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Two Socialist Parties? (1934)

At least three organizations have used the name "Socialist Party of Canada." The first was founded in 1904 and dissolved about 1925, although individual branches may have continued operating after that. A second, formed in Winnipeg in 1931, still exists today. And a third group, calling itself Socialist Party of Canada (B.C. Section) was formed by Ernest Winch in Vancouver in 1932 and later merged with the CCF.

In this article, published in the Western Socialist, October 1934, the group that originated in Winnipeg explains its differences with the Vancouver group.

A False Report

The capitalist press is frequently aided in its task of spreading confusion by reformers and self-emancipators, who declare their sole interest to be the protection and advancement of working class interests. This was again instanced recently by the announcement, which was given much prominence in the daily press throughout the country, of the proposed amalgamation of the S.P. of C. and the C.C.F. The announcement reads, in part, as follows:

Proposals to merge the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the Socialist Party of Canada were debated at the afternoon session of the second annual conference of the Associated C.C.F. clubs of B.C. in the Stanley Park Pavilion.

In addressing the delegates briefly, Mr. W. A. Pritchard, President and Chairman, stressed the need of amalgamation with the Socialist Party of Canada.

The S.P. of C. was re-organized in Winnipeg in June, 1931. Since that time it has been ruthlessly critical of all other political parties, whether alleged labor or avowedly capitalist, exposing their true character and pointing out the futility of their policies from the viewpoint of working class interests.

In the first issue of The Western Socialist (October, 1933) appeared the following:

In the spring of 1932 the Independent Labor Party in Vancouver attempted to recover its declining prestige by the expedient of changing its name to read I.L.P. (Socialist). Later the name was again altered with a view to attracting a more virile membership, and the title, Socialist Party of Canada (B.C. section) was adopted in this second change, in June, 1932. With revised principles, the party became more popular, and a number of outside branches came into existence.

And so in B.C. that party which had in March, 1932, been the I.L.P. was, three months later, the S.P. of C. In March its representatives had appealed to the electorate on a programme of reforms. Would anyone suggest that in June it had become a revolutionary organization merely by changing its name?

The spots of the leopard may be painted over, but that will not change the nature of the animal. The fact of the matter is that the so-called S.P. of C. of B.C. is still the I.L.P., as its recent election literature and activities prove.

It is this party (which carries on no activities outside of B.C.) that is referred to in the announcement. A Local of the S.P. of C. exists in Vancouver, and should the fraudulent "Socialist" party merge with the C. C. F., as proposed, the work of our comrades at the coast would become that much easier. We trust, therefore, that the merger takes place.

As for ourselves, we have no intention, and never had, of sinking our identity in the C.C.F. As our Declaration of Principles states we "enter the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labor or avowedly capitalist." We do this because the interests of the working class are in opposition to the interests of all sections of the master class.

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