HIST 203 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: War Measures Act, Industrial Unionism, War Economy

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Western and Eastern Discontent
Labour
West As Frontier
-Often lacked the same roots as the East because it was newer
-West was meant to be agrarian and was meant to remain that way
-Lacked a manufacturing base, getting only 1% of industrial expansion
Gripes
-Didn’t like conscription, especially among farming communities
-Unhappy about banking interests in the East and their concentration there
-Disliked dependence on CPR and Transcontinental, which were Eastern based
-Also didn’t like the federal government
-These farmer gripes were shared by labor
-Generally known as anti-Gomperists
-More radical unionists
-Marxist unions arose in the West who sought to gain control of the means of production
Why More Radical?
-West was frontier, and still very much felt detached
-Single resource towns were more conducive to a confrontation between capital and labor
-Towns less established, had less permanent population and high turnover
-High rates of immigration and greater ethnic homogeneity
-In Kootenay, 80% of miners were immigrants
-More dangerous line of work, which added to the tension
Winnipeg Strike-Why?
-One attempted in 1919 in Toronto and one in Amherst Nova Scotia
-Dislocation caused by the wartime economy represented the more short term context of why the
conflict emerged
-Return to a peacetime economy tough
-War economy very different
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-War had caused a surge in employment and a surge in inflation
-Family bills doubled, and wages, while they rose, failed to meet inflation
-Union memberships reached new highs, doubling
-Maintaining constant real wages was a struggle during the war
-Even with War Measures Act power, strikes still broke out
-The Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council represented building trades and complained about
wages
-Metal Trades Council called for higher wages and lower hours with the 3 largest shops
-Wanted official recognition of their council
-Radicalized and called for a general strike for May 15
Winnipeg Strike as it Unfolded
-30,000 workers went on strike and a strike committee was formed to decide which services are
essential and will still operate
-Committee of 1000 formed to “return order” to the city
-Generally made up of professionals and elites
-Spread propaganda around town about the Strike Committee
-Called them a Bolshevik group
-When the Transcontinental men went on strike, all of Canada’s transcontinental transport was
shut down
-Federal government intervened at this point
-Marched in RCMP and ended the strike violently
-Including the trampling of protestors
-Came to an end in June
Impacts
-Seen as a short run failure
-Idealism ran high but they didn’t get much
-No collective bargaining for the metal trades
-Metal Trades Council fell apart
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Document Summary

Often lacked the same roots as the east because it was newer. West was meant to be agrarian and was meant to remain that way. Lacked a manufacturing base, getting only 1% of industrial expansion. Unhappy about banking interests in the east and their concentration there. Disliked dependence on cpr and transcontinental, which were eastern based. Marxist unions arose in the west who sought to gain control of the means of production. West was frontier, and still very much felt detached. Single resource towns were more conducive to a confrontation between capital and labor. Towns less established, had less permanent population and high turnover. High rates of immigration and greater ethnic homogeneity. More dangerous line of work, which added to the tension. One attempted in 1919 in toronto and one in amherst nova scotia. Dislocation caused by the wartime economy represented the more short term context of why the conflict emerged.

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