Report of the National Secretary to the Seventeenth Annual Convention of the Christian Labor Association of Canada

Mr. President, Members of the National Board, Delegates, Guests and Friends:

If the CLAC were an ordinary labour union, the secretary’s annual report would be easier to make.

The emphasis would be on the increasing number of workers joining the union’s ranks.

The CLAC, however, is not an ordinary labour union. Thank God that it is not driven by the desire for greater numbers, and that with him numerical strength is not primary. We can’t even say with Avis that we’re number 2 in size. But we hope that in Christian responsibility towards the 6eld of labour we are number one with the Lord. That desire is what has driven the CLAC during 1968. It is a Spirit-driven desire which cannot be expressed merely in numbers. As a result, this report cannot be solely an enumeration of the growing ranks of workers joining the CLAC, although that is happening too. Rather, this report will concentrate on those events which characterize the year 1968 for the CLAC.

In that light, perhaps the most significant achievement in 1968 is not one specific event, but a trend, a movement -namely, CLAC’s increasing contact with other North American evangelical Christians. The Guide’s masthead, for instance, now lists as contributing editors men such as Dr. William Fitch, Richard Forbes, Leslie K. Tarr and Dr. Robert N. Thompson. Others can also be mentioned who have caught the vision and the meaning of Christ’s redemption for labour. What we are experiencing, in other words, is a consolidation of the evangelical Christian community in Canada. This is no shallow ecumenism. More and more Christians arc beginning to see that the prescnt turbulent labour scene needs the liberating Word of God.

But we are not falling into the numerical trap mentioned earlier. The increasing number of Christians has also been accompanied by an increasing awareness of Christian responsibility towards labour. As illustration, two examples could be mentioned. On June 12, the 94th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada unanimously declared,

“That in this year, designated Human Rights Year by the United Nations, we affirm the right of all Canadian citizens to work without coercion from any quarters.”

The second example is the brave political stand taken by Mr. Leonard M. Reilly, M.P.P. and Chief Government Whip, within the Ontario Legislature on two occasions. On April 22, amid rude, interrupting N.D.P. remarks, Mr. Reilly presented the following resolution:

“That, in the opinion of this House, legislation should be enacted to guarantee to employees who are members of trade unions the right to choose the political party to which contributions from their dues payments will be directed.”

On July 18, Mr. Reilly struck again, this time at the pernicious closed-shop principle. We hope the Ontario Legislature will enact just legislation ensuring the freedom of religion of every worker.

This unifying trend within the evangelical Christian community reveals its beginning awareness of the need for a Christian mind. Surely this is no time for denominational nit-picking. We live within an historical time which demands communal Christian action, a time which demands Christian solution to secular problematics and dilemmas.

To that end, the business agents spent a week in seminars with the faculty of the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. The following position papers were discussed: the structure of the modern business enterprise, the nature of a collective agreement, and Sunday labour. All the agents were highly enthused about the seminars, and propose to hold them twice a year, convinced that Christian answers to concrete labour problems must be found if the CLAC is to exercise its responsibility towards God and the Canadian nation. For that reason, too, an educational committee has been appointed to arrive at a program for the general workers’ locals.

1968 would not be a typical year without a court case. As a result of action initiated by Gerald Vandezande on behalf of CLAC members to halt the Windsor-Chatham area AFL-CIO/CLC unions’ discriminatory action against sub-contractors on job sites, Chief Justice Dalton Courtwright Wells of the Supreme Court of Ontario issued an injunction on May 1 forbidding intimidation against and unlawful interference with CLAC members. This important judgment establishes another precedent for freedom of association. We gratefully acknowledge God’s encouragement in our battle against injustice.

On April 27, the annual Convention was held. People drove from all parts of Ontario to attend this special event. A strong delegation of students came from Grand Rapids, the same students who worked so actively in supporting the Defense Fund. The Convention again displayed that tangible spirit of thankfulness to God. Dr. Vrieze of Chicago gave a penetrating address entitled, “One for the Money, Two for the Show?”, dealing with the subject of co-determination. Mr. Leonard M. Reilly and representatives of other Christian organizations encouraged the Association to move ahead in its important work.

1968 also was the year of the much-awaited Rand Report. In it, the Hon. Ivan C. Rand makes some sweeping recommendations, all of which the business agents looked at very closely. Much research has and is being done on this Report which leaves much to be desired by its omission of dealing with central problems. But perhaps the fact that secular unions so loudly assailed the Report means that it cannot be all bad(!).

The year also saw important developments within B.C. The CLAC is presently engaged in a struggle with the IWA in the Bulkley Valley for the right to represent workers within the lumber industry. Despite subtle IWA intimidating practices, CLAC is fighting to preserve the workers’ right to be represented by the union of their choice. Harry Antonides spends much of his time in the Houston-Smithers area talking to workers while being constantly tailed by TWA men. An important Labour Relations Board hearing has been held. The CLAC is determined also to protect its members in Houston.

Because of the pressing B. C. situation, the N.E.C. on October 2 extended an appointment to Mr. Neil Roos, long active in the CLAC, to become the Association’s sixth business agent. We gratefully received Neil’s acceptance of the appointment, and on January 1, 1969, he began his work with the trade and general workers’ locals. We heartily welcome Neil and wish him and his family God’s strength.

This report by no means exhausts the year. We are receiving increasing coverage in the news media. Constant attempts are being made to confront the Canadian nation with the Good News of Christ’s redemptive work for labour. We praise God for the freedom he has given us to witness, not only in hope of increasing numerical growth, but primarily in obedient response to God. We pray for strength and courage in the face of this awesome task.

Prayer, however, must be accompanied by work. Freedom entails responsibility. Is the CLAC in danger of becoming a “top-heavy” organization burdened with an apathetic membership which is content to leave the work and study to people in positions of leadership? There are signs pointing to that. The number of general workers members is decreasing. Many locals hold meetings irregularly, some if at all. It is evident that CLAC publications arc not being read as widely as they should be. Many members seem to lack dedication. In short, is each member fulfilling his responsibility at a time when the CLAC stands at a moment of crisis?

The effectiveness of any organization reflects the effectiveness of its individual members. Looking back on the year 1968, we might ask ourselves whether the CLAC has done everything it could or should have done. We speak here not only of the CLAC as organization, but also of each individual member within that organization.

The National Executive Committee is worried about the lack of involvement on the part of members. We seldom hear reactions, for instance, either pro or con, to articles in The Guide. This means that either the magazine is not being read, or members agree tacitly with everything printed in it. We would like to hear your reactions, your evaluations. Are local boards as enthusiastic and hard-working as they should be? Local Brampton has called for the need of each local to contact other evangelicals in the area. Is this being done?

The point is this: the CLAC cannot hope to present a Christian witness without the active support of every member. Either the Association moves ahead or it becomes stagnant. As the Canadian labour scene increases in complexity, so should the CLAC develop in giving Christian answers, or the time may be too late. Our enemies grow in opposition; we must grow in knowledge of the Lord and the creation in which he has put us to work. This may mean less idleness and more work, less apathy and more dedication. The success of the CLAC in giving Christian witness may not be determined solely by our efforts, but be sure that the Association will not succeed without our efforts. The choice is before us! To God be the glory!

Respectfully submitted,

Hugh Cook

National Secretary of the CLAC

Two important resolutions adopted at the Annual Convention are as follows:

Whereas the Christian Labour Association of Canada is an independent labour movement of men and women who communally seek to honour the renewing Word of the Lord in their every-day life;

And whereas the CLAC consistently advocates that differing and even opposing viewpoints and movements are justly and equally entitled to the fair and indiscriminate protection of our Canadian Governments and laws;

And whereas the CLAC firmly believes that the Christian way of life should be allowed unhindered opportunity and full expression throughout our pluralistic society;

And whereas the CLAC deplores that the current development and direction of our national life are increasingly being influenced and moulded by the deeply divisive spirits of greed and class conflict wholly foreign to the reconciling grace and spirit of Jesus Christ;


(1) that all the members and leaders of CLAC jointly make a fresh, concerted effort to articulate and apply, as positively and dynamically as they can, the all-embracing, redeeming message of the Scriptures in their every word-and-walk; for example, the observance of Sunday, the use of leisure time and the structure of the business enterprise;

(2) that the Christian community as a whole, and its church communions, its social, political, recreational, charitable and educational institutions in particular, be urged to make a truly united attempt to develop and demonstrate a radically Christian, healing style of life that liberates modern man from the Christ-less ways of life that now systematically condition and often shackle him;

(3) that the Federal and Provincial Governments of Canada are obligated to adopt legislation

(a) safeguarding the workers’ civil right to join trade unions of their own, free choosing;

(b) abolishing every form of union security that compels employees to support, as a condition of employment, a specified trade union based on principles not his own;

(c) forbidding the adoption of provisions that require an employer to contract or give preference to a sub-contractor by reference to the trade union affiliation, or lack of such affiliation, of the employees of such sub-contractor;

(d) requiring a trade union to recognize the certificates issued by Labour Boards to other trade unions, to honour these unions’ legal representation rights, and to respect every Canadian’s freedom to work everywhere without regard to trade union support or non-support;

(e) permitting and, under certain circumstances, requiring two or more trade unions to act jointly in filing an application for certification and in concluding a collective agreement;

(f) obliging and enabling differently motivated trade unions and employer associations active in a particular industry -for example, contruction—jointly to enter into a cooperative arrangement and a collective agreement, as has become possible in the Province of Quebec through Bill 290, whereby the well-being of an entire industry, including the civil rights and liberties of both employers and employees, and the economic security of all, is genuinely promoted and preserved without discrimination.

Whereas the Christian Labour Association of Canada is unequivocally committed to the advancement of the Christian understanding of responsibility, authority and freedom;

And whereas the CLAC is deeply convinced that it is the Government’s God-given duty to administer and extend justice and liberty to all “without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion, or sex”;

And whereas many CLAC members as well as thousands of other Canadians are continually being discriminated against by the labour laws and by employers and trade unions exploiting them;


1. That the Federal and Provincial Ministers of Labour be strongly urged to introduce, forthwith, legislation that will immediately halt the discriminatory practice of depriving workers of their employment because these fellow-Canadians cannot in good faith lend financial or other support to trade unions whose social and political philosophies and activities violate their basic beliefs;

2. That Mr. Leonard M. Reilly, MPP for Eglinton, be thanked for and greatly encouraged to continue his constructive efforts aimed at persuading the Ontario Legislative Assembly and the Government of the desperate need to guarantee in law the workers’ freedoms of association, of religion, and of political expression;

3. That the leadership of the Canadian Labour Congress and the Provincial Federations of Labour and their affiliates be approached by CLAC with the request that they begin to display at least a measure of tolerance by respecting the CLAC’s right of existence and by honouring the worker’s right to join a trade union of his own choice.