W. A. Pritchard’s Address to the Jury
In the Crown vs.
Armstrong, Heaps, Bray, Ivens, Johns, Pritchard, and Queen
Indicted for Seditious Conspiracy and Common Nuisance,
Fall Assizes, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1919-1920
1920, 10 a.m.
( . . .)
Now, we come to an exhibit, "The Class Struggle". That is Exhibit No. 535. Something
that is published in New York. And here on page 14, it is stated: "The conception of
political action as parliamentary activity only leads to that 'parliamentary cretinism'
denounced by Marx, which produces the delusion that the whole world and its social
process revolve about the parliament". With that argument I am going to deal a little later
on. "This conception of political action is false theoretically; and in practice leads
ultimately to disaster. In itself it cannot develop the independence and aggressive action
of the working class which are necessary in order that it may achieve its final
emancipation. But, related to the general mass action of the proletariat, parliamentary
action becomes a vital phase of Socialist activity". That is not, you will notice,
gentlemen, issued by the Socialist Party of Canada.
Now, we get one of these small leaflets. You will remember they were dangled before
your eyes; just a small leaflet with the simple heading, "What We Want", by Wilfred
Gribble. And he goes onto explain all about it in simple words; the development from the
simple machine to the complex wheels of modern industry. I am not going to bother you
with the entire article. I want to smash the position put up by the Crown–"Nothing about
the ballot in that. Nothing about the vote". How does Gribble conclude. "How shall we do
this?" Follow this reasoning, gentlemen. "Well, what stands in the way. The powers of
the Government which stand as guarantee for the present form of ownership", they may
be strong words, gentlemen, but listen–"Behind that Government stands your vote". Did
he put that in there and did he mean it? Other people have distributed this little leaflet. I
can't go into the history of that. I have lived in Winnipeg more since the trial commenced
than I ever did in my life. I can't go into the history of things in Montreal, Winnipeg, or
anywhere else. I must just build up my own position the best way I can. "What stands in
the way. The powers of Government which stand as guarantee", and so on, "and behind
that Government stands your vote", and the writer of this article may be very emphatic to
the people whom he is addressing. "Behind your vote is your ignorance and your class
interests. What other explanation is there? You are far, very far the more numerous. You
are potentially far stronger than the capitalist, but you don't know how to use your
strength". "Behind the Government stands your vote". Take that, gentlemen, with the
position I gave you a short time ago, that the first task of any political party was to
convince the majority of the people that your programme and your tactics are correct.
"You are far more numerous; you are potentially stronger than the capitalist, but you
don't know enough yet to act in your class interests; behind that Government stands your
Now, gentlemen, I am going to ask you to assume something. I don't know whether I
should or not, seeing that you have all this evidence in, but I am going to risk this, I am
going to ask you to assume that sometime, somehow, somewhere, I had a father. I don't
think there is anything objectionable in that, although there is no evidence before this
court, but I am going to ask you to assume that I had a father. As you heard me make my
objections when certain evidence went in, and I think, His Lordship told me that my
father, if he wasn't an angel now, would be some day; you remember that, I didn’t know
at that time, gentlemen, that right in .those things themselves there would be evidence
that would bear out my objection. I am speaking honestly.
Mr. BONNAR. My Lord, the speaker would like Mr. Williams to get him some of the
THE COURT: Very well, we will adjourn for a short intermission.
(Court adjourned for fifteen minutes.)
W. A. PRITCHARD (Continuing) : Now, gentlemen, just before we adjourned I was
telling you that I had a father, and I was bringing back to your minds that during this trial
when I offered my objection to certain exhibits I did it seriously. I took that book, looked
at the outside of it, and I took that one and I said that belonged to my father, and I took
this one and I said that belonged to my father. Now, I was not trying to crawl out of
anything. Not in the least. I want you to take notice of this, It was my right, and it was my
duty to make that objection because history is replete with instances of men who have
been convicted upon circumstantial evidence.
That is the position of the Socialist party, the stand we take when this point intervenes. I
don't know what the number of this exhibit is, gentlemen, I am not concerned with it, all I
want you to notice is the name, "W. A. Pritchard". You can see the handwriting. Here we
have Exhibit 663, and you see under the name "J. Pritchard's Book:" You will notice the
difference. Now, I have another exhibit , here, another book. I have asked you to assume
that I had a father. I don't think I am violating any of the regulations of this court if I told
you that father was a coal miner, who went to work at nine years of age. (Pointing) The
word "Exoteric" is underlined–( Pointing to pencil note on margin)–Exoteric Teaching,
Mysterious Teaching"–all I want you to notice is the writing. See if that writing compares
with the signature W. A. Pritchard, or compares with the other signature (Shows to jury).
I just wanted to get one idea in your minds as you went along, gentlemen. The book itself
has been used against me. I am going to quote from this book later on on other points.
Yet in this book, using the terms which have been used for the last half century in Britain
in connection with the Socialist movement, this book itself says, on page 50: "I have said
that the class struggle is a compass to steer by in the present struggle for the
emancipation of the working class. If we steer by this compass, we will resolutely reject
all overtures from political parties representing the interests" and so on. "Especially as
individuals will we avoid giving our votes or our support to any middle class party which
we may at times fancy to be making in the right direction".
Now then we come to this pamphlet, "Canadian Socialist Party", which also has been
used against me. It appears to be a kind of manifesto issued by a certain group, as to their
position. With that we are not concerned. But I must use it for myself, as it has been used
against me. What says this pamphlet? I didn't know there was so much literature in the
world until now. Page 17: "The present ruling power which is in the hands of the
capitalist class is so powerful, that the working class in its present circumstances is
unable to overthrow it. The fists of the working class, weakened by hunger, are too
insignificant against the gatling guns in the hands of the capitalists. An armed revolution
therefore is out of the question as long as the ruling power is in the hands of the capitalist
class. The field for the class struggle is therefore in Parliament". Anything about the vote
in that, gentlemen? Anything about the ballot; anything about constitutional practice?
Anything about Parliament? "The field for the class struggle is therefore in Parliament".
Eight months arranging exhibits, building up a case, hunting charges. Page 28, under the
heading of "Political Demands" : "Unrestricted. and equal suffrage to men and women,
and the abolition of those obstacles which disfranchise the workers in Dominion,
Provincial, or Municipal elections, or are obstacles which prevent a Canadian citizen
from becoming representative or candidate for office". I will deal with that a little later
on. We will deal with those obstacles, which in the last year or two have been created for
the purpose of preventing that kind of thing: "9. Initiative and referendum, proportional
representation and the right to recall". On page 28, it says: "We should struggle more
vigorously than before, for the changing of the Franchise and Election Laws to be really
democratic". Now I am willing to take the statement of my learned friend Mr. Pitblado
that the Law says that anything that is found in a man's house can be used against him. I
am using some of it for myself. Let us use some more.
Exhibit 208: Platform of the Socialist Party of Canada, together with the application for
membership. The application for membership states : "The applicant recognizes that the
struggle between the capitalist class and the working class is a struggle for political
supremacy". In any organization you have the organization blank filled in to see whether
the applicant is a fit and proper person for your society. It may be any kind of society,
gentlemen–it may be the Elks, or the Bull Moose, or any other organization, and you put
your questions short and pithy, not that the world might know, but that the applicant and
the members of your organization might know.
This is already made out: "R. C. Mutch, address, Smithers, B. C. Occupation, carpenter;
age 26. Voter, yes". Look at that, please (handing to the jury) "Voter, yes". I wonder,.
gentlemen, what the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party of Canada were thinking
about when they put "voter" on the application form? Did they put it there just to fill up a
blank hole, or will you gentlemen agree with me when I tell you that it was put there to
mean what it says, that any political party, taking in members, wishes to know for the
purpose of tabulation the number of members who are upon the register, so that they can
use them as scrutineers, or may be if they possess certain abilities, put them up as
Then I want you to look at this Exhibit 541, "The Slave of the Farm". This was evidently
the first edition. A small one gotten out in the form of a complete article. The other one
"Slave of the Farm", which you will remember I read to you somewhat extensively, was
gotten out later on, rather built upon this, so it would appear, and it was put in the form of
letters, like a young romantic man would write to a dear lady. He always writes: "My
Dear E". In the first one, Exhibit 541, page 16, issued by the Dominion Executive
Committee of the Socialist Party of Canada, put in as an Exhibit against us, says: "Our
work is plain before us, the masters hold their place because they hold political power,
they are few; we are many, me must then join hands with our brothers of the factory.
With our brothers of the factory, mill or mine, and workers all, go to the ballot and grasp
political power; send our own men to Parliament to rule as we shall dictate".
It may be urged, gentlemen–I want to give it all to you–that this does not appear in the
next issue. This was gotten out in entirely different form, this was written during a
discussion that was raging on economic questions. It was an academic question. Two sets
of economists were arguing as to whether or not the farmer when he sold his wheat had
not thus worked up his energy into so many bushels of wheat, and therefore sold his
energy in wheat .just like the worker sells his energy by the day or by the month. On the
other hand, there was another kind of economist who said: "No, the farmer does not get
his that way; the farmer to all intents and purposes owns the land, owns horses, owns
machinery, and yet, generally speaking, he is in the same position as the wage-worker.
When all is said and done he toils from morning to night, and continues to toil day in and
day out". The position that they took and the position I take, gentlemen, is that the wheat
raised by the farmer belongs to him, but he does not have the market in his back yard,
and if I produce something away up in the North Pole, I might just as well save my work.
The farmer produces his wheat for the market in Europe and America. When you come to
deal with Manitoba No. 1 hard wheat, you find it holds its place on the world's market
because its quality is the finest for milling. Before that wheat can be made use of it must
get to the market; that market must be there, before anyone can take the wheat off your
hands. Here was the position then we took, that in front of the farmer there stands the
man with the gun who says: "Stand and deliver", and that between the farmer and his
wheat and the market for that wheat there stands the chain of elevators, there stand the
railroads, there stands the mighty octopus of capital that is represented in the Grain
Growers' Grain Company of Chicago, who can make fifty thousand dollars on an
investment of fifty thousand.
But to pass that. Just as I, a longshoreman, standing some fine morning at 5 minutes to
seven, as a liner pulls in, standing alongside a number of my fellows, the stevedore runs
his eye over us, and he says: "Come on Jim, Jack". "You plugs over there, you go down
to No. 3; you go to the slings", just in the same way; and in this book these arguments are
developed to the full. There is an application for a charter to the Dominion Executive
Committee of the Socialist Party of Canada. Then there is a pledge similar 'to the one that
you have in that individual application form, and here is the column for the names,
column for the age, column for the occupation, column for the address. At the end the
column for "Office in local", and before that "citizen?" Why should we want to waste
paper asking if individuals making application for charter were citizens or not? Here is
the answer, gentlemen, in the last paragraph of that little pledge:
"If this application be granted, we hereby agree to maintain or enter into no relation with
any other political party". That is our constitutional right as a political party; nothing
seditious in that. It goes on: "We pledge ourselves to support by voice, vote and all other
legitimate means the ticket and programme of the Socialist Party of Canada only".
Gentlemen, you may belong to the Conservative Party or you may belong to the Liberal
Party. You may belong to the Single Tax Party–you may in a very short time, I suppose
you will, belong to the Farmers' Party, and upon the floor of your Convention someone
will say: "I am whole-heartedly in support of the ticket of the Farmers' Party". What do
you mean by "ticket". We have some peculiar names, under which we hide our meanings.
Has that only just been discovered? "To support by voice, by vote, and by all other
legitimate means",–by argument, by presentation of your facts, your programme. What
do you mean by programme in any political party? Programme–and before you come to
programme, gentlemen, "ticket"? It is almost beyond me, gentlemen. I don't know how
the counsel for the Crown could have gone through these exhibits and omitted these
things. Anything about the ballot in that? Anything about constitutional practice in that?
Anything about Parliamentary action in that? I am going to leave it to you, gentlemen.
What do you mean by ticket and programme? What do I mean? I am willing to take all of
the world's possessions and lay them beside a brass button, if I were a betting man, that
you know what I mean when I say "ticket".
In the Western Clarion, of Oct. 15th, 1918, page 2, there is an article–it may be strong
language, "Nationalization of Industry": "For as long as the Capitalist class remains in
possession of the reins of the Government, all the powers of the State would be used to
protect and defend their property rights in the means of wealth production and their
control of the products of labor". "National ownership or control is only more and more a
development of capitalism and is generated by the commercial jealousy of one section of
the Capitalist class against another which holds a monopoly of some essential industry
and in furtherance of their aims, they bamboozle the workers at election times into voting
for a so-called public ownership".
Then there is a historical article, which is continued evidently from previous issues,
"Capitalism in its latest stages in England". Remember, counsel for the Crown said:
"What do they mean by political action". Right in here appears the meaning. I am going
to take the time, gentlemen, because I think you will bear with me in doing this; you have
a duty to perform–so have I. I owe a duty to myself; I owe a duty to my wife and to my
children in this matter. I owe a duty also to my fellow-workers, and I do not propose to
shirk those duties in any particular. "Any attempt on the part of the workers to improve
their conditions was regarded in the nature of a conspiracy and severely suppressed. Until
the early part of the 19th century, up to 1824, when the 'Combination Laws' were
repealed, workmen could not even meet to discuss or deliberate on the question of wages
or hours. But, of course, it was considered no offense for employers to organize for the
purpose of regulating working conditions to their own advantage".
Where are these articles taken from? From "Toynbee's Industrial Revolution;" and from
the "Industrial History of Great Britain", by H. de B. Gibbon, Prizeman in political
economy, Wadham College, Oxford University.
"Lacking political power the workers were unable to help themselves". "But even had
they possessed"–what?–political power? What says the article? "Lacking political power
the workers were unable to help themselves, but even had they possessed"–political
power in practice–"even had they possessed a voice in the Government they would
certainly have accomplished nothing of permanent benefit to themselves, for they
understood the fundamental causes of their misery even less than do the workers today".
Now, we get another exhibit. This is going back to April, 1916, Exhibit 843 (Western
Clarion). This is dealing with a case against a man by the name of Reid. What I want to
bring to your attention is that there are copies of two affidavits sworn by merchants of a
certain district in this matter. I want you to get a complete picture of the Socialist Party.
The first one is made by a man named Macklin, sworn before a Commissioner, J. H.
Robinson, of Evarts, Alberta. "At the meeting held at Evarts school house, in the latter
days of March, 1916, addressed by John Reed, Socialist Candidate for the Red Deer
Dominion Electoral District". Now carry your minds back. When was the last Dominion
Election. Gentlemen, covered by the dates in this indictment, 1917, was it not? But it may
be urged that this was 1916 and therefore he was a candidate for a Dominion
Constituency prior to 1917. Well and good, when was the Dominion Election, prior to
1917? Am I correct in saying it was in September or October, of 1911? I think so. Was it
not in 1911 the great political issue was called, "The full market basket". It looked to me
like the first cousin to the "full dinner pail", because it was only a painted picture of a
market basket. That was the election cry. Here we have Reid, the Socialist Party of
Canada candidate for the Dominion Electoral District of Red Deer–it could not be for
1911, it had gone past–nominated as the candidate for the Electoral Division of Red
Deer, evidently for the election that came on in 1917. The other fellow gives a somewhat
similar affidavit, and refers to this John Reid, Socialist Candidate, Red Deer Electoral
Then there is an article dealing with a gentlemanly the name of Parker Williams. Parker
Williams had evidently been a member of the Socialist Party in the very early days, but
he became a good Liberal after he got a good Government job. I will let that pass. What
did he say. He said he was still a Socialist. "I am not", he is reported to have said, "in any
sense repudiating its theories, that is, the Socialist Party of Canada, but its
uncompromising attitude is"–the very thing which sets the nerves of my learned friend on
edge–"its uncompromising attitude is not satisfactory, particularly so when that attitude
has been such a weapon in the building of the Conservative machine". There may have
been people during the strike who kicked at the Socialist Party of Canada because of the
uncompromising attitude of the Socialist Party of Canada in Winnipeg. I do not want my
learned friend to be too much haunted by reminiscences, so I pass on.
This article deals with the means for solving problems : "Our quidnuncs, ignoramuses,
demagogues, fakirs, anglers around the capitalistic pie counters say: 'compromise with
this or that capitalist party'. In effect they say to the working class, against whom the dice
are loaded : 'Let us trade; follow us into the Liberal camp and watch us spoil the
Egyptians; next election into the Conservative camp and beard the lion'. And so we go
round and round the vicious circle from disillusionment to disillusionment; the blind
leaders and the blind, weaving ropes of sand".
Why should we deal with these papers, exhibits, that the Crown have put in. Why should
we deal, from our viewpoint, with the Liberals and Conservatives, and wander with them
into their wilderness of party politics, when our position is that the working class must
build up its own political party and keep itself clear in its own political fights?
Then there is an article in another exhibit, Western Clarion, March, 1917. This was the
paper my learned friend Dr. Pitblado gloated over. There he says you will see "W. A.
Pritchard", editor of this paper in 1917, and he passed over the pages, there you will see
"Our Bookshelf" reviewed by W. A. Pritchard, "The Diplomatic History of the War,
including a diary of negotiations and events in the different capitals and the texts of the
official documents of the various Governments. Public speeches in the European
Parliaments, an account of the military preparations of the countries concerned and
original matter", edited by M. P. Price, published by Charles Scribners & Sons.
To show you our viewpoint all along, not only at elections, but between elections, here is
an article on "Women's Rights", by J. Harrington. The article is fairly philosophical in its
way. He deals with the cry that is coming to the surface for rights for women. And he
says: "The non-participation of women in active national affairs and the narrow sphere in
which they have moved for so many centuries, naturally produced a narrow viewpoint.
This sufficiently accounts for their undoubted conservatism". Here is the problem that
this writer lays before the Government: "The balancing of the increasing radical slave
vote"–may be strong language, perhaps we call ourselves slaves–perhaps we call one
another wage slaves. If we go to a volume that was written by Robert W. Service, in his
"Songs of a Sourdough", we find a poem on the "Wage Slave"–" The slave vote, with a
number of Conservative votes, certainly cannot be overlooked by the master class,
obviously apprehensive of a new post war slave psychology".
Harrington sees the problem here, that the politicians of today, in order to offset the
increase in votes against them by the men, will grant the vote to the women. This was
written in March of 1917, gentlemen, and in the Fall of that year, we had a number of
politicians who fulfilled that prophesy to the very letter. They gave the vote to a certain
number of women because they considered they could use that vote. There was a certain
writer of note who said that the differences between politicians and statesmen was this: A
statesman is a man who honestly desires to do something for his country, and a politician
is a man who wants, in any way at all, his country to do something for him.
There were a bunch of these politicians who worked that franchise and they climbed into
office by virtue of a War Times Election Act, and a number of women who have since
You will remember how my learned colleague, Mr. Queen, pressed home the point that
Arthur Meighen came down here with the Hon. Mr. Robertson. His was the fine Italian
hand which drew the War Times Election Act, the same fine Italian. hand which wrote
the amendment to the Immigration Act that Mr. McMurray brought to your notice,
whereby a British subject can be deported from British possessions–that same Italian
hand which fulfilled the prophecy made by Harrington months before in this exhibit of
the Crown's, No. 843. He is a politician, a gentleman of parts–I should say of several
parts–a politician with a rather shady past and a very hazy future, and if I can read the
signs of the times aright, a Machiavelli who will go down at the next election.
Talking about Election, what have we? Here on page 12 of this Exhibit, "Vancouver
Campaign Committee", "Important Notice". Over here, "B. C. Provincial Executive
Committee, Attention!" In the first advertisement: "B. C. Provincial Election will take
place in June. (This is April, 1916) and as we have to get up a deposit of $100.00 for each
candidate we nominate, it means $600.00, for Vancouver City Electoral District (6
candidates). The Campaign Committee calls upon all comrades and sympathizers to
contribute as liberally as possible to our campaign fund. To date we have
$165.00".–Arthur Meighen had nothing to do with this campaign–"which means that we
will have to get $435.00 to place a full ticket in the field. Make all moneys payable to J.
M. Jenkins, 169 Georgia Street. Remember the Socialist Party of Canada depends upon
the members of the working class for its support. This is your fight". This is part of that
mysterious medicine shaken up in the bottle: "Remember the coming B. C. Provincial
Election. Twelve months ago a dozen candidates stood nominated to contest several
districts. The election did not materialize at that time and was held off until now". The
Honourable William John Bowser put the thing off for a little while just as the fellows in
Ottawa are trying to stave off the evil moment. "The political situation is of a nature that
demands an election, and the Government realizing this necessity have practically
declared an election for the month of June. At any rate the House of Parliament in
Victoria must disband in June, so we call upon all the Reds worthy of the name to stand
by the Socialist Party of Canada in this election. There never was a fight in any of the
previous elections in B. C. that can compare with the one we are anticipating now".
Funny, isn't it? "Don't be misled by the variety of parties that are out to save you, the only
saviour of the working class is the working class themselves, so we call upon every Red
in B. C. to do his part by assisting us in the pending elections".
Now, I am a little under a disadvantage, I am going to tell you honestly. Taking poison
out of letters is an easy job compared to taking sweet morsels. A particularly innocent
phrase in a letter from one person to another, which can be made to appear in court to
bear a sinister meaning, but which in reality possesses none, is taken and tossed about in
order to prejudice the mind of the jury. I have listened to it for weeks. One fellow writes
to another and says : "Our speakers, Pritchard, Harrington and somebody else are our top-notchers, and somebody else coming along in the offing". You will remember that has
been given to you. I don't want to be egotistical, because I tell you, gentlemen, a man
who knows a little at all knows how little he knows. And the more he gets to know the
more he knows that he knows very little. The more the human mind goes into the realm
of literature or art, music or of any of the comparative sciences, the more his own mind is
humbled, by a realization of the mass of knowledge that can be obtained by the human
mind. I am not saying it in any egotistical sense, the Crown have used it. Mr. Andrews,
walking up and down, says: "Pritchard, the top-notcher". "Pritchard, the man who came
like Blucher at the call of Wellington, when Russell called". Gentlemen, I trust that I will
never indulge in heroics of that kind. Anyway, the learned counsel for the Crown in
likening me to Blucher meeting Wellington is using a very unhappy illustration, because
it was when those two gentlemen met together that Napoleon was conspiring to
manoeuvre them out of business, and he was defeated.
Well, here we have the election in British Columbia. True, it is 1916, and the Crown may
use that. They can use it if they like; they used the argument that Pritchard was a top-notcher, and that we had $145.00 towards $600.00 for putting those candidates in the
field in the City of' Vancouver. Gentlemen, use your discretion in deciding who were
those six candidates in the City of Vancouver. That was in 1916. This is 1920.
Gentlemen, the reason that the Socialist Party of Canada have not put up any candidates
since the last election might be easy for you and I to find even though it would cause
some cudgeling of the brains of a distinguished lawyer. Do you remember who the
member for the City of Winnipeg is. It is common knowledge, isn't it, Major Andrews,
who ran against a labor man in Winnipeg. I think it was Bob Ward. Do you know who
the member for Centre Vancouver is? H. H. Stevens. Do you know when he was elected
first? In 1911. Do you know when he went back again? In 1917, as the Unionist
Government candidate. Who was the Liberal who ran against him? Why the
distinguished acquaintance of His Lordship, William Wallace Bruce McInnis.
THE COURT: I don't claim any acquaintanceship with Billy McInnis.
MR. PRITCHARD: Then you and I are coming to a point of agreement more and more
all the time. I withdraw that. I will say William Wallace Bruce McInnis was a
distinguished acquaintance of the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
THE COURT: Of course he is dead.
MR. PRITCHARD: But still I remember, My Lord, when Sir Wilfrid Laurier came to
Vancouver, someone opened the carriage door, and there was Billy McInnis standing
there with a big chew in his mouth
THE COURT: Wasn't it Laurier who fired his father?
MR. PRITCHARD : I don't know, My Lord. I have not been very long in this country.
THE COURT: Well, perhaps so.
MR. PRITCHARD: But I know Billy McInnis. Gentlemen, H. H. Stevens was on the
Unionist ticket, and McInnis was the Liberal nominee. There was a Labor man running
on the Socialist Party of Canada ticket. Who was he? Go to the list of "top-notchers"; use
your common sense, gentlemen, I can't tell you. That was in 1916; that was the last
Now, gentlemen, I stand here before you accused of conspiring and agreeing to carry into
effect a seditious intent and that I am thereby guilty of seditious conspiracy. I am also
accused of aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring and forming a common intention to
commit a common nuisance. You have seen the indictment, I think. I won't offer you that
indictment. I looked at it the way it reads when right side up, and then I turned it upside
down and read it that way; I read it from the middle towards both ends, and I worked
back again. There was a fellow–he may have been a little profane–who was reading this
with me, and he said: "This is the devil's own indictment". I agreed with him. It may be
good Law, but I know just a little of the history of the Law, not of the Law as a legal
instrument, but the history of economic movements, of peoples who have produced Law.
If there is a true science of Law it is that view of Law which looks upon it from its origin
and its growth. Even the Law changes, gentlemen. Not very long ago the learned judges
on the Bench of the Province of B. C. used to appear with big wigs, which took you all
your time to tell which of the learned judges were presiding in the court, because they all
I don't think the framer of this indictment drew it up as a monument to his art, I think he
drew it up as a monument to his artfulness. That is the indictment under which I stand. It
may mean something and it may mean nothing, but I want to tell you gentlemen this, that
one of the first indications that the Law is being written by the common people will be
the fact that the common people will be able to understand it. I say that with all due
deference to the illustrious craftsman of the honourable profession; I may be egotistical,
but if I had my way I would carve all Latin out of it.
THE COURT: There is no Latin in that indictment. There is no Latin in our books.
MR. PRITCHARD: Well, I was going to use some of it.
THE COURT: Don't, because neither the jury nor I will understand it.
MR. PRITCHARD: I thought, perhaps, that some gentleman should be given the task of
reconstructing the Canadian Criminal Code so that it could be understood. Nevertheless,
gentlemen, under instructions from a more or less mysterious source, the whole of the
police and the police spy system of this country, conjured up from God knows where
during this last year or so, was set in motion. Dozens of men's homes have been entered
into and ransacked. Papers have been dragged from out of their basements, some of them
bearing all the ear-marks of having been put down in the coal heap ready for the furnace.
Stores have been ransacked; books, papers, political speeches and letters have been piled
one on top of another in this court; extracts have been taken from those letters and
publications, and have been pieced together, and having been pieced together they make
the most exquisite legal crazy-quilt that I have any knowledge of in the whole history of
Law. This collection of words, sentences, acts, utterances–disconnected from each other,
and independent of each other, have been assembled like the farmer gathers eggs from
different parts and puts them all in the basket, and labeled "seditious conspiracy".
Let us see–there are two phrases which my learned friends of the legal profession
use–one is "de jure" and the other is "de facto". Speaking briefly, as you know,
gentlemen, "de jure" means in the Law–according to the Law; "de facto", according to
the fact. When my learned friend pointed his finger at us and said: "The accused
Pritchard; the accused Heaps; the accused Johns"–it ran in my mind, yes, the accused
Pritchard "de jure"–according to the Law; but not the accused Pritchard "de facto". I
stand here according to the Law the accused Pritchard; but according to the facts of life,
according to the experiences of my fellow-workers in industry, according to my own
experiences–some of them bitter and painful–I stand here "de facto" the accuser of
malicious conspiracy; the accuser of men–not because I hate them–because I don't–not
because I think anything vile about them. I don't. But I stand "de facto" the accuser of
men, who have lent themselves to the most damnable piece of infamy that has ever been
perpetrated in any part of the British Empire in the name of Law. I stand here today de
facto the accuser of men who entered into a conspiracy to rob the constitution, to carve
the vitals out of the privileges of British subjects; who knock the props from underneath
free speech and free press. Everyone who lent themselves to that business, gentlemen,
aided and abetted, counselled and procured, and assisted and formed the common
intention to enter into a malicious conspiracy to do away with the entire British
Speaking as a student somewhat of constitutional history, I want to tell you it is in the
realm of constitutional history that the working class stand supreme. The working class
has nothing to lose, and everything to gain by working within the limits of the
constitution. Where that constitution gives an ever-extending franchise to the people as
they grow and develop, the movement can take place peacefully. When that constitution
is throttled; when that constitution is violated, when that constitution has been raped,
gentlemen, there is bound to be a clash somewhere, sometime.
I am giving this to you because after lunch I want to go into one or two things dealing
with political action, dealing with the constitutional character of the organizations to
which I belong. I want to show you that men who could frame the War Times Election
Act; who could write–I don't care what the situation was–the amendment to the
Immigration Act, such as was rushed through both houses of Parliament in about forty
minutes, can do anything. Nothing can ever be given as a pretext for passing that kind of
legislation. But to deal with the history of this thing as it is, I have got to show you why,
in a Labor Convention, I stood right behind certain resolutions. I have got to show you
why it was we objected to a Government by Order-in-Council, professedly being a
Government of the people, by the people and for the people. I have got to show you when
that Government–first of all I trust it is plain that I will use the Crown Exhibits–I am
going to show you, to the best of my ability how that Government in its very inception
was a conspiracy; how it bought up every newspaper of any standing in Canada.
I am reminded of a story by Bob Edwards of the Calgary "Eye-Opener", something so
apt, so delightful, to anyone who knows just a little of the political wire-pulling that has
gone on in the various provinces throughout this Dominion. Edwards said, concerning
Arthur Sifton, then Premier of Alberta: "There's one good thing about Arthur Sifton–his
name is not Clifford".
THE COURT: Such things as that are neither material or seemly in a court of justice. We
(Court adjourned at 1 p. m.)
2.30 p. m., March 23, 1920.
W. A. PRITCHARD: My Lord and Gentlemen of the Jury: Discussing the matter of the
position of the Socialist Party of Canada, I would like to give you a text, which can be
found in Exhibit 492, "Red Flag", May 24, 1919. All through this trial the thought
expressed in this text seems to me to have been hammered home. It is an utterance, an
epigram by one of the finest men of letters of Britain today. You may disagree with him,
but any man of standing in the world of literature will tell you, if you ask for the names
of the three men in Britain who stand out pre-eminently in the world of letters: George
Bernard Shaw, Gilbert Chesterton, and Hillaire Belloc. Shaw says this: "Nothing is so
terrifying to the Socialists of today as the folly of their opponents".
You have been troubled a little about Plato's "Republic", as to whether Plato's "Republic"
had not been forbidden under an Order-in-Council. I find, however, gentlemen of the
jury, right from the Exhibits put in by the Crown, that Shaw's "Unsocial Socialist", the
"Mikado" and other plays by W. S. Gilbert, were banned. "Mademoiselle Fifi" by de
Maupassant, one of the finest of the French story writers, was banned. "First Principles of
Sociology", by Herbert Spencer, was banned, "The Origin of the Species", of Charles
Darwin, and I could give you a whole lot more of the same kind that were banned. To
understand my position, you must understand the position of the censor. What is the
position he then took. I am not claiming, gentlemen, when the censor under Orders-in-Council passed a blanket order to a certain publishing house that he was acting
maliciously. I would not for a moment think so. I don't think so now, but I can come to
no other conclusion than that he was acting absolutely from pure ignorance. But,
however, discussion of politics brings me to the Manifesto of the Socialist Party of
Canada. Before I touch that there is something else I want to say first. Making request of
the Crown for further particulars as to how the bottle of medicine came to be mixed we
were furnished with a number of them. I had to use the microscope again. And this is
what I find about myself in the particulars: "The accused Pritchard was a party to the said
conspiracy long, prior to the Western Labor Conference in March, 1919, which he
attended as a delegate". Now, really it would be amusing, gentlemen, were it not so sad.
My particular objection to this set of particulars is to be found in the fact that they lack
particularity. You have heard something about fairness. I think I can look beyond the
personalities, and look into those great causes which produce economic and political
movements, but I must say this that personally I am not suffering from any heavy sense
of that fairness.
Under the heading "Politics", in the Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Canada, there is
an excerpt from the Communist Manifesto. I am going to read to you that excerpt as it
was read to you by counsel for the Crown: "Free man and slave, patrician and plebian,
lord and serf, guild master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed stand in
constant opposition to one another . . .". Do you notice any difference? Did you notice the
difference between the past tense and the present tense–that is how it was presented to
you, and yet, immediately before that paragraph is the key which explains that this is
treating the matter historically. "The history of all hitherto existing society (that is, all
written history) is the history of class struggles". Written history takes us back to the
hardy pioneers on the shores of the Mediterranean, the Phoenicians. It must be dug out of
the records of the past, as it can be found in tools and instruments used by primitive man
in various stages of development. You see how a small thing will give it an entirely
different complexion: "Free man and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild
master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant
opposition"–twisted into "stand" in constant opposition.
I think we can accept Justin McCarthy as one of the reliable historians of the Victorian
Era, author of the History of Our Own Times. He tells us in one of his historical essays
that a study of the History of Rome is valuable for every student of history and politics,
because in the life of Rome, and particularly in its decline and fall, we see a picture of
every slave empire which preceded it, and we have lessons and pictures for every social
epoch that has succeeded it. Take that lesson with the quotation: "Free man and slave,
patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor
and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted,
now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary
reconstruction of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes".
McCarthy shows that as those empires which preceded Rome went down, Babylon,
Carthage, Alexandria, Greece, everyone of them show that lesson of history, the common
ruin of the contending classes. And then in Rome, the last of the great slave Empires, as it
went down, we have the other lesson of history, revolution and reconstruction of society
Dealing with this matter of the ballot, and with the matter of the Socialist Party of Canada
and Parliamentary action, they read to you from the first paragraphs of the section on
politics. I had already read this to you some time ago, and I also read concerning the rise
of the different slave empires, the prelude to feudalism, then the institution of feudalism,
the rise of the merchant class, the destruction of feudalism. Then I went into the section
on "Economics", showing our definition of value, what we mean by the Law of surplus
value, what we mean by price, by exchange, and all the other terms that are used in the
science of economics. Why did I do that? To give you an idea of the work in its entirety,
to show you, that while it was the Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Canada–which
fought in every election up to the present time–it was nevertheless a disquisition on the
history of movements throughout the world; it was a work explaining world movements.
The wheat that you produce on your land ties you up to every other country in the world.
The ships that I load and unload connect me, may be, with the labors of the Chinese
coolies of Shanghai, Hong Kong and other oriental ports; and brother Johns, as he works
with the micrometer and the lathe in the machine shops, his labor is connected with the
slaves of the American rolling mills. That is why I read specifically from this work,
which deals with the movements throughout the world. "For one country it may be the
ballot, in another the mass strike, in a third insurrection". And they try to read the thing
You know as well as I do, gentlemen, how the workers in Belgium were forced into a
mass strike in order to gain the franchise. Did the franchise mean anything to them? If it
did not, why did they expend their energy in a fight of that kind. Under the old three-class
voting system, despite the fact that the worker could vote under the Kaiser's rule in
Germany, what good was that? We look at the conditions of the worker in what Lloyd
George himself called "A Ramshackle Empire", Austro-Hungary! "In one country it may
be the ballot; in a second the mass strike, and in a third insurrection".
I can remember yet the appeals that were sent over from our side into Germany, hoping
that the workers in Germany would rise against their masters, at the time the war was on.
If in one country it is the ballot, which country will that be, gentlemen, but in that country
where that ballot is allowed free and full expression. Does that expression, "In one
country it may be the ballot", mean anything, or are they empty words? I tried to explain
to you that, under the constitution that develops and moves, it would be the height of
insanity to use any other method for popular expression but the ballot, because the ballot
is our most expedient method of settling disputes.
Parliament was born somewhere around the 12th Century. When the King, in order to
make his highways clear, went into a village and dragged off hostages and kept them
until the villagers had made the necessary reparation to the King; it was from that crude
practice that Parliament arose. To be a member of Parliament in those days was no soft
job at all. Yet it has developed from one point to another, and we find in the last century
the franchise being widened and extended. The franchise was really never in the hands of
the workers to any extent until the passing of that Franchise Act I referred to this
morning. For myself, I do not need to give evidence as to where I come from, my brogue
will tell you just as Mr. Queen's brogue will tell you where he came from. My brogue
will tell you I come from not very far south of the Tweed. I never had a vote myself until
I came to this country. Of course, like a wise man when I did have a vote I went out and I
voted for myself.
I will refer to Exhibit 577, No. 20 in the circle, in the Socialist column of the Western
Labor News. "The Dictatorship of the Proletariat". It says, signed "Local No. 3,
Winnipeg, Socialist Party of Canada". Yet, in the article itself, right in the
commencement, gentlemen,. it says: "The Law of the great and free Canada informs me
that the literature of Kerr, of Chicago, is banned", and so on. Now, it indicates it was
written by one manand counsel for the Crown gloated over that and also
that there were some quotations from the Communist Manifesto. And this writer who
states: "The Law of this great and free Canada informs me" goes on with the quotation :
"In one country the ballot, in another the mass strike, in a third insurrection". The point
that he was making in the definition of political action was the fact that this Manifesto is
addressed to the International Working Class, and that there is implied therein that
political action can take various forms in different countries, according to the conditions
of those countries. And then he saysand this was emphasized strongly by the
Crown"At one time we thought that the constitution of Canada allowed us to come
under the first category, but now-a-days we are in doubt". Written in January, 1919. I feel
almost like saying, "Perhaps so". Thousands of Orders-in-Council put forward in lieu of
statutes. Now we are in doubt. We could hardly blame him when we see what has been
enacted in the name of Legislation down at Ottawa, and when we further bring to mind
the fact that they have so bolstered up themselves that they could declare to the world at
large that they were going to hang on until 1923.
Gentlemen, you have heard something of Marx. I have got to introduce you to Marx. The
"Communist Manifesto" has been thrown around and quoted from quite a lot. Who was
Marx? ( . . .)