Co-operative Commonwealth Federation

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
Leader J.S. Woodsworth, M.J. Coldwell, Hazen Argue
President M.J. Coldwell, Frank Scott, David Lewis
Founded 1932
Dissolved 1961
Entered into coalition with the Canadian Labour Congress to form the New Democratic Party
Headquarters Ottawa
Ideology Democratic socialism
International affiliation Socialist International
Official colours Green and Yellow
Seats in the House of Commons n/a
Politics of Canada
Political parties

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) (French: Fdration du commonwealth coopratif, then Parti social dmocratique du Canada) was a Canadian political party founded in 1932 in Calgary, Alberta, by a number of socialist, farm, co-operative and labour groups, and the League for Social Reconstruction. In 1944, it became the first socialist government in North America (based in Saskatchewan). In 1961, it disbanded and was replaced by the New Democratic Party. The full, but little used, name of the party was Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Farmer-Labour-Socialist).


[edit] Origins

The CCF aimed to alleviate the suffering of the Great Depression through economic reform and public "co-operation". Many of the party's first Members of Parliament (MPs) were former members of the Ginger Group of left-wing Progressive and Labour MPs.

The decision to create the "Commonwealth Party" was made shortly after the 1930 federal election at a meeting in United Farmers of Alberta MP William Irvine's office.[1] According to author Margaret Stewart, the meeting consisted of Irvine and several other left-wing MPs: Agnes Macphail, MP; Ted Garland, MP; Humphrey Mitchell, MP; Abraham Albert Heaps, MP; Angus MacInnis, MP; J.S. Woodsworth, MP.[1] Also involved in the plans to found a new party were members of the League for Social Reconstruction such as F.R. Scott and Frank Underhill.[2]

CCF founding meeting, Regina, 1933

At its founding convention in 1932, the party settled on the name "Co-operative Commonwealth Federation - (Farmer-Labour-Socialist)" and selected J.S. Woodsworth as party leader.[3] Woodsworth had been an Independent Labour Party MP since 1921, and a member of the Ginger Group of MPs. The party's 1933 convention, held in Regina, Saskatchewan, adopted the Regina Manifesto as the party's program. The manifesto outlined a number of goals, including: Public ownership of key industries; Universal pensions; Universal health care; Children's allowances; Unemployment insurance; Workers compensation.[4]

It concluded that "No CCF Government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and put into operation the full programme of socialized planning which will lead to the establishment in Canada of the Co-operative Commonwealth."[3]

[edit] Electoral performance

Federal CCF Caucus, in 1942 with new leader M.J. Coldwell. Left to right, Tommy Douglas, George Castledon, Angus MacInnis, Coldwell, Clarie Gillis , Joe Noseworthy, Sandy Nicholoson, and Percy Wright.[5]

In its first election in 1935, seven CCF MPs were elected to the House of Commons. Eight were elected in the following election in 1940. But the party was divided with the outbreak of World War II: Woodsworth was an uncompromising pacifist, and this upset many supporters of the Canadian war effort. After Woodsworth died in 1942, a new leader, Major Coldwell, was elected, and threw the party's support behind the war. The party won a critical York South by-election in February 1942, and in the process prevented the Conservative leader, former Prime Minister Arthur Meighen, from entering the House of Commons. In the 1945 election, 28 CCF MPs were elected, and the party won 15.6% of the vote.

However, the party was to have its greatest success in provincial politics in the 40s. In 1943, the Ontario CCF became the official opposition in that province, and in 1944, the Saskatchewan CCF formed the first socialist government in North America with Tommy Douglas as premier. Douglas introduced universal healthcare to Saskatchewan, a policy that was soon adopted by other provinces and implemented nationally by the Liberals under Lester B. Pearson

Federally, during the Cold War, the CCF was accused of having communist, dictatorial leanings. The party moved to address these accusations in 1956, by replacing the Regina Manifesto with a more moderate document, the Winnipeg Declaration. Nevertheless, the party did poorly in the 1958 election, winning only eight seats.

After much discussion, the CCF and the Canadian Labour Congress decided to join forces to create a new political party, which could make social democracy more popular with Canadian voters. In 1961, the CCF became the New Democratic Party.

[edit] Election results 1935-1958

Election Leader # of candidates nominated # of seats won # of total votes  % of popular vote
1935 J.S. Woodsworth 117 7* 386,253 8.78%
1940 J.S. Woodsworth 94 8 388,058 8.42%
1945 M.J. Coldwell 205 28 815,720 15.55%
1949 M.J. Coldwell 181 13 785,910 13.42%
1953 M.J. Coldwell 170 23 636,310 11.28%
1957 M.J. Coldwell 162 25 707,828 10.71%
1958 M.J. Coldwell 169 8 692,668 9.49%

* Not including Agnes Macphail who worked with the CCF but was elected as a United Farmers of Ontario-Labour MP.

[edit] Organization

The CCF estimated its membership as being slightly more than 20,000 in 1938, less than 30,000 in 1942 and over 90,000 in 1944.[6] Membership figures declined following World War II to only 20,238 in 1950 and would never again reach 30,000.[6]

By the late 1940s the CCF had official or unofficial weekly newspapers in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, twice-monthly papers in Ontario and Manitoba and a bimonthly in the Maritimes. A French-language paper in Quebec was also attempted at various times. The party also produced various educational books, pamphlets and magazines though these efforts declined in the 1950s.

[edit] Party leaders

Picture Name Term start Term end Riding as leader
Ac.woodsworth.jpg J.S Woodsworth August 1, 1932 March 21, 1942 Winnipeg North Centre, Winnipeg Centre
Mjcoldwell.jpg M.J. Coldwell March 22, 1942 August 10, 1960 Rosetown–Biggar
Hargue.jpg Hazen Argue August 11, 1960 August 2, 1961 Assiniboia, Wood Mountain

[edit] National Chairmen

Four past and future National Chairmen in September 1944: National CCF delegation attending the Conference of Commonwealth Labour Parties in London,England. Pictured from left to right: Clarie Gillis, MP for Cape Breton South; David Lewis, National Secretary; M.J. Coldwell, National Leader, MP for Rosetown–Biggar; Percy E. Wright, MP for Melfort; and Frank Scott, national chairman.

The national chairman was the equivalent of "party president" in most Canadian political parties, and was sometimes referred to as such, in that it was largely an organizational role. In the case of the CCF, the national chairman oversaw the party's national council and chaired its meetings. Following an initial period, in which Woodsworth held both roles, it was usually distinct and secondary to the position of party leader. National president originally was also a title the leader held, as both Woodsworth and Coldwell held that title when they held seats in the House of Commons. In 1958, after Coldwell lost his seat, the position of national chairman was merged formally into the president's title and was held by David Lewis.[7]

[edit] National Secretaries

The national secretary was a staff position (initially part-time, full time beginning 1938) which was responsible for the day-to-day organizing of the party. The national secretary was the only full-time employee at the party's national headquarters until 1943 when a research director, Eugene Forsey, and an assistant to the leader were hired.

[edit] CCF song

The CCF had a song, which would be later popularized by the movie Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story

First verse:

A call goes out to Canada
It comes from out the soil–
Come and join the ranks through all the land
To fight for those who toil
Come on farmer, soldier, labourer,
From the mine and factory,
And side by side we'll swell the tide–
C.C.F. to Victory.[14]

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ a b Stewart, Margaret; Doris French Shackelton (1959). Ask no quarter; a biography of Agnes Macphail. Toronto: Longmans,Green. p. 98.{CKEY}&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^. 
  2. ^ Young, p. 31
  3. ^ a b Morton (1986), p. 12
  4. ^ Young, Appendix A, pp. 304-313
  5. ^ Smith, Cameron (1992). Love & Solidarity: A Pictorial History of the NDP. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. p. 88. ISBN 0-7710-8209-6. 
  6. ^ a b Young, Appendix B, Table III, p. 320.
  7. ^ Young, p. 235
  8. ^ a b Braithwaite, Dennis (1950-07-29). "C.C.F. Disavows Marx Class Struggle Idea, Tempers High in Debate". The Toronto Daily Star: pp. 1,7. 
  9. ^ Staff (1952-08-09). "Make Own Foreign Policy, Follow U.N. CCF Meet Urges". The Toronto Daily Star: pp. 1,2. 
  10. ^ a b Stewart (2000), p. 211
  11. ^ Young, p.127n
  12. ^ Smith (1989), p. 294
  13. ^ Stewart (2000), p. 212
  14. ^ "Foreward". CCYM Sings. Saskatchewan Coucil for Archives and Archivists. Retrieved 2010-07-17.  CCYM is the Co-operative Commonwealth Youth Movement, the image is from a larger collection of scans in jpeg format.

[edit] Bibilographical references

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Ginger Group
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
1932 - 1961
Succeeded by
New Democratic Party

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