Thirty Years – 1922-1952
The Story of the Communist Movement in Canada
THE HISTORY of our movement is the history of the struggle for social progress in Canada throughout the past thirty years. Our strivings for social progress at home have been accompanied, always, by unremitting advocacy of national policies to make our country a force for world peace, through fruitful cooperation between the socialist and capitalist countries. Our party has been the most consistent as well as the most energetic champion of French-English unity. Our party initiated and leads the fight to abolish the economic inequalities imposed upon the workers of French Canada and to win for its people the right of national self-determination. Our movement has won recognition as the sole defender of the true interests of Canada's youth and the most consistent organizer of the women of Canada, to strengthen and extend their role in the shaping of public policies and to defend their interests-as workers and as women. Throughout our three decades of activity the Communist movement has been in the forefront of all the struggles to defend the real interests of the farmers and of the urban middle-class people. Above all, our movement has been the embodiment of the struggle to extend trade union organization, to develop and strengthen understanding of the need for industrial unionism, to develop labor unity, to deepen and extend the consciousness of the workers of their interests and their historic mission as a class.
The battle for unity and class consciousness is the essence of the historical development of the working class. Class consciousness and united action are the keys to working-class leadership of the nation. The Labor-Progressive Party is the party which, guided by Marxist-Leninist science, fights for the steadily rising level of political historical understanding which enables the progressive elements to be a unifying and guiding force in the working-class movement.
The main content of our struggles has been constant throughout our history but their form has changed from time to time with changing conditions. The most marked of all such changes was brought about by the great democratic advances achieved in numerous countries following the People's War. The People's War of Liberation changed the world. Through struggle and victory over fascism, 600 million people put an end to the dictatorship of the landlords and foreign bankers in their countries, and established People's Democratic governments. People's Democracy and the amazing achievements of socialist economy and socialist science in the Soviet Union have transformed the prospects for world development. In the Soviet Union and the People's Democracies 800 million people, a third of all mankind, are now united in the building of a new, higher, immeasurably more democratic society-socialism. As a result of their historic advance, the crucial, immediately decisive question of world politics is now that of the relationship between the capitalist and the socialist sectors of the world.
The change is continuing. Teeming millions of awakening people in all the lands that previously were referred to as colonies are demanding national independence, the right to govern themselves in their own way. In country after country: Burma, India, Indonesia, etc., etc., the imperialists have been compelled to concede varying degrees of self-government. The people's struggles for national independence and the democratic upsurge of popular enthusiasm in the building of socialism in the Soviet Union and the People's 'Democracies cannot be defeated. Historically they are irresistible because they are the personal as well as the collective aims of hundreds of millions of people. This typifies one of the most profound and far-reaching changes that accompanied the people's victory over fascism. The masses of the people have always been involved in great social conflicts, particularly in modern times. Hitherto the masses of the people have been involved as pawns, ignorant of the real aims for which they sacrificed and died. Today, however, the masses of the people are becoming conscious participants in great social struggles to achieve aims that they set themselves.
In Canada and all the imperialist countries the deepening crisis of the imperialist system is bringing the masses of the people face to face with the supre me issue of our age. Two alternatives confront Canadians today. The democratic choice is acceptance of the new state of things. That choice includes acceptance of the idea and the aim of the peaceful coexistence of the socialist and capitalist countries. It includes the prospect of literally unlimited trade between the socialist and capitalist countries, democratic cooperation in -bringing about a great, world-wide transformation - the abolition of poverty and way.
The other, the anti-democratic alternative, is blind refusal to accept the verdict of history, to choose instead to continue support of the international clique of financiers who, under the leadership of the United States monopolists, are trying to launch a world atomic war in the madman's hope that it might be possible by that means to re-establish the old order of things.
Now the imperialists seek way not only to extend their domination. The Canadian imperialists even surrender their own sovereignty and accept United States domination as part of their striving to make themselves partners in United States war preparations. In their insensate hatred of socialism and their greed for quick and easy profits they are not only enslaving Canada to the United States, they are undermining the democratic rights of all Canadians, cultivating the elements of fascism, the accompaniment of predatory imperialist war. The alternatives they prefer are imperialist domination of the world or the destruction of civilization.
Continued support of the imperialists would mean national policies aimed to foster official Canadian hostility toward the people of the Soviet Union and the People's Democracies. It would mean continued subordination of all questions concerning Canada's welfare to United States plans for war. It would mean continued and ever-increasing sacrifice of Canada's civilian economy to the growing state-monopoly-capitalist war economy, with its inflation, soaring prices of consumer goods, higher and higher taxes upon small incomes for the cynical purpose of reducing civilian consumption. It would continue to create chronic and growing mass unemployment until, because of the impossibility of continuing further, either the imperialists succeed in launching the war for which they are preparing, or the armam ents burden brings down the economic structure in a crash which will make the crisis of 1929 look like a "recession."
In this situation the L.P.P. takes its stand unequivocally in the great democratic camp of struggle for peace. Peace is the vital need of Canada. Provided peace is maintained, Canadians can set their sights on a great new era of economic development, rising living standards, and democratic advance in our country. Peace is the vital need of the overwhelming majority of all mankind. The peoples of the Soviet Union and the People's Democracies want peace. They want to build their new social order, to abolish poverty and backwardness from their lands forever. Democratic men and women in all imperialist countries want peace; they know that an imperialist world war could have no purpose other than to set the clock back at home as well as abroad.
The maintenance of peace will keep the path open for continued social progress, for the eventual achievement of socialism in Canada; while an atomic world war would probably bring about the end of civilization. Because of that, the L.P.P. subordinates all other questions to the vital need to mobilize all the forces of Canadian democracy to stop the insane drive to war. The Canadian people can defeat the underhanded conspiracy to transform our country to a United States colony, a depressed raw-material hinterland for the U.S. monopolies, a training ground for U.S. troops, only by making the will to peace supreme in Canada. As the party's third national convention pointed out in February" 1949:
"All the efforts of monopoly capital to extricate the system from crisis by instigating world war at the expense of the peoples can and must be defeated by united resistance., Forceful demands must be raised by labor for world diplomatic cooperation, new policies of world trade and freedom from U.S. domination. Canadian democratic policy must recognize the inescapable fact that imperialism is declining, that the socialist and new democratic world is here to stay, and that Canada must fit in with the new world which arose out of the defeat of the Axis powers."(1)
To those who question the possibility of preventing imperialist war, of preventing imperialist governments from resorting to war, the Communist answer is that, given a sufficient degree of working-class unity and leadership, the defenders of peace can prevent a third world war precisely because of the changes which now impel the imperialists to look to war as their last desperate resort. In Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Italy, in all imperialist countries, as well as in the colonial lands, the unconscious involvement of the masses of the people in struggles to achieve the predatory ambitions of the capitalist class is being supplanted by the conscious participation of millions of democratic people in actions to prevent a third world war. As a result there has arisen a mighty organized world movement unprecedented in history. It unites all defenders of peace without regard to differing ideologies or differing opinions as to the source of the danger of war. It demands an end to war propaganda, a pact of peace between the five great powers-U.S., Soviet Union, Britain, France and People's China. It demands disarmament, the banning of atomic weapons and respect for the sovereign rights of all nations. The magnitude of the democratic actions already developed against the U.S. drive for war is illustrated by the fact that 600 million people, spread over literally every part of the world, have signed the demand that the five great powers sign a mutual pact of peace. This great democratic world movement is as yet in its early stages but already it is supported by as many adults as all the adults there are in all the countries which support United States war policies in the United Nations Organization.
The will of the people will prevail in the struggle for peace. The people defeated the plans of the Rome-Berlin-Tokio fascist axis for world conquest; they will defeat the plans of the United States imperialists also-the difference is that now millions of democratic people are realizing that they can best defeat the warmongers, and to the best advantage of mankind, by preventing them from launching another world war.
In the struggle to maintain peace the working class will achieve its class unity. The workers achieved industrial unionism in the face of every obstacle that the capitalist class and its labor lieutenants could put in the way; now, at this higher stage of political struggle, they will achieve their class unity also. Democratic Canadians defeated Bennett's "Iron Heel" policies and forced the repeal of Section 98. In their battle now against the drive to war, they will stop the systematic attacks upon civil rights, compel the repeal of such fascist laws as the Padlock Law in the province of Quebec and the "Garson Amendments," and defeat the attempt to smuggle fascism into Canada. Defeating the warmongers and their political servants, particularly the right-wing social-democrats, the working class will win its ideological independence from the capitalist class. As the masses of the people freed themselves from the obscurantism and political passivity of feudalism through their participation in the struggles of the bourgeoisie, so now the workers will free themselves from ideological enslavement to the bourgeoisie as they fight for their shining ideal of People's Democracy, Peace and Socialism; against the imperialists' drive to war. Through these struggles the working class will win the moral and political leadership of the nation.
The basic aim of all our activities is to help the working class to accomplish the tasks indicated above. We urge all democratic Canadians to demand that Canadian governments, federal and provincial, publicly advocate "peace by negotiation," and repudiate the United States slogan "peace through strength," which is in fact the path to war. We fight to win broad, popular support for the idea of "the peaceful co-existence of the socialist and capitalist systems." We declare unequivocally that our economic well-being, our national security, the independence of Canada, all depend upon the peaceful co-existence of the capitalist and socialist countries on the basis of respect for national rights and independence.
We fight for trade between Canada and all countries which desire to buy Canadian products or have products that we need. We fight for the outright prohibition of all atomic weapons, destruction of all stocks of atomic weapons under strict international inspection and control, and continued systematic international inspection under the, authority of the United Nations to ensure that no more are produced. We advocate step-by-step reduction of armaments, under United Nations control, on a scale and in a manner consistent with the national security of Canada and all countries.
The Labor-Prooressive Party is the party of the working class, of socialism. In Canada as in all capitalist countries, the sole means by' which socialism can be achieved is the political victory of the united forces of the democratic people, led by the working class. There is no contradiction whatsoever between our loyal, unconditional participation in the movement to avert war now, a movement which does not challenge the profit system, and our ultimate objective of abolishing war forever by abolishing the profit system. Far from being contradictory, attainment of the immediate objective of preserving peace is a necessary requisite to the attainment of our ultimate ideal. Furthermore, the path to our ideal is the only path by which Canadian democracy can flourish.
The Canadian people can maintain civil rights, democratic progress, their living standards, the independence of Canada, and extend social reforms, only by consistent all-sided struggle against the monopolists and their political agents who are seeking to subvert democracy. The advance towards socialism in Canada can be made only by the same path-all-sided militant defence of peace and democracy. Economically our country is ripe for socialism. All the possibilities inherent within the profit system have been developed; it has become now a barrier to continued Canadian development on a rising level to the full capacity of our abundantly endowed country and our productive people. Through its inherent contradictions which are now acute, the profit system leads to economic crisis and imperialist war. For the working class the only permanent solution of these contradictions is through the struggle to raise themselves up from the position of an oppressed and exploited class to the position of the ruling class, and the abolition of the profit system.
Socialism means freedom. Freedom from poverty, insecurity, exploitation and war. It means the full flowering of individual, spirit and initiative. It will provide, for the first time in Canada, opportunities to develop the full potential of every human being. It means the freeing of women from the inequalities imposed upon them by capitalism with its sanctification of relationships of dependence and sex superiority. Socialism will give to women, for the first time, completely equal rights with men in all branches of the social, economic and political life of Canada. Socialism will open up new opportunities both in preparation for and fulfillment of careers for Canada's youth. It will guarantee the full development and conservation of our land, and a more secure, a richer and happier life for every family in it.
Capitalist spokesmen and their agents within the labor movement foster the lie that the Communists aim to destroy Parliament. For them that lie is a necessary element in their "Big Lie," that Communists aim to subordinate the interests of Canada to the interests of the Soviet Union. That is patterned directly upon Hitler's technique. It is the opposite of the truth. Canadian Communists fight for Canada! We have declared categorically scores of times: in our program, our conventions, our public documents, etc., that our alms do not include the abolition of Parliament or of the parliamentary form of government. Indeed, if the hired propagandists of monopoly-capital made any effort to be consistent, they would recognize that the people of Canada can advance to socialism utilizing the parliamentary form of government equally as the workers and farmers of the countries of Central and Southeastern Europe did.
Candians will achieve socialism by their own path, which will be determined by the traditions and the then prevailing institutions and class relationships in Canada. It is quite evident, however, that the socialist transformation of our country can be achieved only if the working class and its allies gain real political power. To establish socialism, the state must become an instrument in the hands of the democratic people united around and led by the working class. It must be an instrument of the people for the organization, direction and defence of the new socialist society, instead of, as it is now, the instrument by which the capitalist class maintains its heartless exploitation of the masses of the people and its ruthless suppression of their democratic aspirations. To accomplish that change it is necessary to build a great alliance of democratic forces around a broad, democratic, forward-looking People's Program, and develop a tremendous movement of the united working-class and democratic farm and urban middle-class people to carry it through. That is decisive. The Labor-Progressive Party declares that Canadian workers and their allies can win real political power, take it out of the hands of the parties of monopoly-capitalism, provided that the masses of progressive-minded people are rallied around the working class in a broad alliance of democratic forces: Communists, social reformers, trade unions, farm organizations, French- and English-speaking, Catholics and Protestants. That is the form in which the democratic masses of Canadians can defeat the political parties of monopoly-capital; eventually they will.
The working class cannot establish socialism by simple electoral victory, but the parliamentary victory of such a broad alliance of democratic forces can transform capitalist democracy into real people's democracy and make Parliament, which has developed as a result of the traditions and democratic struggles of the Canadian people, into an instrument of People's Democracy-the instrument through which the democratic people, led by the working class, make their will supreme.
Through the victory of People's Democracy real power will be transferred from the hands of the numerically small clique of monopolists who direct the affairs of finance-capital and its stranglehold on the national economy, to the hands of the overwhelming majority of the people, headed by the working class. The People's Democratic government will carry into effect the socialist nationalization of the key industries, the banks and the credit system; the commanding heights of the national economy. It will re-establish Canada's independence, freeing us from the present subservience to the United States. People's Democracy will make Canada a positive force for peace in the United Nations Organization.
In every struggle of the day for the immediate interests of the working class, the Labor-Progressive Party brings forward the idea of its goal, "A People's Democratic Government." That will be our first, decisive step for the establishment of lasting peace and the winning through to a socialist Canada. The L.P.P. devotes all its efforts to winning the majority of the Canadian working class, and progressive farm and urban middle-class people, for the fulfillment of this program. The record of our work through the past thirty years is proof both of our sincerity and the certainty of final victory.
Guided by the science of Marxism-Leninism and the inspiring examples of the working people of the Soviet Union and the People's Democratic Republics, the Canadian working class will replace the profit system, and its soulless exploitation of man by man, by a social system in which, because of its collective ownership of all the means of large-scale social production, the free development of each will be the condition for the free development of all. Such is the greater and richer Canada for which we strive-a socialist Canada-contributing freely to and sharing freely in the economic and cultural advance to the now rapidly approaching world triumph of socialism.
We call on all Canadians who want peace, a more abundant life, national independence, friendship with all other peoples, and socialism, to join our ranks: "Play your part in the fight for a People's Canada by joining Canada's Party of Communists!"
(1) Main Resolution, Second National Convention L.P.P., Feb. 4-8, 1949.