GENERAL ARTICLES

Mr. Woodworth

R. T. L. February 1 1933
GENERAL ARTICLES

Mr. Woodworth

R. T. L. February 1 1933

Mr. Woodworth

R. T. L.

THE Labor Member of Parliament for Centre Winnipeg has a talent for becoming prominent whenever times are bad, but is merely a Member of Parliament when times are good.

Mr. Wordsworth has lately received so much public attention as to make one believe that the country is in terrible shape.

If things get bad enough, it is understood that he will automatically become Prime Minister, a turn of events which would have no more effect upon Mr. Bennett’s habitual composure than a large dose of arsenic.

If he ever did become Prime Minster, two probable members of the new Cabinet would be Mr. Heaps, a faithful fellow orator from Winnipeg who has remained undismayed throughout successive capitalistic regimes, and Mr. Henri Bourassa, the greatest nearlywas in Canadian politics.

Another probable Minister of the Crown would be Miss Agnes Macphail, a militant anti-militarist who is unquestionably the most distinguished woman member the Canadian House of Commons has ever had. Among those who would probably

not be selected as Members of the Cabinet are J. H. Gundy, R. O. Sweezey, and ex-Senator McDougald.

Some people are convinced that James Shaver Woodsworth got into this country from Russia, receives monthly pay cheques from Moscow, and is concealing within the mouthful of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation all the sinister, inflammable and deadly instruments of our destruction.

His family, however, was United Empire Loyalist and he took care to be bom in Toronto, attend Oxford and marry a Toronto University graduate—a combination of antecedent and attainment almost irreproachable enough to qualify him as President of the Empire Club.

He likes anything which he is told he can’t have.

After he had finished with Oxford and subsequent items of education he started in, about thirty years ago, as a Methodist minister and still wears the beard with which he suited the part in his Winnipeg pulpit.

The beard has been advanced as conclusive evidence of his Soviet sympathies, but an explanation more commonly accepted by his acquaintances is that he retains it as a means of camouflaging his ears, which have occasionally attracted attention by their rather distinctive architecture. Except for the beard, he is not particularly dangerous in

appearance, this being more or less like that of a Passion Play actor.

He has, however, the loudest, strongest and most inescapable voice in the House of Commons, as he will fully demonstrate before the present session of Parliament is over.

He proved very dull indeed as a preacher, but stirred up considerable Methodist excitement by resigning from the church at regular intervals in protest against its doctrines.

One of the things he objected to was the Methodist belief in the general wickedness of the theatre, and he indicated his own opinion by shocking his parishioners with recommendations of certain theatrical performances which he thought might benefit them.

He resigned twice over this and other matters of denominational decree, but was reinstated both time£ and did not finally part company with Methodism until his third resignation in 1918, when he announced his opinion that the church should not encourage war.

He also wrote a letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press protesting against conscription, and promptly lost a nice Government position he had held.

He concluded that if he wanted to make a living it would perhaps be better to leave Winnipeg, so he trekked with his family to Vancouver and got a wheelbarrow job on the docks there.

In addition to being a minister and a dock hand, he has been a schoolteacher, an editor, a social service worker and a labor organizer, and is now either a statesman or a public menace according to one’s frame of mind.

It can hardly be said that he is a politician, since no politician worthy of the name would handicap a new party with a descriptive label like Co-op-er-ative Com-monwealth Fed-er-ation.

Even Vincent Massey, who is not a very skillful politician either, knows better than that.

When Woodsworth returned to Winnipeg from Vancouver times were getting bad and he became prominent by going to jail for writing what was said to be seditious libel during the Big Strike. He didn’t stay in jail long as the charge was withdrawn, the case never tried. Part of the sedition was an excerpt from Isaiah.

Two years after this minor incident he was elected to Parliament as Labor Member for Centre Winnipeg, and he has been an affliction to each Government of the past eleven years.

He is undoubtedly a very awkward person to have in Parliament because he has practically no pastime except arguing about things, and has the additional fault of not being afraid of anybody or anything.

He is also the stubbomest Member of the House, with one notable exception.

He had the faculty of irritating Mr. Meighen in debate with greater success than any other Members of that day with the possible exceptions of Mr. Motherwell and Mr. Dunning both of whom, however, tried much harder.

He is still somewhat Methodistical in his style of oratory, but has made one or two of the best speeches Parliament has heard in recent years.

He has also made one or two of the worst.

If he now has any preference in statesmen, he probably still rates Mr. King a bit ahead of Mr. Bennett, in the same sense that a man who is very fond of onions may like apples better than pears.

He is not one of the many reasons why Mr. Bennett is pleased to be Prime Minister, but he is one of the few reasons why Mr. King is glad not to be.—The End