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The LSA’s 1974 Civic Election Campaigns

In the fall of 1974, the League for Socialist Action/Ligue Socialiste Ouvričre and the Young Socialists/Ligue des Jeunes Socialistes ran candidates in municipal elections in 5 cities: Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

From mid-July through December, every issue of the LSA newspaper, Labor Challenge, featured articles on the campaigns. We’ve selected a number that illustrate how the LSA presented its campaign and program, how it used the election opportunity to promote other struggles such as the Anicinabe Park occupation, the Montreal transit strike, and the fight against deportation of Haitian refugees, and how it evaluated the election campaign.

See also the LSA Political Committee’s Report on Our Civic Election Program, and the 1974 LSA Toronto Municipal Campaign Brochure.


Selected Articles from Labor Challenge,
July-December 1974


LSA Enters Toronto Election
Socialists to Fight City Hall
Labor Challenge, July 22, 1974

The League for Socialist Action announced July 15 that it would field a candidate for mayor of Toronto in the December municipal election.

The LSA mayoralty candidate is Joan Campana, 26-year-old member of the executive committee of the Toronto LSA. Campana ran previously as a socialist candidate for Toronto Board of Education in the 1969 election. In the 1972 campaign, she was campaign manager for the socialist slate.

Campana was an activist in the Canadian anti-Vietnam-war movement in the 1960s, and was a leader of the 1971 protests in British Columbia against the Amchitka bomb test. In 1971, she was elected Ombudswoman of the student society at the University of B.C. Returning to Toronto in September 1972, she became cross-Canada coordinator of the Canadian Women’s Coalition to Repeal the Abortion Law, and later helped form the Toronto Committee to Defend Dr. Morgentaler.

In 1972, a loose coalition of "reformers" headed by Mayor David Crombie took office in Toronto City Hall. "We’ve now had two years to see these so-called reformers at work," said Campana, "and the record should now be clear to all. They represent no difference from the traditional domination of civic politics by big business interests.

"The past two years have seen a continued deterioration of living standards for Toronto’s working people. The price of housing has skyrocketed, with a decline in quality and availability since the Crombie administration took office. The Metro police continue to be used to break up picket lines of striking workers, as in the Artistic Woodworkers’ strike last year. The Black community suffers growing attacks by police and right-wing thugs. Discrimination against women, particularly among civic government employees, continues unabated. The transportation needs of Toronto citizens have not been met."

Big-business domination of City Hall has been assured in the past by the failure of the NDP and the labor movement to field a slate of candidates in the municipal arena. The NDP right-wing leadership and the Labour Council of Metro Toronto prefer to support individual "non-partisan" candidates. Thus there has been no clear working-class alternative posed for Toronto working people. In the 1972 election, Crombie, a Tory, was elected over another Tory and a Liberal candidate. LSA candidate Jacquie Henderson represented the only independent labor alternative for mayor. A few NDP members ran for council posts and some were elected. But they ran on no common program or slate, and could not be held accountable for their actions in office by the party.

It appears likely that the NDP leadership will again fail to field a full slate in December’s election. There have been no party discussions of a civic slate, and time is running out. Campana demanded that the Toronto area NDP riding associations immediately call a city-wide convention to nominate NDP candidates for all positions.

Since it is likely that the NDP will fail to field a full slate, the LSA plans to present candidates for City Council and Board of Education, as well as for mayor.

"Our campaign will be a labor-socialist alternative to the present big-business dominated council," Campana said. "We’re for a labor City Hall — a city government that fights in the interests of working people."

LSA candidates will speak to the pressing issues in civic affairs: women’s rights, the need for massive construction of low-cost tenant-controlled public housing, the need to expand public transit and eliminate fares. The socialist campaign will build support for labor’s struggle against inflation, the fight of students for democratic rights in their schools, the rights of immigrants and oppressed people who face governmental and police harassment.

These are among the themes of the 1974 Toronto socialist campaign, headed by LSA mayoralty candidate Joan Campana.


LSA Slate Winning Support
Vote Socialist in Edmonton
Labor Challenge, August 19, 1974

By Richard Thompson

EDMONTON — "Tonight we planned to launch a campaign for a labor and socialist City Hall," Don Tapscott, organizer of the Edmonton League for Socialist Action, told an Aug. 9 rally here. "But it hasn’t worked out that way." He explained that the media across the city have already given extensive publicity to the socialist campaign. "Most important," Tapscott added, "a number of people have come to us and have already begun working on the campaign."

The LSA is running Carl Austin, a 26-year-old worker, who is a member of the Edmonton LSA executive, and its trade union director, for mayor. LSA candidate for Alderwoman in Ward 2 is Angela Mueller, a 24-year-old feminist and socialist, who is a member of the steering committee of the Alberta NDP Women’s Caucus, chairwoman of the Edmonton Committee to Defend Dr. Morgentaler, and an executive member of the Edmonton LSA.

The first speaker at the rally was Wendy Stevenson, a Central Committee member of the League, who brought greetings from socialist militants in Vancouver. Sheila Mawson, a high school teacher and campaign manager of the Young Socialist slate for school board, outlined plans for the YS school board campaign. The Young Socialists are fielding a slate of six candidates for the seven person body. They are: Don Wiley, organizer of the Edmonton YS and former candidate for president of the University of Alberta Student Union; Liz Marshall, a young hospital worker and leader of the Committee to Defend Dr. Morgentaler; Randy Hillier, one of the meatpacking workers recently locked out by the "big three" meatpacking bosses, and trade union coordinator of the Young Socialists; Dave Poholko, former YS candidate for school board, and chairman of the Edmonton Committee for Justice to Latin American Political Prisoners; Harry Davis; shop steward of CUPE local 41, and a member of the Edmonton and District Labour Council; and Duane Filan, an education student and former student council representative at U of A.

Angela Mueller explained that women’s rights had been "one of the most ignored issues in municipal elections." City Hall is a bastion of women’s oppression, stated Mueller. "Thousands of women are denied access to child care in the city," she explained. The city-controlled Royal Alexandra hospital is cutting back on abortions and women who work for the city are denied equal pay.

The final speaker was Carl Austin. He explained that he was a working class candidate, whereas the other two declared candidates, Aldermen Cec Purves and Dave Ward, represent big business.

"To start with," said Austin, "they’re both on the present city council as aldermen. That means they are two of the people responsible for the injunction against striking Royal Alexandra hospital workers last summer. Not me. I was down on the picket line talking to the workers about the strike and how they could best win it.

"They are two of the people who are trying to be neutral in the land claims fight between Enoch Indians and the federal government. Not me. I’m on the side of the Enoch Indians. I think they have every right in the world to the land they want.

"They are two of the people who refused to let the antiwar movement march their demonstrations down Jasper Ave. Not me. I was on every one of those demonstrations." Austin also took up the other city council members, starting with mayor Ivor Dent, in light of the recent revelations by a judicial inquiry into chaos and corruption in City Hall. Millionaire developer Eskandar Ghermezian testified, among other things, that Dent had invited him to "wine and dine" the aldermen to get their vote for a rezoning project. Most city council members have been implicated in the testimony.

In its program, the League explained: "The network of lies, deceit and corruption revealed by the scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. No wonder Mayor Dent and most of the aldermen initially opposed holding an inquiry! They are trying to turn the present one into a snow job — to whitewash everyone but a couple of fall guys. We are campaigning to get the whole truth out into the open. It will show that the scandals are no accident or aberration. They are part and parcel of big business rule in Edmonton and across the country."

Austin explained that "the NDP, the only mass-based political party of the working class, hasn’t offered a peep about the October elections. The NDP leaves the field open to big business and their candidates." He referred to a letter written to the NDP by the LSA urging them to field a full slate, and point to considerable sentiment within the NDP in favor of entering civic politics.

But, stated Austin, "in response to our challenge to run a full slate in the civic elections, Howard Leeson, the provincial secretary of the NDP, issued a press release dissociating the NDP from the LSA, and threatening to expel Angela and myself from the party. They didn’t say anything about whether or not the NDP is considering our proposal, nor did they say who they think workers should vote for."

The next day in a page three article in the Edmonton Journal, Austin was quoted as saying: "The League is not campaigning against the NDP. We have and will continue to demand that the NDP field a full slate. If this is done, I will withdraw from the mayoralty race, and the LSA will give its full support to the NDP, and will campaign for an NDP city council." An open letter to Leeson called on the NDP to organize a city-wide convention to launch a full slate.

The enthusiasm of the rally reached its high point in the fund drive. "When you’re a big business candidate, it’s pretty easy to get funds," said Tapscott. "For example, all you have to do is offer to change a few zoning by laws, and you’ve got some developer in your den, offering $40,000 and giving candy to your kids. But Carl and Angela and others are not big business candidates. It is only people like yourselves who can enable this campaign to realize the potential which is clearly there." Tapscott explained that it would take $600 just to launch the campaign.

Twenty minutes later, the 50 people at the rally had contributed $980.50 to the socialist campaign (on top of the door collection). Following the rally, a party was held to celebrate the launching of the first socialist civic election campaign in Edmonton.


Dineen Contests Winnipeg Mayoralty
Labor Challenge August 19, 1974

by Bev Bernardo

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg League for Socialist Action announced Aug. 2 that it was entering its organizer, 26-year-old high school teacher Brenda Dineen as candidate for mayor in the October municipal election.

Dineen and Ned Dmytryshyn, campaign manager, announced the candidacy at a news conference attended by every major radio, television and newspaper in the city. Three television and two radio interviews were conducted following the news conference.

Dineen has been an activist and leader of the-student and antiwar movements in Toronto and Ottawa. She has been for the past two yeas a prominent figure in the Winnipeg women’s liberation movement and the abortion law repeal campaign. She is a member of the New Democratic Party, the Manitoba Teachers Society and the Committee to Defend Dr. Morgentaler.

"For years City Hall has been run by forces who are the minority class of wealth and power in the city," Dineen said. These forces were represented by the "Independent Citizens Election Committee" in the last election. The LSA campaign will champion the rights of the majority — working people, women, natives, gay people and youth. Our goal is a labor and socialist City Hall that will fight in the interests of all working people."

A key aspect of the LSA campaign is a call on the NDP to enter a full slate of candidates in the civic election. Because of the NDP’s failure to take this road in the past, no clear working class alternative has been put forward. The NDP has already indicated that it will field only a partial slate of candidates, and will not contest the mayoralty.

Backed by some NDP members, the Communist party and some liberal and community figures, a new "reform" coalition has been formed to contest the elections. This coalition, the Civic Reform Coalition (CRC), is a multi-class alliance based on calls for a few mild reforms. Instead of posing the need for working people to take over the municipal government, it presents a grouping of reform-minded individuals working within the present big-business dominated city government. The LSA is not supporting any of the CRC candidates.

Winnipeg has a long and militant labor tradition. The LSA, through the campaign of Brenda Dineen for mayor, intends to link up with this tradition in posing the socialist alternative in October’s election.


Montreal Transit Strike
Socialist Candidate Slams
Court Attack on Unions
Labor Challenge, September 9, 1974

by Phil Courneyeur

MONTREAL — Paul Kouri, candidate of the Ligue Socialiste Ouvriere for Mayor of Montreal, issued a statement Aug. 29 condemning judicial repression against the 1,600 striking members of the Syndicat de Transport de Montreal (STM — garage and maintenance workers of the civic transit system). Fines totalling over $50,000 have been levied against the union and individual strikers, who have maintained their walkout despite court injunctions ordering work to be resumed. The strike began Aug. 7. "These fines, and the laying of charges against more than 100 workers constitute a blow against the rights of all Quebec workers, a blow struck on behalf of the ruling class in Quebec," Kouri stated.

"The garage and maintenance workers are being attacked viciously by the courts and the Drapeau political machine because they are fighting for the reopening of their contract and the indexation of their wages to the cost of living," he continued. "Mayor Drapeau’s administration is well aware of the fact that a victory for the striking workers would inspire other city workers to escalate their fight to reopen contracts and for the escalator clause. They fear the inspiration will spread into the private sector as well."

Commenting on the recent fines of almost $5,000 levied against the United Auto Workers and individuals on strike against the United Aircraft Corp., Kouri termed them "part of a general pattern of judicial attacks on the right to strike."

"The LSO and my campaign for the mayoralty stands 100 percent with the fight of the STM workers. We call on the whole labor movement and on students to join the Sept. 5 labor demonstration in solidarity with the 6,000 workers in 12 unions now engaged in strike actions across Quebec to defend their living conditions. We especially appeal to the Quebec Federation of Labor (FTQ) to reverse its decision not to officially support the solidarity action because of rivalries in the construction sector. The FTQ should follow the positive example of the UAW and other FTQ locals who are participating in this initiative. The unity of the labor movement — in defense of the STM, UAW, and other embattled workers is crucial at this time.

"Quebec workers can turn back the boss-directed attacks on their living conditions and their democratic rights only if they rely on their own means. No confidence in the courts. No confidence in government-appointed mediators, conciliators or investigators. No confidence in the capitalist political parties.

"The attacks of the City of Montreal on its employees, in collaboration with the cops and the courts, proves a hundred times over that the working people must remove the bosses and their agents from city government. Workers have to build their own mass labor party to fight the bosses on all levels of government. A labor party could be a tool for the workers movement to mobilize broad support for struggles against the bosses.

"My campaign exists especially to draw out this basic need of all workers in Quebec today.

"All out in defense of the STM workers."


Socialists Defend Native Rights
Labor Challenge, September 9, 1974

At a Winnipeg news conference Aug. 29 the League for Socialist Action candidate for mayor of Winnipeg, Brenda Dineen, read a statement of support for the Ojibway’s struggle at Kenora on behalf of socialist mayoralty candidates across the country.

With Dineen at the news conference were her campaign manager, Ned Dmytryshyn, and Carl Austin, League for Socialist Action candidate for mayor of Edmonton. Dmytryshyn and Austin, who is part Cree, had just returned from a fact-finding trip to Kenora.

Reporters from the Winnipeg Free Press, the Winnipeg Tribune, CFRW Radio, CKY Radio, and CKY-TV, attended the news conference.

Following is the text of the candidates’ statement:

Carl Austin, Brenda Dineen, Joan Campana and Paul Kouri, the League for Socialist Action/Ligue Socialiste Ouvričre candidates for mayor in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal offer their unconditional support to the Ojibway Warriors Society representing the Ojibway nation in their struggle against the appallingly oppressive conditions under which they are forced to live by white capitalist society.

Furthermore, the League for Socialist Action/Ligue Socialiste Ouvričre condemns the stance of the governmental authorities in dealing with the Ojibway people. We demand:

1) that the government agree to the demands of the Ojibway nation immediately;

2) that all charges and threats of reprisals against the Ojibway Warriors be dropped.

The occupation of Anicinabe Park in Kenora is part of the broader struggle of native people in Canada and Quebec to regain the land, that was stolen from them by the white government. The issue of land is symptomatic of the oppression which native people face in this country, and the reactions of the authorities show the utter contempt they have for the problems of native people. The response of the native community in other parts of Canada, such as Cache Creek, B.C., Winnipeg and Regina, to the example set by the Ojibway nation show that this is not an isolated issue. It shows the potential of mobilizing masses of native people in independent struggle to win their demands.

The League for Socialist Action/Ligue Socialiste Ouvričre will use its election campaigns across Canada and Quebec to speak out firmly on the side of native people who are standing up against centuries of white society’s attempts to destroy them. We fully support their right to set their own goals and to determine their own priorities, to end their subjugation and take full control over all aspects of their lives. We call on the labor movement, the New Democratic party, and all other working-class organizations to rally to the defense of the Ojibway nation.


Kouri Defends Montreal Strikes
Labor Challenge, September 23, 1974

by Phil Courneyeur

MONTREAL — Paul Kouri, candidate of the Ligue Socialiste Ouvriere (LSO) for mayor of Montreal, voiced the support of his campaign to a mass meeting of 1,000 striking garage and maintenance workers Sept. 12. The meeting, called by the Syndicat du Transport de Montreal — affiliated to the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN) — took place on the heels of Labor minister Jean Cournoyer’s threat to smash the strike and dismantle the union through special legislation unless it ends its illegal strike.

Kouri, in his greetings to the meeting, denounced Cournoyer’s strikebreaking threat. "This is part and parcel of the bosses’ campaign of judicial repression against the whole labor movement," Kouri told the strikers’ rally. "Your strike is an example and a symbol for all workers. You have faced the harshest repression from the injunctions, but your determination to fight on, even against the threat of special legislation, will inspire other workers."

Kouri pledged the support of the socialist election campaign in Montreal to the garage and maintenance workers’ strike. "This fight proves again," Kouri stated, "that the workers need to kick the bosses and their agents out of city government. What we need is our own government, a workers government in this city," Kouri said to a round of applause from the workers.

Kouri’s appearance at the special union rally of the garage and maintenance workers was one of the highlights of his first week of campaigning for a socialist alternative to incumbent mayor Jean Drapeau’s boss administration of the city.

"We want to use our campaign to rally support for current labor struggles for indexation of wages (cost-of-living escalation clauses) to defend ourselves from inflation," Kouri explained to the first LSO election rally, held Sept. 15 at Montreal’s Tribune Socialiste.

With him on the platform were Alain Beiner, the national organizer of the LSO, Manon Leger, the LSO’s 1970 candidate for mayor of Montreal, and Richard Poulin, Kouri’s campaign manager and also a leading member of the Ligue des Jeunes Socialistes.

Leger recounted the experience of her campaign against Drapeau during the War Measures Act. She recalled the revolutionary character of that campaign, which saw the arrest of its supporters, including the imprisonment of its campaign manager and treasurer. Leger herself was arrested in the course of handing out leaflets in support of her campaign, and in opposition to the imposition of the War Measures Act.

Leger explained the Front d’Action Politique’s (FRAP’s) role as the beginning of a municipal labor party in Quebec, and why the LSO participated in and supported its campaign in 1970.

Kouri, in his speech, blasted the strikebreaking role of the current Drapeau administration. "More than ever;" he explained to his audience, "the workers must move into political action against the boss governments and their parties. The current wave of judicial repression and attempts to break strikes demonstrates that workers can have no confidence in the boss governments or their institutions."

Kouri’s speech focussed on the question of what kind of political movement and program was necessary to really advance workers needs today. This question is posed by the widespread illusions among workers and students about the nature and role of the Rassemblement des Citoyens de Montreal (RCM).

"The RCM has taken on the task," Kouri explained, "of regrouping all those citizens who ‘are in favor of democracy.’ With this goal they set out to unite working-class groups with capitalist forces on a program acceptable to reform-oriented boss elements.

"Such class-collaborationist projects are not new for the workers. They lead to defeats. Such coalitions aim to convince workers to rely on big-business politicians and to set aside their most urgent goals in order to win a few small concessions. Inevitably the working-class components of such coalitions are convinced to scale down their demands in the interests of ‘unity’ to be acceptable to the establishment elements in the coalition.

"Such formations speak in the name of ‘all citizens,’ " Kouri noted. "But there is no party that represents all citizens, because the citizens are necessarily divided between exploiters, or capitalists, and the majority who are exploited. Talk about representing ‘all citizens’ amounts to nothing more than trying to ignore or evade the realities of the class struggle around us.

"It is widely-rumoured, " Kouri noted, "that one of the likely RCM candidates for mayor is Robert Burns, Parti Quebecois (PQ) member of the National Assembly.

"And what about the RCM? It is true that they put out a statement favorable to the union’s demands, attacking the city administration for being unreasonable. But even Cournoyer has let his sympathies for the union demands and his opposition to the intransigent stand of the transport commission be known. What the RCM has not done, which any real ally of the strikers would do, is campaign in unconditional support their strike, join the picket lines, and help the union to stand up to the wave of injunctions it now faces. That’s what our campaign is doing.

"In order to win our demands, we have to wage a struggle of class against class. We need a party composed of those who have nothing to lose from the expropriation of the profiteers. The working class is the only force capable of bringing about these fundamental changes. The labor movement mast break from class-collaborationist politics; and from illusions such as those in the ACM, and launch its own labor party, based on socialist, class struggle policies," Kouri explained.

The socialist election campaign is already getting responses of interest and support in the workers movement. After a CBC news interview, a teacher phoned the candidate’s home and asked him if he would accept speaking engagements in his school. Another teacher stopped while Kouri was being interviewed in the street, and volunteered to organize a meeting for the campaign with his union.

The Ligue des Jeunes Socialistes have mapped out plans for a tour of campus meetings by the candidate. They are challenging student and academic supporters of the RCM to debate the socialist candidate on the question of what kind of party students and workers need.

Already, if the first days of the campaign are indicative, it seems clear that the 1974 LSO mayoralty campaign will be the most productive ever waged by the revolutionary socialists in Quebec.


Edmonton: Dent’s No Friend of Labor
Labor Challenge, October 21, 1974

by Don Tapscott and Richard Thompson

EDMONTON — On Oct. 10, one week before the vote in the municipal elections here, NDP members in the city received a letter urging them to vote for the re-election of the present mayor Ivor Dent. Signed by Howard Leeson, NDP Provincial Secretary; Reg Baskin; President of the Alberta Federation of Labor AFL; and Henry Tomaschuk, the AFL representative to the CLC, the letter described Dent as a long-time member of the NDP who "has been and still is a strong believer in the principles of the New Democratic Party."

While the NDP and trade-union leaders were trying to pawn off Dent as an out-standing representative of the "principles of the NDP," Dent was boasting that leading members of all political parties were working for his re-election. One of his key campaign workers was alderwoman Una Evans who spoke at several meetings on his behalf and wrote articles for his campaign. She was a candidate for the big-business Liberal Party in the last federal election. Dent was not nominated by the NDP and is in no way responsible to the party.

During his term of office, Dent consistently supported big business against the interests of working people. His opposition to the demands of the city transit workers daring the 60-day strike last winter led the Edmonton and District Labour Council to pass a resolution condemning his role in the strike and opposing any future electoral support to him. Like the NDP leadership, however, the Labour Council has been quick to forget Dent’s crimes against the workers of Edmonton and are once again endorsing him.

The Morrow inquiry into charges of corruption at city hall has revealed graphically that elected city council members — those who decide the politics of the city — do not make their decisions on the basis of the needs of the majority of people, but in the interest of private developers and other big-business interest. The names of dozens, if not hundreds, of such companies have already come forward in the inquiry testimony. They are the ones — listed in the 1,200 pages of testimony — who decide the policies of city council.

Since the inquiry began Dent has stated "I don’t see ways in which things can be tightened up," and he has not voiced a single criticism against big-business control of city hall.

Despite the betrayal of the labor brass in supporting the procapitalist "reformers," the socialist campaign is continuing to make impressive gains.

At one high school meeting for mayoralty candidates, attended by over 500 students, three-quarters of the questions during the question period were directed to Austin.

At another high school meeting the principal had given a list of topics, such as snow removal, which the candidates were to speak on. A corresponding list of questions had been assigned to students. When Austin explained that this was an indication of the lack of democratic rights in the schools the principal stood up to defend himself while the majority of students groaned and hissed. After the meeting Austin and campaign supporters talked to interested students for an hour and a half and nine people signed up to be supporters of the socialist campaign.

Another highlight of the campaign occurred when Austin was on a CBC-TV "hotseat" and questioned by the three major capitalist mayoralty candidates, Dent, Purvis, and Hawrelak. They tried unsuccessfully to show the socialist alternative was not realistic for Edmonton.

Candidate Purves argued that increasing the taxes on corporations would only result in their being passed on to consumers and workers through higher prices and lower wages. Austin replied that Purves had just levelled a devastating indictment of the capitalist system. He said corporate profits have risen astronomically and big business should pay for daycare centers, a crash program of mass rapid transit, and for public housing. "Society has the resources and technology to meet the needs of the majority, the only roadblock is a small class of corporate owners. If they refuse to pay, or try to, pass the taxes on to working people, they should be nationalized."


‘For a Workers Civic Government’
Vancouver LSA Fields Slate
Labor Challenge, October 21, 1974

by John Steele

VANCOUVER — The League for Socialist Action has entered five city council, and three school board candidates in the Nov. 20 Vancouver civic election.

The socialist candidates for city council are:

  • Jacquie Henderson, Vancouver LSA organizer,
  • Wendy Stevenson, a student at the Vancouver Vocational Institute,
  • Larry Nozaki, executive member of the Vancouver local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and delegate to the Vancouver and District Labour Council,
  • Monica Jones, UBC student and member of the Young Socialists, and
  • Bonnie Geddes, a telephone operator and a leader of the B.C. Committee to Defend Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

LSA candidates for school board are:

  • Lynda Little, postal worker and shop steward,
  • Werner Koenig, a leader of the Vancouver City College Student Strike Support Committee, and
  • Coreen Douglas, UBC student and organizer of the Vancouver Young Socialists. Koenig and Geddes are members of the Vancouver Young Socialists.

Several slates are now in the running for the Nov. 20 Vancouver elections. TEAM, the big business civic party that now controls City Hall, has fielded a full slate of candidates for the 27 council, school, and parks board positions. TEAM’s slate is headed by Mayor Art Phillips, a wealthy investment counsellor.

NPA, the big-business front that controlled Vancouver’s civic government for 35 years before being ousted by TEAM in 1972, is also running a full slate headed by Parks Commissioner, George Puil.

Partial slates are being fielded by the NDP, with 14 candidates, headed by mayoralty candidate Brian Campbell, and by COPE, a reform coalition centered around Alderman Harry Rankin, with 14 candidates.

The Federated Anti-Poverty Groups (FAPG), an umbrella organization of 45 Vancouver anti-poverty groups, has entered six candidates, including 3 for city council.

The League for Socialist Action slate was announced at an Oct. 14 news conference. In a statement to the media the LSA candidates said they would use their campaign "to spread the socialist alternative to as many people as possible."

"Here in Vancouver, as across all B.C.," the statement continued, "food prices are skyrocketing. Rents, we are warned, will soon jump at least 12 percent. Housing is not being built. Unemployment rises with the shutdown of mines like Britannia Beach and the layoffs in the forest industry. At the same time, the profits of the big corporations climb without limit.

"The only alternative," the candidates said, "is for working people, women, students and native people to organize to replace this society with one that meets human needs rather than profit needs.

"Vancouver’s big-business civic government has to be replaced with a workers’ civic government that will lead the struggles of working people and all those oppressed by capitalism."

The importance of the socialist campaign is underlined by the failure of the NDP and the labor movement to field a full slate of candidates against the big-business politicians. Thus they left the door open for COPE to capture working-class support.

The significance of the NDP’s failure to field a full slate was demonstrated at the Oct. 1 meeting of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, when one of the candidates previously nominated by the NDP announced his withdrawal from the campaign.

"I’m the sixth NDP candidate, and I’m going to drop out now to make it even," Bill Francis, president of the United Steelworkers of America, Local 6523, told the meeting.

"There will now be five COPE and five NDP candidates running for alderman," he said, as reported in the Vancouver Sun. Francis explained that while the two parties had not merged, their slates were "basically the same." The labor council voted to endorse the half slates of both COPE and the NDP.

The only labor council delegate to oppose the decision was Larry Nozaki, from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. He termed the council’s stance "a big step backwards from the 1972 campaign" when the council supported the full slate of candidates fielded by the NDP.

"The NDP is labor’s political arm," Nozaki said. "Backed by the labor council and the B.C. Federation of Labour; it has the muscle to provide workers with an alternative to all the boss candidates of TEAM and NPA.

"The labor council has to move on this," he urged.

The labor council decision prompted a response from the Vancouver Democrat, the paper of the Vancouver Area Council (VAC) of the NDP. A lead editorial in the October issue reaffirms the necessity of a full NDP slate, and opposes COPE.

"The Vancouver civic government is a big business government," the editorial states. "The VAC, as the civic arm of Canada’s labor party, is the only organization that can concretely pose to hundreds of thousands of working people in Vancouver the need to get rid of big-business rule in Vancouver.

"This can’t be done through ‘toe-holds’ on council," the editorial continues. "The whole gang of big-business flunkies has to go. This is what a full slate of candidates says. And that is why a full slate of candidates is needed."

The Vancouver Democrat editorial is clear in its opposition to COPE. "Unlike the NDP, based on the unions and organized in dependently of big business," the editors write, "COPE is an electoral coalition. It is set up to accommodate so-called ‘progressive’ supporters of the capitalist system — at the expense of the independent interests of working people.

"This is the basis of our opposition to COPE. This is why we cannot support COPE in any way — even for supposed short-term gains, or for any other reason."

The editorial is an important clarification of VAC policy. It cuts against the drift of the VAC towards the coalition politics of COPE. But there is no indication from the VAC that its words will be translated into deeds by a renewed effort to field a full slate of candidates.

In an Oct. 6 news release which announced the LSA’s intention to field a slate of candidates, the League once again urged the NDP to field a full slate.

"Nomination day is Oct. 30," the news release noted. "It is still not too late for the NDP and the labor movement to change course by getting behind a full NDP slate.

"Even though the program of the NDP is limited to reforms that do not challenge big business rule, and do not meet the needs of working people," the LSA said, "a full NDP slate would be a big step forward in the struggle to mobilize working people against big-business rule in Vancouver. The LSA would wholeheartedly support such a decision."

With eight candidates in the field, the socialist election campaign is well underway. The LSA candidates also urge working people to support the 14 NDP candidates, including the NDP’s five council candidates, against the big-business politicians from TEAM and NPA.


Winnipeg Election
6,000 Vote
for Socialist Alternative
Labor Challenge, November 4, 1974

by Ned Dmytryshyn and Brenda Dineen

WINNIPEG — "Today’s results show that support for a working-class alternative to big-business rule in Winnipeg is growing. The over 6,000 voters who cast their ballot for the League for Socialist Action consciously voted for the socialist alternative. In years to come, there will be many more adherents to our views. The 1974 LSA election campaign was only a taste of what is to come." These were the comments of Brenda Dineen, LSA candidate for mayor of Winnipeg to the reporters clustered around her at City Hall as the results of the Oct. 23 vote came in.

"Although she stood only 15 feet from Mayor Steve Juba at City Hall; she refused to congratulate him on his victory," reported the Winnipeg Tribune the next day. "‘I don’t believe in his politics and I don’t believe in what he stands for.’"

Juba was re-elected for his tenth term in office with more than 100,000 votes. Dineen ran second in a field of five with 6,171 votes, five percent of the total. Voter turnout was the lowest in years, with little more than one-third of the electorate casting a ballot. One factor was the refusal of the New Democratic Party to present more than a partial slate. The Independent Citizens Election Committee (ICEC), a big-business front, had ten of its candidates elected by acclamation. Nevertheless, there were indications of an anti-big business current shown in the results, in addition to the high vote for the LSA candidate. The ICEC lost eight seats, while NDP representation on the City Council went from seven to nine. The NDP retained its majority on the school board. Joe Zuken, candidate of the Labour Elections Committee, a "progressive, liberal-labor" formation, was re-elected.

Many commentators on the results singled out the high vote for Dineen. "If there were any elements of surprise (in the election) they were the decisiveness of the mayor’s victory over his four opponents and, perhaps, the respectable number of votes garnered by Brenda Dineen, the candidate of the League for Socialist Action," commented the Winnipeg Free Press in an editorial.

Werner Goetz, another mayoral candidate, also reacted. He couldn’t understand the socialist vote, he said. There is "something crazy going on in this town." Speaking as the partial returns were coming in, he said "If she stays second, then I made a mistake in my choice of city." Goetz emigrated to Winnipeg from West Germany.

Many thousands heard the socialist viewpoint during the campaign. Supporters put up more than 500 posters, and distributed more than 5,000 copies of the socialist election program. Every day during the last week and a half preceding the vote, the dailies carried statements by Dineen. These covered all the major issues. Radio and TV coverage of the socialists was also extensive. Dineen debated the other mayoral candidates for half an hour on television, and three hours on radio. She also confronted them at numerous all-candidates meetings.

As the campaign developed, it increasingly focused on two candidates — the incumbent Juba, and Dineen. At all-candidates meetings and on phone-in shows the two drew the most questions. The media were forced to treat Dineen as Juba’s main opponent, confirming in their way the LSA’s position that its candidate represented the only meaningful alternative to continuing big-business rule.

On Oct. 19 both daily papers carried feature articles on all the mayoral candidates, containing a 250-word summary of each candidate’s program. Four candidates were listed by the papers as "independents." Dineen was identified as the League for Socialist Action representative. The Free Press headlined its item "Big Business controls city, claims Dineen." Yet the big business organ found the charge hard to swallow. It put the words "big business" in quotes.

This publicity helped the thousands of Winnipegers decide to vote for the socialist alternative. But the publicity did not come easily. Only two weeks before voting day the LSA protested the refusal of the media to report on the election campaign, and the socialist positions. The protest drew support rapidly from prominent media figures and NDP candidates; the press, and radio and TV stations soon became more responsive.

On Oct. 18 the Winnipeg Tribune reported that "Mayoral candidate Brenda Dineen today asked voters to support all the NDP candidates in the ... election; but called on the candidates ‘to present a socialist alternative and not limit themselves to the limited reforms currently in the party program.’

"The NDP candidates should campaign for women’s liberation and against inflation, said Miss Dineen."

Support for the socialist effort came from many who had never know of the LSA before.

A steady stream of letters expressing encouragement arrived at campaign headquarters; many enclosed contributions. In all, more than $900 was raised to defray expenses.

Supporters gathered for a "victory party" on Oct. 25. They heard greetings from Carl Austin, LSA candidate for Mayor of Edmonton, and from the Vancouver LSA election campaign.

Speaking at the party, Dineen declared that "our campaign will not end after the vote, unlike that of the other candidates. The League for Socialist Action is active 365 days a year in the movement for social change. You will see us in the trade union movement, in the defense of Dr. Morgentaler, in protests against slum landlords, in women’s rights campaigns, in the grocery-chain boycott Nov. 2, and in many other struggles of working people in this city.

"It’s clear from the tremendous response to our campaign that the League for Socialist Action is now a serious force in the class struggle in Winnipeg."


Edmonton Campaign Makes Big Gains
Labor Challenge, November 4, 1974

by Don Tapscott

EDMONTON — "Socialist election bid considered big success," reads the headline in Edmonton’s daily paper, the Journal, the day after the civic elections here.

The Journal article quoted Carl Austin, LSA mayoralty candidate: "Our goal was to present the socialist alternative to as many people as possible, and we were able to reach hundreds of thousands of working people with our campaign."

During the five-week campaign, Austin and Angela Mueller, the LSA aldermanic candidate, spoke on a dozen television and radio debates and open-line programs. They were interviewed over 20 times and presented the socialist alternative on 70 radio and television ads. They spoke directly to over 7,000 people at 24 meetings and rallies, including four mass meetings of high school students. The Edmonton Journal alone carried 18 articles discussing the socialist campaign. There were newscasts, articles in community and student papers, and Austin even spoke to a ballroom full of bankers, businessmen, and land-speculators about why they should all be nationalized.

On election day over 1,000 people voted for Austin, and Mueller received 1,104 votes in ward 2. Don Tapscott, the Edmonton LSA organizer, explained in the victory rally held after the campaign: "More than 1,000 working people, women, students, and natives broke with everything that their bosses, principals, priests, MLAs, MPs, television and radios have been telling them all their lives. They broke with all that and said: ‘I’ve had it with this rotten society; I stand for socialism.’"

At the rally $780 in cash and pledges was raised to continue the work of the socialist movement.

The vote for the LSA candidates was a very conscious vote. Because of the wide media coverage of the campaign, it was clear that a vote for Austin or Mueller was a vote for a workers’ municipal government and for the struggle for socialism.

The campaign was used effectively to build the struggles against capitalist oppression. The candidates spoke across the city in defence of the provincial government workers’ strike, joined the picket lines, and distributed 700 leaflets of solidarity to a mass meeting of the Civil Servants Association. The candidates also participated in the rally for Dr. Morgentaler, the struggle of the Enoch Indians for the return of 17 acres of land stolen from them, and a hunger strike demanding the freeing of Valentin Moroz, a Ukrainian historian imprisoned in the Soviet Union for demanding democratic rights.

During the campaign over 40 people, mostly students and young workers, signed up as endorsers of the LSA slate. Several of them are interested in becoming active to continue the work for socialism.

The elections brought a multimillionaire former mayor, William Hawrelak, to power despite the fact he had previously twice been disqualified from office for illegal land speculation deals. Austin placed fifth out of seven candidates. The defeat of Dent, the incumbent, showed that people here did not accept Dent’s claims that everything is going fine in Edmonton. But without an NDP municipal slate and mayoralty candidate, many working people could see no viable alternative to the past policies of city hall except for Hawrelak.

The socialist campaign and the tasks ahead were summed up by Austin in the Journal article following election day: "‘The acuteness of the crisis and the depth of the problems that governments are confronted with are beyond the solution of this social system,’ he said, continuing to reiterate his campaign theme that an end to capitalism — and a turn to socialism — is the only answer."


Civic Elections Set Back Drapeau
Socialists Win Over 2,000 Votes
Labor Challenge, November 18, 1974

by Phil Courneyeur

MONTREAL — Montreal’s Civic party, the political machine of Jean Drapeau, suffered a serious setback in the Nov. 10 election. While Drapeau again won re-election as mayor, he received only 55 percent of the vote as compared to 92 percent in the 1970 election which took place in the midst of the War Measures crisis. His Civic Party, which won all 55 of the council seats in 1970, lost 19 of them this time.

The main beneficiary of the discontent with the Drapeau regime was the RCM (Rassemblement des Citoyens de Montreal — Montreal Citizens Movement). Its mayoral candidate, Jacques Couture, a Jesuit priest, received 39 percent of the vote and it elected 18 city council members. The RCM, a liberal-reformist coalition, fought on a program of "democratizing" Montreal and bringing municipal government "closer to the people."

The revolutionary socialists of the Ligue Socialiste Ouvričre (LSO) stood against the strong tide of support for the RCM in the union movement, among Quebecois nationalists, and on the campuses. Paul Kouri, LSO mayoralty candidate, won 2,145 votes, slightly less than one percent.

Kouri campaigned for a socialist alternative to the boss Drapeau regime. His program explained the vital necessity, for the labor movement to build its own political party — as opposed to the current strategy of the labor officials who support the building of a multiclass political bloc — the RCM. The Nov. 11 Globe and Mail accurately assessed the RCM as a coalition that "managed to unite and hold together Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Parti Québécois members."

A central focus of Kouri’s campaign was the defense of labor struggles taking place during the election period. Kouri supported the striking Metro (subway) workers and spoke at one of their mass rallies. The socialist campaign also built support for the United Aircraft workers strike. At the large strike support spectacle — the "Autumn Show" — over 250 people agreed to sign Kouri’s nomination papers. Supporters of the campaign participated in the Oct. 29 demonstration of 40,000 workers in downtown Montreal demanding indexation of wages and an end to the attacks on unions in Quebec.

In the last week of the campaign Kouri obtained extensive television and radio coverage. He used much of his time to defend Montreal firefighters who wildcatted in an effort to force the Drapeau regime to grant them a $750 cost-of-living allowance for 1974. He was able to use his interviews to defend the right of all workers to strike, including those in so-called "essential services."

Kouri attempted to bring a representative of the Haitian defense committee, Comite d’Action Anti-Deportation, to one of his 15-minute television broadcasts. Station officials denied him this right, stating that only the candidate could speak. Nevertheless Kouri devoted a good part of his broadcast to a defense of the Haitian community from the threatened deportations.

Kouri was also able to debate other candidates in the election, including Nick Auf der Maur, a well-known journalist who ran on the RCM slate.

Two days before the election, the Groupe Marxiste Revolutionnaire (GMR), a sympathizing organization of the Fourth International, announced that it would give critical support to the LSO campaign. The GMR also stated its opposition to the RCM and called for abstention in the vote on all city council seats — the position advanced by the Kouri campaign.

No group on the revolutionary left apart from the LSO entered candidates in the election.

The more than 2,000 votes won by the campaign, while small in relation to the votes of the RCM, represent an important achievement in the struggle to establish and defend the political independence of the working class from bourgeois parties.


LSA, NDP, COPE
Vancouver Left in Civic Debate
Labor Challenge, November 18, 1974

VANCOUVER — In one of the most important meetings of the 1974 civic election here, representatives of the three left slates debated the role of socialists in city politics Nov. 1.

The forum, sponsored by the Spartacus Bookstore, featured Hilda Thomas, Board of Education candidate for the NDP, Alderman Harry Rankin of the Committee of Progressive Electors (COPE), and John Steele, campaign manager for the League for Socialist Action slate. Seventy-five people attended the forum.

Harry Rankin — COPE

Rankin, whose "progressive coalition" is backed primarily by the Communist party, devoted most of his time to attacking the LSA program. He argued in favor of "realistic" policies which could be implemented at the civic level.

"If you look at the LSA’s program," he said, "they are going to establish complete socialism in Vancouver. It can’t be done, and it’s either ignorance, stupidity or just recklessness to put forward a civic program that is totally unrelated to what you can do at the civic level."

"If you’re going to fight a civic election," Rankin claimed, "it’s got to be on a program that can exist within that framework, whether you like it or not. To say we are not calling for socialism at the civic level is correct. What you can do at the civic level is advance democratic reforms."

Therefore Rankin condemned both the LSA and the NDP for calling for a mass housing program and for a city-wide daycare system. Such things are impossible "without federal and provincial money," he said, so it was misleading to call for them at the civic level. He rejected the call by the LSA and NDP for free mass transit on the same grounds.

In Rankin’s view, there were two major things which could be done at the civic level — establishing a higher tax rate for commercial and industrial property, and controlling zoning to increase taxes in business districts.

Rankin denounced the NDP and the LSA for not joining with COPE in a common progressive slate. "If you split the vote you guarantee who’s going to get in," he said. He urged "a conference to come to grips with a program for all left people, because that’s the way we’re going to maximize votes.... At a later date there will be party politics on the city level, but you have to take your steps along the way before you get to that."

Coreen Douglas, LSA candidate for School Board, pointed out that the LSA stood for student-faculty-staff control of the schools, and asked if COPE had a similar position. Rankin said that he was for such control "but in a practical way." He explained that he thought teachers should elect the principal. He said nothing about student involvement.

Rankin alienated most of the audience with his crude attacks on all who disagreed with him. He patronizingly described the LSA candidates as "university students who haven’t yet decided what the world is all about." He resorted to Stalin-style slanders, charging that critics of COPE were "bloody agents."

At one point Rankin threatened to push Phil Lyons’ teeth down his throat. Lyons, who had asked a question from the audience, is president of the Vancouver Area Council of the NDP.

Hilda Thomas — NDP

Speaking for the NDP, Hilda Thomas strongly defended NDP participation in politics at the municipal level. "The CCF made a terrible mistake when they got out of civic politics back in the forties," she said. "They were getting very close to electing a left city government, and the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) was formed, in fact, to prevent that. The old CCF wilted and died under the pressure."

Thomas demonstrated the dangers of "progressive alliances" by pointing out that The Electors Action Movement (TEAM), the big-business civic party which now controls City Hall, was originally just such a formation. "TEAM was started by NDPer, who thought it was a good idea to have a nice, progressive, umbrella group at the civic level to get rid of the NPA. They did a tremendous amount of work, and organized a nice umbrella group with a lot of NDPers in it. TEAM was a nice liberal umbrella group, and it was quickly taken over by the Liberal party machine. And so we have as a result of that umbrella, Art Phillips and company in City Hall."

"It is important," Thomas said, "to bring about the recognition that there is no such thing, there never was and never will be any such bloody thing, as non-partisan politics at the civic level. We are a party and we have a program and a policy, and that policy runs right through, from the civic level to the provincial and federal levels." Thomas described Rankin’s approach as "putting on some kind of mask and pretending that you don’t have any party affiliations, pretending we’re all in this together, we’re just a bunch of nice guys."

Thomas said that for the NDP women’s liberation was the main issue, and free universal 24-hour childcare was the central plank in their program. "Why do we choose that specifically? Not just to meet the tremendous need for childcare of the thousands and hundreds of thousands of working women, and the needs of the children, but also because we recognize that the issue of women’s liberation is one of those profound consciousness-raising issues that can make the move towards socialism that much faster, and that much surer in its end."

COPE’s published program does not even mention childcare, let alone women’s liberation.

John Steele — LSA

League for Socialist Action spokesman John Steele called for a vote for the NDP candidates in the elections. "The NDP represents an organizational break from the big business parties," he said. "We say this even though we don’t support the NDP program which advances reforms but does not challenge the capitalist system."

Steele completely rejected Rankin’s COPE: "Is COPE an alternative for working people? No. It has the same kind of program as the NDP, but it’s a totally different animal. The NDP is a party of the cross-Canada trade union movement. COPE is a coalition of civic reformers. The NDP is based on the hundreds of thousands of trade-union affiliated members. COPE is based on a collection of well-meaning individuals. The NDP stands as a mass party of labor in competition with the parties of big business. COPE aims to build a unity of ‘all progressive groups’ — in other words to unite labor with ‘reform’ sections of the ruling class."

Workers’ interests can only be advanced independently of, and against, the big-business ruling class. Yet COPE’s strategy would sacrifice workers’ independent interests for unity with "progressive" representatives of big business. "COPE’s kind of unity," Steele said, "has always been a dead end for working people."

There is nothing in the COPE program, Steele pointed out, to frighten many Liberals and Conservatives and even Socreds. "The most radical demand in its program is for 10,000 public housing units."

The socialist slate doesn’t accept the idea that civic candidates should limit their demands to reforms within the capitalist system — so-called "realistic" demands. "The problem of our cities is capitalism," Steele said. "The central issue in this election is the burning need to replace the present profit system with socialism — a society geared to human needs."

During the discussion period, Steele summed up the LSA’s stance in the elections. "Harry Rankin said that all left people have to get together to maximize their votes. We in the LSA don’t think you can get socialism by maximizing votes. You can’t get socialism that way.

"You’re not going to get socialism with a program that says you can reform capitalism, that somehow that will lead to socialism. You won’t get it by trying just to get elected so you can use City Hall to get people moving. That way didn’t work in Chile, it isn’t working in Portugal, it isn’t how they did it in Russia in 1917, and it’s not going to happen that way in Canada.

"That way doesn’t work because within this system there are two classes. There’s big business, the ruling class, the minority that runs this country through its federal, provincial and municipal arms, like City Hall. They have a lot of power. And there are the rest of us, the majority. We have the power of our numbers. We can use that power by organizing in struggle, mass struggles which cut against the system, and have as their direction the elimination of the system.

"That’s what a socialist strategy is. It’s not a strategy to ‘maximize votes’ as Harry Rankin suggests it should be. That’s wrong.

"All the points in our program are designed to point the way towards socialism. to explain that capitalism cannot be reformed. Only mass struggles will eliminate it — and that’s what we’re promoting in this election campaign."


Vancouver Civic Elections
LSA Campaign Has Big Impact
Labor Challenge, December 2, 1974

by Stanley Brandon

Candidates running under the big-business TEAM (The Electors Action Committee) label dominated the polls in Vancouver’s Nov. 20 civic election, although the Civic Non-Partisan Association (NPA), the older big business political alliance, recouped some of the losses it suffered in the December, 1972 elections. Elected TEAM candidates hold the majority on the City Council, School Board, Parks Board and Regional District board, with most of the other seats won by NPA candidates, TEAM mayoral candidate Art Phillips was re-elected with reduced votes.

NDP mayoral candidate Brian Campbell polled 11,354 votes (14 percent of the total votes cast), about the same number of votes as he got in the 1972 contest.

The five NDP council candidates polled between 9,061 and 14,539 votes, roughly in the same range that the NDP achieved in 1972 with ten candidates. Commenting on the failure of the NDP to elect any candidates Campbell told the Nov. 21 Vancouver Sun, "We haven’t established ourselves at the civic level." The NDP, however, did not maximize its potential impact by fielding a full slate, as it did in 1972.

The socialist alternative in the election was advanced by the League for Socialist Action (LSA) which ran five candidates for City Council and three for School Board. With its name appearing on the ballot, the LSA polled up to 2,302 votes — 3.45 percent — for council (Jacquie Henderson) and 3,416 votes — 4.2 percent — for School Board (Coreen Douglas).

The last weeks of the campaign saw the LSA candidates and supporters intervene in a wide variety of activities.

At a meeting of 250 people on the University of British Columbia (UBC), LSA candidates for School Board Coreen Douglas, a UBC student, challenged TEAM and NPA candidates to defend their program and record on housing. She called for massive public housing; and nationalization of the real-estate sharks and developers.

At a McGee High School all-candidates meeting Jacquie Henderson, in a debate with other candidates, called for an end to discrimination against women, for free 24-hour childcare and for a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. Four LSA woman candidates spoke at a meeting organized by the Status of Women to hear all the woman candidates.

At a meeting of 40 people organized by the Gay Alliance Toward Equality, LSA candidates spoke for the right of gays to organize to defend themselves against police harassment.

One of the features of the campaign was the LSA’s running debate with Committee of Progressive Electors (COPE) candidates. The COPE campaign was headed by Aldermen Harry Rankin, who easily won re-election. The other 13 candidates on COPE’s slate received in the same range, but slightly more, than the NDPers. None were elected. The LSA opposed COPE because of its aim, to unite "all progressive groups" including "reform" sections of the ruling class. Given the NDP’s ties to the labor movement, the LSA called for a vote for the NDP partial slate as well as its own candidates.

Debates between the LSA and COPE supporters took place throughout the campaign. In addition to a debate among COPE, NDP and LSA representatives Nov. 1 (see the Nov. 18 Labor Challenge), COPE and LSA candidates confronted each other at an all-candidates meeting at Vancouver City College (VCC).

At the VCC meeting, LSA candidate for alderwoman Jacquie Henderson, and LSA School Board candidate Werner Koenig, a VCC student, attacked the undemocratic way schools are administered and called for student, teacher, and staff control of education as a solution to the growing crisis in education. COPE candidates responded by claiming that the LSA’s goals could never be won, and moreover the School Board, restricted by the provincial government’s School Act, could never implement the LSA program.

NDP School Board candidate Martin Thompson, another participant in the meeting, answered COPE, saying that he favored a campaign against the provincial government if the School Act stood in the way of winning democracy in the schools.

During the campaign the Vanguard Forum featured topics relating to the elections. In one forum, four LSA woman candidates and Margaret Livingstone, an NDP candidate for City Council, spoke about the oppression of women, and the program needed to fight it.

In another forum on education, NDP School Board candidate Martin Thompson shared the platform with Marg Manwaring, the Young Socialist campaign organizer, and Linda Little, an LSA School Board candidate. The LSA campaign received considerable coverage from the Vancouver big business dailies, the Sun and Province, along with coverage in Kinesis, a Status of Women publication, and the Jerusalem Times.

"The efforts of campaign supporters played a major role in the success of the campaign distributing 5,000 copies of the LSA’s program brochure. Testifying to the campaign’s effective use of its poster, the big-business weekly, the Vancouver Week commented that "the League of Socialist Action nominees grinned from bills posted on every available fence and light standard."

The campaign wound up with a victory celebration Nov. 23 at which a raffle and an auction of caricatures of civic candidates raised $400 to cover campaign expenses.


Thousands Hear LSA Views
Labor Challenge, December 16, 1974

by Dennis Marlon

The results of the Dec. 2 ,Toronto civic elections showed that the League for Socialist Action (LSA) campaign had convinced 3,180 people to support its mayoral candidate, Joan Campana. Campana ran third in a field of 11 candidates, with 2.5 percent of the votes, as Tory incumbent David Crombie was re-elected to a second term. The six LSA candidates for city council received between one and two percent of the vote.

Two LSA candidates for school board received a higher vote, ranging up to 18.4 percent of votes cast. A third school board candidate was excluded from the ballot by a reactionary age restriction. Write-in votes in her favor were not counted.

The Toronto vote was the last in a series of elections contested by the League for Socialist Action/Ligue Socialiste Ouvričre. LSA/LSO candidates advanced the socialist alternative to big-business rule in civic elections which were held in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal as well as Toronto, in the October to December period. The socialist candidates regularly spoke at all candidates meetings across the country. Unlike other candidates however, they actively supported a range of protests that occurred during the campaign.

For example, Paul Kouri, the LSO’s mayoral candidate in Montreal, used his public platform to defend striking transportation and United Aircraft workers. He also participated in the demonstration of 40,000 workers in downtown Montreal Oct. 29 which demanded indexation of wages to the cost of living and an end to attacks on unions.

Kouri also attempted to have a representative of a Haitian defense committee speak on a fifteen-minute television election broadcast that Kouri was scheduled to make. When the station management refused to let the representative speak, Kouri devoted a large part of his speech to the defense of Haitians threatened with deportation.

While the LSA campaigns centered their fire on big business rule at City Hall, LSA candidates and supporters also criticized the election strategy of other currents on the left. In Vancouver, for instance, the LSA opposed COPE (Committee of Progressive Electors), a loose electoral formation which seeks to unite all "progressive" forces including "reform" sections of the ruling class.

Throughout the campaign debates between COPE and LSA supporters occurred, highlighted by a debate Nov. 1 featuring Harry Rankin, a widely-known COPE alderman who easily won re-election, NDP City Council candidate Hilda Thomas, and LSA election-campaign organizer John Steele.

In Montreal, the LSA stood against the strong current supporting the Montreal Citizens Movement (RCM), a "reform" multi-class electoral block which made considerable gains against the Drapeau regime. In the campaign Paul Kouri pointed out the crucial need for workers to break from formations like the RCM and form a party based on the trade unions, independent of big business. Kouri received more than 2,000 votes.

In general those voting for the LSA candidates did so as a conscious act of support for the socialist option. In Toronto’s Ward 9 contest for City Council; for example, LSA candidates Mary Trew and Brian Duhig, running against two "reformers, received almost exactly the same vote — 422 and 455 respectively — indicating that voters consciously chose the LSA slate.

LSA campaign supporters distributed thousands of campaign- posters and program brochures. In Toronto an initial run of 5,000 brochures had to be increased to 7,500. In Vancouver, supporters handed out 5,000 brochures.

One indicator of the impact of the campaign was financial. Many persons outside the ranks of the LSA/LSO contributed money to help the socialists pay the expenses of the campaign. Some responded generously, with the result that in several cities the campaign produced almost no deficit.

Adding to the effectiveness of the campaign were the Young Socialists. In Toronto, the YS distributed 3,000 copies of their "Young Socialists for Campana" leaflet. The YS focused a major part of its activity in Toronto on the disqualification of Joanne Pritchard from the Board of Education ballot because she was legally "too young" to hold office. Pritchard is 17 years old. The YS claimed this was a clear violation of the democratic rights of youth, particularly because they have to submit to the decisions of the Board of Education.

While coverage in the big-business media was hard to come by, a number of campaigns scored some important successes in this respect. The Edmonton LSA candidates spoke on a dozen radio and television shows, and 70 election radio and. television ads. They also addressed 7,000 people directly. They were interviewed by the press more than 20 times and were featured in 18 articles in the Edmonton Journal, as well as in articles in campus and community newspapers.

During the closing week of the Montreal civic campaign, Paul Kouri received similar coverage in the media.

Despite the almost complete blackout of the socialist campaign in the Toronto big business press, the campaign managed to score some important successes. At an all candidates meeting for 700 Humberside Collegiate students Nov. 25, Joan Campana was the only candidate to show up. She received considerable support both during the meeting and afterwards, when she talked to about 50 students informally. All-candidates meetings and all-candidates television and radio programs proved to be valuable sources of publicity. The Toronto campaign reached 5,000 people through meetings and received about eight hours media time.

The biggest breakthrough occurred in Winnipeg, where two weeks before the election the LSA campaign successfully blocked an attempt of the press to minimize its coverage of the civic campaign.

Subsequently the press was forced to treat socialist mayoral candidate Brenda Dineen as the main opponent of incumbent Steve Juba in the mayoral race. On election day Dineen placed second to Juba, polling 6,171 votes, five percent of the vote:

"It’s clear from the tremendous response to our campaign," Dineen noted after the votes were counted in Winnipeg, "that the League for Socialist Action is now a serious force in the class struggle in Winnipeg."

Indeed, it is also clear that across the country the civic election campaign of the LSA/LSO marked an important step in establishing the League as a serious force on the Canadian left.


1974 Municipal Elections
LSA Calls for Labor Political Action;
NDP Refuses to Fight for Civic Power
Labor Challenge, December 16, 1974

by Ray Warden

From October through December municipal elections were held in several cities across the country. The League for Socialist Action/Ligue Socialiste Ouvričre seized the opportunity to use the electoral platform to broadcast socialist ideas. Socialist candidates were fielded in five major cities: Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto.

The socialists used their campaigns to address the fundamental problems confronting working people today. They advanced a program of struggle, a system of demands around which working people can be mobilized in action against big business, and the governments which represent big business’s interests.

Spiraling inflation has increasingly impelled organized workers into action in defense of their living standards. The first three quarters of 1974 saw 8.1 million working days lost in strikes and lockouts, more than in any previous entire year. The socialist campaigns articulated the central demands of many of these labor struggles: For the reopening of union contracts; For catch-up wage increases; For cost-of-living escalator clauses in every union contract.

Speaking to a rally of 1,000 striking subway workers Sept. 12, the LSO’s candidate for mayor of Montreal Paul Kouri, solidarized with their struggle. "Your strike is an example and a symbol for all workers," he told them. "Your determination to fight on, even against the threat of special (strikebreaking) legislation, will inspire other workers."

The socialist municipal campaigns advanced policies to meet the housing crisis: Governments must launch a massive program of low-rent high-quality public housing under tenant’s control, the socialists demanded.

It’s the irrationality of the profit system that leaves Vancouver with a critical housing shortage, the socialist candidates in the city’s Nov. 20 elections charged, while mass layoffs occur in the province’s forest industry. Put the woodworkers back to work, they urged, with a crash program of housing construction.

Edmonton’s civic election was held in the midst of scandal, while a judicial inquiry investigated alleged payoffs to city councillors from a wealthy land developer. LSA candidates explained how corruption was inherent in capitalist politics, and called for the nationalization of the development industry.

The LSA candidates used the electoral platform to advance the basic demands of the women’s movement: For repeal of the restrictive abortion laws; Drop the charges against Dr. Morgentaler, the Montreal physician charged with violating this antiwoman law; For free 24-hour childcare facilities; For equal pay for equal work.

The socialist candidates in Toronto solidarized with the ongoing struggle by parents and childcare workers against the Ontario government’s cutbacks in childcare quality.

Carl Austin, LSA mayoral candidate in Edmonton, and Ned Dmytryshyn, socialist campaign manager in Winnipeg visited the Indian occupation at Anicinabe Park near Kenora. In a subsequent news conference, Austin and Winnipeg socialist mayoral candidate Brenda Dineen solidarized LSA mayoral candidates across the country with the occupation.

In Montreal, Ligue Socialiste Ouvričre candidate Paul Kouri used his mayoral campaign to publicize the plight of 1,500 Haitians who face deportation at the hands of the federal government.

Labor political action

The fundamental problems confronting working people today, the socialists argued, can only be resolved with the replacement of capitalist governments. Labor should struggle to replace governments responsible to big business with governments under the control of working people.

Workers civic governments would be the instrument of labor in its struggles against big business. They would fight for the expropriation of the banks and big industry. They would dismantle the whole apparatus of municipal governments established by big business. They would mobilize the working class and its allies against the capitalist governments in Ottawa and the provinces.

But a workers civic government can be established only with the full mobilization of labor’s resources in struggle independent of, and in opposition to big business and its political representatives. In posing the need to struggle for workers governments the LSA campaigned for the NDP’s entry into civic politics in English Canada. In doing so the socialists placed no confidence in the NDP’s program. Or in its leadership, which has faithfully administered capitalism when it has formed governments in the provinces.

Based on the labor movement, and organizationally independent of big business, the NDP draws class lines in English Canadian politics — however pro-capitalist its program. The NDP’s entering the civic arena with all its resources would signal labor’s break from the dead end of support to "progressive" candidates who are outside labor’s control.

But the NDP failed to mount a campaign for control of city governments in the 1974 municipal elections. Partial NDP slates were fielded in Vancouver and Winnipeg; elsewhere party leaders left working people completely to the mercy of big-business politicians.

In Vancouver’s 1972 civic election the NDP fielded a full slate of candidates. This year it took a step backwards. Having earlier pledged to enter a full slate for the Nov. 20 elections, the party’s Vancouver Area Council (VAC) fielded candidates for only half the positions open.

The VAC leaders’ explanation for their retreat was that insufficient candidates were available. In reality, the NDP bent to pressure from the Committee of Progressive Electors (COPE), the Communist party-backed coalition structured to promote an alliance between labor and supposedly "progressive" sectors of big business.

In a maneuver aimed at winning NDP support, COPE also fielded a half slate, while calling for the unity of "progressive civic groups." Its class-collaborationist scheme scored a victory when the Vancouver and District Labour Council voted to endorse COPE’s slate, together with the NDP candidates.

In response, the Vancouver Democrat, newspaper of the VAC, reaffirmed the NDP’s opposition to COPE. "COPE is an electoral coalition," the editors stated. "It is set up to accommodate so-called ‘progressive’ supporters of the capitalist system — at the expense of the independent interests of working people."

Whatever its pronouncements, the NDP’s failure to field a full slate opened the door to COPE. In practice it was left to the League for Socialist Action, with its modest resources, to pose the working-class alternative to collaboration with big-business "progressives."

At the polls Nov. 20 the NDP failed to elect a candidate. NDP mayoral candidate, Brian Campbell, received less than 15 percent of the vote. The NDP vote for city-council positions was only marginally increased from 1972.

A number of factors explain the NDP’s failure to score substantial gains. No doubt the VAC fell victim to the Barrett government’s alienation of NDP supporters with its anti-labor policies, as registered in the party’s loss of seats in B.C. in the July federal election. Neither labor-movement leaders, nor the provincial NDP leadership moreover, proved willing to invest substantial resources in the NDP campaign. They were content to leave Vancouver’s big-business civic parties unchallenged.

COPE candidates increased their vote from the 1972 elections, with alderman Harry Rankin re-elected. The Stalinist Pacific Tribune attributed COPE’s success to its "unity proposition" which, it says, "found a considerable response among the voters."

The "reappearance" of the "old guard" at the expense of the ruling party, TEAM, the Nov. 29 Pacific Tribune suggested, shows a trend to "greater polarization". "In that situation," the Stalinist editors advise, "the relative strength of the progressive forces will depend largely on the extent to which they can act in concert ..."

Put bluntly, Vancouver’s election results have encouraged the Stalinists in building COPE as a class-collaborationist alliance.

Winnipeg and Edmonton

In Winnipeg the NDP also failed to field more than a partial slate of candidates. Ten candidates of the Independent Citizens Election Committee, a big-business civic formation were elected by acclamation! The NDP didn’t challenge Mayor Steve Juba.

With its lacklustre campaign the NDP was able to increase its representation on city council from seven to nine, and retain its majority on the school board. The Labour Elections Committee, Winnipeg’s counterpart to COPE, made little impact; veteran Communist alderman Joe Zuken ran on its platform and was re-elected.

As in Vancouver, the LSA gave critical support to NDP candidates. "Mayoral candidate Brenda Dineen today asked voters to support all the NDP candidates in the ... election," the Oct. 18 Winnipeg Tribune reported, "but called on the candidates ‘to present a socialist alternative and not limit themselves to the limited reforms currently in the party program.’"

While the NDP failed to mount a serious campaign for civic power in Winnipeg, the party failed to field a single candidate in Edmonton.

When the League for Socialist Action announced its slate of candidates for civic office, Alberta NDP provincial secretary Howard Leeson issued a press release, disassociating the NDP from the socialist campaign, and threatening socialist candidates Angela Mueller and Carl Austin with expulsion from the NDP.

Part of Austin’s response to Leeson’s attack, was quoted by the Edmonton Journal: "The League is not running against the NDP. We have and will continue to demand that the NDP field a full slate. If this is done, I will withdraw from the mayoralty race, and the LSA will give its full support to the NDP, and will campaign for an NDP city council." In an open letter to Leeson the socialists again challenged the NDP leadership to organize a city-wide convention to launch a full slate.

Only a week before the Oct. 16 election, NDP members in Edmonton received a letter urging the re-election of Mayor Ivor Dent, who was described as a long-time member of the NDP and "a strong believer in the principles of the New Democratic Party." The letter was signed by Howard Leeson; Reg Baskin, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL); and Henry Tomaschuk, the AFL representative to the Canadian Labour Congress.

The Edmonton and District Labour Council also endorsed Dent, conveniently forgetting the resolution they had passed last winter condemning the mayor for his hostility to labor as demonstrated in the city’s 60-day transit strike. On that occasion, the labor council had said it would not support Dent if he ran again.

Dent, meanwhile, was boasting that he had support from leading members of all political parties.

But even labor’s efforts on the part of this big-business politician couldn’t save him. He was defeated by multi-millionaire William Hawrelak, a former Edmonton mayor.

As in Edmonton, the NDP failed to field any candidates for Toronto’s Dec. 2 civic elections, and left it to the socialists to challenge the city’s big-business government, headed by Tory mayor David Crombie.

NDP riding associations, the Metro Toronto and District Labour Council, and teachers’ federations endorsed a wide range of candidates none of them politically or organizationally responsible to the labor movement.

Many Toronto working people and rank and file New Democrats, who might otherwise take the road of civic political action through their own organizations, were detoured into the dead end of support to "reform" candidates.

However radical some of the "left reformers" sound in their opposition to corporate developers and "old guard" city politicians, none of them advanced policies which can resolve the fundamental problems for working people rooted in capitalist urban development. None of them posed the necessity that working people enter the civic elections through their own organizations to challenge big-business rule of Toronto.

"Left-reformer" leader Dan Heap, for example, an incumbent alderman and leading member of the Toronto NDP, ran under the banner of the Ward 6 Community Organization, a coalition of community groups. Challenged from the floor by an LSA candidate at one public meeting, Heap opposed the NDP’s fielding candidates in the civic arena. With his reputation in the NDP as a "left-winger," Heap speaks as one with the right-wing party leadership on this vital question.

While Toronto’s "reformers" increased their overall vote from 1972 in the Dec. 2 election, the relation of forces on council remains substantially unchanged. At a public meeting Dec. 5 the six "left-reformer" city councillors allied to form a "disciplined caucus," which some commentators see as the embryo of a new civic party.

Eschewing "partisan politics," the Communist party fielded no candidates under the party banner. But the Stalinist Canadian Tribune of Nov. 20 gave centerspread coverage to ten city council and School Board candidates in Metropolitan Toronto which it endorsed with "no hesitation." One of them, Oscar Kogan, was elected an alderman in the borough of York.

"Without giving unqualified endorsation," the Tribune urged voters to support 39 other candidates, "who in, the past have taken a positive stand on many issues." The socialist candidates, who alone stood for independent labor political action, were not among them.

According to one Toronto Globe and Mail report, representatives of Montreal’s RCM (Rassemblement des Citoyans de Montréal — Montreal Citizens Movement) visited Toronto to study the techniques which elected Toronto’s bloc of "reformers" in 1972.

For its Aug. 31 edition, the Montreal Star interviewed one of the RCM’s district organizers, Nick Auf der Maur, who was subsequently elected to Montreal City Council in the Nov. 10 election. "Like many MCM members," the Star commented, "he points to the election of ‘reform’ city councils in Toronto and Vancouver as examples of what a political party espousing ‘community-oriented, often middle-class causes’ can achieve ‘if it catches fire.’"

The RCM did "catch fire," seizing advantage of the welling opposition to the dictatorial regime of Mayor Jean Drapeau. In the biggest upset of civic elections across the country this year, the RCM placed 19 people on Montreal’s City Council. Drapeau’s Civic party, which held all 55 seats on the last council, was dealt a stunning blow.

But the big gains scored by the RCM are no victory for Montreal’s working class. With the failure of the Quebec trade-union leadership to forge a civic labor party, the capitalist Parti Quebecois was able to seize the initiative; in constructing the RCM as a trap for labor.

Built as an alliance of the Quebec trade union bureaucracy, the Quebec. NDP, the liberal reformers of the Progressive Urban Movement, elements of the Liberal and Conservative parties, and under the stewardship of the Parti Quebecois, the RCM is a barrier to independent political action by the labor movement. (Which is precisely why it won such an enthusiastic response in the Communist-party press.)

That point was strongly made by the Ligue Socialiste Ouvričre, which ran Paul Kouri for mayor of Montreal against Drapeau and ACM candidate Jacques Couture. It is only through their own organizations that workers’ interests can be advanced, the LSO argued against the tide of support for the RCM. Kouri campaigned for the formation of a labor party in opposition to the big-business controlled RCM and Civic party.

The vote for the socialist candidates in this round of municipal elections was small. But the campaigns were able to reach thousands of working people and students, in the unions, the NDP, on the schools and campuses, with the socialist alternative to big-business rule. Measured in these terms, the campaigns made a significant contribution to the development of working class political action.

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