New Left, Labour History, Canada, Class Consciousness, Resistance


This essay examines the New Left’s impact on the Canadian labour movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Specifically, it argues that in large industrial unions such as the UAW, New Left ideas that were popular amongst the rank and file were stifled by the more conservative labour bureaucrats. However, in public sector unions and unions unaffiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress, New Left ideas were often able to flourish, and these more radical unions were sometimes able to obtain substantial gains for their members throughout the 1970s while also fostering a broader sense of class consciousness in Canadian society -- culminating most notably in the Common Front’s general strikes in Quebec. Furthermore, this essay suggests that New Left ideas were more popular in public sector and independent unions because these unions had a larger proportion of women in comparison to other unions, and women at this time had a greater incentive to embrace transformative ideologies than men.

Cover Page Footnote

Many thanks to the staff at the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University for their help retrieving primary documents. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Miriam Wright for her guidance and suggestions.

First Page


Last Page