Category: Historical Reprints
Source: Democrat and Chronicle, 14 Jul 1953, Tue, Page 3
Canadian Admits Ship Strike Role; Reds Aimed at Aid Plan, Probe Told
14 July 1953
Albany — AP — A Canadian ex-Communist yesterday told House investigators that he helped engineer a 1949 shipping strike as a Communist scheme to scuttle the Marshall Plan.
Patrick Walsh, 37-year-old Quebec native, told a House Un-American Activities subcommittee the strike was run by the Canadian Seamen’s Union.
Walsh, who described the CSU as Communist-dominated, was the first witness before the subcommitee, as it opened a four-day inquiry here into subversive activities.
The stocky, ruddy-face Canadian said he joined the Communist movement when he was 17 or 18, but cut all party connections last February.
Speaking with a noticeable French accent, Walsh detailed what he termed the Communist planning and organization for the shipping strike.
In reply to one query, he told reporters that while still a member of the party, he had cooperated with anti-Communist groups. Some of these agents, he said, advised him to stay in the party so he could better expose it when he finally made his break.
Walsh’s testimony occupied the entire first day of the hearing. Beginning today, the investigators are to hear between “15 and 29” persons from the Albany area, including a number of present or former state employees.
Walsh told the probers, headed by Rep. Bernard W. Kearney (R-NY) that party orders caused him to join the Canadian Army, veterans organizations, the CSU and other groups.
The Canadian labor leader testified in answer to a question that during this period his primary loyalty was to the Communist Party and not to the Canadian government.
Walsh said he joined the CSU on orders from Harry Binder of Montreal and he testified that Raymond Collette, the union’s business agent, got him on a ship as a seaman.
Walsh explained that he was instructed to contact Communist dock workers unions in ports where his ship docked. Then, he said, [he] was to try to persuade them to refuse to unload ships.
In Genoa, Walsh related, he attended a meeting of "top Communist agitators in the maritime section of the Cominform," at which plans for a worldwide shipping strike were discovered.
Walsh said he was to have been aboard the Beaver Brae, which he described as the "key ship" in the tieup, but that the party ordered him transferred to another vessel at the last moment an dhe did not take a central part in the strike.
The walkout, he said, halted shipping in Europe, Canada and some U.S. West Coast ports for nearly seven months.
Cargoes and machinery were damaged, he said, and "the Marshall Plan certainly received a serious blow."
It [the strike] finally failed, Walsh said, primarily because of the intervention of the non-Communist Seafarer's International Union and the return to work of some strikers.
Among other reasons he cited for the end of the shipping tieup was the inability of Harry Bridges, West Coast labor leader, to obtain passports to take part in the Genoa conference and another he said was held later in Marseille in a move to bolster the flagging walkout.
Another reason Walsh gave for the failure [of the strike] was refusal of the National Maritime Union, and the International Longshoremen's Association which controlled seamen in U.S. East Coast ports, to take part in the strike.
After the strike, Walsh added, he was sent to Toronto, where he became a member of the executive committee of the Canadian Peace Congress, which he described as a Communist-run organization.
He said that he finally decided to quit the party when the Communists ordered that, at all costs, atom spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg must be saved from execution.
Walsh testified that as late as last September, party members within the Canadian Union of Woodworkers had been alerted to sabotage forests and hydro-electric plants in the event of war with Russia.
Earlier, Walsh had set off a round of close questioning with a reference to Alger Hiss.
The Communist-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions was seeking recognition as the representative of world labor at the San Francisco conference at which the United Nations was organized in 1945, he said.
The federation was refused. But Walsh produced a copy of a French periodical dated April, 1946, in which Sir Walter Citrine, then president of the WFTU, wrote that Hiss had notified the WFTU that any correspondence it addressed to the conference would be distributed to delegates "immediately and officially" as a memorandum.
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