Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Ontario Section)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Ontario Section)
Leader Ted Jolliffe,
Donald C. MacDonald
President Agnes Macphail,
John Mitchell,[1]
Charles Millard,[2]
G.M.A. Grube,
Andrew Brewin,
Miller Stewart,[3]
Theodore Isley
Founded 1932
Dissolved 8 October 1961
Preceded by United Farmers of Ontario,
Independent Labour Party
Succeeded by Ontario New Democratic Party
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario
Ideology Social democracy, Democratic socialism, Agrarianism
Political position Left
International affiliation Socialist International
Colours Green and Yellow
Politics of Canada
Political parties

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Ontario Section) – The Farmer-Labor Party of Ontario, or more informally and commonly known as The Ontario CCF, was a democratic socialist political party that existed from 1932 to 1961. It was the provincial wing of the National CCF. The party officially had no leader in the beginning, being governed by a provincial council and executive. The party elected its first Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the 1934 Ontario general election. In the 1937 general election, it did not elect anyone to the Ontario Legislature. In 1942, the party elected Toronto lawyer Ted Jolliffe as its first leader. He led the party to within a few seats of forming the government in the 1943 Ontario general election; instead, it formed the Official Opposition. In that same election, it managed to elect the first two women to the Ontario Legislature, Agnes Macphail and Rae Luckock. The 1945 election was a setback, as the party lost most of its seats in the legislature, and Jolliffe even lost his own. The party once again became the Official Opposition after the 1948 Ontario general election, even defeating the Conservative premier George Drew in his own seat, when Bill Temple unexpectedly won in the High Park constituency. The middle and late 1940s were the peak years for the Ontario CCF. After that time, its electoral performances were dismal, as it was reduced to a rump of two seats in the 1951 election, three seats in the 1955 election, and five seats in the 1959 election. Jolliffe stepped down as leader in 1953, and was replaced by Donald C. MacDonald. The period between the 1951 defeat and the founding of the Ontario New Democratic Party was one of much internal strife, but MacDonald managed to keep the party together, despite the constant electoral defeats. In October 1961, the party formally dissolved, and became part of the New Democratic Party.


The Ontario CCF was indirectly the successor to the 1919–23 United Farmers of OntarioLabour coalition that formed the government in Ontario under Ernest C. Drury.[4] While United Farmer Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) joined the Ontario Liberal Party, the United Farmers of Ontario (UFO), as an organization, participated in the formation of the Ontario CCF, and was briefly affiliated with the party.[4]

After a meeting in Ottawa on 26 May 1932, that brought together all the Members of Parliament that belonged to the Ginger Group, and some members of the League for Social Reconstruction (LSR), the CCF was formed, making J. S. Woodsworth the defacto leader, and giving responsibility for organizing Ontario to Agnes Macphail of the UFO.[5] Macphail, as president of the Ontario Provincial Council, persuaded her fellow delegates at the December 1932 UFO convention to affiliate with the CCF provincial council.[5] After the 1933 Regina convention, the formal name of the party was introduced as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Ontario Section) – The Farmer-Labor Party, though the shorter Ontario CCF was the most commonly used name.[6]

Macphail, served as the first president of the Ontario CCF from 1932 until 1934.[7] As a UFO Member of Parliament (MP) in the Canadian House of Commons, she was forced to officially resign from the CCF after the UFO withdrew from the party after alleging Communist influence in it.[8] She subsequently served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as the CCF Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP)[Note 1] for York East from 1943 to 1945 and again from 1948 to 1951.[9]

Graham Spry, a publisher and broadcaster who was also a member of the LSR, served as the Ontario CCF's vice-president of its provincial council from 1934 to 1936.[10] He was the first federal CCF candidate in Ontario, running in the 24 September 1934 by-election in Toronto East.[10] Other prominent members were Elmore Philpott, a former Liberal Philpott joined the CCF in 1933 and became president of the Ontario Association of CCF Clubs before resigning from the party and rejoining the Liberals in 1935 over the A. E. Smith affair, that caused the UFO to leave as well.[11] The disagreement was in regards to how much support the fledgling CCF should give Smith, leader of the Canadian Labour Defence League, who had been charged with sedition for claiming that the state had attempted to assassinate imprisoned Communist Party of Canada leader Tim Buck.[12] The CLDC was a communist front group.[12] Woodsworth, along with the Ontario CCF provincial council, opposed the CCF having any formal links with it or any other Communist group.[12] Some individual CCFers ignored this policy as did one section of the Ontario CCF, which was expelled.[12] Nevertheless, Philpott and the UFO saw the Smith affair as evidence that the CCF had been infiltrated by Communists and left.[12][13] The issue of what relationship the CCF should have with the Communist Party would come to the fore again in 1936 with the party voting to ban any united front with Communists, over the objections of prominent CCFers such as East York reeve Arthur Henry Williams.[1]

The CCF contested its first Ontario provincial election in 1934.[10] It received 7.1 percent of the vote, and won its first seat in the Ontario legislature: Samuel Lawrence elected in Hamilton East.[10] The Ontario CCF failed to win any seats in the 1937 election.


Ted Jolliffe, CCF Leader 1942–1953

At the Ontario CCF's tenth annual convention in Toronto, the first leadership election was held.[14] Two candidates came forward: Toronto lawyer, and Ontario CCF vice-president Ted Jolliffe, and union activist and former Ontario CCF Youth Movement organizer Murray Cotterill.[14] On 4 April 1942, Jolliffe won the election, but the voting results were not publicly announced.[14] The newly created Leader position's role was as political leader, while internal CCF affairs and administration would remain the president's domain.[14]

The party achieved a major breakthrough under Jolliffe, in the 1943 Ontario general election, forming the Official Opposition with 32 percent of the vote and 34 seats. The CCF was just four seats short of George Drew's Progressive Conservatives ("Tories"), who formed a minority government that was the beginning of what became a 42-year political dynasty.

1945 "Gestapo" campaign[edit]

In the 1945 Ontario election, Premier Drew ran an anti-Semitic, union bashing, Red-baiting campaign.[15] The previous two years of anti-socialist attacks by the Conservatives and their supporters, like Gladstone Murray and Montague A. Sanderson, were devastatingly effective against the previously popular CCF.[16] Much of the source material for the anti-CCF campaign came from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)'s Special Investigation Branch's agent D-208: Captain William J. Osbourne-Dempster.[17] His office was supposed to be investigating war-time 5th column saboteurs. Instead, starting in November 1943, he was investigating, almost exclusively, Ontario opposition MPPs, mainly focusing on the CCF caucus.[18] The fact that Jolliffe knew about these 'secret' investigations as early as February 1944 led to one of the most infamous incidents in 20th-century Canadian politics.[19]

24 May 1945 radio speech[edit]

As can be discerned from the previous description, the 1945 campaign was anything but genteel and polite. Jolliffe replied by giving a radio speech – written with the assistance of Lister Sinclair[20] that accused Drew of running a political Gestapo in Ontario.[15] In the speech excerpt below, Jolliffe alleged that a secret department of the Ontario Provincial Police was acting as a political police – spying on the opposition and the media.[15]

It is my duty to tell you that Colonel Drew is maintaining in Ontario, at this very minute, a secret political police, a paid government spy organization, a Gestapo to try and keep himself in power. And Col[onel] Drew maintains his secret political police at the expense of the taxpayers of Ontario – paid out of the Public Funds...[19]

Jolliffe's inflammatory speech became the main issue of the campaign, and dominated coverage in the media for the rest of the election.[21] Drew, and his Attorney-General Leslie Blackwell vehemently denied Jolliffe's accusations, but the public outcry was too much for them to abate. On 26 May 1945 during his own radio speech, Drew announced that he would be appointing a Royal Commission to investigate these charges.[22] Jolliffe's CCF and Mitchell Hepburn's Ontario Liberal party wanted the election suspended until the Commission tabled its report, with Hepburn going as far as sending Drew a personal telegram stating he would stop campaigning if the commission were held immediately.[23] Drew ignored these requests and continued to hold the election on its original date, despite it being many months before the Commission's findings would be made available.[24]

Election Day, 4 June 1945[edit]

Jolliffe's CCF went from 34 seats to 8, but almost garnering the same number of actual votes cast, though their percentage of the popular vote dropped from 32 to 22 percent.[25] A Gallup poll done a month earlier showed the CCF at essentially the same percentage, making it questionable whether or not the "Gestapo" speech had an effect on the campaign.[26] Drew, with his attack campaign, successfully drove the voter turn-out up, thereby driving the CCF's percentage and seat totals down.

Monday, 4 June 1945, was one of Ontario's most important elections in the 20th century according to Caplan and David Lewis.[25] It shaped the province for the next 40 years, as the Conservatives won a massive majority in the Legislature, and would remain in government for the next 40 consecutive years–most of that time with majority governments until the mid-1970s.

After going from 34 seats to 8, as Caplan puts it, "June 4 and June 11 [federal election], 1945, proved to be black days in CCF annuals: Socialism was effectively removed from the Canadian political agenda."[25] The CCF would never fully recover from this defeat and would eventually cease as a party and morph into the Ontario New Democratic Party. Only then, and in the 1970s, did a social democratic party attain the popularity it had under Jolliffe in 1943.

For Ted Jolliffe, another election consequence was his tenure as the MPP from York South ended, at least for the time being. He lost the election but did better than any other CCF candidate in Toronto or in the outlying Yorks.[25]

LeBel Royal Commission[edit]

On 28 May, Drew appointed Justice A.M. LeBel as the Royal Commissioner, thereby forming what has become known as the LeBel Royal Commission. His terms of reference were restricted to the question of whether Drew was personally responsible for the establishment of "a secret political police organization, for the purpose of collecting, by secret spying, material to be used in attempt to keep him in power.[27] Wider questions like why the OPP, Ontario Civil Servants, were keeping files on MPPs were not allowed.

Jolliffe would act as his own counsel throughout the commission, but was assisted by fellow CCF lawyer, Andrew Brewin.[28] Both he and Brewin were able to establish, from several eyewitnesses, that agent D-208, Dempster, was spying on the CCF. What they could not prove, because they did not have access to the information in 1945,[29] were the letters that Drew wrote to his supporter M.A. (Bugsy) Sanderson suggesting that he would finance any lawsuits or other charges stemming from the information provided by Dempster in his advertisements.[30] Sanderson was, in late 1943 to 1945, along with Gladstone Murray, leading the libelous advertisement campaigns against the CCF in newspapers and bill-boards, with information gleaned from Dempster's briefings.[31] Jolliffe presented several witnesses that claimed to have seen these documents. But Jolliffe could not produce the actual letter, and Drew would deny ever writing it.[31]

On 11 October 1945 Justice LeBel issued his report that essentially exonerated Drew and Blackwell.[32] Due to Jolliffe presenting only circumstantial evidence that linked Drew to Dempster, Murray and Sanderson, the Commissioner found the information unconvincing, even though LeBel believed Dempster's interaction with Sanderson and Murray was inappropriate.[33]

Jolliffe's motives regarding his accusations, as well as his choice of words, would be questioned for many years afterwards. That would change. In the late 1970s, when David Lewis was doing research for his Memoirs he came across archival evidence proving the charge.[34] Due to Lewis's discovery, Drew's son Edward, placed extremely restrictive conditions on his father's papers housed in the Public Archives of Canada.[Note 2][35][36]

As Lewis pointed out in his memoirs, "We found that Premier Drew and Gladstone Murray did not disclose all information to the Lebel Commission; indeed, they deliberately prevaricated throughout. The head of the Government of Ontario had given false witness under testimony.... The perpetrator of Ontario's Watergate got away with it."[37]

1945 election aftermath[edit]

After the LeBel Report was published, the Ontario CCF still had to go on with the business of running the party, and hold its annual convention.[38] It had been over 18 months since the previous provincial convention was held.[39] The convention was held from Thursday, 22 November to Saturday, 24 November at the Toronto Labor Lyceum on Spadina Avenue.[39] Jolliffe made it publicly known before the convention that he intended to continue on as leader.[39] He ran despite the elements within the party that blamed him for the election defeat.[38] His critics charged that the CCF did not stress policy enough during the election; that the party's platform was too vague; too leader-based; and was too sloganistic.[38] Jolliffe was attacked for how he handled the last weeks of the campaign, especially over the "Gestapo" speech.[38] These critics also blamed labour's involvement in dumbing-down the campaign, which was seen as the trade unions doing anything to achieve power.[38] It got so bad, that a motion to expel both Jolliffe, and David Lewis over these perceived grievances made it on to the convention floor.[38] The motion read, "the campaign tactics of the 1945 election had been decided by Mr. Jolliffe with the advice of Mr. Lewis and the democratic processes within the CCF had been ignored."[38] It was defeated, but it also demonstrated that the party's establishment had angered its socialist militant base.[38]

On Saturday afternoon, after the grievances were aired, the convention unanimously passed a resolution condemning Premier Drew asking him to stop spying on labour and political officials.[40] After that, the party's establishment candidates held on to their positions: University of Toronto professor, George Grube remained as president, while Jolliffe remained leader.[41]

1946 was the year of major labour strife in Ontario, and the CCF made it clear they were on the side of the unionists.[42] Breaking with tradition, the party's annual convention was held outside of Toronto for the first time.[43] The convention was held at the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton, Ontario from 9–11 December 1946, the city where the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) went through a long protracted strike about reducing the work-week to 40 hours.[42][43][44] Jolliffe faced a leadership challenge at this convention from former Toronto Controller Lewis Duncan.[45] There were rumblings in 1945 that Duncan would take over from Jolliffe, but that was rumoured to be only if he were able to defeat Drew in the High Park constituency, which he failed to do.[46][47] As party chairman John Mitchell stated at the time, it wasn't even close, as Jolliffe was easily re-elected CCF leader again for the fourth time.[45] Professor Grube stepped down as the president, and Andrew Brewin succeeded him after defeating former York South MP, Joseph W. Noseworthy by four votes.[45] The main resolution that would have an impact on the upcoming provincial election was one that condemned Drew's government for its hastily approved legislation allowing for cocktail bars to operate in Ontario.[45]

1948 Ontario general election[edit]

Though the 1948 election came about a year sooner than normal, the Ontario CCF had been expecting this, due to the polling information available that indicated that Drew's popularity was falling.[48] The CCF were able to rebound from their previous dismal election performance in 1945, and this time managed to get 21 members elected, including Jolliffe in York South, to once again form the Official Opposition.

The real surprise was that Premier Drew lost his seat, even though his Progressive Conservatives won a majority. In his High Park constituency, Drew was up against his local nemesis William (Bill) Temple. Temple was a temperance campaigner and made Drew's cocktail bar legislation the main campaign issue.[49] Temple castigated Drew for softening Ontario's liquor laws, claiming the Premier was the captive of "liquor interests" due to the government's decision to allow liquor sales in cocktail bars.[49] While Drew's party swept to victory across the province, Drew himself was defeated by Temple, and decided to resign as premier and move to federal politics.[49][50]

1951 election disaster and its aftermath[edit]

The CCF's return to popularity was short-lived, due to the prosperity of the 1950s and the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War. This rapid decline in their popularity reduced the party to two seats in the 1951 election and allowed the Ontario Liberal Party to become the Official Opposition. No social-democratic party would be the Official Opposition again until 1975, when Stephen Lewis's NDP displaced the Liberals as the second party in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Beginning with the 1951 provincial campaign, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) played an increased role in the Ontario CCF by lending it organizational, personnel and material support.[51] The increasing role of the trade union leadership in the party was unpopular with some activists like MPP Bill Temple.[51] The "Ginger Group" led by Temple, True Davidson and others was formed in the wake of the disastrous 1951 electoral result which they blamed on the "bureaucratization" of the party and its movement away from socialist principles and particularly socialist education, developments for which they held what they saw as the conservative, anti-democratic and bureaucratic influence of the OFL as responsible.[51] At the party's 1952 convention, Temple temporarily ran for party leader but withdrew at the last movement, allowing Jolliffe to be acclaimed leader.[52][53] Temple did not stop from making trouble for the establishment, when he ran for party president, and almost won.[53] He and Davidson were both elected to the party executive as vice-presidents and the Ginger Group elected a number of its followers to the provincial council.[53] They were ultimately unsuccessful in achieving their goals, however. The increasing role of the OFL in the Ontario CCF proved to be a precursor to the eventual fusion of the national CCF and the trade union movement with the creation of the New Democratic Party of Canada at both the federal and provincial levels in 1961.

End of the CCF/New Party and revival[edit]

Donald C. MacDonald,CCF/NDP Leader from 1953 to 1970. Seen here in February 2007

Donald C. MacDonald became leader in 1953,[54] and spent the next years rebuilding the party, from two seats when he took over the party's helm, to three in his first election and then five in 1959. Delegates from the Ontario CCF, delegates from affiliated union locals, and delegates from New Party Clubs took part in the founding convention of the New Democratic Party of Ontario held in Niagara Falls at the Sheraton Brock hotel from 7–9 October 1961 and elected MacDonald as their leader.[54][55] The Ontario CCF Council ceased to exist formally on Sunday, 8 October 1961, when the newly elected NDP executive officially took over.[54] The rebuilding process continued under Macdonald who led a 20 person caucus by the time he stepped down in 1970, ten times what it was when he took office in 1953.

Election results[edit]

Year of election Candidates elected # of seats available # of votes % of popular vote
1934 1 90 n.a. 7.0%
1937 0 90 n.a. 5.6%
1943 34 90 n.a. 31.7%
1945 8 90 n.a. 22.4%
1948 21 90 n.a. 27.0%
1951 2 90 n.a. 19.1%
1955 3 98 n.a. 16.5%
1959 5 98 n.a. 16.7%


  1. ^ In 1938, Members of the Ontario Legislative Assembly (MLAs) passed a motion to adopt the title "Members of Provincial Parliament" (MPP).
  2. ^ When Edward Drew (George's son) dies, these archives will become unrestricted.


  1. ^ a b "Ontario C.C.F. Votes Against United Front". The Leader-Post. 1936-04-11. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  2. ^ "Millard Heads Ontario CCF". Montreal Gazette. 1940-05-27. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  3. ^ "Canada Urges Act in La Prensa Case - Ontario C.C.F. Convention Asks Refuge Be Given To Editor". Montreal Gazette. 1951-03-26. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  4. ^ a b MacPherson, Ian (2011). "The United Farmers of Ontario". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: The Historica-Dominion Institute. Archived from the original on 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  5. ^ a b McNaught (1959), pp.259, 262
  6. ^ Szmigielski (1977), p. 232
  7. ^ Stewart & Shackelton (1959), pp. 171-172
  8. ^ Stewart & Shackelton (1959), p. 178
  9. ^ Black, Naomi (2011). "Macphail, Agnes Campbell". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: The Historica-Dominion Institute. Archived from the original on 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  10. ^ a b c d Horn, p. 64
  11. ^ Young (1969), p. 145
  12. ^ a b c d e McNaught (1959), p. 266
  13. ^ Crowley & Crowley (1990), p. 127
  14. ^ a b c d The Canadian Press (1942-04-04). "Leader Elected: E. B. Joliffe is chosen for Ontario C.C.F.". The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan). Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  15. ^ a b c MacDonald, p.291-297
  16. ^ Caplan (1973), p. 157
  17. ^ The Canadian Press (1945-07-07). "Dempster explains report inaccuracies". The Windsor Daily Star (Windsor, Ontario). p. 12. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  18. ^ Caplan (1973), pp. 182-184,187
  19. ^ a b Caplan (1973), p. 168
  20. ^ Caplan (1973), p. 179
  21. ^ Caplan (1973), p. 170
  22. ^ "Drew Orders Judicial Probe Into 'Gestapo' Charges, Which He Denies". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 1945-05-28. p. 8. 
  23. ^ Special to the Star (1945-05-29). "Probe Before Voting Hepburn tells Drew". The Toronto Daily Star (Toronto). p. 4. 
  24. ^ Caplan (1973), pp. 170-171
  25. ^ a b c d Caplan (1973), p. 191
  26. ^ Caplan (1973), p. 171
  27. ^ Caplan (1973), pp. 171-172
  28. ^ Globe staff (1945-06-21). "Jolliffe Protests Probe Into How He Obtained Confidential Police Data". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. 3. 
  29. ^ Lewis (1981), p. 276
  30. ^ Caplan (1973), p. 173
  31. ^ a b Caplan (1973), pp. 172-188
  32. ^ The Canadian Press (1945-10-12). "Premier Drew and his government absolved of forming "Gestapo"". The Evening Citizen (Ottawa). p. 13. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  33. ^ Caplan (1973), pp. 181-188
  34. ^ UPC (1981-12-03). "Former Ontario premier 'knew of police spy unit'". The Montreal Gazette (Montreal). Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  35. ^ MacDonald (1998), p. 295-296
  36. ^ "George Drew fonds: Call# MG 32-C3" (PDF). Restricted Papers. Library and Archives Canada. 2005-01-04. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  37. ^ Lewis (1981), pp. 276, 287
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h Young (1969), pp. 117–118
  39. ^ a b c Star Staff (1945-11-20). "Jolliffe is standing for C.C.F. leadership". The Toronto Daily Star (Toronto). p. 7. 
  40. ^ Star Staff (1945-11-26). "End political spying provincial C.C.F. asks". The Toronto Daily Star. p. 17. 
  41. ^ Star Staff (1945-11-26). "Drew flouting 48-hour order is C.C.F. charge". The Toronto Daily Star (Toronto). p. 17. 
  42. ^ a b The Canadian Press (1946-12-10). "Jolliffe sees Ottawa vote in 18 months: C.C.F. meeting hears provincial election is possible in 1948". The Windsor Daily Star. p. 16. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  43. ^ a b Star Staff (1946-11-22). "C.C.F. Convention". The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario). p. 11. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  44. ^ Special to The Star (1946-12-10). "Labor won, despite tricks by Capitalists–Jolliffe". The Toronto Daily Star (Toronto). p. 3. 
  45. ^ a b c d Star Staff (1946-12-12). "C.C.F. asks liquor votes". The Windsor Daily Star (Windsor, Ontario). p. 19. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  46. ^ Star Staff (1945-04-23). "Says Jolliffe to keep helm: Duncan denies C.C.F. to change leaders". The Windsor Daily Star (Windsor, Ontario). p. 13. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  47. ^ The Canadian Press (1945-06-27). "Servicemen's vote brings extra seat to Ontario Liberals". The Maple Leaf (London, England). p. 3. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  48. ^ The Canadian Press (1946-12-10). "Jolliffe sees Ottawa vote in 18 months: C.C.F. meeting hears provincial election is possible in 1948". The Windsor Daily Star (Windsor, Ontario). p. 16. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  49. ^ a b c Melnyk, pp. 177-178
  50. ^ Canadian Press (1948-06-08). "Premier losses in High Park, CCF Wins 11 Area Seats". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. 1. 
  51. ^ a b c Azoulay (1999), pp. 33–36
  52. ^ Azoulay (1999), p. 40
  53. ^ a b c Star staff (1952-04-12). "CCF Split Buried as Temple Loses Vote". The Toronto Star (Toronto). pp. 1–2. 
  54. ^ a b c McNenly, Pat (1961-10-07). "New Party Spurns CCF 'Tory' Setup". Toronto Daily Star (Toronto). pp. 1, 14. 
  55. ^ Star Staff (1961-09-21). "New Party Drafts Plan for Ontario". The Toronto Star (Toronto). p. 01. 


See also[edit]