Communist Party of Quebec - Repression and Resistance, 1930s-1950s

Repression and Resistance, 1930s-1950s

The depression era saw the CPC in Montreal as one of the few radical and active organizations on the left, despite being banned. In 1934, when leader Paul Delisle died, the party held a "red" funeral in Montreal and attracted a crowd. Mass meetings were an important activity for the party. The CPC organized an assembly of the League against War and Fascism in Montreal, when 600 people came out to hear Lilian Mendelssohn, J. S. Wallace, Fred Rose, Maurice Armstrong and a young student who had just returned from France -- Stanley Brehaut Ryerson. In another documented rally, as many as 4,000 people gathered at St. Jacques Market to hear J. S. Wallace, John Boychuk, Becky Buhay, Paul and Tom McEwen and were brutally dispersed by police.

Growing in statue, the Party made is journal Clarté into becomes a weekly (and published until 1939). Leader Evariste Dube visited the USSR on a special party delegation, as did radical medic Norman Bethune with a group of progressive Candian doctors. On his return, Bethune joined the Communist Party. Bethune would go on to become one of the most famous Canadians internationally, and the most well-known member of the CPC. His decision to join the party was shaped not just be what he saw in the Soviet Union, but also communist participation in the workplaces and communities of Montreal.

For example, the party created unemployed clubs and focused on labour organizing. S. Larkin, J. Bedard, C. A. Perry, L. Dufour and Ms. Lebrun helped build various clubs and groups of factory workers like the United Lorimier Unemployed League St. Henri. Labour demands were also front-and-center in October 1935 when the CPC, no again de-criminalized and able to operate legally, ran in the federal election: leader Fred Rose gots 3378 votes in Montreal-Cartier, while CA Perry gets 1,012 in Saint-Denis.

A following year the young radical Stanley Brehaut Ryerson was elected secretary of the Communist Party in Quebec. Ryerson's leadership came at a time when the party was shifting its approach much more towards the united front. By 1936 Lucien Dufour, President of the Front Populaire, could report that 56 organizations were part in Quebec with their central theme as organizing the struggles of the unemployed.

Abandoning the 'department' model, an executive committee of the Quebec section of the Communist Party was formed including Evariste Dube (Chairman), S. B. Ryerson (secretary), Fred Rose, Emile Godin Alec Rosenberg, Samuel Emery. Alex Gauld, Mrs. Leo Lebrun, Willie Fortin, Jean Bourget Sarkin and Sydney. Some of these activists would present themselves in the August 1936 provincial election, with Fred Rose gets 578 votes in St. Louis, Evariste Dube 185 votes in Saint-Jacques and Emile Godin 288 votes in Sainte-Marie.

The Communists greater strength and organization, as well as the failure to ban the party on the federal level, prompted reactionary Quebec premier Maurice Duplessis to create the repressive padlock law in 1937 against the CPC and all supposedly communist groups. Duplessis quickly padlocked the offices of the CPC's newspaper, Clarté, as well as Jewish community groups and other progressive offices. The law would stay on the books until the late 1950s, when a challenge organized by the CPC at the supreme-court level overturned the law.

June 1937: Demonstration of 300 to 400 women in the Champ de Mars organized by Solidarity Women: 5 women were arrested after the police charge Norman Bethune returned to Montreal after a journey of several months in Spain . Thousands of people are waiting to come Bonaventure station and organize a parade in the streets of Montreal in his honor Over 15 000 people gather at the Mount Royal Arena to hear Bethune tell what he saw in Spain and declared: "Spain can be the tomb of fascism" - Bethune continues with a tour of seven months the country to raise money for the Spanish Republic.

May 1938: Approximately 4 000 people attend a meeting of the Communist Party unit and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in the arena Mont-Royal in Montreal: The main speakers are Eugene Forsey, CCF and Stanley B. Ryerson for the Communist Party.

1941: Meeting in Montreal: Guy Caron, the Communist Party and Jean-Charles Harvey, Le Jour newspaper, spoke to 6 000 people to support the war effort against the fascists.

August 1943: (9th) Fred Rose was elected MP for Montreal-Cartier during a federal by-election. He won 5767 votes.

November 1943: First Congress of the Labour-Progressive Party of Quebec at Montreal, 172 delegates representing 40 clubs from the party.

January 1944 (26) Fred Rose Tait are coming to the House of Commons as MP for Montreal-Cartier.

August 1944: provincial election: the Labour-Progressive Party candidate in Saint Louis, Michael Buhay, gets 6 512 votes.

June 1945: Federal Election: Fred Rose is re-elected MP for Montreal-Cartier.

On March 14, 1946, Fred Rose is arrested and accused of spying for the Soviet Union in the wake of revelations of Igor Gouzenko. He was freed after six years in prison and deported to Poland where he will end his days. The Canadian government will never give the right to return.

1946: Guy Caron is appointed leader of the provincial Labour-Progressive Party (LPP).

April 1946: Henri Gagnon and other Communist League mow Homeless Veterans: Gagnon is president. The League consists of squatters occupying homes that veterans can not afford, or unoccupied, for their return.

1948: Police conduct a seizure at the local newspaper Combat (founded 1946), under the padlock law.

1951: Release of Fred Rose after six years in prison. Continued harassment by the police he decided to leave Canada for Czechoslovakia and Poland.

October 1956: (14) Public meeting in Montreal following the 20th Congress of the CPSU: Tim Buck and JB Salsberg, back in the USSR, reflecting the results of their talks with Soviet leaders (15) Dissatisfied with the explanations provided by Buck, Guy Caron resigned from the LPP with five other members of the provincial committee: Ken Perry, Harry Gulkin, Norman Nerenberg, Frank Arnold and Pierre Gélinas.

February 1957: In an article published in Clarity, Henri Gagnon estimates that 200 members have left the party since the revelations of Khrushchev.

March 1957: The padlock law is declared unconstitutional.

Read more about this topic:  Communist Party Of Quebec

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