Saskatchewan's 1944 CCF Election
Saskatchewan Council for Archives & Archivists
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Farmer-Labor Party

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The dying days of the Progressives saw the first inklings of a Socialist party. Most Progressive MPs abandoned the opposition benches for the Liberal party. By 1930, the party was a spent force. Despite this, a 'ginger group' of western MPs joined with the handful of Labor MPs, and a few independents to advocate Socialist politics. They were a tiny group on the opposition benches, but they passionately advocated economics reforms. Mackenzie King and his Cabinet recognized the potential in their ideas. The government took a few slow steps to the left.

George Jones, president of the Independent Labor Party, speaking; 1930 14


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Farmer-Labor pamphlet, 'Agricultural Land Policy,' 1933 15

One of those Labor MPs, James Shaver Woodsworth came to symbolize Socialist politics in English Canada. Educated at the Universities of Toronto and Oxford, Woodsworth abandoned the Methodist church for failing to take a move active role in advancing political reforms to benefit the underprivileged. Woodsworth became a Labor leader and politician. In 1925, Woodsworth promised to support the King government in exchange for the enactment of old age pensions. This confirmed him as the Socialist leader.

In Saskatchewan, Major James Coldwell was trying to organize a Socialist party provincially in Saskatchewan. Major Coldwell was a schoolteacher and a city of Regina councilor. He tried to ease the burden of the depression by organizing civic relief programs. The party was based on the example of the British Labor Party. It differed from the Labor Party in its attempt to meld the interest of the working class with farmers. The party did poorly in the provincial election, Coldwell even failing the win a seat. Early Labor parties had to deal with the fact that industrial socialism was often unwilling to accommodate the economic needs of agriculture. Still, the party attracted a dedicated group of followers who represented Saskatchewan at the 1932 convention in Regina.


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Farmer-Labor group organization of a socialist Canada, ca. 1932 16


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Farmer-Labor group 'Economic Policy,' ca. 1932 17



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