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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

A Plea for Social Justice - J. S. Woodsworth Part III

Speeches as an M.P. in the House of Commons, 1930-33 (Part III)

This booklet published in 1933 (selected by Grace MacInnis) has nearly 80 pages of extracts from the speeches of Canadian Socialist icon J. S. Woodsworth. Woodsworth, a critical figure in the history of the Canadian left, was the first leader of the CCF, the precursor to the NDP.

As the booklet is quite lengthy we broke it up into 3 posts of which this is the final one.

To see the first part, click here. For the second, click here.

The third part today shows the sections "Canada's Constitution", "Finance: The Power Behind the Constitution" and "Humanity First".

The booklet is a fascinating and remarkable piece of and look at Canadian leftist and social history.

This final part shows clearly that Woodsworth felt that Canadian democracy was being undermined by and was often beholden to the interests of the banks and financiers. He also showed how the law was not being equally applied to workers and the wealthy.

Finally it ends with a stirring quote about capitalism from the manifesto of the League for Social Reconstruction that reads:

In the advanced industrial countries it has led to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small irresponsible minority of bankers and industrialists whose economic power constantly threatens to nullify our political democracy.
The result in Canada is a society in which the interests of farmers and of wage and salaried workers - the great majority of the population - are habitually sacrificed to those of this small minority.
Unregulated competitive production condemns them to alternate periods of feverish prosperity, in which the main benefits go to speculators and profiteers, and of catastrophic depression, in which the common man's normal state of insecurity and hardship is accentuated.
We are convinced that these evils are inherent in any system in which private profit is the main stimulus to economic effort.
We therefore look to the establishment in Canada of a new social order which will substitute a planned and socialized economy for the existing chaotic individualism and which, by achieving an approximate economic equality among all men in place of the present glaring inequalities, will eliminate the domination of one class by another.

Unfortunately pages 73 & 74 are missing.

This was first published on The Left Chapter blog, June 22, 2017

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