SCOTT, Jack




Author Tags: Journalism, Politics

Jack Scott (1910-2000) was once described in Weekend magazine as the most radical man in Canada. For many years he was a stalwart journalistic conscience in British Columbia's radical left wing politics. He is not to be confused with Vancouver Sun editor and columnist Jack Scott (1915-1980).

Born in Ireland in 1910, Jack Scott came to Quebec City in May of 1927 from Belfast on a Cunard liner, the SS Montcalm, with almost no money, having grown up as a Methodist, neither ardently Protestant or Catholic. After working on various labouring jobs, he was attracted to the "oddballs" of the Communist Party of Canada when he was still politically naive. In Toronto he got to know the book collector, Robert S. Kenny, and commenced a process of self-education and apprenticeship to activism. He became a Workers Unity League organizer in Sarnia, London, Brantford, Kitchener and other western Ontario towns. He met and later married Ann Walters, his first wife, of Finnish descent. He helped organize the Ontario Hunger March from Windsor and the On to Ottawa trek in Regina in 1935. At only 114 pounds, he was initially rejected by the Canadian Army in 1939, but his persistence eventually allowed him to volunteer. Scott was awarded the French Croix de Guerre. After the war his marriage came apart and Scott felt increasingly stifled by Communist Party politics in Toronto. He took some union work in Yellowknife and Trail, gravitating towards Vancouver in the 1950s. He remarried Hilda Scott, who already had a daughter from a previous relationship. His second wife suffered a prolonged illness. The Communist Party rejected him in 1962 due to his role within the party opposing what he saw as a drift away from revolutionary Marxist-Leninist principles.

Jack Scott's series of articles that appeared from May 28 to June 7, 1963 were published as Jack Scott Takes A Second Look At Cuba (Toronto: Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Amis du Peuple Cubain, 1963).

Scott was adamantly opposed to allowing Canadian trade unions to be controlled by larger, U.S.-based unions. He was officially expelled from the Communist Party on August 11, 1964. In response, Jack Scott became a founder of the Vancouver-based Progressive Workers Movement. He also increasingly became involved in the Canada-China Friendship Association. By 1973 he was profiled in a Weekend Magazine article as "the most radical man in Canada."

In the 1970s Jack Scott became increasingly active as an author, contributing to Gary Teeple’s edited book, Capitalism and the National Question in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 1972), and becoming involved with Lanny Beckman's New Star Books imprint. He is best remembered for Sweat and Struggle: Working Class Struggles in Canada (New Star 1974) but he also wrote Plunderbund and Proletariat: A History of the IWW in British Columbia (New Star, 1975). He made frequent trips to China in the Seventies during one of which, in 1974, his wife Hilda died. Her ashes were buried at Peking’s cemetery of the revolutionary martyrs. In the 1980s Jack Scott was immersed in the B.C. Solidarity movement that protested the economic strictures on the working class from Bill Bennett's Social Credit government. He worked at the cooperative left wing bookstore, Spartacus Books, but he was no longer a firebrand in the 1980s so much as he was a distinguished elder in the dwindling tribe of Marxist-Leninists of B.C. After 70 years of social activism, he died of a heart attack in 2000, at age 90.

BOOKS:

Sweat and Struggle: Working Class Struggles in Canada (New Star 1974)
Plunderbund and Proletariat: A History of the IWW in British Columbia (New Star, 1975)
Yankee Unions, Go Home! How the AFL Helped the U.S. Build an Empire in Latin America (New Star, 1978)
Canadian Workers, American Unions: Trade Unions and Imperialism in America, Volume II (New Star, 1978)

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2003] "Politics" "Journalism"