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William Moriarty, 1890-1936

William "Bill" Moriarty came to Canada from the U.K. in 1910. In May 1921, he attended the founding convention of the Communist Party of Canada in Guelph, Ontario. He was expelled from the CPC in 1930, and became the principal Canadian leader of the international current led by Jay Lovestone in the U.S. and Heinrich Brandler in Germany. He died on April 14, 1936.

The following articles appeared in Workers Age, the newspaper of Lovestone’s U.S. group, then called the Communist Party (Opposition).

William Moriarty Dies Suddenly

[Workers Age, April 25, 1936]

Comrade William Moriarty, CPO leader in Canada, died suddenly last week at the age of 45. In the next issue we will acquaint our readers with the activities of this sterling proletarian fighter. His death constitutes an irreparable loss to the communist movement.

The National Committee of the Communist Party Opposition expresses its profoundest sorrow over the loss of its worthy and irreplaceable member and coworker, Comrade William Moriarty. "Bill" as he was known to those of us who were fortunate to have the opportunity of working closely with him, was a proletarian of first calibre. He came to the Communist movement from the left wing of the Socialist Party of Canada.

Comrade Moriarty was one of the founders of the Communist Party of Canada. In the CP of Canada he served in leading capacities. On the basis of his ability and sterling revolutionary character he rendered a service to the Communist Party and labor movement of Canada in the capacity of editor and business manager of the Canadian Worker and secretary of the CP of Canada. "Bill" was a militant trade unionist of national standing. His life and activities are a keen inspiration not only to all of us who have worked intimately with him but to those of us who have fought shoulder to shoulder with him in the class struggle and who are continuing on the path trod by him.

Comrade Moriarty was born in London and died at the young age of less than forty-six years. Coming to Canada in 1912, he was employed as a harvest worker. He won his spurs in the Canadian trade union movement as a militant fighter in the ranks of the building trades workers. "Bill" hails from the finest type of proletarian family. He was a tin miner in Cornwall, England; then, he worked as a laborer on the railways; later he worked as a surface miner in Wales.

In the crisis in the Communist International Comrade Moriarty fought as a Communist devoted above all to the principles of Communism and to the cause of building a healthy Communist movement. That is why Comrade Moriarty left position and power in the official Communist movement and became the founder of the CP of Canada (Opposition).

The National Committee of the Communist Party U.S.A. Opposition is deeply grieved at Comrade Moriarty’s parting from us at this early age in his career as a veteran in the labor movement. To Comrade Martha Moriarty, his wife, we convey our most heartfelt condolences. To the comrades of the Canadian Communist Opposition we transmit our keenly felt sorrow. We are confident that, inspired by the tireless energy, unflinching spirit, and unquestionable loyalty and revolutionary ardor of Comrade Moriarty, the Canadian comrades, following the leadership of him when alive, will follow with even greater vigor the political course pursued by Comrade Moriarty.


[Workers Age, April 25, 1936]

Impossible to believe it. My eyes read and re-read the fateful lines, but the mind refuses to follow them.

His boundless energy, his strong figure, his iron constitution are put to rest for ever.

A gripping pain takes hold of me. A flame of inspiration has been put out. A life so eventful and in full bloom has been cut too soon. Our teacher and friend, our leader and comrade is no more with us.

Too fresh the wound—too painful the blow to estimate him now. But to those who knew him and to those who heard him — to those who learned from him and to those who worked with him—

Bill will never be forgotten.

His crystal-clear honesty, his boundless devotion to the cause of the toilers of the world, his great revolutionary integrity—will for ever remain a high example to be followed, a burning inspiration for ever greater work and sacrifice.

We stand with bowed heads at the grave of Bill Moriarty, dauntless revolutionary fearless fighter of the Canadian Proletariat. Our only comfort—he hasn’t lived his life in vain. His hope in the last minutes of his life was, that his work will be continued. With banners unfurled, let us march forward to a better and more glorious life—to Victory—to Socialism. The fulfillment of his Great Dream—Our Great Monument to him.

K. Kalmen
Organizer, Montreal Unit
Communist Opposition

Labor Movement Turns Out
for Funeral of William Moriarty

By Jim Cork

[Workers Age May 2 1936]

On Saturday and Sunday, April 18 and 19, workers of Toronto paid honor to the memory of Comrade William Moriarty, outstanding working class fighter, leader of the C.P.O. in Canada and a leading member of its National Committee, who died suddenly on Tuesday, April 14.

On Saturday, April 18, hundreds of workers of every shade of political opinion gathered quietly in the cemetery to say farewell to one whom they felt as their own. Harry Hatfield of the C.P.O. of Toronto, Jack McDonald of the Workers Party, Roger Cuyot, friend and C.P.O. sympathizer, Bill Douglas, leading trade unionist, and Jim Cork member of the C.P.O. National Buro, paid simple tribute to the life of an outstanding revolutionist.

On Sunday, April 19, close to 400 workers gathered at the Toronto Labor Temple in a memorial tribute to Comrade Moriarty. The broad character of the gathering offered eloquent testimony to the respect and esteem in which Bill Moriarty was held by all sections of the labor movement of Toronto. The speakers list included prominent representatives of practically all sections of the labor movement: Harry Hatfield of the C.P.O.; Jack McDonald of the Workers Party; Jack Buckley, Secretary of the Toronto Trades and Labor Council; Alec Lyons, prominent trade unionist; Martin Moriarty, brother of Bill; Tommy Mills of the League for a Revolutionary Workers Party; Graham Spry, vice-president of the Ontario section of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation and Editor of the "New Commonwealth"; Bill Dennison of the Provincial Council of the C.C.F.; Alice Buck of the Communist Party—she spoke for Tim Buck, the Secretary of the C.P. who could not be present; and Jim Cork who acted as chairman.

Bill Moriarty was that rare type of revolutionist who inspired confidence and respect wherever he went. All sections of the labor movement held him in esteem. How well was this fact reflected at the memorial meeting. Speaker after speaker, differing politically as they did with Comrade Moriarty, yet paying eloquent tribute to Bill’s capability and realism, his sincerity and life-long devotion to the interests of the working class: The revolutionary movement can ill afford the loss of such revolutionists.

Bill Moriarty’s life was lived according to a simple pattern of revolutionary clarity and proletarian integrity. Born in London 45 years ago in a proletarian family he migrated to Canada just before the World War. During the war period he was already an active socialist. With the crumbling of international reformism during the war Bill developed quite logically from left-wing socialism to Communism under the inspiration of the Russian Revolution. He became one of the founders of the Communist movement in Canada and labored heroically in many ways to put it on its feet in the first difficult period. He was the first general secretary of the Workers Party, which became the Communist Party of Canada in 1924. He was a delegate to the enlarged executive of the Communist International in 1925. Until 1929 he was field organizer for the Communist Party in western Canada.

When the split came in the communist movement Moriarty unhesitatingly took up the fight against ultra-leftism and was expelled. He took over the leadership of the C.P.O. forces in Canada and was an active fighter in its ranks to the day of his death.

He was extraordinarily successful as an expounder of Marxist and Leninist principles and tactics. He leaves behind him as not the least part of his heritage numerous young workers who were initiated and won to the movement almost solely thru his efforts.

For the C.P.O. his loss is irreplaceable. But his comrades, especially in Canada, close their ranks, gain renewed inspiration from a life so worthy, determined, as the best way of honoring the memory of so sterling a fighter, to carry on with even greater vigor the struggle which he carried on to the very end — for the unification of the world communist movement on a correct revolutionary basis.

The ICO Mourns the Death
of Comrade William Moriarty

[Workers Age, May 23, 1936]

The statement printed below was addressed to our Canadian comrades by the International Communist Opposition. Comrade Heinrich Brandler who had the opportunity to meet Moriarty thought very highly of his capabilities as an organizer and educator.—Ed.

April 30, 1936
To the C.P.O. of Canada:
Dear Comrades:

We are deeply shocked by the news of the sudden death of Comrade William Moriarty.

We have retained a very vivid memory of the discussion we had with him two years ago. Our conference with him convinced us that William Moriarty was an extraordinarily devoted comrade. Our discussion revealed him to be not only a sincere revolutionary but also a politically well-developed communist. Tho he did not attempt to conceal the difficulties of building our group in Canada, we were convinced that he would make all efforts to do everything humanly possible. He kept his promise. He laid the foundations for our group in Canada.

You will miss William Moriarty in your future activities. His thirty-years experience in the English and Canadian labor movement will no longer be at your disposal. This is a great loss not only for your small group but also for the I.C.O. You must now work more closely together in order to fill the gap. Your efforts to continue his excellent work will give you and us the possibility to honor his memory as it should be honored.

We herewith express our deepest sympathy with the C.P.O. section of Canada and pledge ourselves to work for the realization of the task Comrade Moriarty set for himself along the lines he laid down.

For the International Communist Opposition
(Signed) Heinrich Brandler

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