Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Manitoba)
Sun . 18 Aug 2018

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Manitoba)


The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation Manitoba CCF, known informally as the Manitoba CCF, was a provincial branch of the national Canadian party by the same name The national CCF was the dominant social-democratic party in Canada from the 1930s to the early 1960s, when it merged with the labour movement to become the New Democratic Party The Manitoba CCF, created in 1932, played the same role at the provincial level

It was initially a small organization, and was supported by members of the Independent Labour Party, which had existed in the province since 1920 The ILP and CCF were brought into a formal alliance in 1933, despite misgivings from some in the former party

The ILP was the leading social-democratic party in Manitoba prior to the CCF's formation It had a reliable support base in Winnipeg and other urban areas, but had virtually no organization in the countryside The CCF was formed to bring labour and farm groups into the same political camp Some ILP members saw this as diluting their party's integrity

The provincial CCF had become stronger by 1936, and the ILP's candidates in that year's provincial election were referred to as "ILP-CCF" After the election, some disgruntled ILP members succeeded in temporarily disaffiliating the parties Pressure from David Lewis and J S Woodsworth brought about a quick realignment, but relations remained strained

At the start of World War II, the ILP and CCF were again in disagreement: the ILP supported an all-out war effort, whereas the CCF supported the conscription of "wealth rather than men"

This controversy contributed to the defeat of federal CCF MP Abraham Albert Heaps in the election of 1940

The CCF eventually gained control of the ILP's internal organization, and the two parties were effectively one after 1941 The ILP formally disbanded in 1943

In late 1940, the ILP-CCF accepted an offer by Manitoba Premier John Bracken to become part of an all-party "unity government" This decision was opposed by some national leaders including David Lewis, but was supported by local figures such as Seymour Farmer, who had led the ILP parliamentary group since 1935 On November 4, 1940, Farmer became the first socialist politician in Canadian history to attain cabinet rank, having been sworn in as Minister of Labour

The CCF's experience in the coalition government was a disappointment to the party The party leaders had hoped to use their influence to promote progressive labour legislation; instead, Bracken's government forced Farmer to seek "free votes" on his ministry's initiatives these soon became party votes, with the CCF invariably losing Farmer resigned from government in December 1942, and the CCF formally left the coalition in 1943 The CCF's time in government demoralized its membership, and hindered its electoral fortunes - voters elected only three CCF MLAs in 1941

For the next few years, the CCF's primary concern was preventing infiltration from Communists then officially represented by the Labour Progressive Party Some figures in the LPP favoured cooperation with the CCF; the CCF leadership was fully opposed to this, and suspended two prominent Manitoba MLAs when they advocated formal cooperation Accusations of being "Communist sympathizers" would hinder the party's fortunes for years to come

In 1944, the national party was performing well in the polls and a CCF government was elected in neighbouring Saskatchewan The Manitoba CCF hoped to repeat this success the following year, but won only 10 seats out of 55 This failure was due in part to the province's outdated electoral boundaries, which favoured rural ridings at the expense of the cities

Farmer resigned as party leader in 1947, and was replaced the following year by Edwin Hansford The party won only seven seats in the election of 1949, amid a period of generally poor fortunes for left-wing parties in Canada Hansford resigned as leader in 1952, replaced by Scottie Bryce

The selection of Bryce was somewhat unusual, in that he was a federal MP without experience in the provincial house He was apparently chosen as party leader due to fears that his federal seat would be eliminated by redistribution Bryce ultimately decided against joining provincial politics, and was replaced by Lloyd Stinson before the 1953 election

Stinson was probably the most adept of the Manitoba CCF's leaders, but he was unable to translate his personal popularity and charisma into victory at the polls The party fell to five seats in 1953, during the first election to be held after the province's Liberal-Conservative coalition dissolved amid acrimony

The Liberal government of Douglas Campbell became increasingly unpopular in the mid-1950s, and the CCF was able to tap into some of the public's discontent Stinson was relatively popular among the province's "centre-left" voters, and the CCF increased its seat total to eleven in 1958

The primary benefactors of Campbell's unpopularity, however, were the Progressive Conservatives under Dufferin Roblin, who won 26 seats out of 57 The Campbell government initially attempted to stay in power through an alliance with the CCF, which turned down this offer perhaps due to the disappointment of 1940-43 Roblin was sworn in as Premier later in the year

Roblin's government put the CCF in a paradoxical situation, as the new Premier initiated long-overdue progressive legislation and outflanked the CCF in a bid for centre-left voters The CCF was forced to lend support to Roblin's initiatives, thereby providing his ministry with the legislative record it needed to win a majority the following year The Tories won 38 seats the following year, with the CCF dropping to 10 Stinson resigned as party leader in 1960, and was replaced by Russ Paulley

The national CCF had fallen to eight seats in 1958, losing much of its support to John Diefenbaker's Tories When the national party "reinvented" itself in 1961 as the New Democratic Party via an alliance with the Canadian Labour Congress, the provincial CCF followed suit

The "New Party" in Manitoba affiliated with the Manitoba Federation of Labour, and Paulley became the first provincial NDP leader later in 1961

The CCF ceased to exist, having been superseded by the New Democratic Party of Manitoba in much the same way as it had previously superseded the ILP

Party leaders

  • 1 Seymour Farmer 1936-1947
  • 2 Edwin Hansford 1948-1952
  • 3 William Bryce 1952
  • 4 Lloyd Stinson 1952-1960 house leader until 1953
  • 5 Russell Paulley 1960-1961

All party leaders were elected to their position without opposition

Election results

Year
CCF
Leader
Seats
won
Seat
change
Seat
Place
Popular
vote
 % of popular
vote
Result
1936 Farmer 7 / 55 2 3rd 12% Liberal-Progressive majority
1941 Farmer 3 / 55 4 3rd 17% Liberal-Progressive-Conservative-CCF coalition
1945 Farmer 9 / 55 6 3rd 338% Liberal-Progressive-Conservative coalition
1949 Hansford 7 / 57 2 3rd 256% Liberal-Progressive-Conservative coalition
1953 Stinson 5 / 57 2 3rd 44,332 1656% Liberal-Progressive majority
1958 Stinson 11 / 57 6 3rd 20% Progressive Conservative minority
1959 Stinson 10 / 57 1 3rd 219% Progressive Conservative majority

Ran as the ILP-CCF in 1932, seats compared to the Independent Labour Party's 5 seats in the previous election

See also

  • List of political parties in Canada
  • List of Manitoba CCF/NDP members
  • Social Democratic Party of Canada
  • Independent Labour Party
  • Beatrice Brigden


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