Communist Party – Alberta

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Communist Party – Alberta
Leader Naomi Rankin
Founded 1930 (1930)
Headquarters Edmonton, Alberta
Ideology Communism
International affiliation Solidarity Network
Colours Red
Website
www.communistparty-alberta.ca
Politics of Alberta
Political parties
Elections

Communist Party – Alberta is a provincial political party in Alberta, Canada. It is a provincial branch of the Communist Party of Canada.

History[edit]

Alberta had recognized Communist Party speakers and activists starting at the time of the founding of the Communist Party of Canada in 1922. The first years were troubled by uncertainty of its relationship to the radical One Big Union movement, that had originated in Alberta in 1919.

The post-WWI depression caused many Albertans to seek radical change of the economic system and the Communist Party was a potent force, active in organizing amongst, and lobbying governments on behalf of, the poor unemployed in the cities, struggling farmers and poorly paid urban workers. Its radical views found a good hearing among the immigrant communities who had fled unfair economic conditions in their homelands - Ukrainian, Finnish, Italians and Jews were prominent in the early movement, while British Communist immigrants led the movement due to their facility in the English language and their secure citizenship. Recent immigrants from other lands, even if naturalized, could be deported back to their land of origin due to political activism, and many were.

Communist Party member Henry Bartholomew, a well-known Communist speaker and lecturer in the city, ran in a 1924 Edmonton by-election under the banner of the Canadian Labour Party, which at the time took in both non-Communists and Communist Party members. He came in a strong third with 29 percent of the vote, and the transferable balloting system in effect at the time gave him more votes in the first round of ballot transfers, so that he was almost in second place, but, held out of the first two spots, he was dropped off and his ballots re-distributed.

The Communist Party first ran its own candidate in the Edmonton by-election of January 9, 1931. It contested two more by-elections after that, the last of which was a by-election held on October 7, 1937 in the Edmonton electoral district in which Jan Lakeman, leader of the Alberta Communists, finished third. The party has not contested another by-election since but has placed candidates in many general provincial elections, beginning in 1935.

The federal government, worried about its latent strength, banned the Communist Party of Canada (and its Alberta wing) in the early 1930s and again at the start of WWII.

Communist Party candidates had some reasonable results under the Single Transferable Vote system that Alberta used between 1924 and 1959, but its candidates rarely made it past the first vote transfer.

The party has been a very minor force due to Alberta's conservative politics that overtook the province starting in the 1940s. It achieved its best results in the 1940s with a couple of distant second place finishes. In those elections, it called itself the "Labour-Progressive Party" because of the federal government's ban. (see also United Progressive which the party used in the 1940 election in Vegreville)

The party started using the Communist name again in 1963.

The Communist Party was less successful than other left wing parties in the province, such as the Labour Party and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. In the 1975 provincial election, the Communist Party split the far left wing vote with the Constitutional Socialist Party, and in other elections the Communist Party (Maoist-Leninist) also ran candidates.

The Communist Party did not run in the 1967 and 1971 elections. The party has ran at least one candidate in every general election since then. In recent years, the Communist Party has not attracted more than a couple candidates with vote totals that rarely top 100 in each electoral district contested.

The Communist Party – Alberta is a full provincial wing of the federal Communist Party of Canada.

Party leaders[edit]

Election results by year[edit]

General elections[edit]

Election Affiliation # of Candidates Votes Pop. % Best Candidate Votes District
1935 Communist 9 5,771 1.91% Jan Lakeman 1,096 Edmonton
1940 Communist 1 1,067 0.35% James A. MacPherson 1,067 Edmonton
1944 Labour Progressive 30 12,003 4.26% William Teresio 999 Vermilion
1948 Labour Progressive 2 1,372 0.47% Bernard Swankey 856 Pincher-Creek Crowsnest
1952 Labour Progressive 2 1,132 0.38% Bernard Swankey 824 Edmonton
1955 Labour Progressive 9 3,420 0.90% William Harasym 947 Edmonton
1959 Labour Progressive 4 884 0.21% William Tuomi 251 Edmonton Norwood
1963 Communist 4 527 0.13% Dan Gamache 215 St. Paul
1975 Communist 14 768 0.13% Neil Stenberg 116 Redwater-Andrew
1979 Communist 7 357 0.05% William Tuomi 80 Edmonton Highlands
1982 Communist 8 389 0.04% Naomi Rankin 66 Edmonton Highlands
1986 Communist 6 199 0.03% Naomi Rankin 51 Edmonton Highlands
1989 Communist 2 82 0.01% Naomi Rankin 55 Edmonton-Gold Bar
1993 Communist 1 47 0.005% Naomi Rankin 47 Edmonton Strathcona
1997 Communist 1 61 0.01% Naomi Rankin 61 Edmonton Riverview
2001 Communist 2 117 0.01% Naomi Rankin 76 Edmonton Centre
2004 Communist 2 98 0.01% Bonnie-Jean Collins 56 Calgary East
2008 Communist 2 96 0.01% Bonnie-Jean Collins 55 Calgary East

By-elections[edit]

Date District Candidate Votes % Placement
January 9, 1931 Edmonton Jan Lakeman 813 4.68% 4th out of 4
November 16, 1931 Red Deer F.G. Bray 261 6.68% 4th out of 4
October 7, 1937 Edmonton Jan Lakeman 1,779 5.72% 3rd out of 5

External links[edit]