Co-operative Commonwealth Federation ( CCF )

James Shaver Woodsworth, elected leader of CCF party, 1933. This photograph is taken from Parks Canada. Click on image to view link.


The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was a Canadian socialist political party founded in 1932 and initially led by J.S. Woodsworth. This political party today is known as the New Democratic Party (NDP), currently led by Jack Layton.

Facts & Details

The CCF was formed on August 1st, 1932 at Calgary, Alberta by a combination of various socialist, labour, and farmer organizations such as the League for Socialist Reconstruction (LSR), the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Employees, and the United Farmers of Alberta. This party's goal was to :convert the capitalist oriented economy into a more socialized economic system by introducing socialism, to nationalize Canada's main industries, and to introduce welfare to Canadians for those in need of financial aid (especially those suffering during the era of the Great Depression occurring in 1929).
In Regina, Saskatchewan of the year 1933 at its first annual convention, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation adopted the Regina Manifesto, which was a written outline (presented to Canadians) of the CCF's future intentions that would be carried out if elected to parliament. A number of the motives outlined by the Regina Manifesto were: universal health care, universal pensions, welfare insurance, unemployment insurance, worker's compensation, and nationalization of major industries. Within the same year, the delegates of the CCF appointed J.S. Woodsworth to be the first official face of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation.
The Congress of Delegates in the CCF, taken in the year 1933. This photograph is taken from the Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists (SCAA). Click on image to view link.
The CCF's popularity grew to a peak between the years 1933 and 1940, when it became the official opposition party of the provinces: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, gaining several seats in the House of Commons. It later on triumphed in the Provincial General Election of Saskatchewan in 1944, lead by its newly appointed leader, Tommy Douglas; this gave the party control over the government within that province.
Tommy Douglas under CFF billboard; photo taken soon after his election into Saskatchewan's office. (Taken from Canadian Encyclopedia. Click on photograph to view link.)
However, after World War II and during the Cold War, from 1946 to 1961; people began to view the socialism of the CCF as an association with communism, which had contributed to bringing about the war; as a result, the CCF's popularity suffered a drastic decline. In an attempt to respond to the accusations, the CCF replaced the Regina Manifesto with a more publicly acceptable name, the Winnipeg Declaration. Unfortunately, the response from the public had little change.
Eventually, the CCF decided to combine with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), which shared the same political goals as the CCF to preserve democratic socialism within
Canada. These two political parties merged together in 1961 into what is known today as the New Democratic Party (NDP), lead by Jack Layton.


Although the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation never held national power in Canada, it did lay the foundations for Canadian welfare. The CCF was the first political party to introduce policies such as Universal Health care, Worker's Compensation, and Universal Pensions. These benefits were adapted by the governments in power and are provided for Canadian citizens today.
Today, the CCF still exists, but as a new party, merged with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), known as the New Democratic Party (NDP).

This video will give viewers a better direct understanding of what the CCF wanted to achieve as a political party.

(This is taken from Historica Minute off of YouTube.)

Click HERE for the direct YouTube link.

Two comics taken from "Great Canadian Political Cartoons, 1915 to 1945." by: Charles and Cynthia Hou (pages 139, 207) illustrating different views on the CCF.