Friday, November 26, 2010

Socialism's Beachhead (1947)

Time Magazine
Monday, Feb. 17, 1947

Saskatchewan's socialist CCF government took two important actions last week. For $3,600,000, it bought all the Saskatchewan holdings of the power network of Canadian Utilities Ltd. This gave the government's Power Commission possession of the last private power system of any consequence in the province. Then, in the provincial legislature, bantam-sized Premier Thomas Clement Douglas told how things had been going with the other enterprises* his government has socialized in the past 2½ years. Things were going pretty well.

Saskatchewan's CCF bookkeeping has been questioned before. But according to the official figures, in the first half of the current fiscal year (from April 1 to Sept. 30, 1946), the province's socialized businesses made a capitalistic net profit (after deduction of depreciation reserves) of $329,500. The figure did not include an estimated $750,000 net surplus made last year on government automobile-accident insurance policies. The socialist government seemed to be well in the black.

Nor was that all. When the CCF swept into power in Saskatchewan in mid-1944, anti-socialists had predicted a panicky flight of capital from the province. But, under socialism, said Tommy Douglas, 420 new, private companies with a total capital of $104,409,000 have gone into business in Saskatchewan. Sixty-five of the companies (total capital $70,000,000) came from outside the province. In addition, 1,307 partnerships have been formed.

Saskatchewan is socialism's only beachhead in North America. Most Canadians have watched the province closely as a preview of the least that would happen should Canada ever go socialist. What were the chances?

No. 3 Party. The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation is only 14 years old. Besides controlling the government of Saskatchewan, it is the official opposition in three of the Dominion's nine provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia). It is Canada's No. 3 party and has 28 seats (out of 245) in the House of Commons at Ottawa. Its national leader, Major James Coldwell, 58, is one of the most admired men in the House; by many politicians of all parties, he is regarded as prime-ministerial timber.

The party has been gaining strength steadily. In the last general election (1945) it got 822,661 votes (against 393,230 in 1940) and increased its number of seats in the House of Commons from eight to 28. In the latest provincial elections in British Columbia and Nova Scotia the party gained in popular vote while losing seats. In Manitoba, it gained both ways. To meet the socialist threat, Tories and Liberals in Manitoba and British Columbia have coalesced.

Nevertheless, CCF leaders know that no political party has much chance of winning a Dominion election without substantial support from Quebec. There, the CCF freely admits, its influence is negligible. The party now has about 70,000 dues-paying members ($5 a year on the average). About 70,000 more voters are members by virtue of membership in CCF-affiliated unions. A two-year organization drive, sparked by National Secretary David Lewis, now aims at more than 100,000 paid-up members and two million votes by 1949. The CCF hopes to become Canada's No. 2 party in the next general election.

* A wool products factory, a shoe factory, a tannery, a clay products plant, a box factory, a timber marketing board, a fish-filleting plant, a fur marketing service, a printing office, a housing corporation, a reconstruction corporation and insurance agency, a bus line.

No comments:

Post a Comment