George Armstrong (Manitoba politician)

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George Armstrong
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
In office
Constituency Winnipeg
Personal details
Born(1870-04-17)April 17, 1870
East York, Ontario, Canada
DiedFebruary 13, 1956(1956-02-13) (aged 85)
Concord, California, United States
Political party Socialist Party of Canada
Spouse(s) Helen
Occupationlabour organizer, politician

George Armstrong (April 17, 1870 February 13, 1956) was a politician and labour activist in Manitoba, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1920 to 1922, and is notable as the only member of the Socialist Party of Canada ever to serve in that institution. [1]

Manitoba Province of Canada

Manitoba is a province at the longitudinal centre of Canada. It is often considered one of the three prairie provinces and is Canada's fifth-most populous province with its estimated 1.3 million people. Manitoba covers 649,950 square kilometres (250,900 sq mi) with a widely varied landscape, stretching from the northern oceanic coastline to the southern border with the United States. The province is bordered by the provinces of Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west, the territories of Nunavut to the north, and Northwest Territories to the northwest, and the U.S. states of North Dakota and Minnesota to the south.

Legislative Assembly of Manitoba form the Legislature of Manitoba, Canada

The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba is the deliberative assembly of the Manitoba Legislature in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Fifty-seven members are elected to this assembly at provincial general elections, all in single-member constituencies with first-past-the-post voting. Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly are given royal assent by the Queen of Canada in Right of Manitoba, represented by the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. The Manitoba Legislative Building is located in central Winnipeg, at the meeting point of the Wolseley and Fort Rouge constituencies.



Armstrong was born in East York, Ontario, and educated in Ellesmere. He trained as a carpenter, and practiced his trade in Winnipeg. Armstrong was a member of the Fair Wage Board for Manitoba.

East York Dissolved municipality in Ontario, Canada

East York was a former administrative district and municipality within Toronto, Ontario, Canada. From 1967 to 1998, it was officially the Borough of East York, a semi-autonomous borough within the upper-tier municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. The borough was dissolved in 1998, when it was amalgamated with the other lower-tier municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto to form the new "megacity" of Toronto. Prior to its amalgamation, East York was Canada's last remaining borough.

Ontario Province of Canada

Ontario is one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada and is in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province accounting for 38.3 percent of the country's population, and is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest jurisdiction in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto, which is also Ontario's provincial capital.

He first ran for the Manitoba legislature in the 1910 provincial election, in the constituency of Winnipeg West. At the time, the Socialist Party represented the left-wing of the labour movement in Manitoba, with the reformist Manitoba Labour Party (MLP) representing its moderate voice. Armstrong was known in this period as a leading figure in the SPC's "impossibilist" wing, opposing any cooperation with moderate labour. In electoral terms, the Socialist Party was a marginal force in the city. Armstrong received 246 votes in Winnipeg West, against 2,578 for the victorious candidate, Liberal Thomas Johnson.

Manitoba's general election of July 11, 1910 was held to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Manitoba, Canada.

Winnipeg West is an historical provincial electoral division in Manitoba, Canada. It was created for the 1907 provincial election, and eliminated with the 1914 provincial election.

The Manitoba Labour Party (MLP) was a reformist, non-Marxist labour party in Manitoba, Canada. It was created in early May 1910 as a successor to the province's second Independent Labour Party (1906–08). Former Member of Parliament Arthur Puttee was a leading MLP organizer. The party fielded one candidate in the 1910 provincial election, and also ran candidates at the municipal level.

In the 1914 provincial election, Armstrong ran in Winnipeg Centre "B" against Fred Dixon, an independent candidate supported by both the Liberals and the Labour Representation Committee, a successor to the MLP. A Conservative candidate also contested the seat. Armstrong and his supporters disrupted Dixon's rallies throughout the campaign, accusing him of being a "fake" in his advocacy of working-class causes. Dixon's supporters, in turn, argued that the SPC was receiving help from the Conservatives to split the labour vote. Armstrong finished a distant third with 928 votes, while Dixon received 8,205 votes for a convincing victory.

Manitoba's general election of July 10, 1914 was held to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Manitoba, Canada.

Frederick John "Fred" Dixon was a Manitoba politician, and was for several years the dominant figure in the province's mainstream labour and Georgist movements.

Armstrong ran against Dixon again in the 1915 election, and again lost by a significant margin.

Manitoba's general election of August 6, 1915 was held to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Manitoba, Canada.

Winnipeg General Strike

The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 brought Armstrong and the SPC into cooperation with the city's labour movement. Along with other prominent labour organizers in the city, Armstrong was brought to trial after the strike's suppression on charges of seditious conspiracy. He was convicted, and spent almost two years in prison with fellow strikers such as William Ivens and John Queen. Many observers at the time, and many since, have regarded the charges against the strikers as unjust and politically motivated.

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Even as the Socialist Party was declining in the rest of the country, the spirit of labour unity generated by the strike and the arrests brought the SPC in Winnipeg into a temporary alliance with the city's other labour parties. Armstrong, previously an opponent of "popular front" strategies, became the SPC's star candidate on Winnipeg's united labour list for the 1920 provincial election.


For this election, following a change in the province's electoral laws, Winnipeg became a single constituency which elected ten members to the legislature by a single transferable ballot. Labour and the SPC joined with two other parties for a slate of ten candidates, and ran a united campaign. Armstrong, still serving his prison sentence, finished third on the first count and was declared elected to the city's eighth position on the final count. He served in the legislature with the labour group under F. J. Dixon's leadership. Despite their philosophical differences, Dixon and Armstrong were able to cooperate with one another in this period.

The Socialist Party of Canada split in 1921, with many of its members joining the newly formed Communist Party. Armstrong remained a member of the SPC, even though the party was having difficulty maintaining a national presence by this time. During the 1922 provincial election, Armstrong was frequently heckled by Communist candidates who accused him of being a "sell out" to the social gospellers in the mainstream labour movement. He finished ninth on the first count, but fell behind on transfers and failed to win a seat. The SPC ceased to exist a few years later, and Armstrong withdrew from provincial politics for a time.

Socialist Party of Canada (WSM)

Armstrong ran for the Manitoba legislature again in the 1932 provincial election as the candidate of the Socialist Party of Canada (WSM). He was unsuccessful, finishing nineteenth on the first count and being eliminated on the tenth.

Armstrong was also a popular figure in his carpenter's union, even though his views were to left most other members. In his later years, he relocated from Manitoba to California.

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