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Conflict in the British Columbia - Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and the 'Connell Affair' Wickerson, Gordon Stanley

Abstract

The B.C.-CCF was formed in late 1932 shortly after the formation of the national CCF party. In November of the following year the B.C. party ran in its first election and secured sufficient support to become the official opposition. The party's executive, spurred by the prospects and hopes of its eventual election as government and in response to its need for a moderate image, selected a retired Anglican minister as House leader. The choice of Robert Connell as House leader was not, however, unanimous. Die hard socialists with different interpretations of society and the role the party should play in achieving social change, fought Connell*s leadership and received sufficient support to mount an intensive intraparty campaign of harassment and criticism. Connell's critics were successful, as a result, in making his leadership intolerable and the subsequent weight of circumstances led him to imprudently reject party convention decisions because they favoured his left wing opponents. This action both isolated him from the rank and file and gave his critics, then in control of the party's executive, an excuse to expel him for his treachery and apostasy. His leadership ended less than three years after it had begun and he became one of three B.C. party leaders dethroned during this period by his party.

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