Ordeal by Fire: Canada, 1910-1945

By Ralph Allen | Go to book overview

XXXVIII
The Left makes its bid--Disappointments for the C.C.F. and the Communists, for Woodsworth and Tim Buck

THE Depression was not regretted by everyone. After wandering for a decade in a wasteland of contented capitalists and full dinner pails, Tim Buck and the senior comrades of the Canadian Communist party saw their beacon shining clear and steady and miraculously close at hand. It was almost exactly as Marx and Lenin had promised it would be. Capitalism's final stage of decay had set in at last. The party would now proceed to the task ordained for it half a century before it was born. It would take all possible steps to hasten the collapse, then pick up the pieces and reshape them into one of the proletarian states of a proletarian world.

The invitingly desolate winter of 1930 was not half over before Buck was in Moscow awaiting detailed instructions in person. He was allowed to explain his plans for Canada in a speech to the Plenum of the Sixth World Congress of the Communist International. Having recently witnessed and assisted in the Kremlin's swift erasure of his only two rivals for the leadership of the Canadian party, he felt his way ahead cautiously.

Spontaneous strikes in Canada, he explained apologetically, seldom grew so large or went so far as spontaneous strikes in the United States. "The political value of these strikes, therefore," he went on, "tends to be less unless we ourselves can prepare them in certain industries. The result is that we have adopted a policy of developing demands in many industries and on this basis sharpening relations and developing strike movements." The Comintern decided this was satisfactory so far as it went, but instructed him, in writing, to add three more planks to the party's program: more activity

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