Socialist Party of Canada

Last updated
Socialist Party of Canada
Leader E.T. Kingsley
FounderE.T. Kingsley
Founded1904 (1904)
Dissolved1925 (1925)
Headquarters Victoria, British Columbia
Newspaper Western Clarion (1903–1918, 1920–1925)
Ideology
ColoursRed

The Socialist Party of Canada (SPC) was a political party that existed from 1904 to 1925, led by E. T. Kingsley. It published the socialist newspaper Western Clarion .

Contents

History

Establishment

The founding of the Socialist Party of Canada began at the Socialist Party of British Columbia fourth annual convention on December 30-31, 1904. Delegates at the convention were urged to consider organizing the nucleus of a federal party, noting the acceptance of the platform with socialist parties and organizations in other provinces. Socialist organizations quickly approved the party formation, and the new party executive met for the first time on February 19, 1905. [1]

The party had a revolutionary Marxist orientation; it saw attempts to reform capitalism as counterproductive to the goal of overturning the capitalist system entirely and replacing it with a socialist model. [1] [2]

Structure

The SPC was structured as a network of local organisations, each conducting education and propaganda in their respective communities. [3] Provincial-level executive bodies which coordinated the activity of these local groups existed in five provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, and the Maritime Provinces. [3] The governing National Executive Committee of the organization was headquartered and met in British Columbia, but it consisted almost entirely of British Columbia residents. [3] No national convention of the party was ever held. [3]

The SPC was numerically strongest in British Columbia where it won seats in the province's legislature. In the provincial election of 1907, the SPC garnered more than 5,000 votes. [4] This was followed by the party's strongest showing in its history in 1909, when it collected over 11,000 votes — about 22% of the total ballots cast. [4] The leadership of the Vancouver Trades and Labor Council [5] were committed members of the CPC during this period and these officials played a role in stymying an effort to undercut CPC support through the establishment of a new Labour Party. [4]

In Winnipeg, the Manitoba branch of the SPC was initially a rival to the city's reformist labour groups. The SPC may have been responsible for defeating of centrist labour candidate Fred Dixon in the election of 1910. The resulting backlash from trade union groups weakened the SPC in Winnipeg for a number of years. [6]

The Socialist Party of Canada showed poorly in the 1911 national election, however, and this carried over to the 1912 British Columbia provincial election, in which the party's support fell precipitously, diving once again below the 5,000 vote mark. [4] Even before this election the party saw its credibility further undermined by a scandal in which its parliamentary leader, J.H. Hawthornthwaite, was revealed to have engaged in land speculation in Vancouver and was pressured to resign prior to the vote. [7] Only two SPC members managed to gain election in British Columbia in 1912. [7] Two years later both of these defected to the Liberals, accentuating further the Socialist decline. [7]

World War I

Cover of a pamphlet published during the years of World War I by the Socialist Party of Canada due to a ban on the publications of American Marxist publisher Charles H. Kerr & Co. SPC-Communist-Manifesto-1918.jpg
Cover of a pamphlet published during the years of World War I by the Socialist Party of Canada due to a ban on the publications of American Marxist publisher Charles H. Kerr & Co.

Socialist Party of Canada members were instrumental in setting up One Big Union in Canada. [1]

As a result of the Russian Revolution and the Winnipeg General Strike, a number of the SPC's supporters became attracted to Bolshevism and the ideas of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Although many did, not all those who rejected Leninism moved towards an evolutionary or gradualist socialist position. [1] In 1920, a split occurred when many of the party's members left to join the Federated Labour Party of Canada, which was formed by the British Columbia Federation of Labour. Other SPC members joined Labour and Independent Labour parties that were being formed throughout the country. [1] (See Labour Party .)

From 1903 to 1912, a number of SPC members were elected as Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in British Columbia. The apex of the party was in the 1912 election when it fielded 17 candidates, winning two seats in the legislature, and 11% of the popular vote. The pressures of having such a large caucus (up from two the previous election) caused fissures in the party, and it was wiped out in the next election. It never won another seat in BC.

Owing to the SPC's unfaltering opposition to the war in Europe, the party came under increasing government scrutiny and pressure following Canada's embroilment in the affair. [1] In the fall of 1918 the Socialist Party's official publication, The Western Clarion, was banned by the government. [8] On January 11, 1919 a new publication called The Red Flag was launched by the SPC to work around the government ban of its predecessor. [8] The first issue of this publication noted the Canadian government's surveillance of its correspondence and use of the post office as a tool of policy:

"The official organ has been suppressed... Leaflets mailed have been confiscated and complaints ignored. Almost every letter which arrives at this office bears unmistakable signs of having been opened, though no censorship mark to that effect is on them. All such letters are unduly delayed, being some four, five and six weeks in the mails before delivery....

"Moreover, letters and parcels which we have despatched have failed to reach their destination. The mail of individual party members also suffers from the same despicable secret censorship. Our protests and complaints to heads of departments result only in officially equivocal and evasive replies." [9]

The party was a marginal political force in Manitoba until 1920 when George Armstrong was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for Winnipeg on a "united labour" list. Armstrong was defeated in 1922, due in part to opposition from communist politicians in the city.

In 1921, most of the Marxist members left the SPC to join the Workers Party, which was the legal wing of the new Communist Party of Canada. In 1925, the Socialist Party formally disbanded. [1] Many of its remaining members joined the Independent Labour Party.

Socialist Party of Ontario

The Socialist Party of Ontario (later "Socialist Party of Canada") was a provincial political party in Ontario, that merged in 1905 into a national political party, the SPC. It was founded at a convention of the Ontario Socialist League held on Thanksgiving Day 1903, at which the league changed its name to the Socialist Party of Ontario. The new party got off to a good start numerically, the convention being attended by about fifty delegates from Toronto, St. Thomas, London, Guelph, Galt, Paris, Preston, Orillia, Manitoulin Island and Mt. Forest. [10]

Other provinces

Election results by year

General elections

YearCandidatesVotesPopular vote
1904 federal election 31,7940.18%
1908 federal election 56,0710.52%
1911 federal election 64,5740.35%
1921 federal election 13,0940.10%
1925 federal election 11,8880.06%
1926 federal election 16720.02%

Note:

Publications

Breakaway groups

See also

Footnotes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Newell, Peter E. (2008). The Impossibilists: A Brief Profile of the Socialist Party of Canada. London: Athena. ISBN   978-1-84748-323-2.
  2. Socialist Party of Canada (1910). "Manifesto". Connexions.org. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Martin Robin, Radical Politics and Canadian Labour. Kingston, ON: Industrial Relations Centre, Queen's University, 1968; pg. 100.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Robin, Radical Politics and Canadian Labour, pg. 101.
  5. AM54, File MS15750, Fonds: Major Matthews Collection, Unions: Vancouver Trades and Labor Council. Vancouver, BC: Archives, City of Vancouver. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  6. Robin, Radical Politics and Canadian Labour, p. 110.
  7. 1 2 3 Robin, Radical Politics and Canadian Labour, pg. 102.
  8. 1 2 R.W.H., "'Liberty and Peace' in Canada,' The Socialist Standard [London], vol. 15, whole number 177 (May 1919) pg. 77.
  9. The Red Flag, January 11, 1919, quoted in R.W.H., "'Liberty and Peace' in Canada,' The Socialist Standard [London], vol. 15, whole number 177 (May 1919) pg. 77.
  10. J. M. Milne (1973). "History of the Socialist Party of Canada" (PDF). Marxists.org. Socialist History Project. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 25, 2014.
  11. Socialist Party of Canada. "Manifesto". Connexions.org. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  12. Socialist Party of Canada (1916). Manifesto (4th ed.). Vancouver: Dominion Executive Committee. OCLC   1315912519.
  13. Socialist Party of Canada (1920). Manifesto (5th ed.). Vancouver: Socialist Party of Canada, Dominion Executive Committee.
  14. Socialist Party of Canada (1910). Constitution and By-laws [includes Platform]. Vancouver: Kingsley [printer]. OCLC   1083883865.
  15. O'Brien, C.M. (Charles Macnamara) (1910). The Proletarian in Politics . Vancouver: Socialist Party of Canada. OCLC   1083877116.
  16. Desmond, Gerald (1911). The Struggle for Existence . [Vancouver]: Socialist Party of Canada. OCLC   1083889693.
  17. McKenzie, Donald G. (1911). Socialism and Unionism. Vancouver: Kingsley [printer]. OCLC   1316124571.
  18. Hardenburg, W.E. (1912). What is Socialism? A Short Study of Its Aims and Claims. Vancouver: Dominion Executive Committee. OCLC   1083966170.
  19. DeVille, Gabriel (1907). Socialism, Revolution and Internationalism . Translated by Monte, Robert Rives la. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr. OCLC   746985379.
  20. "Socialism, Revolution and Internationalism". libcom.org. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  21. Osborne, James B. (1913). The Way to Power . Vancouver: Socialist Party of Canada. OCLC   222802248.
  22. Pilkington, J. (1914). Wage Worker and Farmer . Vancouver: Socialist Party of Canada, Dominion Executive Committee. OCLC   962322239.
  23. Budden, Alf (1918). Slave of the Farm: Being Letters from Alf Budden to a Fellow Farm Slave and Comrade in Revolt . Vancouver: Socialist Party of Canada, Dominion Executive Committee. OCLC   1316258006.
  24. Leckie, Peter T. (1920). Economic Causes of War. Vancouver: Socialist Party of Canada, Dominion Executive Committee. OCLC   1316216805.
  25. Tishkov, V. A.; Soroka-Tsiupa, O. S.; Molochkov, S. F. (1974–1983). "Canada (section: 'Historical Survey')". The Great Soviet Encyclopedia . Vol. 11. Macmillan Publishers. p. 68.

Related Research Articles

There have been various groups in Canada that have nominated candidates under the label Labour Party or Independent Labour Party, or other variations from the 1870s until the 1960s. These were usually local or provincial groups using the Labour Party or Independent Labour Party name, backed by local labour councils made up of many union locals in a particular city, or individual trade unions. There was an attempt to create a national Canadian Labour Party in the late 1910s and in the 1920s, but these were only partly successful.

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.

The Socialist Party of Manitoba (SPM) was a short-lived social democratic political party launched in 1902 in the Canadian province of Manitoba. The organisation advanced a moderate programme of social reform legislation. In 1904 the SPM became one of the constituent units founding the Socialist Party of Canada, an organisation which continued until 1925.

Frederick John "Fred" Dixon was a Manitoba politician, and was for several years the dominant figure in the province's mainstream labour and Henry George Single Tax Georgist movements. Also a proponent of proportional representation, he served as MLA in the Manitoba Legislature from 1914 to 1923.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albert Goodwin</span> 19/20th-century Canadian coal miner and labor rights activist

Albert "Ginger" Goodwin, nicknamed Ginger for his bright red hair, was a migrant coal miner who advocated for workers' rights and promoted the cause of unions in British Columbia, Canada. Angered by the working conditions in coal mines, Goodwin sought to increase wages and improve working conditions, and fought companies that disregarded workers' rights. He participated in and led multiple strikes, and served as a delegate for the British Columbia Federation of Labour and as an organizer for the Socialist Party of Canada. In the years following his increased activism and involvement with labour unions, Goodwin fell under scrutiny for his opposition to military conscription during World War I. He was killed by a police officer in 1918. There is debate on whether Goodwin was a victim of murder or if his death was the result of the officer's self-defence. His death sparked a one-day general strike in Vancouver on August 2, 1918, which was the first general strike ever held in Canada. The strike was a precursor of the Winnipeg general strike of 1919 and other labour conflicts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albert Edward Smith</span>

Albert Edward Smith, known as A. E. Smith, was a Canadian religious leader and politician. A social gospeller, Smith was for many years a minister in the Canadian Methodist Church before starting his own "People's Church". He served in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1920 to 1922 as a Labour representative. In 1925, he became a member of the Communist Party of Canada.

George Armstrong 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.

<i>Peoples Voice</i> (newspaper) Biweekly newspaper published in Canada

People's Voice is a Canadian newspaper published biweekly by New Labour Press Ltd. The paper's editorial line reflects the viewpoints of the Communist Party of Canada, although it also runs articles by other leftist voices. Established in 1993 under this name, the paper and online service have a history of ancestral publications dating to the early 1920s, when the first paper of this line was founded by the new Communist Party of Canada.

The Socialist Party of British Columbia (SPBC) was a provincial political party in British Columbia, Canada, from 1901 to 1905. In 1903, the SPBC won seats in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Socialism in Canada</span> Role and influence of socialismĀ in Canada

Socialism in Canada has a long history and along with conservatism and liberalism is a political force in Canada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">E. T. Kingsley</span> Founder and leader, Socialist Party of Canada

E.T. Kingsley was a founder and leader of the Socialist Party of Canada and editor of the Western Clarion, one of the most prominent radical newspapers in early twentieth-century Canada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Walter Thomas Mills</span> New Zealand politician

Walter Thomas Mills (1856–1942) was an American socialist activist, educator, lecturer, writer, and newspaper publisher. He is best remembered for the role he played in the Socialist Party of America during the first decade of the 20th Century as one of the leaders of the organization's moderate wing. He also was a key actor in the labor movement of New Zealand as a founder of the United Labour Party in 1912. He returned to the United States in 1914 with the advent of World War I and worked unsuccessfully to keep the country out of the bloody European conflict, eventually leaving the socialist movement in the 1920s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Walker (trade unionist)</span>

William Walker was a prominent Irish trade unionist and a leading figure within the Belfast labour movement. He served as President of the Irish Trades Union Congress and Vice-Chair of the British Labour Party.

The Canadian Socialist League (CSL) was the first nationwide socialist organization founded in Canada. It originated in Montreal in 1898, but was strongest in Ontario and British Columbia. The leaders espoused a moderate socialism based on Christian reform principles. Members of the league formed provincial socialist parties. In 1905 these parties merged into the Socialist Party of Canada (SPC).

The Socialist Party of Canada (SPC) is a socialist political party in Canada, affiliated with the World Socialist Movement.

William Arthur Pritchard was a pioneer Canadian socialist politician and publisher. Pritchard is best remembered as a principal defendant in a 1920 sedition prosecution of nine leaders of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. He served a prison term for seditious conspiracy. After his release he eventually was elected mayor of Burnaby, BC during the Great Depression.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British Socialist Party</span> Political party in the United Kingdom

The British Socialist Party (BSP) was a Marxist political organisation established in Great Britain in 1911. Following a protracted period of factional struggle, in 1916 the party's anti-war forces gained decisive control of the party and saw the defection of its pro-war right wing. After the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia at the end of 1917 and the termination of the First World War the following year, the BSP emerged as an explicitly revolutionary socialist organisation. It negotiated with other radical groups in an effort to establish a unified communist organisation, an effort which culminated in August 1920 with the establishment of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The youth organisation the Young Socialist League was affiliated with the party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Parmater Pettipiece</span>

Richard Parmater (Parm) Pettipiece was a Canadian socialist and publisher. He was one of the founders of Socialist Party of Canada, and one of the leaders of the Canadian socialist movement in British Columbia in the early 20th century. Later he moved into the moderate trade union movement, and for many years was a Vancouver alderman.

<i>Western Clarion</i>

The Western Clarion was a newspaper launched in January 1903 that became the official organ of the Socialist Party of Canada (SPC). At one time it was the leading left-wing newspaper in Canada. It lost influence after 1910–11 when various groups broke away from the SPC. The editors were unsympathetic to women's demands for the vote and the right to work for pay. During World War I (1914–14) the Western Clarion was internationalist and denounced a war in which workers fought while others profited. Following the Russian Revolution it adopted a pro-Bolshevik stance, The paper was banned in 1918, but allowed to resume publication in 1920. Its circulation dwindled as SPC membership dwindled, and the last issue appeared in 1925.