The Western Socialist
Vol. 27 - No. 212
No. 1, 1960
During the last weekend in August, 300 representatives of the Canadian Labor Congress, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, farm organizations and a sprinkling of invited guests gathered in one of Winnipeg's cosiest hotels to discuss the formation of a new political party for Canada.
This gathering was a follow-up from the resolution passed at the CLC convention a year ago proposing the formation of a "broadly based peoples' political movement, which embraces the CCF, the labor movement, farm organizations, professional people and other liberally-minded persons interested in basic social reform and reconstruction through our parliamentary system of government."
The daily press reports that the weekend gathering ended on a note of confidence. Stanley Knowles, chairman of the committee sponsoring the gathering, is credited with saying that the talks had been successful and had shown unanimity on all important points. Claude Jodoin is quoted as saying, "The Congress, and I as its president, believe that the need for a new party is greater today than it was even a year and a half ago." T. C. Douglas, CCF premier of Saskatchewan, is mentioned as having "stressed the common economic interests of labor with farmers in making a plea for a broad-based socialist party."
Yet the confidence is somewhat marred by the lack of interest that appears to have been shown by the "professional people" and "other liberally-minded persons" and the hands-off policy adopted by the farm organizations. And Mr. Jodoin made it clear that even the CLC would not become a part of the new party, saying "we, as a Congress, should abstain from any form of political affiliation," although he expressed the hope that the unions separately would become affiliated.
It would appear then that the new party, which will make its debut after the CLC convention next April, if the present plan is carried out, will consist of the CCF and some CLC unions. Of the latter a CLC official is credited with the belief that probably 65 per cent favor affiliation, the balance being opposed. That some solid opposition to the new party does exist is evident from the reluctance of the Congress to take the plunge.
Those most favorable to the new party are, of course, the members of the CCF. A generation ago the CCF declared itself to be the representative of the "common people." Over the years it has thought up program after program but has never thought up one good enough to capture the support of the "common people." The suggestion may be offered that its difficulty has not been its inability to think as brilliantly as its Liberal and Conservative opponents, but its lack of funds. If that is the case the new party must be specially appealing, for it may soon be able to tap the trade unions for election funds on a far greater scale than has been the case to date.
There is nothing about the current C.L.C. venture that merits enthusiasm among the workers. Whatever crumbs emerge from it will not fall into their laps but into those of the aspiring politicians.