Canadian Peace Congress

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Canadian Peace Congress
Formation 1949
Type pacifist congress
Legal status active
Purpose advocate and public voice, educator and coalition for a Canadian Republic
Headquarters 125 Brandon Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Region served
Canada
Official language
English French
president
Dave McKee
Main organ
Peace Messenger
Parent organization
World Peace Council
Affiliations Canadian Peace Alliance World Peace Council
Website www.canadianpeacecongress.ca

The Canadian Peace Congress is an anti-imperialist group founded in 1949 by Canadian minister James Gareth Endicott in response to the new dangers to peace posed because of the Cold War. It described itself as "a place where people of different views and faiths can meet and discuss world affairs... and work together as effectively as possible to improve international relations and step by step [move] towards the goal of universal disarmament and a lasting peace"[1] The CPC was the Canadian affiliate of the World Peace Council and a leading player in the peace movement in Canada, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. The CPC was active in the nuclear disarmament and anti-imperialist movements such as the movement against the Vietnam War and promoted the concept of peaceful co-existence between the Communist bloc and the Western bloc.

The CPC was made up of affiliated local peace councils from across Canada as well as associate members including the Trade Union Peace Committee, the Labor-Progressive Party (as the Communist Party of Canada was then known), the Federation of Russian Canadians and the United Jewish Peoples' Order. Its founding meeting was attended by representatives of 47 different organizations and groups, including women's, youth and church groups, trade unions, and ethnic associations. The organization also worked closely with many CCF activists.[2]

Active councils of the CPC were established in: British Columbia, Calgary, Edmonton, Fraser Valley, Guelph, Halifax, Hamilton, Kamsack, London, Niagara, Peterborough, Saskatoon, Sydney, Thunder Bay, Vernon, Victoria, and Windsor. These councils were active in campaigns against the Korean War, Vietnam War, the military coup in Chile, South African Apartheid, Zionism, US interventions into Nicaragua and Panama, NORAD and NATO as well as the arms race and nuclear build-up.

The CPC was perceived as being close to the Labor-Progressive Party and its successor the Communist Party of Canada, though Endicott, himself, was not a party member. Endicott remained the CPC's chairman until 1971 when, according to his biography, he was pressured to resign by the leadership of the Communist Party for his pro-China views during the Sino-Soviet split. Endicott was succeeded by John Hanly Morgan who led the Congress as president until 1986. A Quebec Peace Congress, Conseil québécois de la paix, also established a nationally autonomous group separate from the Canadian Peace Congress in the 1970s. By the late 1970s, members who had authored publications for the Peace Congress included scientists, artists, musicians and writers from across the country.

During the 1980s struggles for nuclear disarmament, the Congress helped found the much broader Canadian Peace Alliance in 1985 as a more inclusive and less centralized network of peace organizations, including many newly formed groups (as opposed to the CPC which was seen as aligned with the Soviet Union). The CPA has since developed essentially into a coalition.

After 1986 Lari Prokop led the Congress until it became inactive in the early 1990s. At its 1991 conference, the CPC decided to disaffiliate from the World Peace Council but the organization never formally dissolved.[3] However, the Regina Peace Council continued its activity, publishing a regular newsletter and paying dues to the World Peace Council.

While the Canada-wide council became inactive with the world crisis in the socialist and Communist movement around 1992, by the mid-2000s an effort was made to re-establish Peace Councils in Edmonton and the BC Lower Mainland, in addition to Regina. The Peace Council was then re-established in April 2006 at an Edmonton conference attended by 20 delegates from across Canada.[4] A "Special Renewal Conference" was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2008 which ratified the organization's constitution and politics and elected as president David McKee, a trade unionist, past co-chair of the Canadian Peace Alliance, and current leader of the Ontario Communist Party. Currently there are active Peace Councils in Surrey (Fraser Valley), BC; Edmonton, AB; Regina, SK; Winnipeg, MB; and Toronto, ON. The revived Canadian Peace Congress has affirmed its continuity with the original organization, again the Canadian affiliating with the World Peace Council. Canadian delegates have attended various international meetings, and the Peace Congress hosted a tri-lateral meeting of Peace Congress's from Mexico, USA and Cuba in October 2009. In 2017, former Communist Party of Canada leader Miguel Figueroa became acting president of the Canadian Peace Congress.

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