Labour candidates and parties in Canada

There have been various groups in Canada who have nominated candidates under the label Labour Party or Independent Labour Party or other variations from the 1870s until the 1960s. These were usually local or provincial groups using the Labour Party or Independent Labour Party name, backed by local Labour Councils (made up of all the union locals in a city) or individual trade unions. There was an attempt to create a national Canadian Labour Party in the 1920s, but this was ultimately unsuccessful.

A number of local Labour parties and clubs participated in the formation of the Communist Party of Canada in 1921. The Independent Labour Party and other labour groups helped found the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932.



The first Labour Member of Parliament (MP) was Arthur Puttee who founded the Winnipeg Labour Party, and was elected to the House of Commons from Winnipeg, Manitoba in a 1900 by-election and kept his seat at the 1900 federal election held later the same year.

Other MPs elected under the Labour or Independent Labour label include:

MacInnis, Heaps and Woodsworth joined the Ginger Group of left wing MPs prior to forming the CCF.



In 1917, the Trades and Labour Congress (TLC) national convention in Toronto passed a resolution calling on provincial labour federations to establish a political party which would unite socialist and labour parties in the province and eventually form a national party. A Canadian Labour Party was formed, and endorsed several candidates in the 1917 federal election. The leadership of the TLC changed in 1918, however, and the new leaders favoured the "non-partisan" approach of American Federation of Labor leader Samuel Gompers. The CLP was abandoned, as such.

Between, 1920 and 1926, provincial parties were founded in British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

The Federated Labour Party was created by the British Columbia Federation of Labour in 1920, absorbing the Social Democratic Party and part of the Socialist Party of Canada.

From 1906-1909, there had been a Canadian Labour Party of B.C. (CLP(BC)). This party was a split from and rival to a group calling itself the Independent Labour Party.

A later Independent Labour Party was organized in British Columbia in 1926 by the Federated Labour Party and Canadian Labour Party (B.C. section) branches. In 1928, it severed its CLP(BC) connections. In 1931, it reorganized, and was renamed the Independent Labour Party (Socialist). The following year it became the Socialist Party of Canada.

In Manitoba, a Dominion Labour Party (DLP) had been created in 1918. This was a reformist party, although more explicitly socialist than the previous such organizations in the province (see Winnipeg Labour Party, Manitoba Independent Labour Party, Manitoba Labour Party, Labour Representation Committee). The DLP elected several members to the Manitoba legislature in 1920. It was taken over by rightist elements affiliated with the American Federation of Labour later in the year, and most of the MLAs formed a new Independent Labour Party.

An Alberta Dominion Labour Party was also formed in 1920. Unlike the Manitoba DLP, this party was not taken over by rightist elements. It remained a viable organization until the 1930s, in an alliance with the Canadian Labour Party (see below).

The Ontario Labour Party was created in 1922, led by James Simpson of the Independent Labour Party, and Reverend A. E. Smith of the Communist Party of Canada.

In 1921, Simpson also revived the Canadian Labour Party. The CLP was intended to be an umbrella organization for the various labour parties throughout the country. It succeeded in forming alliances with the Federated Labour Party, Ontario Labour Party, Dominion Labour Party and other groups including local labour councils (though not the Manitoba ILP). Between 1922 and 1924, the provincial affiliations of the Workers Party of Canada (the legal face of the Communist Party of Canada) also joined the CLP. It was never a strong central organization, however, and never elected a candidate at the national level. The CLP ceased to exist in most parts of the country after 1929, when the Communists withdrew. In Alberta, the CLP survived until 1942 (in an alliance with the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation after 1935).


At various times in political history of Canada and of Ontario, candidates have sought election as Liberal-Labour candidates. (Please see linked article.)


Across Canada, labour and the farmers movements, particularly the United Farmers, formed alliances, and often ran joint candidates. The Progressive Party of Canada was effectively a coalition of farmer and labour groups.

Federally, Agnes Macphail, who was first elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive, was re-elected in 1935 as a UFO-Labour candidate before being defeated in 1940. She was, at the time, a member of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, but ran as UFO-Labour for tactical reasons.


Labour and Independent Labour Party Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) joined with members of the United Farmers of Ontario to form a Farmer-Labour coalition government from 1919 to 1923 with E. C. Drury as Premier.


Several Labour MLAs joined the initial United Farmers of Alberta government.


The United Farmers and the Independent Labour Party merged to form the Farmer-Labour Group in 1932. In the 1934 provincial election, the Famer-Labour Group won almost 24% of the popular vote and 5 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, where it became the official opposition to the Liberal government. After the election, it became the Saskatchewan section of the CCF.

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