The tax exemptions for the city’s railways (Epp-Koop 28),

The most obvious effects left by the strike in its aftermath was in the city it took place in. In 1914 to 1918, Winnipeg’s seven properly and representatively divided wards were folded into only three  to “ensure that middle and upper class candidates would dominate city council” (Epp-Koop 53).  Therefore measures were taken to compress the three labour won Wards into one, the two middle class wards into another, and gave the last ward in the Citizen dominated southend of the City four extra aldermanic seats. This shows that “after the General Strike, pro-Citizen aldermen worried that labour parties could actually win a municipal election” (Epp-Koop 53). Additionally, the Winnipeg General Election of 1919 marked what would be “the first of many elections that would be fought along the lines that had been defined in the General Strike: Citizens and Labour” (Epp Koop 27). Indeed, the Citizens remained representative of the city’s pro business interests, while the leaders of the strike Committee would run as candidates, such as Thomas Flye, John Blumberg, J.S. Farmer, and John Queen, who would be elected into Council. Farmer even said during a campaign gathering that “this civic election – is the second round of the strike which took place last May and June” (Epp-Koop 28). The Citizens also used the General Strike to sow fear about the left. They put out ads in their sympathetic newspaper, the Manitoba Free Press. One such ad read “a vote for the radical candidate tomorrow will be a vote in favour of an eventual radical socialist autocracy” (Winnipeg Free Press 1919, November 24th), demonstrating that the Citizens were still using rhetoric created during the strike to influence events after it. Additionally, many of the issues during the election either mirrored those during the strike or were directly derived from it. For example, the Labour candidates wanted to rehire 200 civic employees who had been fired because of the strike, and formed most of their policy along municipal trading, municipal house building, and the elimination of tax exemptions for the city’s railways (Epp-Koop 28), issues that were bitter feuding points during the General Strike. Furthermore, the mayoralty candidate for Labour, S.J. Farmer said during a large campaign gathering, “the strike had drawn attention to the key role that municipal and other levels of government could play in supporting, or damaging, the goals of labour” (Epp-Koop 28). Farmer also stated that “the Strike taught Labour the necessity of representation on the city council” (Epp Koop 28). This shows how the strike changed the way Labour saw election into municipal government. In these ways, the General Strike is proven to be an important influencer of changes in Winnipeg’s municipal elections, and would remain so in the years to come.The General Strike could also be linked to the election of more labour representatives and left leaning politicians into political office. In 1920, more than 100 labour affiliated mayors and councillors would be elected across the nation after the strike proved to them the importance of municipal representation (Epp-Koop 27). Additionally, labour representatives would win seats in provinces where sympathy strikes had taken place: Nova Scotia and British Columbia (Frank, “Labour Party”). Come the election of 1921, strike leader J.S. Woodsworth and close friend William Irvine were both elected, in “the first instance of labour interests being represented in parliament” (MacDonald 32). They ran on the platform of the newly formed Independent Labour Party that was in ways founded by the General Strike (“J.S. Woodsworth”, lop.parl.ca; “William Irvine”, lop.parl.ca). Perhaps the most significant evidence of the continuing influence the Winnipeg General Strike had on Canadian politics were the elections of James Shaver Woodsworth. With “his popularity assured by his role in the strike” (McNaught “James Shaver Woodsworth”), Woodsworth would serve for over 20 years in federal parliament. The slogan that elected him for the first time would sound familiar to anyone who knew of the General Strike; “Human Needs before Property Rights” (McNaught “James Shaver Woodsworth”), an issue that had embittered the workers towards the establishment during the strike two years ago. Indeed,  his “election to Parliament was the direct outcome of Woodsworth’s involvement in the General Strike,” and it was his actions during the strike that cemented him in the minds of the working class as the clear “one whom the people – could trust and look to for leadership” (Robertson 62). In 1926, Woodsworth bargained his and another colleague’s votes in exchange for an old age pension plan to be introduced by Prime Minister Mackenzie King and “thereby set the foundations for this country’s welfare state – a monumental contribution to a better Canada” (Caplan). Additionally, Woodsworth reformed divorce courts in Ontario, and successfully pushed for increases in national minimum wage standards (MacDonald 34). Woodsworth was also a pacifist, and it was his commitment to his principles that led to his eventual alienation from his own party. However, his undying conviction in the face of all odds led Prime Minister King himself to add to his address on his motion to declare war that “there are few men in this Parliament for whom I have greater respect than the leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. – A man of that calibre is an ornament to any Parliament” (Caplan). Hence it was the strike that lead J.S. Woodsworth to power, and his character that would cement his legacy and thus the Winnipeg General Strike into Canadian history. Therefore, through the Labour representatives who were elected to parliament in the years after the strike had ended, it is proven that the strike played a role in the election of more labour representatives into politics across all levels of government. In addition to the election of more labour representatives, the Winnipeg General Strike also spurred the creation of various Canadian leftist parties. One of the those parties was the Independent Labour Party which “was strongly influenced in its formative years by J.S. Woodsworth – by 1921, Woodsworth’s influence was predominant” (Stuart 12).  It was formed when members from the Dominion Labour Party split due to “irresolvable tensions between labour factions over the General Strike” (Epp-Koop 38). The future ILP members had taken offence to a statement made by the Trades and Labour Council that “the OBU One Big Union was out to smash the state and put in its place a Russian soviet system during the strike” (Epp-Koop 241) and left the party. Thus, the new Independent Labour Party would espouse the same values as those fought for during the strike, and hence become known as a champion for workers rights. Another significant party that was created by the strike is the Communist Party of Canada. “Most of the leaders of the 1919 strike wave were not social democrats or liberals – they were revolutionary socialists,” Ian Angus explains in his speech at the Marxism 2004 Conference. “And the experience – led them to build a new revolutionary party, the Communist Party of Canada.” The official website of the CPC states that “discussions to organize a Communist Party in Canada began in 1919, but were frustrated when many of the initial organizers were thrown in jail” (communist-party.ca), one of which was strike leader and Winnipeg alderman Jacob Penner. Penner would go on to win the general election of 1933, “beginning a period of uninterrupted communist presence on city council that would last for nearly fifty years” (Epp-Koop 121). As a party, the CPC, or the Worker’s Party as it had then marketed itself, was abolished by the government in 1940 due to its opposition to the Second World War and could only return years later. However, the CPC would refuse to become a footnote in Canadian history, for in 2003, the party won a Supreme Court case that would balance the scales for smaller parties electorally, determining that “the 50-candidate threshold is inconsistent with the right of each citizen to play a meaningful role in the electoral process” (Figueroa v. Canada). This case is significant for another reason, for it was the fruits of the lesson the Winnipeg General Strike taught them, that political power is important as a means to an end: revolution. Another significant party is the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, founded in part by the Ginger Group, a group of leftist leaders that included General Strike leaders J.S. Woodsworth, William Irvine and Abraham A. Heaps. Joe Knight, an organizer of the General Strike explains that the strike had taught leftists that they must “seek to be elected by them unions to the most important positions in the movement” (Angus) in addition to maintaining close connections, leading the CCF to ally with farmer and union organizations. Richard Stuart writes that while to “observers, it CCF seemed to spring suddenly from the radical soil of Prairies politics in the summer of 1932. In fact, its roots went much deeper than the Depression on the Prairies, going back to the Progressives’ revolt, the Winnipeg General Strike” (1), agreeing that the strike was the catalyst in creating the party. The CCF would become a definitively important part of Canadian history. Indeed, Eric MacDonald writes in his thesis, “Woodsworth’s time in Parliament – was not defined by his immediate political gains, but rather on the permanent mark he left on the national political system: the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation” (34-35). The CCF was, in many ways, the culmination of Woodsworth’s hopes and dreams. As his daughter states, “the Winnipeg Strike convinced him that the two traditional political parties in this country were not subject to the control of the ordinary man and woman in the street and field, kitchen and office. He began to dream of a party that would one day be strong enough to become the government of Canada and that would put the interests of ordinary men, women and children in the forefront of their legislation” (MacInnis), and of course, this party was the CCF. However, it would fulfil the role of a “party that would one day be strong enough to become the government of Canada” in a different way than Woodsworth may have imagined. For in 1956, the Winnipeg General Strike founded CCF would merge with the Canadian Labour Congress, which was also founded by a significant party in the Winnipeg General Strike, the Trades and Labour Congress (“Canadian Labour Congress”, thecanadianencyclopedia.com). It was the TLC who had called the strike, and the TLC who ran the Central Strike Committee and bargained with employers. So when the two organizations, both deeply rooted in the Winnipeg General Strike, merged, they would create the party imagined by Woodsworth and desired by the strikers of 1919, a powerful, federal party for workers and social democracy that could actually enact change for labourers; the New Democratic Party (“Canadian Labour Congress”, thecanadianencyclopedia.com). Albeit indirectly, the spirit of the strike is still very much alive in the NDP. In 2017, the New Democratic Party MPPs held the ability to either end a five week old college strike by consenting to debate and pass the back-to-work legislation tabled by Premier Kathleen Wynne, or allow the strike to continue (Ferguson “Liberal plans to bring immediate end to college strike blocked by NDP). The NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson said that the party was going to do “what we have to do” by opposing the legislation on principle as the legislation would have forced the strikers to end their strike despite not reaching agreement with the colleges (Ferguson “Liberal plans to bring immediate end to college strike blocked by NDP). This demonstrates that the New Democratic Party was and still is supportive of strikers. After all, they are at their roots a by-product of the Winnipeg General Strike. The party also continues to put worker’s rights in their policy. During the 2015 federal election, the NDP promised to repeal Conservative anti-union legislation, as well as introduce legislation to ban the use of replacement workers in labour disputes (xfer.ndp.ca). Although they did not form government during that election, the NDP played a vital role in federal politics from introducing universal healthcare to acting as the official opposition to the Conservative Government from 2011 to 2015 (ndp.ca). It was as J.S. Woodsworth had hoped about 80 years ago, a powerful party that was able to represent the worker. In this way, by acting as the catalyst in the creation of such influential parties such as the Communist Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party, the Winnipeg General Strike subtly shapes current leftist issues. To some, the Winnipeg General Strike is much like a small blip in the radar of history, a trivial piece of Canadiana that ended in disaster for the strikers and a return to status quo for the rest of observing Canada. This essay ascertains for a fact that for leftists, the spirit of the General Strike did not die that fateful Saturday in Winnipeg. In fact, the effects left by the strike would continue to influence the course of Canadian history for decades to come. The Winnipeg General Strike Exhibit  in the Canadian Museum of History – whose removal was met with no small amount of public outcry – describes it thusly: “The Winnipeg General Strike lives in the memory of those that are still with us and who took such an honourable part in the struggle for the rights of the producers of wealth” (Eckman, bcfed.ca). The strike would upset the distribution of power that had for so long been the norm in Winnipeg, as well as strike such fear in the hearts and minds of the establishment of Winnipeg that it would drive them to change the very basis of their municipal elections. Labour representatives, strike sympathizers, and General Strike leaders would be elected to all levels of government. Parties built on the foundations of the strike would rise, fighting for the same issues as their leaders had years ago. Thus, when one looks into the events that have stemmed from the Winnipeg General Strike, such as the achievements of the elected leaders to the parties that sprang up in the aftermath to the restructure of municipal Winnipeg elections, the Winnipeg General Strike is likely one of the most influential events in the history of labour in Canada and leftism.  The most accurate description of the strike and its aftermath would come from the aforementioned Winnipeg General Strike Exhibit, summed up into six concise words:  “The Winnipeg General Strike is immortal.”