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NELSON WISEMAN The CCF and theManitoba 5Yon-partisan' Government of 1940 Tx•v. svccv•ss of third parties in Canadahasbeenmixed.While showing remarkable strength in forming governments in everyprovince fromQuebec to BritishColumbia,theyhavefared ratherpoorlyat the federallevelif electoral results areused asanykindof a yardstick. Facedwith challenges fromthe rightand left, the federalLiberalpartysponge, employed most successfully by Mackenzie King, hasbeeneffective in formallyabsorbing thirdparties andinformally absorbing or deflecting manyof theirpolicies. The willingness of regional parties(T.A. Crerar'sProgressives) and independent labourmembers andsympathizers (A.W. PutteefromWinnipeg) to acceptcabinetrepresentation or the continuation of Liberalrule in exchange for a fewconcessions, indicates elements of bothopportunism and a failuretobeconverted totheuseofefficacious class politics. At thelevelof Manitobaprovincial politics the counterpart of the King Liberalsin this respect became the chameleon Brackenires - a regimewhichmanaged to carry four differentlabels(United Farmersof Manitoba,Progressive, Liberal-Progressive, Coalition)in less thantwentyyears andelevate Bracken himself toleadyetanother party,thefederalConservatives. It wasinopposition tothispattern ofpolitics of absorption andco-option that J.S. Woodsworth in the •9•os and later the Co-operative CommonwealthFederation stood firmly.The difference whichthenational andprovincialcox * partiesencountered wasthat in Ottawa PrimeMinisterKing hoped to drawthe½½x• organically intotheLiberalparty. xIn Manitoba,on Thispaperispartofa thesis tobesubmitted forthedegree ofDoctorof Philosophy at theUniversity of Toronto.Assistance in theformof a grantfromtheCanadaCouncil isgratefullyacknowledged. • GadHorowitz, 'Conservatism, Liberalism andSocialism in Canada: AnInterpretation ,'Canadian Iournalo!Economics andPolitical Science, xxxn,2,May •966,•68 Vol. LrvNo • June •973 176 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW theother hand,Premier Bracken's desire foracoalition ofparties wasfounded in a different conception of theroleof government. Contrasting Mackenzie King'sindelible partisanship wasJohnBracken's alleged non-partisanship. Whileanti-partyism seemed to cometo fruitionin theprovincial election in •922, genuine feelings of anti-Liberalism, or, for that matteranti-Conservatism , werenot asstrongin Manitobaastheywerefartherwest.The dissolution ofthefederalProgressives fromManitobaandtherelative failure oftheNon-Partisan Leaguetocatchonasit didelsewhere provedthis.What didemerge in Manitobawasa faqade of non-partisanship behindwhichthe established Liberalsocial andeconomic eliteof southWinnipegcontinued to exercise political powerby dominating thefarmer-elected government? The desire of boththese groups for 'business government' gavecredence to therhetoric ofnon-partisanship andthetheory thata provincial government should beoperated asa 'king-size municipality. 'a Determination byitsfounders thattheccr persist asa political forceand notwitherashaditsnumerous agrarian andlabourpartyantecedents resulted in a strong andunderstandable aversion to co-operation with otherparties, even if this meant short-termgains.Such considerations had underlain Woodsworth's thinkingin turningdowna cabinet portfolio andtherefusal of the nationaland provincialccr partiesto coalesce formallywith other anti-government parties, betheySocialCredit,Conservative, or Communist. The formalarticulation andratification of thisposition wasthesubject of a resolution passed at the 1936nationalconvention: 'The correct policyfor the ccr remainsthat of increasing its masssupportamongfarmersand workersthroughoutthe countryby an aggressive programmeof socialist education, organization andparticipation in thedailystruggle of ourpeople for improved conditions. Therefore, no goodpurpose canbeserved by an attemptto weldtogether politicalorganizations, the policies and working methods of whichdifferin principleand practice.The ccr, therefore, reaffirms itsdetermination tomaintain complete political independence.' There 'Whenthefarmersbeganto entercandidates in the electionof I922 thebusiness interests organized a groupto support them.J.W. Dafoe noted,with somesurprise, thatthemenbehindthegroup, whoputupthemoney for theirverylivelyadvertisingcampaign , includedJ.H. Ashdown, ownerof the city'slargesthardwarebusiness, SirAugustus Nanton,a wealthyinvestment dealer,Mr. Fitzgerald,manager of the Hudson's BayCompany,andMr. Tucker,managerat Eaton's."This isa curious combinationto be behinda politicalmovementwhichannounced that itsintention wastoco-operate withthefarmers. It was,I think,based onthehopethatthere wouldbe a kind of business government and that low taxeswouldresult."' Dafoe toCliffordSifton,25July•9•2 in M.S. Donnelly,The Government o[Manitoba (Toronto •963), pp. 59-6o. Forsome examples of non-partisan sentiment seeibid.,pp.62-7 THE CCF AND THE MANITOBA GOVERNMENT OF 1940 177 wasa promise, however,whichin keepingwith policyof the provincial autonomy saidthat '... Because of the diversity of conditions across Canada, theConvention declares thatdecisions regarding suchco-operation shallrest with the provincialcouncilconcerned, subjectto reviewby the National Council, if, in itsopinion suchco-operation conflicts withtheplatformand constitution oftheccF. '4TheManitoba partyaccepted thisposition, rebuffed Bracken's x936coalition proposals, andin thefaceof some grass-roots supportfor an anti-government alliancewith the Communists and/or Social Credit'madea rulingforbidding the coalition of the ccF with any other politicalgroups in theprovincial legislature, '5 at theirownconvention of •936. The 'noalliance or coalition' stance of thecc• wasclose to beingviolated atthis same timeinSaskatchewan. Asthenewleader ofthec• party,George Williamsfavoured unitingwithSocial Creditand'progressive' Conservatives to defeat theLiberals and'eastern interests.' In spiteof sucha policybeing strongly opposed by both Woodsworth and • nationalchairman,M.J. Coldwell,a Saskatchewan convention approved it and negotiations with provincial Tories...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 175-193
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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