Thirty Years – 1922-1952
The Story of the Communist Movement in Canada
VICTORY WAS ACHIEVED in Europe a month before Canadians voted in the federal election. Japan capitulated two months after the federal election. The cheers at the victory celebrations had scarcely died away before the public attitude of the government towards post-war problems changed. All too soon, the warning uttered at the foundation convention of the party was proven true. On October 27, 1945, less than three months after the Japanese capitulation, President Truman delivered a foreign policy speech at New York on Navy Day. In that speech he discarded all the democratic concepts expressed in his revered predecessor's wartime undertakings. Franklin D. Roosevelt had placed first the need for international cooperation in the spirit of the Teheran and Yalta accords. Roosevelt had hinged his main policies to that. President Truman, delivering his first major speech to the people of the Americas, betrayed his fear about public reaction to his sudden reversal of the Roosevelt policies so soon after he himself, Truman, had affirmed in the Potsdam Treaty his intention to adhere to them. He tried to bridge the gap between his solemn pledges at Potsdam in August and his implicit repudiation of them in October by the lame excuse that "after past ways, the unity among allies, forged by their common peril, has tended to wear out as the danger passed." With that cynical excuse, he ditched the Roosevelt thesis and put in first place his declared determination to use all the power of the government to enable United States imperialism to dominate the post-war world and organize it in its own image. President Truman was joined in that aim a few days later by Mackenzie King of Canada and Clement Attlee, the "labor" prime minister of Britain. From Washington, these three issued a joint statement announcing in very thinly veiled language their decision to scrap the Big Three unity which had provided the key to victory in the war, and to replace it by a U.S.-British-Canadian bloc. Their statement was couched in terms of the atomic bomb but they made it clear that it referred to the whole field of international relations. They discarded the great-power cooperation built up during the war. In place of cooperation they adopted the technique of "atomic diplomacy."
Less than three months after the capitulation of Japanese imperialism these three men started playing with the dangerous idea that the material power of the United States and what they imagined was going to be its monopoly of the atomic bomb would enable them to destroy the People's Democratic governments and restore the old order of things. It revealed their intention to preserve their system of colonial exploitation and oppression, contrary to their solemn pledges in their Atlantic Charter. Instead of helping all peoples to free themselves from exploitation, and to govern their own countries as they chose, they were planning already to re-establish their imperialist grip. The U.S.-British-Canadian "Atomic Bomb Declaration" showed acceptance by the British imperialists of United States domination. Churchill's infamous call to prepare for war against the Soviet Union followed. It was his first public bid for an arrangement by which he and his imperialist associates in Britain might preserve their personal fortunes and class privileges, by selling out the British Empire to United States imperialism. Mackenzie King's intimate participation illustrated the fact that Canadian imperialists shared those alms.
The second convention of the L.P.P., held June 1-5, 1946, warned the Canadian people against the scheme to integrate Canada in the gathering drive of American imperialism to a third world war. The main resolution adopted by that convention pointed out:
"World peace and reconstruction are in serious danger. The ruthless,
imperialistic atomic bomb power politics of the Anglo-American
bloc have brought about a tense and critical world situation. An
unprecedented campaign of misrepresentation, slander and outright
lies has been launched to make it appear that the Soviet Union
threatens the peace of the world, to mask the warlike plans of the
Anglo-American bloc, and to ideologically prepare the people of Canada
for war in the near future, a war for Anglo-American imperialist
"Their drive to make Canada a cockpit of world war three would bring about the subjugation of our country and its democratic institutions to a foreign, imperialist military system-the triumph of North American fascism.
"This grim prospect, which would mean devastation and ruin for our country, is not inevitable. To avert it requires that Canadians grasp now all the implications of the deep-going conflict that is under way between the forces of peace and those who are striving for war."(1)
There were honest progressive-minded workers at that time who thought the L.P.P. convention exaggerated the danger of war. Some thought that we exaggerated the treachery of the Canadian monopolists and their political representatives. Not one such worker thinks so today.
In accord with Truman's emphasis on the new aims of American imperialism in his Navy Day speech, the head of the State Department's policy planning division, George F. Kennan, elaborated a vicious, far-reaching, war-mongering Nazi, argument to the effect that the main point of United States foreign policy should be directed against the Soviet Union, instead of to cooperation on the basis of the United Nations Charter for world peace. In March, 1947, President Truman made another foreign policy speech and proclaimed his "get-tough-with-Russia" policy, under the official title of "The Truman Doctrine." His proclamation was in fact but the public announcement that his administration had adopted the vicious, anti-democratic Kennan plan as the basis of its official foreign policy.
The over-all aim of the Truman Doctrine and the supplementary policies which have been introduced to buttress it, such as the Marshall Plan, etc., is United States domination of the world. As Lenin pointed out, imperialism is characterized everywhere by a striving for complete domination. In this epoch of the crisis of the imperialist system and the transition to socialism, the drive for imperialist domination is not concentrated solely, or even mainly, upon the so-called "undeveloped" colonial countries. Now, the imperialists are motivated by military considerations even more strongly than by potential superprofits to be secured through domination of "undeveloped" countries. In addition, the U.S. imperialists find that dominating and exploiting the people of an industrially developed country by making its capitalists dependent upon U.S. "aid" is also very profitable to Wall Street. Thus, the U.S. drive for domination is directed first of all at other imperialist states - Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Western Germany, etc. It is carried on in the disguise of the search for security, in the disguise of Marshall Plan aid, arms aid, economic cooperation, or what have you. Its aim, and until now, its result, is consistently the same. The Yankee moneybags are seeking to dominate and exploit the rest of mankind, as well as to involve them in a world atomic war for U.S. aggrandizement.
President Truman's declaration in March, 1947, that his government puts the maintenance of capitalism before and above the maintenance of peace, was a veiled public assurance to United States monopoly-capital that, henceforth, all the resources of American imperialism would be used to stop the popular democratic advance which at that time characterized the old world. His government was already pursuing an aggressive and provocative war policy. In that very speech he proposed that the United States should transform Greece and Turkey into military and naval bases for United States imperialism "to stop the spread of communism." As the Labor-Progressive Party pointed out at the time, the Truman Doctrine speech "was the most flagrant admission of aggressive, imperialist intent that has been made since Hitler proclaimed his aggressive aims before the Second World War. Never before in the memory of any man living has the responsible head of a great power proclaimed brazenly and arrogantly his aim at world domination and the intent to achieve it by flagrant interference in the internal affairs of other nations."
Following the president's "Truman Doctrine" speech, the Marshall Plan was introduced as its economic counterpart. Promptly the St. Laurent government changed the entire basis of Canada's foreign trade policies to make them conform with the sinister aims of the Truman Doctrine and its Marshall Plan. The first, and drastic, change in Canadian foreign trade policies became known as the Abbott Plan. So determined was the St. Laurent government to carry through its changes that it prevented any public knowledge of them, even by parliament, until after they were in operation. For the first time since responsible government was established in Canada, the government of the day introduced basic changes in national policy and foreign relationships in peacetime by simply announcing the changes over the radio. Relatively few people understood from Douglas Abbott's misleading broadcast that the whole emphasis of Canadian relationships, economic and political, was being changed; that "the British connection" was being ditched. That makes the method used by the St. Laurent government more reprehensible.
It became quite clear that Canadian imperialists were bent upon making themselves junior partners of the United States imperialists at the expense of the Canadian people. They cynically discarded the national ambition that Sir Wilfrid Laurier used to describe in his boast, "This will be Canada's century." Instead of developing Canada's economy, they adopted the aim of becoming political as well as financial "brokers," seizing options on political, economic, territorial and military advantages in Canada for the U.S. imperialists, literally selling Canada to the United States. Along with that aim and function, there developed rapidly one project after another by which United States authority within Canada increased, and Canada's sovereignty was systematically undermined.
The Labor-Progressive Party called upon the Canadian people to recognize that the Abbott Plan was a great deal more than a temporary expedient as the government pretended. It was clearly the beginning of a long-range scheme to subordinate Canada's economy and trade policies to the United States. It has already subordinated Canada's export trade to the United States government. To maintain Canada as an outlet for U.S. manufacturers, it has blocked the expansion of finished goods industries. It is making Canada dependent upon the production of raw materials for U.S. industries. It has disrupted the century-old trade relationships between Canada and Britain. It has cut off Canadian exporters from trade with nearly half of all mankind. It is forcing a generation of young Canadians to emigrate to the United States in search of careers. It has granted U.S. troops extra-territorial rights in Canada, reduced parts of our country to "U.S.-occupied territory." These are but the early fruits of the St. Laurent aims, which started with the Abbott Plan. It was the concrete form of the policy by which the Canadian representatives of international finance-capital, personified by the Right Honorable Louis St. Laurent, planned a gigantic auction-the sale of our national birthright.
To every Marxist it was clear in December, 1947, that if the Abbott Plan should be carried through to its logical conclusion, our power to decide upon any question of domestic or international relationships, our national sovereignty, even the national survival of the two peoples of Canada, would be jeopardized. The L.P.P. called upon the working-class movement to reject the Abbott Plan, to reject the aims represented by the then minister for external affairs, St. Laurent. The party called upon the working class to "Keep Canada Independent!"
But, argued some progressive-minded people, "That is bourgeois nationalism!"
The charge could not be brushed off but at the same time the long-range aims of the St. Laurent government had to be exposed and combatted if the path was to be kept open for the eventual victory of people's democracy and the achievement of socialism in Canada. It led to study by the party leadership of the role of the working class in the nation. The study showed clearly that the role of the working, class in the struggle for the national interests has advanced tremendously. As a consequence of the profound and increasingly evident contradiction between the predatory aims and policies of monopoly-capital and the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, the real nation, the relationship of the working-class movement to "the national interests" has changed. It is wrong today to suggest that "the national interests" in Canada are solely the "business" of the capitalist class. It is true that Canada is an imperialist state, dominated by monopolistic finance-capital and the tightly-knit oligarchy which directs the affairs of the monopolies which, octopus-like, suck the life-blood from every section of the working people. It is true that the ambitions of the narrow clique of unscrupulous men who direct the affairs of monopoly-capital determine the present national policies of Canada. But those men are not the Canadian nation. Indeed, excepting that some of them accidentally were born in this country, they are not Canadians. Their interests and predatory ambitions are anti-Canadian.
Now the battle for Canadian independence does have to be fought again, but against a new form of servitude. Our struggle today is different from that of the colonial peoples, fighting against national enslavement imposed upon them by the armed forces of foreign imperialists. We are threatened with complete national enslavement to a foreign power, but that power is not, at least not yet, imposing its control by the force of arms. Canada is being sold into United States control by "her own" ruling class; the parasitic, speculative, Canadian manipulators of stock market deals, politics and governmental concessions, who are enriching themselves by trading the national future of Canada for junior partnerships in the United States monopolies.
Widening circles of democratic people recognize the deepening contradictions between the real interests of the nation and the aims of the monopolists. Increasing numbers of democratic Canadians are prepared to act in defence of the true national interests, against the treachery of the peace-time Vichyites of Canada, the political servants of international finance-capital. In a monopoly-capitalist state such as Canada is today, democratic struggle to defend the national interests against such treachery can be carried through only to the extent that the working class is drawn into that struggle, and accepts responsibility for its success. The working-class movement can lead that struggle succcessfully only to the extent that it is inspired by an understanding of its own role and responsibility, as the vanguard representative of a historic class which, even to save itself, must lead Canada forward in peaceful association with the half of all mankind who are now carrying through a great, historic, progressive advance. By that path, the working class will win the leadership of the nation. Because that is the path of struggle for the true interests of Canada and its people, against the predatory ambitions of the masters of crisis-stricken imperialism, the Labor-Progressive Party is proud to be called "The Party of the Nation." Our party seeks to lead the majority of Canadians, rallied around the working class, in the struggle to preserve all that is best in our democratic national traditions, to "Keep Canada Independent!" To develop, improve and enrich without limit our wide and rich and lovely land and its people.
(1) For Peace, Progress, Socialism. Reports and Resolutions, Second National Convention Labor-Progressive Party, pp. 51-52.