MIA : Marxist Writers : Ross Dowson
Speeches to the LSA
Series On Canadian Nationalism
Morgentaler Defence campaign
The Labor Party and the Struggle for a Socialist Canada”
Pamphlets and a Booklet
Correspondence & Documents
A historical and practical resource for everyone interested in Canadian socialist politics. Ross Dowson was the leading figure in the development of Canadian Trotskyism from his entry in the movement at age 15 in 1932 until 1989. During these 57 years he devoted his energies and creative force to the building of what became the mainstream Marxist left current in Canada in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1974 he withdrew from the movement he had built for 30 years with a group of comrades to build another, in order to continue and develop their traditional politics.
This website documents the rich political heritage both of Ross and the movements he led, starting off with his journal articles. Later, a selection of his voluminous correspondence will be added.
Ross Dowson—Speeches to the LSA
When Ross Dowson spoke at public forums of the League for Socialist Action, or to closed sessions of comrades and guests, his urgent and creative style demanded close attention for as long as he spoke. His rapport with his audiences was derived from his desire to communicate and convince, to win us over to his ideas and views, as well, of course, to the actions he saw as necessary for the movement to take.
The History of Canadian Trotskyist Movement—Pre-1921 to 1939:
1969- May Day Speech World Congress of the Fourth International
1972- The agony of the Vietnam War, and radicalization beyond Détente
Speech to the League for Socialist Action/Young Socialists and friends of the Vanguard Forum
Series On Canadian Nationalism
Burning issues then, and central to today’s politics, was this debate within the Canadian Trotskyist movement, which, although it raged out of control in the hands of the new youth leadership—its arguments on both sides never achieving the luxury of a rational discussion—is of great value for today. Now at last, after a delay of 35 years, these documents can be read by the public as well as the Left as the issue of Canada-US relations becomes ever more acute.
The first statement by the LSA/LSO on the rising phenomenon described as Canadian nationalist sentiment, dating from 1968. This document formed the majority consensus of opinion in the mainstream Trotskyist movement at that time, but was challenged anew by the new youth leadership by the early 1970s and was to become a major issue in the split of the Forward Group in 1974.
In April 1973 the United Tendency in defending and developing this evaluation of Canadian nationalism, issued the second document The New Stage in Canada—U.S. Relations re-published by the Forward Group in 1980.
How Canada can break from the U.S. Empire
“An important speech on the growth of nationalist sentiment in Canada is now available from the original 1972 LSA tapes
The Movement led by Ross Dowson embraces Women’s Liberation:
The struggle for Choice on Abortion—the Morgentaler Defence campaign
The Trotskyist movement in Canada was a leading force in decriminalizing abortion and demanding an end to the jailing and persecution of abortionist Henry Morgentaler. As early as 1961 the Workers’ Vanguard raised the issue of abortion; then followed the publication of the League for Socialist Action pamphlet “The Status of Women in Canada,” a submission to the Royal Commission in 1968. The LSA, then recruiting a new generation of young militant feminist women to its ranks, and with the participation of Ross Dowson, launched into a sustained 15-year battle to help win the decriminalization of abortion and to release Morgentaler from jail. The successful strategy is vividly described in the pages of Labor Challenge and Forward; and finally, Left Caucus Newsletter. The movement’s press in Quebec also led an effective campaign in the pages of its journals (French language articles to follow.)
The Status of Women in Canada—text of pamphlet
Workers Vanguard 1955-1967 —The Woman Question
Workers’ Vanguard 1955-67 & 1968-70—selected articles
Labor Challenge 1970-1974—selected articles
Forward 1974-1984—selected articles
Left Caucus Newsletter 1985-1993—selected articles
Quebec—selected articles (available soon) from La Lutte OuvriËre/Jeune Garde/Libèration 1969-1974
NOW AVAILABLE—Ross Dowson’s 70 Birthday celebration, titled "55 Years of Struggle” is now on sale as a double VHS or Double DVD set. It features, aside from Ross himself, vivid testimonials from unionists Joe Meslin and Vic Hugh, as well as from Vernel Olson, Gord Doctorow, Harry Kopyto, Dave Tomszak and family members Anne Dowson and Lois Bèdard, describing their experiences in the Trotskyist movement, touching on episodes from the 1930s to the 1980s.
This re-mastered production includes the City-TV series “Dowson vs. the RCMP” and a CBC Fifth Estate interview with Harry Kopyto defending his “crazy glue” charge against the courts and the RCMP. Order your copies through the webmaster address below.
The Labor Party and the Struggle for a Socialist Canada
Four speeches by Ross Dowson in the 1972 series The Labor Party and the Struggle for a Socialist Canada are available, and has been indexed for your convenience.
A complete sound track of all four classes is now available on 6 mostly remastered CDs of excellent quality, at a cost of $25 each or the set for $100 (#2 and #4 are two CDs) &mdash: over 3 hours of a lively and provocative review of Canadian left and labor history from 1921 to the the late 1980s.
Pamphlets and a Booklet
Published by Young Socialists/ Ligue des Jeunes socialistes, —a discussion of the challenge before the people of Canada, particularly the youth who, with their idealism, with their example of selflessness and determination are moving out in increasing numbers in the anti-war movement.
The key historical document of the Trotskyist movement’s strategic and tactical relationship with the mass expression of Canadian working–class political action: The Socialist Vanguard and the New Democratic Party
For many years Ross Dowson followed closely and wrote extensively in the pages of Workers Vanguard about developments in the trade union movement —a collection of back issues would present an accurate and moving story of the victories and the defeats, the present circumstances and the future prospects before this mighty and complex movement forged by the Canadian working class.
A Booklet (copies available from the Webmaster for $10 including mailing): DOWSON V. RCMP: In the Federal Appeal Court The Socialist Rights Defence Fund appeal and list of Socialist Rights Defence Fund supporters
A vivid episode in the on going struggle for freedom of thought and social justice in Canada.
This series covers the 32-year period from 1945 to 1977, and begins with Ross Dowson’s unpublished notes “The Problem of Quebec.” The evolution of the movement’s evaluation and the program of the pan-Canadian Trotskyist movement is reflected in three further documents published as pamphlets in 1968, 1970 and 1977.”
Ross Dowson’s indexed archives can be accessed at the National Archives in Ottawa, with additional material archived at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario and at UBC in Vancouver, B.C.
Ross Dowson joined the Workers Party of Canada in the 1934-1935 period, becoming a member of the Spartacus Youth League, a year or two after his older brother Murray. The purpose of this selection of early “The Vanguard is not to present an overall view of world politics and WPC policies but is limited to providing a sense of the milieu that radical youth of this period encountered.
Ross was active in the editing of five publications over the period between 1945 and 1989.
1938 to 1942
First published as a mimeographed bulletin, the pre-war “Socialist Action” opposed Canada’s entry into the imperialist slaughter as a printed journal, until it’s seventh issue, when it was banned under the War Measure’s Act in September 1939, becoming an underground resistance journal.
The journal of the Revolutionary Workers Party (RWP), edited by Murray and Ross Dowson, the first major Trotskyist paper in Canada since the 1930s, launched in anticipation that the post-World War 2 strike wave and establishment of the major industrial unions in Canada would lead to a massive political maturing of the working class in this country.
—These are only links to indexes (without links to articles)
Taking up after a break of 3 years of post-war boom, witch-hunts and class quiescence, the new Canadian Trotskyist journal edited by Ross Dowson documents the re-birth of the movement, the Ban the Bomb and US Black civil rights movements, the Cuban Revolution, the launching of the NDP and the spectacular growth of the LSA-LSO reflecting the youth radicalization of the 1960s highlighted by France in 1968.
—98%, of indexes have active links to articles, errors are in the process of correction)
Re-born in a popular, expanded format and edited by three youth newly recruited to the movement, it documents the leading role of the Trotskyist movement in the such struggles as opposing Canadian complicity in the war against Vietnam, pioneering the demand for women’s choice on abortion as well as identifying with the upsurge of the Quèbècois for a French and independent Quebec.
—These are only links to indexes (without links to articles)
With the sudden profound political collapse of the cadre of the LSA-LSO, the forces around Ross Dowson continued the long-established politics of Canadian Trotskyism in a new organization and with a new journal, edited by W.R. and Ross Dowson, with a longterm orientation toward building a left wing in the NDP, and documenting the progressive thrust of growing Canadian nationalist sentiment, as well as the victorious struggles against Stalinism in Poland and finally the Dowson vs. RCMP battle which made Canadian civil rights history.
1978, 1980 and 1984 have active index links to articles other years will, by end of Sept 2007)
With the widespread scattering of left forces, the Forward Group participated in a broad-based caucus within the Ontario NDP, championing socialist policies and opposing the growing conservativism of its leadership under the Rae government, by campaigning against the extension of public funding to Catholic schools, NDP anti-labor wage legislation and the failure to uphold the party program in and out of power.
— All index and articles are on line, and errors will be corrected by end of Nov. 2008)
Ross Dowson Correspondence and Documents 1937—1989
— HTML of articles started, Links are in progress,—as of September 2nd working on 1982, expect to be finished all by middle of 2009. Links will be added as we place the correspondence and articles online.
PART 1) Ross Dowson correspondence 1937 to 1944 The pre—RWP, pre-Labor Challenge Years
PART 2: Ross Dowson correspondence 1945 to 1954 The RWP —Labor Challenge years
PART 3: Ross Dowson correspondence1955 to 1960 | The SEL (1955 to 1960)
1961 to 1970 The LSA—Workers Vanguard years
PART 4: Ross Dowson correspondence 1971 to 1973 — The LSA—Labor Challenge years to the split
PART 5: Correspondence with members of the U.S. SWP and Fourth International 1970-1971
From the archives of the Holt Labor Library and scanned by John Beadle in 2018
1974 to 1989—The Socialist League-Forward Group—Forward years & Left Caucus Newsletter years
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