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Cooperative Commonwealth Federation

From Academic Kids

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Ccf.jpg
Tommy Douglas (centre) stands in front of a CCF billboard during an election campaign in Saskatchewan.

The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was a Canadian political party founded in 1932 in Calgary, Alberta, by a number of socialist, farm, co-operative and labour groups as well as the League for Social Reconstruction. In 1961, it disbanded and was replaced by the New Democratic Party.

The CCF aimed to alleviate the suffering of the Great Depression through economic reform and public "cooperation". Many of the party's first Members of Parliament (MPs) were former MPs of the Progressive Party of Canada.

At its first convention, the CCF selected J.S. Woodsworth as party leader. Woodworth had been a 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:

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 Cooperative Commonwealth."

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CooperativeCommonwealthFederationFoundingMeeting.jpg
CCF founding meeting, Calgary, 1932

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. 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 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 by 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 democratic socialism more popular with Canadian voters. In 1961, the CCF became the New Democratic Party.

Contents

Party leaders

Election results 1935-1958

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

* Agnes Macphail was a CCF member elected as a United Farmers of Ontario MP.

See also: articles on MPs, former MPs

1942 general election >

  • Stanley Knowles - CCF/NDP MP for Winnipeg North Centre 1942-1958, 1962-1984

See also: articles on prominent NDP members & organizers

See also

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