Thirty Years – 1922-1952
The Story of the Communist Movement in Canada

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: For a Lasting Peace

PROMPTLY AFTER its founding convention, the Labor-Progressive party launched a great Canada-wide campaign to arouse and mobilize the working-class movement. The need was for united action to win through to the great new possibilities emphasized by the convention and to beat back the threatening dangers against which the convention had warned.

On December 1, 1943, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, issued their famous joint declaration summarizing the agreements that they had reached at Teheran. From its opening sentence that declaration signalized the opening of a new stage in history. It mirrored recognition by the heads of the decisive imperialist governments of the changed role of the Soviet Union. Under the pressure of the war and the historic military achievements of the Red Army, the political world leaders of imperialism proclaimed that their war-time partnership with the Workers' and Peasants' State was a full and unqualified one. In it, Roosevelt and Churchill jointly proclaimed their acceptance of the concept of the peaceful co-existence of the socialist and capitalist states in peace as well as in war. "We express our determination that our nations shall work together in the war and in the peace that will follow."

Even today, when the United States and British imperialists have completely repudiated their pledges and are pursuing policies exactly opposite to those that they promised, the historic significance of the Teheran Declaration remains unimpaired. It marked the end of the period in which the governments of the great imperialist states pretended to ignore the socialist state and to decide world policies as though it were a passing phenomenon. Churchill's betrayal of the spirit of his wartime pledges and Truman's reversal of the policies established by the late President Roosevelt have not altered that historic fact nor reversed the trend. From the publication of the Teheran Declaration until today, the inherent superiority of the socialist system has compelled steadily increasing recognition in every capitalist country and increasing respect on a world scale, despite the war provocations of United States imperialism.

The Teheran Declaration proclaimed agreement between the big three upon over-all plans for military victory and to "banish the scourge and the terror of war for many generations."(1) The Labor-Progressive Party declared "The agreement arrived at in the Teheran conference is important to all mankind because it provides the sole basis upon which complete democratic victory can be achieved and a just and lasting peace established."(2) Against the opposition of the Tories, of the clerical fascists masquerading as Liberals, and of the C.C.F. leadership, the L.P.P. emphasized that "The reason why those promises were made in the Teheran Declaration is because the world, and the relationship of forces throughout the world, have changed."(3) The party warned the working people:

"Whether it is fully carried out depends entirely upon the strength and unity of the movement for democratic progress throughout the world. Something has been gained the like of which never has been gained before. The task of democratic people all over the world is to build up and unite their forces and make sure that the high promise in the pledge will be carried out."(4)

The tremendous victories then being achieved by the Red Army over the flower of Hitler's Wehrmacht and the fact that the leaders of the United Nations alliance were agreed upon their over-all strategy found reflection in the rapid spread of public discussion of post-war problems and proposals. In Canada as in Britain and the United States, powerful sections of monopoly-capital and its fascist hangers-on were already planning what they described as "the right war" which they hoped would follow victory in the people's war. Powerful financial interests in Canada were seeking closer relationships with United States imperialism, with the aim of gaining direct imperialist advantages out of the war. The jingoistic, anti-foreign and particularly anti-Soviet diatribes that appeared in sections of the capitalist press, French and English, illustrated the organized character of the capitalist campaign against the growing sense of unity between the peoples of Canada and the Soviet Union. The leaders of the C.C.F. made matters easy for the reactionary forces by noisy and pretentious but completely irresponsible speeches on the theme of "Socialism Now" and declarations that they would establish "socialist planning" after the first post-war election. All over the country, C.C.F. spokesmen, most of whom knew very little about the labor movement and even less about the economic laws of motion of capitalist society, were indulging in silly, hair-raising "prophecies" about what they pretended was going to happen when the fighting stopped. As part of their narrow and purely self-seeking electoral aims, they claimed that mass unemployment, widespread bankruptcies and evictions, economic chaos, in fact, would follow right on the heels of the war "unless the people elected a C.C.F. government.

The L.P.P. concentrated its main fire against the openly reactionary aims of the Tories. Pointing out the character of post-war policies would be determined to a very great extent by the degree of unity achieved by the democratic forces in the winning of the war, the L.P.P. called upon the working-class movement to defeat Tory attempts at division by strengthening "national unity to win the war." The party systematically reminded Canadian workers that men who had favored military cooperation with Hitler Germany before the war and during its early stages, such as George Drew, and provincial governments which had been willing to grant the Nazis a Canadian base of operations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, such as the Duplessis government, could be defeated only if the majority of people were united for victory and democratic advance. The L.P.P. opposed the demoralizing confusion being spread by the C.C.F. spokesmen.

The C.C.F. propaganda about "Socialism Now" contradicted the objective conditions prevailing in Canada and, as the party emphasized, it misrepresented the limited political aims of the great majority of Canadian workers. Communists fought for a working-class approach to the problems of the post-war period based upon economic and political realities. The L.P.P. emphasized as always that socialism would enable the masses of Canadians to produce a great deal more, enjoy a vastly higher standard of life and richer, more fruitful leisure than is possible under capitalism. But, the party emphasized also, with only a very small minority of Canadian workers as yet in favor of the abolition of capitalism, honest, realistic working-class leadership must concentrate upon issues and aims the struggle for which will move the whole working class forward. The L.P.P. appealed to the national leadership of the C.C.F. to recognize that the immediate issue of post-war national policy and therefore of the then pending federal election, would be "democratic progress through the peaceful co-existence of the capitalist and socialist states," or "imperialist reaction and a drive to a third world war." The party appealed to the C.C.F. as a whole to recognize that, in the conditions then prevailing in Canada baseless declarations that the only alternative to post-war policies of capitalist reaction would be "socialist planning by a C.C.F. government," could only divide the forces that should be united in the struggle for democratic progress.

The claim has been made that the party's opposition to C.C.F. "Socialism Now" propaganda and its emphasis upon parliamentary action at that time were expressions of Browderism in the L.P.P. That claim is unjustified as a study of party reports and resolutions shows.

It is undeniable that the L.P.P. became infected by some of the propaganda of Browderism; because a very substantial number of party members read more of the U.S. party's publications at that time than of our own and then as now the prestige of our brother party was very high in Canada. In addition it must be remembered that the late President Roosevelt was then playing an outstanding role. An example of how our party was influenced by the propaganda from across the line was illustrated by a comrade during the national conference in August, 1945. Then, speaking in the debate on the manner in which Browderism had infected our party, that delegate said: "I must admit that, anytime I, was in doubt, I followed the line of the Daily Worker in preference to the line of our own national leadership." That attitude was all too common.

Our opposition to the "Socialism Now" propaganda of the C.C.F., our energetic advocacy of a national front, our emphasis upon the importance of parliamentary action, were not expressions of Browderism. Those comrades who tended to equate such activities with Browderism revealed thereby their own ignorance of what that anti-Marxist current was.

Like the "American Exceptionalism" in an earlier period, Browderism was an attempt to relegate the Communist movement to a role that a section of the bourgeoisie wanted it to play. It attempted to rationalize its betrayal by propagating an anti-Marxist, petty-bourgeois "theory" that the United States capitalists, guided by "their own intelligent self-interest," would work with the progressive forces to maintain friendly relationships and economic cooperation with the socialist countries after the war. It fostered the idea that United States imperialism would cease to be predatory and would seek instead to cooperate in helping the colonial peoples to establish their national sovereignty, industrialize their countries and abolish inequalities between themselves and the western nations. Like the American Exceptionalists, Browder sought to protect his system of petty-bourgeois ideas from Marxist criticism by proclaiming them to be so new that understanding of them could not be found "in the old- books" of Marxism-Leninism. The outstanding expression of Browderisin was the dissolution of the Communist Party of the United States and its replacement by an educational association on the ground that "the new situation" had rendered a Communist party unnecessary and an obstacle to progress.

The Labor-Progressive Party did not advocate or support any of those anti-Marxist ideas. Following the decision of the Central Committee of the C.P. of the U.S.A. to dissolve, the National Committee of the L.P.P. rejected a proposal to take the same action in Canada. Against the delusion that intelligent capitalists would lead the capitalists as a class along the path of post-war cooperation with the Soviet Union and the People's Democracies, the National Committee of the L.P.P. warned Canadian workers that: "There is a grouping of powerful interests seeking to secure control of Canada so as to get back to policies similar to those which prevailed before the war."(5) The party called upon its members to unite the working class against the monopolists, "The enemies of post-war cooperation."

But the party's leadership saw in the gains made during the period of the National Front an important stage in the development of a conscious and systematic struggle by the working class for the leadership of the nation.

To help maintain the political advance then being made by the working class, to strengthen the forces fighting for socialism, to keep open the path to a socialist Canada, it was necessary that all progressive forces in Canadian politics should unite upon immediate aims which could command the support of the majority of workers and poor farmers, including important circles of those who were not then prepared to vote for the abolition of capitalism. Indeed, as the party emphasized continually, they must be immediate aims which could command the support of wide circles of democratic people who were not even prepared to vote for the deliberately deceptive doubletalk of the C.C.F. about "Socialism Now."

The L.P.P. did not minimize the magnitude of the problems confronting Canadian democrats. It stated repeatedly that the basic issue confronting us and all mankind was in effect "The building of a new world or a drive towards a new world war."(6) The monopoly-capitalists and their political henchmen were bent upon getting our country onto the path of preparations for a third world war. The only means by which the pending federal elections could help to defeat their sinister aims was by the election of a government representative of the democratic, forward-looking majority of Canadians; a government which would keep Canada on the path of peace, friendship with the socialist countries, all-round economic development of our own country and advanced social reforms. Did there exist a possibility to elect such a government? The L.P.P. said "Yes, provided that the electoral strength of all democratic forces favoring such policies were united and the King Liberals were made dependent upon the support of a progressive bloc in the new House of Commons."

Six parties were contesting the federal election.(7) The public opinion polls credited the Liberal Party with receiving the support of 30 per cent of the voters and the Progressive-Conservatives the support of 29 per cent. It was considered extremely unlikely that any one party could secure a majority of the popular vote or win a majority of the seats. There was widespread recognition of the probability that the government which took office following the election would be a coalition government. The main aim of the capitalist press and leaders of capitalist parties was to prevent the establishment of a government based upon the type of coalition advocated by the L.P.P. The Tories and the right-wing Liberals counted quite openly upon being able to elect enough members to establish a right-wing Tory-Liberal coalition. The leadership of the C.C.F. publicly welcomed that prospect because a Liberal-Tory coalition government would make them the official opposition. The Labor-Progressive Party campaigned against that shortsighted attitude. It was clear then to an objective student, just as it is clear now in the light of events, that the L.P.P. was correct in its estimation that "Labor, alone, cannot carry through the policies that will be necessary in the post-war years and capital, alone, will not carry through such policies."(8)

"Our proposal, therefore, is that the labor movement (trade union, labor political parties and other working-class organizations) should unite their forces to elect the largest possible number of members to the next Dominion House of Commons and should enter the elections with the declared aim of electing a government representing a Liberal-Labor coalition."(9)

Pointing out that a Liberal-Tory coalition government would mean national policies of Tory reaction, the L.P.P. appealed for unity to prevent such a disaster for Canadian democracy. The aim of the party's campaign was to capture every possible seat for progress and reduce as much as possible the number of Liberals as well as the number of Tories in the new House of Commons. To enable the progressive forces to win enough seats to enable them to hold the "balance of power" in the new House of Commons, the party called upon all workers, farmers and progressive urban middle-class people to unite in support of one candidate in each constituency. The L.P.P. pointed out that such unity wo uld win for the progressive bloc a large number of seats that often are captured by the Liberals with a minority vote. The actual results of the election showed that we had been correct in that estimation.

The main aims of the party in the federal election in June, 1945, were stated in its program as follows:

"The Labor-Progressive Party, as a vital. force in Canadian democracy, enters the coming Dominion election with its own platform and candidates. The L.P.P. believes that national unity can be best expressed in parliament through a coalition of all democratic forces, including the Labor-Progressive Party, the C.C.F., the trade unions, the farmers' movements, and progressive Liberals of town and rural districts. Together, these represent the overwhelming majority of Canadians. Together they can give the necessary leadership, not surrendering their identities but realizing their common aim, prosperity and enduring peace.
"Only such a democratic coalition, only such a national unity parliament and government, can lead Canada forward to that new era of national greatness which is now within our reach."(10)

We did not succeed in bringing about an electoral coalition of all democratic forces. Blinded to the real interests of Canadian democracy by their shortsighted desire to be the official opposition to a Liberal-Tory coalition, the leaders of the C.C.F. denounced the L.P.P. proposal violently and fought against it in the trade union movement and the farm organizations. As a result, the outcome of the election was the return of the King Liberals to power, on the basis of a minority of the popular vote.

In accord with the letter and the spirit of our proposals for a united front of progressive forces, the L.P.P. contested only 67 seats. The fact that in that one-quarter of the constituencies 110,000 Canadians cast their votes for the L.P.P. program in spite of the fact that no coalition could be achieved, testified to the existence of a powerful body of democratic opinion. Canadian workers will yet achieve a great people's coalition for a lasting peace and social progress.

(1) From the Teheran Declaration.

(2) Unity or Chaos by Tim Buck, p. 9.

(3) Unity or Chaos, by Tim Buck, p. 9.

(4) Unity or Chaos, by Tim Buck, p. 11.

(5) Report adopted by the National Committee, L.P.P., Feb., 12, 1944. Published under the title: Canada's Choice, Unity or Chaos.

(6) Unity or Chaos by Tim Buck, p. 13.

(7) Liberals, Progressive-Conservatives, C.C.F., Labor-Progressive, Social Credit, Bloc Populaire.

(8) What Kind of Government, p. 10.

(9) What Kind of Government, p. 10.

(10) Dominion Election Program of the L.P.P., 1945, p. 7.