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Jack Houston’s Editorials in the OBU Bulletin: 10 April 1920

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The curtain was rung down on the Winnipeg strike trials on Tuesday April 6th, so far as the action of the trial courts were concerned. There will be, we understand, an application to the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords in Great Britain, commonly known as Supreme Court of the Realms in the case of R. B. Russell.

The proceeding at the session of the court, held for the purpose of imposing sentence on the six convicted men was probably one unparalleled in a British Court of Justice. When asked if they had anything to say before the sentence should be pronounced on them, Johns, Armstrong and Bray spoke at some length. Their remarks, which we hope to publish in full in this and later issues, showed that the prisoners, themselves, were to say the least, unrepentant. All appeared to be making the best of the situation in which they found themselves and to be facing a year of “incommunicado” with courage. Ivens, Armstrong, Pritchard, Johns and Queen get a year each, while Bray takes the count for six months.

Much flood water will run under the arches of the bridges while the term of their sentence runs. With the Kaleidoscopic processes of society revealing radical changes in the social relations every day or two, who may dare to prophesy the kind of a world these men will step into on their release. Even the judge appeared to sense the changes that are about to come as indicated by his remarks. Judge Metcalfe evidently believes that enforcing the law, that is the law, had the defects of its qualities and the qualities of its defects, else why speak about these men or such means as these being elected to make the laws which a judge is bound to enforce.

Direct action, the sympathetic strike, or an organization built up with capacities to use these weapons, having been declared illegal, following the kinds of least resistance, it is inevitable that labor will use every force at its disposal to win seats in the coming Provincial elections. On this field too, the workers are faced by a tremendous handicap. The soul of democracy, representation by population is non-existent in the city of Winnipeg.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” and, since the days of Mackenzie and Papineau, Canadians have been asleep. This city, which should have, along with Brandon, one half of the members in the Manitoba Legislature, has been though force and fraud, deprived of one half of its legal and logistical representatives. The crime “stinks to high heaven” as the chaste and forcible language of the late Sir John A. McDonald would have put it.

But for all that. Let labor gird up its loins and make ready for the fray. The best we can get from this coming struggle will be the closing up of the ranks of labor, the forcing out into the open of every traitor and every skulker, and the discipline and experience to be had from organization and the winning of victories from an enemy that fights every foot of the ground and resorts to every wile and infamy that can be suggested by the devil, the father of all lies.

Page revised: 3 August 2013

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