is excitement here over radio broadcasts of the Tory premier, R.B. Bennett. This conservative politician is adopting Rooseveltian tactics, declaring “laissez-faire, old-style capitalism” is dead and advocating social insurance, “fairer distribution of income” (without very specific suggestions), control of stock speculation, etc. The fact that a Tory must come out for such a program is a measure of the revolt stirring among the masses.

In the United States we have seen what a “new deal” really means to workers. Here Bennett seems to be taking the wind out of the liberal party sails on the eve of election. Even the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, social-democratic farmer-labor party, finds it hard to criticize Bennett’s program; there is even talk of a “national” cabinet, with the possibility that the C.C.F. leader, J.S. Wood worth, and Bennett will yet do a Stanley Baldwin-Ramsay MacDonald brother act.

Opportunity for W.P.

All this means there is a real opportunity for the W.P. of Canada, as the Marxist party able to analyze these issues clearly and keep the workers from being misled by vague promises.

There is a splendid group of young comrades here. After our meeting, when we were having coffee and tea (yes, both!) in a restaurant, they sang labor and revolutionary songs. The branch has a chorus. New York and other districts take notice! – That’s an idea for us. And we should have a song book.

Off for Hamilton!

* * *

HAMILTON, Ont. – This is the most highly industrialized town, in proportion to the population, in Canada. But the labor and radical movement is weak. The discontent of the workers expresses itself in voting for “friends of labor” of the A.F. of L. stripe.

Yet there is some radical activity: A small but lively branch of the W.P. of Canada vigorously pushes its propaganda.

Our meeting here was not large, but the workers showed by their 25 questions after our speeches how eager they are for help in forming a revolutionary program.

* * *

TONAWANDA, N.Y. – Back to the United States! In a rather bleak hall in this industrial center hangs a charter of an A.F. of L. central trades council, and around it half a dozen local charters – of union locals long since defunct.

Here an unemployed organization met last year, under the influence of a Democratic politician. A couple of our comrades were expelled, for being too radical. It, too, is now dead.

In this hall, on Sunday afternoon, we talked to a group of deeply interested workers about what might be in the U.S. and of labor’s road to power.

When we had finished, one of these workers said, “Send a young comrade up here as an organizer, and I’ll see that he gets a bed and three squares a day.”

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