Communist Party of Canada

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Canada Political Party

The Communist Party of Canada is a communist political party in Canada. It is a minor political party without elected representation at present in either the federal Parliament or in any provincial legislature.




The Communist party was organized with great secrecy in a barn near the city of Guelph, Ontario, in May 1921. Many of its founding members had belonged to groups such as the Socialist Party of Canada, One Big Union, the Socialist Labor Party, the Industrial Workers of the World, and other socialist, Marxist or Labour parties or clubs. The party was founded as the Canadian section of the Comintern, and was thus similar to Communist parties around the world.

The party alternated between legality and illegality during the 1920s and 1930s. It was initially illegal, and created the Workers' Party of Canada in 1922 as its public face. The CPC was legalized in 1924, and the Workers' Party ceased to exist.

In 1922-24, the provincial wings of the WPC/CPC affiliated with the Canadian Labour Party, as part of a "united front" strategy against the capitalist classes. The CPC came to dominate the CLP organization in several regions of the country; the CLP itself, however, never became an effective national organization. The Communists withdrew from the CLP in 1928-29, following a shift in Comintern policy.

Expulsion of factions

From 1928 to the mid-1930s, supporters of Leon Trotsky, such as Maurice Spector, the editor of the party's paper The Worker and party chairman, were expelled. Jack MacDonald, who had supported Spector's expulsion, was removed as the party's general secretary for not supporting the Stalinist position, and was ultimately expelled. MacDonald later became a Trotskyist and joined Spector in founding the International Left Opposition (Trotskyist) Canada, which was part of the Trotsky's International Left Opposition. Also expelled were supporters of Nikolai Bukharin and Jay Lovestone's Right Opposition, such as William Moriarty. J.B. Salsberg was initially sympathetic to the Right Opposition but quickly recanted, allowing him to remain in the party.

Tim Buck replaced MacDonald as party general secretary in 1929, and remained in the position until 1962, steering a course of unswerving loyalty to the leaders of the Soviet Union.

Great Depression

In 1931, eight of the CPC's leaders were arrested and imprisoned in under Section 98 of Canada's Criminal Code. The party continued to exist, but was under the constant threat of legal harassment, and was for all intents and purposes an underground organization until 1936.

Although the party was banned, affiliated groups such as the Workers' Unity League, the Relief Camp Workers Union, and the National Unemployed Workers Association played a significant role in organizing the unskilled and the unemployed in protest marches and demonstrations and campaigns such as the "On to Ottawa Trek". Party members were also active in the Congress of Industrial Organizations attempt to unionize the auto sector.

The party also mobilised the 1,500-man Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion to fight in the Spanish Civil War as part of the International Brigade. Among the leading Canadian Communists involved in that effort was Dr. Norman Bethune, who is known for his work with the Chinese Communist Party.

The Communist Party opposed Canada's entry into World War II until the 1941 invasion of the USSR and the collapse of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. During the Conscription Crisis of 1944, the CPC set up "Tim Buck Committees" across the country to campaign for a "yes" vote in the national referendum on conscription.

The party's first elected Member of Parliament (MP) was Dorise Nielson. Nielson was elected in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1940 under the popular front Progressive Unity label.

Labour-Progressive Party

The party was banned in 1941, and henceforth ran candidates as the Labour-Progressive Party until 1959. Several party members were elected at various levels:

Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 Secret Speech exposing the crimes of Josef Stalin and the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary shook the faith of many Communists around the world. Many, perhaps most, members of the Canadian party left, including a number of prominent party members. Many ex-Communists joined the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and its successor, the New Democratic Party(NDP). Some joined the Liberals. The USSR's 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia caused more people to leave the Canadian Communist Party.

Collapse of the Soviet bloc and party split

In common with most communist parties, it went through a crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and subsequently split. The pro-reform majority led by George Hewison argued for the reorientation of the party away from the official doctrine of Marxism-Leninism. An unreconstructed minority led by Miguel Figueroa and former leader William Kashtan resisted and, after being defeated at the party's 1992 convention and expelled from the party, took the CPC to court. Due to the inner-party conflict, membership of the party fell by half, leaving it with several hundred members. An added factor to the party's troubles was the loss of its longstanding covert financial assistance from the Soviet Union. The party's financial crisis forced it to sell off assets such as the party's headquarters at 24 Cecil Street and liquidate money losing enterprises such as its printshop, and publishing house.

As a result of a court settlement the majority faction left the Communist Party in 1992 and the expelled minority assumed the "Communist Party of Canda" name. The former Communists retained the Cecil-Ross Society as a political foundation to continue their political efforts. Various societies had been set up by the party over the years in order to maintain capital assets such as Eveready Printers (the party printshop) and Progress Publishers. The name of the Cecil-Ross Society comes from the intersection of Cecil Street and Ross Street in Toronto where the headquarters of the party was located. The Cecil-Ross Society took with it the rights to the Canadian Tribune, which had been the party's weekly newspaper for decades, as well as roughly half of the party's assets. The Cecil-Ross Society ended publication of the Canadian Tribune and attempted to launch a new broad-left magazine, New Times which failed after several issues and then Ginger which only published twice. The Young Communist League ceased to function at this point as most of its members either left with the majority or dropped out.

Reconstituted party

The minority reconstituted itself as the official Communist Party of Canada but had deregistered and its assets seized by Elections Canada when it failed to run more than fifty candidates in the 1993 general election. The party launched a legal challenge that went to the Supreme Court of Canada (Figueroa vs. Canada; named for the current party leader Miguel Figueroa). With lawyer Peter Rosenthal representing the CPC, The Supreme Court of Canada ruled the law (originally put in place by the Mulroney government) as unconstitutional. This victory was celebrated by many of the other small parties - regardless of political differences - on the principle that it was a victory for the people's right to democratic choice.

The CPC publishes a fortnightly newspaper called People's Voice.

The Communist Party is one of two Communist parties in Canada, the other is the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). The CPC-ML was founded in 1963 as the Internationalists, an anti-revisionist Maoist party rejecting the reforms of Nikita Khrushchev. Today, the CPC-ML is known during elections as the Marxist-Leninist Party, and functions as a Stalinist party.

The CPC is active in several trade unions, particularly the Canadian Union of Public Employees and various buildings and trades unions. They have also been active in the movement against the war in Iraq. A conference was held in 2004 to strike a preparatory committee to refound the Young Communist League.

General Secretaries of the CPC

Central Executive Committee

The Communist Party of Canada's 33rd convention held in 2001 elected the following members to its leading body, the Central Executive Committee: Miguel Figueroa (general secretary), Liz Rowley (leader of the Communist Party of Ontario), Dan Goldstick, Helen Kennedy, André Parizeau (leader of the Parti communiste du Québec), Darrell Rankin (leader of the Communist Party of Canada - Manitoba), and Kimball Cariou (editor of People's Voice) [1] (

British Columbia Communist Party leader George Gidora was elected in place of Helen Kennedy at the party's 34th convention, held in early in 2004. All other incumbent members were re-elected to their positions. Parizeau was removed from office in 2005 (see below).

There is also a larger body, the Central Committee, which is elected at convention and meets in intervening years. The Central Committee nominates the members of the Central Executive Committee (what would be called the Politburo in other Communist parties) and the composition of the CEC is ratified by convention.

2005 split

In 2005, the Parti communiste du Québec split into two rival groups, both of which claim to legally represent the party. The national committee of one group, led by André Parizeau, voted unanimously to separate from the CPC in June 2005. The CPC does not recognize the legality of Parizeau's group, as it had previously expelled Parizeau from the party.

This split followed a lengthy dispute between PCQ leader Parizeau and the Central Executive Committee of the CPC. In November 2004, Parizeau introduced a series of amendments to the CPC program "Canada's Future is Socialism". These amendments, according to a report of the situation written by Ontario party leader Elizabeth Rowley, called on the party to strengthen its support for Quebec nationalism, and to shift its policy from "advocacy of a new, equal and voluntary parternship of nations within a confederal republic, based on recognition of the right of nations" to "self-determination up to and including the right to secession".

These amendments were rejected by the Central Executive Committee by a vote of 7-1. The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Quebec Party also rejected Parizeau's amendments by a vote of 4-2.

In January 2005, Parizeau wrote a letter to PCQ members declaring that the party was in crisis. Describing the four NEC members who opposed his amendments as a "Gang of Four" and a pro-federalist faction, he summarily dismissed them from office. Parizeau's opponents in the PCQ called for the CPC to suspend him from office pending an investigation into his activities.

This controversy came to a head at the PCQ convention of April 2005. After delegates voted 16-14 to expel one of the dismissed NEC members, Parizeau's opponents staged a mass walkout from the convention hall. The seventeen delegates who stayed voted to establish a new National Committee and Executive, consisting entirely of Parizeau's supporters.

On April 27, 2005, the Central Executive Committee of the CPC voted to expel Parizeau for "factional activity and the pursuit of a right opportunist line", declared that the expulsions from the PCQ were illegal, and affirmed the authority of the previous National Executive Committee. The matter has not yet been resolved.

The PCQ group led by Parizeau published a letter of withdrawal from the CPC on June 15, 2005. In this letter, the CPC was accused of holding "des idées chauvines vis-à-vis du Québec". The CPC has rejected similar accusations from Parizeau in the past.

An edited version of the CPC's account of this situation is available online ([2] (, halfway down the page), as is the letter from Parizeau's PCQ group ([3] (

Election results

Election # of candidates nominated # of seats won # of total votes % of popular vote
<center> 0 <center> 4,557 <center> 0.12%
1935 <center> 13 <center> 0 <center> 27,456 <center> 0.46%
1940* <center>9 <center> 0 <center> 14,005 <center> 0.36%
1945** <center> 68 <center> 1 <center> 111,892 <center> 2.13%
1949** <center> 17 <center> 0 <center> 32,623 <center> 0.56%
1953** <center> 100 <center> 0 <center> 59,622 <center> 1.06%
1957** <center> 10 <center> 0 <center> 7,760 <center> 0.12%
1958** <center> 18 <center> 0 <center> 9,769 <center> 0.13%
1962 <center> 12 <center> 0 <center> 6,360 <center> 0.08%
1963 <center> 12 <center> 0 <center> 4,234 <center> 0.05%
1965 <center> 12 <center> 0 <center> 4,285 <center> 0.06%
1968 <center> 14 <center> 0 <center> 4,465 <center> 0.05%
1972*** <center> n.a <center> n.a. <center> n.a. <center> n.a.
1974 <center> 69 <center> 0 <center> 12,100 <center> 0.13%
1979 <center> 71 <center> 0 <center> 9,141 <center> 0.08%
1980 <center> 52 <center> 0 <center> 6,022 <center> 0.06%
1984 <center> 52 <center> 0 <center> 7,551 <center> 0.06%
1988 <center> 51 <center> 0 <center> 7,066 <center> 0.05%
1993**** <center> n.a <center> n.a. <center> n.a. <center> n.a.
1997**** <center> n.a <center> n.a. <center> n.a. <center> n.a.
2000 <center> 52 <center> 0 <center> 8,779 <center> 0.07%
2004 <center> 35 <center> 0 <center> 4,564 <center> 0.03%


The party has also nominated candidates in numerous by-elections:

1943**: 1

1947**: 1

1949**: 2

1950**: 2

1954**: 5

1955**: 1

1958**: 1

1977: 5

1978: 5

(*) A ninth candidate, Dorise Nielson was a member of the Communist Party but ran and was elected as a Progressive Unity candidate.

(**) The Communist Party was banned in 1941. From 1943 until 1959 they ran candidates under the name Labour Progressive Party.

(***) In 1972 the party ran its candidates as independents. It is unknown how many party members ran in that election.

(****) The party failed to register at least 50 candidates in time for the 1993 election. As a result the party was deregistered and its candidates ran as independents. Party status was not regained until prior to the 2000 general election. It is unknown how many party members ran in the 1993 and 1997 elections as independents.

See also

External links

Federal Political Parties of Canada
Missing image

Missing image

Bloc Québécois
Not represented in the House of Commons
Missing image

Missing image

Missing image

Missing image

Missing image

Missing image

Missing image

PC Party
Missing image

Election - List of election results - List of political parties in the Americas - Political parties

Canadian federal elections | Canadian election results | Summaries
1867 - 1872 - 1874 - 1878 - 1882 - 1887 - 1891 - 1896 - 1900 - 1904 - 1908 - 1911 - 1917
1921 - 1925 - 1926 - 1930 - 1935 - 1940 - 1945 - 1949 - 1953 - 1957 - 1958 - 1962 - 1963
1965 - 1968 - 1972 - 1974 - 1979 - 1980 - 1984 - 1988 - 1993 - 1997 - 2000 - 2004 - 2005?


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools