Documents of Quebec History / Documents de l'histoire du Québec
La loi du cadenas
The Padlock Law
[This editorial was printed in the Canadian Forum. For the precise citation, see the end of the document.]
THE RECENT MEETING in Montreal of The Canadian Congress of Youth was a notable event. The Youth Congress movement is intended to bring together all youth organizations. It is an excellent thing that the youth of various political, religious and other movements should meet in congress and get to know one another; French and English delegates met her for the first time. As a correspondent writes : "For many people, Communists are no longer bomb-throwing foreigners or socialists strange visionaries. No longer will it be possible for the English members to think of French Canadians as a solidly reactionary group of anti-English Separatists with Fascist leanings. Nor will the French delegates find it easy to think of the English Canadians as rabid imperialists or violent radicals." This is all to the good, and specific resolutions commending collective bargaining, "the proposed legislation at present known as Bill 62," as well as resolutions calling for better social standards, prevention of social diseases, etc., are all very welcome.
But unanimity is often purchased at the cost of clarity. On this occasion the French Canadians only remained after the congress had passed certain conditional resolutions, which included the assertion of "the right of individuals to private property" and a condemnation of "subversive elements." Did private property here include banks and railways? And surely in one sense no socialist can be anything but a subversive element (not to mention Communists). Unanimity thus secured leads to vague resolutions, unreliable as a basis for action, since action, to be effective, must be on specific issues. To vote that "Canada must maintain complete independence of action in the field of foreign policy." and then to proceed to uphold a system of collective security is very confusing.
Any occasion that brings youth together and diminishes misunderstandings is to be welcomed. The danger lies in thinking that youth can find any effective basis of agreement that will lead to common action, except on a very few points where the interest of youth is specifically involved as such. Also, the age limit of these youth organizations is much too high. One fears that men and women, young but no longer youths, who are badly needed to energize the political parties of their elders, may allow too much of their energies to be deflected into these more spectacular but less effective channels.
Source: Editorial, "Whither Youth?", in Canadian Forum, Vol. XVII, No 199 (August 1937): 153.
© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College