Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Communist Party of Canada


[This article was published in 1948. For the full citation, see the end of the text.]

Communist Party , the name applied since 1922 to the extreme left wing of the Labour movement in Canada. The party was originally organized in 1921, after the virtual collapse of the One Big Union, under the name of "The Workers' Party of Canada", and was affiliated with the Third Communist International, with headquarters in Moscow, Russia. At the convention held in Toronto in March, 1923, the aims of the party were declared to be (1) the fight against unemployment, (2) against the open shop, (3) for the eight-hour day, (4) against espionage, whether by government or employees, (5) for free speech, (6) for freedom to picket, (7) against injunctions as a means of intervening in labour struggles, (8) against the intervention of the police and military forces of the state in labour struggles, and (9) for the establishment of complete political and economic relations with Soviet Russia. The convention affirmed its resolution to work inside the Labour party, though without sinking its communistic aims; and it re-affirmed its trade union policy, which recognized the labour unions as the basic organizations of the working class. As a subsidiary to the party, there was organized also in 1923 the Young Communists' League of Canada, with the object of penetrating the mass of the working-class youth with communist teaching.


The policy of "boring from within" the Labour party promised at first some success. At the annual convention of the Ontario section of the Canadian Labour party, held at London , Ontario, in 1923, the application of the Workers' party for affiliation was granted; and later the Nova Scotia miners asked to be allowed to affiliate with the Third International. But gradually the real character of the aims of the Communist party, which contemplated the use of force in achieving revolution, came to be appreciated by the labour unions; and after a prolonged struggle between 1925 and 1929 the Communists were expelled from most of the regular labour organizations in Canada. As a separate movement, however, it continued to make its influence felt. By 1928 it had 144 branches, with a total membership of 4,300. It was said, moreover, that the Young Communists' League had 40 schools in Canada, with an attendance of 2,000 children, who were being taught communist doctrine. In 1928 the Communist party of Canada sent delegates to the congress of the Third International and the meeting of the Red International labour unions in Moscow .


The alleged seditious character of the propaganda of the Communists brought about in 1929 and subsequent years action by the police in Sudbury, Montreal, Toronto, and other centres; and in 1931, after several years' surveillance of the activities of the Communists by the department of justice, Tim Buck, the political secretary of the party, and seven other leaders of the party, were taken into custody, were convicted of seditious conspiracy and of being members of an unlawful association, and were sentenced to terms in the pentientiary, with the recommendation that they should be deported from the country at the termination of their sentences. Since this judgment was rendered, and was confirmed on appeal, the Communist party, as a lawful organization, has ceased to exist; though occasionally candidates appear in municipal, provincial, or federal elections who bear the label "Communist".

Source : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 108-109.




© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College