Like all nations that dazzle the world with their riches, Canada is well to the fore in such displays—and less forward in showing its poverty.
But riches and poverty go together, as also do the defenders of the one and the champions of the other, who are in fact less far apart than they suspect.
No less so in Canada than elsewhere, Mr. Diefenbaker, the ex-prime minister, waxed eloquently on Canada’s greatness—and raised the old age pension. Mr. Pearson, the present prime minister, is not less rapturous in flag-flapping and boosted the pension a bit more. Mr. Douglas, the aspiring Prime Minister, would keep profits in Canada away from Americans and give the old age pension another hoist.
Only Mr. Thompson, erstwhile top banana of social credit, fond of his country though he is, had nary a mite for the pensioners —and was dumped by the wayside. Canada then is just another capitalist country. It is a giant in size, in industry and agriculture. It ranks among the first half-dozen producing nations, despite a sparse population of twenty million. But it exploits its wage slaves as much as the traffic will bear, searches the world for outlets for its commodities, and takes sides in international squabbles, having been involved in nearly all the talking and fighting adventures of this century.
It has its demands for higher wages and better working conditions which are sometimes made to stick; a wearisome burden to government and industry, whose appeals for moderation in the national interest have not always convinced workers that low wages are a mark of distinction.
It has its mods, its diggers, its hippies, its peace meetings, freedom marches, petitions to Parliament and all the churning, raging, futile produce of a world turned away from the vital need to really know its own nature.
It is just another capitalist country.
Canada was originally taken from the Indians by the French and English, the latter then dispossessing the former, the descendants of both presently snarling at one another over their respective tongues’, ‘cultures’ and other ‘differences’ as vital as the output of the representative ‘love-in’. French Canada, located almost entirely in Quebec, has been prodded by the church and Quebec capital for many years for reasons less than altruistic, and has been belted and catered to by English Canada with motives of no greater merit.
Traditionally, the Quebec political scene has been dominated by the Liberal Party which has had to tread warily to offset the work of ‘nationalistic’ elements in the province. Liberal influence has waned in recent years, provincial politics becoming dominated by the Union Nationale Party, an organisation existing entirely in Quebec and aiming at almost every kind of ‘independence’ for the province, short of complete separation from the rest of Canada. On the federal field the Quebec Liberals have been weakened by the rise of a group originally part of the National Social Credit Party which broke away from the parent body and established itself as an independent social credit party. The reason for the breakaway is believed to be the need to reflect Quebec nationalism, a must these days for all parties searching for votes in Quebec.
None of Canada’s five social credit groups having federal or provincial representation is interested in social credit, or even talks about it.
Liberals and Conservatives
The Liberal Party, patterned after the Liberals of Great Britain, controls the Ottawa Government but without an overall majority and can retain hold on power only with the support of one of the other parties. Sometimes this support comes from one or both of the social credit parties and sometimes from the New Democratic Party. Its hold on power has not been seriously threatened, opinion being that no other party feels confident of strengthening its position in another election.
The Conservative Party (or Progressive-Conservative Party, as it has preferred to be called for some years now) is the Canadian equivalent of the Conservative Party in Britain. It is the leading contender for power if this should be lost by the Liberals. These two parties, in fact, have alternated in power since confederation, surviving a number of political windstorms without damage.
There is little to distinguish between the Liberal and Conservative parties. With minor differences on how best to run the affairs of the capitalist class, they have never been divided when these affairs have conflicted with the interests of workers—who have suffered this unity and have so far learned little from it.
The New Democratic Party
The ‘party of labor’ is the New Democratic Party. It is the result of a deal between the former Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the trade union movement, the latter deciding a few years ago that the time was ripe for labor to come to power. Successive elections, despite considerable trade union support, did not bring ‘labor’ to power and trade union enthusiasm, even, interest, has declined. The initial gain through trade union support was matched by the loss in farmer support that had formerly gone to the CCF, leaving the NDP parliamentary representation practically unchanged from that of the CCF.
Socialists were critical of the CCF through all the years of its existence. Coming on the scene professing Socialism as its aim, it spread a number of wrong ideas in the name of socialism. In its later years it came to the view that its advocacy of ‘socialism’ did not help its election chances and it dropped the use of the term and all suggestions that it held any aims that could not be approved by Liberal and Conservative supporters. It was then ripe for a complete break with its rebellious past and the New Democratic Party was born. This body, if anything, is an even more watery collection than the British Labour Party, reaching its odious depth in the 1963 anti-American crusading of its leader Mr. Douglas.
There are other parties that run candidates for Parliament, two social credit groups being among the successful one, although their combined representation is less than that of the NDP. All in all, the ruling class has little to grumble about, being represented one way or another by every member in Parliament.
The Socialist Party of Canada
The Socialist Party is of course also on deck, working always to keep the message of Socialism to the fore. Its membership now reaches from Montreal to Victoria and although still not numerous we would record the reply of the lion when told brashly by the rabbit of its numerous offspring, “But each of my progeny is a lion”.