75th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The CCF
During the Great Depression, few places in Canada were harder hit than Saskatchewan. Not only did the free market economy completely collapse, but prairie people had to deal with a prolonged period of drought, wind and dust now known as the 'Dirty Thirties'.
In response to the failure of the free market system, political movements like the Social Credit Party and the CCF emerged in response to the desperation of the times.
75 years ago this weekend, in Regina, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation was formed. Their founding document, the Regina Manifesto is an interesting peek into the mood and attitude of the times. The fact that people were in such a desperate financial situation resulted in loss of faith in free markets and capitalism. Out of these conditions, the CCF began a large organizing drive that led to the election of the Tommy Douglas' CCF government in Saskatchewan in 1944.
Over the years, the position of the CCF softened as the world's economy came back from the brink. In the 1960's the CCF merged with the Canadian Labour Congress to form what we now know as the New Democratic Party.
The Regina Manifesto is an important Canadian historical document because it allows us to see and hear the desperation of the times in the words written 75 years ago.
The New Democratic Party is currently being attacked by some extremist right wing voices who want to spin the Regina Manifesto as the current philosophy of the New Democrats. What naive nonsense!
Some right wing thinkers refer to the document in the 'present' tense as opposed to the historical period it represents. Most progressive political observers have grown accustomed to the dishonesty or stupidity of the hard Right.
New Democrats are proud of their history (unlike the Reform Party that morphed itself into the Canadian Alliance Party and aftewards, into the Conservative Party of Canada).
We are today the product of the times that have come before us. When Canada's free market system failed Saskatchewan, the people responded. We have come a long way.