Labour Progressive Party
|Labour Progressive Party|
|Former federal party|
|Preceded by||Communist Party of Canada|
|Succeeded by||Communist Party of Canada|
|Youth wing||National Federation of Labour Youth|
|Fiscal policy||Far left|
|Social policy||Far left|
|Politics of Canada
The Labour Progressive Party was the legal political organization of the Communist Party of Canada between 1943 and 1959.
Origins and initial success
When the Communist Party of Canada was banned in 1940, it refounded itself as the Labour-Progressive Party (LPP) in 1943 after the release of Communist Party leaders from internment. Only one LPP Member of Parliament (MP) was elected under that banner, Fred Rose, who was elected in a 1943 by-election in Montreal and sat in the House of Commons. In 1947, he was charged and convicted for spying for the Soviet Union, and was expelled from the House of Commons.
Dorise Nielson was elected to the House of Commons in the 1940 federal election from Saskatchewan as a "Progressive Unity" MP, and declared her affiliation to the LPP when it was founded in August 1943. She was defeated in the 1945 election when she ran for re-election as an LPP candidate.
In Ontario, two LPP members, A. A. MacLeod and J. B. Salsberg, sat in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1943 to 1951 and 1955 respectively. The LPP also jointly nominated several Liberal-Labour candidates with the Ontario Liberal Party.
The LPP had strong pockets of support in working-class neighbourhoods of Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg as well as in the Crowsnest Pass mining region of Alberta and British Columbia elected a number of its members to local city councils and school boards. In Winnipeg, Jacob Penner was a long-time member of the city council while Joe Zuken sat on the school board. In Toronto, Ryerson, Carr and Charles Simms and Norman Freed served as aldermen while Smith was elected to the city's powerful Board of Control.
From 1944 to 1947, Helen Anderson Coulson sat on Hamilton's City Council as an Alderman (from 1944–1946) and, after the 1946 municipal election, as a member of the city's highest decision making body, the Board of Control. She played a significant role in the Stelco Strike of 1946, and paid for her stances in the 1947 election, being shut out of the 4-person body after receiving the second highest number of votes in 1946. She would unsuccessfully seek election numerous times over the next decade, most prominently opposing Mayor Lloyd Jackson in 1950.
World War II
Following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the Canadian Communist Party reversed its earlier position urging Canadian neutrality in World War II and instead urged full support for the Canadian war effort. The party formed the "Tim Buck Plebiscite Committees" urging support for conscription in the 1942 referendum. After the vote the committees were renamed the Dominion Communist – Labour Total War Committee and were the main public face of the Communist Party, and became the main wartime activity of the Labour-Progressive Party, helping it raise its profile and encouraging the federal government to release Communist leaders who had been detained early in the war.
The LPP faced repression during the Cold War as anti-Communist sentiment increased in Canada, particularly after the revelations of Igor Gouzenko following his defection from the Soviet embassy in Ottawa. Gouzenko's revelations led to the downfall of Fred Rose. Nevertheless, the party continued to elect a handful of members to provincial legislatures, city councils and school boards across Canada well into the 1950s.
An almost fatal blow for the party was the crisis that enveloped it following Nikita Khrushchev's Secret Speech to the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, the first event shattered the faith many LPP members had in the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin while the second caused many to doubt that the USSR had truly changed. Aggravated as well by revelations of widespread anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union (a serious blow to Jewish members of the LPP such as Salsberg and Robert Laxer), the party underwent a serious split with more than half of its membership including many in the leadership, including Salsberg, Stewart Smith, Harry Binder, Sam Lipshitz and other prominent LPP leaders, ultimately leaving with the remaining party being a remnant of what it once had been. The United Jewish Peoples' Order, which had been one of the largest organizations allied with the LPP, broke with the party in December 1956 as a result of Salsberg's revelations after his fact-finding mission to the USSR to investigate reports of systemic anti-Semitism and repression of Jewish culture.
The LPP last ran a federal candidate in a December 1958 by-election and ran nine candidates in the 1959 Ontario election. Shortly thereafter, it renamed itself the Communist Party of Canada once again.
The LPP had a youth wing, the National Federation of Labour Youth which had formerly been known as the Young Communist League. The NFLY was renamed the Socialist Youth League of Canada in the 1950s but became defunct later in the decade due to internal party turmoil.
- Labour-Progressive Party (Quebec)
- Association of United Ukrainian Canadians
- Federation of Russian Canadians
- United Jewish Peoples' Order
- Controller Henderson Heads Field With Anderson Second," Hamilton Spectator, Dec. 10, 1946, News.
- "Swing To Right Defeats Helen Anderson For Controller," Hamilton Spectator, Dec. 4, 1947, News.
- "Mayor Jackson Coasts To Win Over Coulson," Hamilton Spectator, Dec. 7, 1950, News.
- Gerald Tulchinsky, Family Quarrel: Joe Salsberg, the 'Jewish' Question, and Canadian Communism Labour/Le Travail, 56 (Fall 2005)