There have been various groups in Canada
that have nominated candidates under the label Labour Party
or Independent Labour Party
or other variations from the 1870s until the 1960s. These were usually local or provincial groups using the Labour Party or Independent Labour Party name, backed by local Labour Councils (made up of all the union locals in a city) or individual trade unions
. There was an attempt to create a national Canadian Labour Party
in the 1920s, but this was ultimately unsuccessful.
A number of local Labour parties and clubs participated in the formation of the Communist Party of Canada in 1921. The Independent Labour Party and other labour groups helped found the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932.
Members of Parliament
The first Labour Member of Parliament
(MP) was Arthur Puttee
who founded the Winnipeg Labour Party
, and was elected to the House of Commons
in a 1900 by-election
and kept his seat at the 1900 federal election
held later the same year.
Other MPs elected under the Labour or Independent Labour label include:
- Ralph Smith, a miner, ran as an Independent Labour candidate in Vancouver in the 1900 federal election but took his seat in the Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal. He was subsequently re-elected as a straight Liberal in the 1904 and 1908 before being defeated in 1911.
- Alphonse Verville was elected as a Labour candidate in the 1904 federal election in Maisonneuve, Quebec. He grew close to the Liberals through subsequent elections until he ran and was re-elected as a Laurier Liberal in the 1917 federal election.
- Herbert Bealey Adshead was Labour MP for Calgary East from 1926 to 1930.
- Angus MacInnis who was an Independent Labour Party MP from 1930 to 1935 and sat as a CCF MP from 1935;
- A. A. Heaps, who was elected as a Labour MP for Winnipeg North in 1925, 1926 and 1930 and was re-elected as a CCFer in 1935;
- J. S. Woodsworth, who founded the Manitoba Independent Labour Party in December 1920. Woodsworth sat as an Independent Labour Party MP from 1921 until he became the founding leader of the CCF in 1932.
- William Irvine, was a close friend of Woodsworth, represented Calgary, Alberta as a Labour MP from 1921 to 1925 and as a United Farmers of Alberta MP from 1926 to 1935. He was a founding member of the CCF and sat as a CCF MP from British Columbia from 1945 to 1949.
- Humphrey Mitchell was elected as a Labour MP representing Hamilton East in a 1931 by-election. Close to William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberals, he did not get along with other Labour and Independent Labour MPs and refused to join the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation when it was founded in 1932. The CCF ran a candidate against Mitchell in 1935 (the Liberals did not) and the vote split resulted in Mitchell's defeat by the Conservative candidate. In 1941 he was appointed to the federal Cabinet as Minister of Labour and soon after returned to the House of Commons as a Liberal MP via a by-election in Welland.
MacInnis, Heaps and Woodsworth joined the Ginger Group of left wing MPs prior to forming the CCF.
Members of provincial legislatures
In Nova Scotia
Four Independent Labour Party MLAs and one Farmer-Labour MLA (all but one from Cape Breton
) were elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly
in the 1920 general election
. The joined with 6 United Farmer
MLAs to form the official opposition
in the legislature with United Farmer MLA Daniel G. MacKenzie
as leader. All the United Farmer and ILP MLAs were defeated in the 1925 general election
. A single Labour MLA, Archibald Terris
was elected in 1928
representing Cape Breton East
; he did not run for re-election in 1933
- J.W. Morrisson, ILP, (Cape Breton), 1920-1925
- A.R. Richardson, Farmer-Labour, (Cape Breton), 1920-1925
- Joseph Steele, ILP, (Cape Breton), 1920-1925
- Arthur Forman Waye, ILP, (Cape Breton), 1920-1925
- Archibald Terris, ILP, (Cumberland), 1920-1925, 1928-1933
The Nova Scotia Co-operative Commonwealth Federation began running candidates with the 1933 general election and became the New Democratic Party in 1961. In 1982 the Cape Breton Labour Party was formed by MLA Paul MacEwan after he was expelled from the NDP. It ran 14 candidates in the 1984 general election but MacEwan was the only candidate to win the seat. The party soon dissolved and MacEwan was re-elected in 1988 as an Independent before joining the Nova Scotia Liberal Party in 1990.
A number of members of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec were labeled Parti ouvrier (Labour Party) from the 1890 election until the 1931 election. They represented predominantly labor-class neighborhoods in Montreal and Quebec City and consisted of:
- Donald McNabb, elected from Lethbridge in a 1908 by-election to become the first Labour MLA in Alberta. Defeated in Lethbridge City in the 1909 general election.
- Charles M. O'Brien was elected in the 1909 election as the Socialist Party of Canada MLA for Rocky Mountain. He was defeated in 1913.
- Alex Ross, elected from Calgary 1917 as the nominee of the Calgary Labour Council, joined the United Farmers of Alberta government, when it was elected in 1921, as Minister of Public Works. Helped form the Canadian Labour Party in 1922, was defeated in the 1926 general election.
- William Johnston, Labour MLA for Medicine Hat from 1921 until 1926.
- Phillip Christophers, Labour MLA for Rocky Mountain, elected in 1921 and re-elected in 1926.
- Andrew Smeaton, Labour MLA for Lethbridge elected in 1926, re-elected in 1930 and defeated in 1935.
- Fred J. White, elected to the legislature in 1921 from Calgary, leader of the Labour caucus in the Alberta legislature from 1926 to 1935; president of the Alberta Federation of Labour from 1926 to 1941 as well as a long-serving secretary of the Calgary Trades and Labour Council and a Labour alderman in Calgary until 1939.
- Charles Gibbs, Edmonton Labour MLA elected 1926
- Robert Parkyn, Independent Labour MLA for Calgary from 1926 to 1930.
- Christopher Pattinson, Labour MLA for Edson from 1926 until his defeat in the Social Credit landslide of 1935.
- Angus James Morrison, Labour MLA elected from Edson in 1940 defeating Joseph Unwin. Did not run for re-election.
- See also The Rise and Fall of the Labour Party in Alberta, 1917-42
In British Columbia
In 1917, the Trades and Labour Congress (TLC) national convention in Toronto passed a resolution calling on provincial labour federations to establish a political party which would unite socialist and labour parties in the province and eventually form a national party. A Canadian Labour Party was formed, and endorsed several candidates in the 1917 federal election. The leadership of the TLC changed in 1918, however, and the new leaders favoured the "non-partisan" approach of American Federation of Labor leader Samuel Gompers. The CLP was abandoned, as such.
Between, 1920 and 1926, provincial parties were founded in British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
The Federated Labour Party was created by the British Columbia Federation of Labour in 1920, absorbing the Social Democratic Party and part of the Socialist Party of Canada.
From 1906-1909, there had been a Canadian Labour Party of B.C. (CLP(BC)). This party was a split from and rival to a group calling itself the Independent Labour Party.
A later Independent Labour Party was organized in British Columbia in 1926 by the Federated Labour Party and Canadian Labour Party (B.C. section) branches. In 1928, it severed its CLP(BC) connections. In 1931, it reorganized, and was renamed the Independent Labour Party (Socialist). The following year it became the Socialist Party of Canada.
In Manitoba, a Dominion Labour Party (DLP) had been created in 1918. This was a reformist party, although more explicitly socialist than the previous such organizations in the province (see Winnipeg Labour Party, Manitoba Independent Labour Party, Manitoba Labour Party, Labour Representation Committee). The DLP elected several members to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba in 1920. It was taken over by rightist elements affiliated with the American Federation of Labour later in the year, and most of the MLAs formed a new Independent Labour Party.
An Alberta Dominion Labour Party was also formed in 1920. Unlike the Manitoba DLP, this party was not taken over by rightist elements. It remained a viable organization until the 1930s, in an alliance with the Canadian Labour Party (see below).
In Saskatchewan, the Independent Labour Party was formed in 1931 and led by M.J. Coldwell, It merged with the United Farmers of Canada (Saskatchewan Section) to form the Farmer-Labour Group in 1932 which became the Saskatchewan CCF in 1934.
The Ontario Labour Party was created in 1922, led by James Simpson of the Independent Labour Party, and the Reverend A. E. Smith, later of the Communist Party of Canada.
In 1921, Simpson also revived the Canadian Labour Party. The CLP was intended to be an umbrella organization for the various labour parties throughout the country. It succeeded in forming alliances with the Federated Labour Party, Ontario Labour Party, Dominion Labour Party and other groups including local labour councils (though not the Manitoba ILP). Between 1922 and 1924, the provincial affiliations of the Workers Party of Canada (the legal face of the Communist Party of Canada) also joined the CLP. It was never a strong central organization, however, and never elected a candidate at the national level. The CLP ceased to exist in most parts of the country after 1929, when the Communists withdrew. In Alberta, the CLP survived until 1942, in alliance with the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation after 1935.
At various times in political history of Canada and of Ontario, candidates have sought election as Liberal-Labour candidates. (Please see linked article.)
Across Canada, labour and the farmers movements, particularly the United Farmers, formed alliances, and often ran joint candidates. The Progressive Party of Canada was effectively a coalition of farmer and labour groups.
Federally, Agnes Macphail, who was first elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive, was re-elected in 1935 as a UFO-Labour candidate before being defeated in 1940. She was, at the time, a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, but ran as UFO-Labour for tactical reasons.
A small number of candidates ran under the "Farmer-Labour" banner in federal elections of the 1930s and 1940s, although there was no formally organized party. None of these candidates ever won election to the House of Commons.
Labour and Independent Labour Party Members of the Legislative Assembly
(MLAs) joined with members of the United Farmers of Ontario
to form a Farmer-Labour coalition government
from 1919 to 1923 with E. C. Drury
Several Labour MLAs joined the initial United Farmers of Alberta
The United Farmers and the Independent Labour Party
merged to form the Farmer-Labour Group
in 1932. In the 1934 provincial election
, the Farmer-Labour Group won almost 24% of the popular vote and 5 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
, where it became the official opposition
to the Liberal
government. After the election, it became the Saskatchewan section of the CCF
The United Farmers and Labour elected 11 MLAs to the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly
in the 1920 general election
forming the official opposition
in the province.
The 1920 provincial election
elected 9 United Farmers and 2 Farmer-Labour MLAs who sat together and allowed the incumbent Liberals
to maintain confidence
in a minority government
situation. None of the MLAs were re-elected in the 1925 election