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Winnipeg General Strike 1919

            The Winnipeg General Strike has been one of the most intensively studied episodes in Canadian History. It was an important development in the building of the democratic socialist movement in Canada. In the larger sense this seemingly isolated event had been building for many years and a wide set of circumstances contributed to the strike ranging from international stresses to local fustrations. Internationaly the European situation was a stressor, the Great War had only just ended and the revolution in Russia was still occurring. The situation at home had been altered by the war experience. The workers purchasing power had been weakened due to inflation and profiteering. The employers had attempted degrade craft skills. The discontent with the governments elitist attitude all led to a surge of labor militancy. The labor movement more than doubled in size between 1916 to 1919 (Bumstead, 1994). With most of the workers unhappy with the relative conservativism of the Trades and Labor Congress, which that at the time primarily consisted of craft unions, the dissidents formed the One Big Union in March of 1919. The One Big Union had been inspired by the Russian Revolution and with a solid socialist leadership was quickly able to claim the majority of the western Canadian and Northern Ontario labor movement within its ranks. .
             Throughout 1917 and 1918 anti-alien sentiment continued to grow. The Conscription Crisis, the Wartime Elections Act and the Dominion Election of 1917 significantly demonstrated the differences between the Anglo-Canadian and foreign elements in Canadian society. In Winnipeg, both the Telegram and Free Press supported the disenfranchisement of enemy alien voters to ensure the forces of "justice and democracy" would emerge triumphant from the Dominion Election (Bercuson, 1974). Growing industrial unrest particularly in western Canada provided an additional reason for the Anglo-Canadians to demand greater control of the alien community.

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