Category: Historical Reprints
Source: Troy Record, 14 July 1953, Tue.
Reds Tried To Sabotage Marshall Plan, House Probe Told At Albany
Albany (AP) — A Canadian ex-Communist yesterday told House investigators that he helped engineer a 1949 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 (CSU).
Walsh, who described the CSU as Communist-dominated, was the first witness before the subcommittee, as it opened a four-day inquiry here into subversive activities.
The stocky, ruddy-faced 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.
Much of his testimony came from a long prepared statement and from numerous documents he exhibited. He was questioned closely at intervals by members of the subcommittee and its counsel.
In reply to one query, he told the probers 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 20” persons from the Albany area, including a number of present and former state employees.
Kearney said the first witnesses today would be two “friendly” union business agents, Jack Davis of Albany and Nick Campas of Troy. Both are affiliated with the AFL Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union.
The congressman said the two had requested permission to appear.
Frank Tavenner, Jr., counsel for the subcommittee made the estimate of the number yet to be called.
Kearney Heads Committee.
Walsh told the probers, headed by Rep. Bernard W. Kearney (R.-N.Y.) 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 told probers that he twice had joined the Canadian army to carry out party orders.
Later party assignments took him into veterans organizations and then the Canadian seamen’s union, Walsh said.
Walsh told probers that Harry
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Reds Tried To Sabotage Aid Plan,
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Binder of Montreal ordered him to join the seamen’s union.
Raymond Colette, business agent of the Canadian Seamen’s Union (CSU), saw that he got on a ship as a seaman, Walsh said.
He conducted classes in Marxism on board, Walsh said.
His job, Walsh said, was to contract Communist dock workers unions in ports where his ship docked and try to persuade them to refuse to unload the cargoes when the ships arrived.
This work, he said, took him to London, Hamburg, Antwerp, Genoz, Naples and Bari.
Negotiations were going on with the ship owners, Walsh said, but the Communists had orders to carry out the strike, whether or not their demands were met.
He said it was “a political strike with no bonafide trade union principles involved whatsoever.”
Agitators At Meeting.
When his ship docked in Genoa, Walsh said, he went to a meeting attended by “top Communist agitators in the Maritime section of the Cominform.” He said the meeting was held to discuss plans for a world wide shipping strike.
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 and he 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 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.
He added: “If Harry Bridges had been there he would have been welcomed.”
Bridges, president of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, was convicted in 1950 of swearing falsely at a 1945 denaturalization hearing that he was not a Communist.
However, last June 15, the Supreme Court threw out the perjury-conspiracy conviction and voided the order depriving Bridges of his citizenship.
The supreme court said in its decision that the statute of limitations governing the alleged offense had expired.
Asked if he knew definitely whether Bridges was a Communist, Walsh said he did not.
He added, however, that among seamen and dock workers, Bridges generally was considered to [be] a Communist.
In answer to a question, Walsh said that during this period his primary loyalty was to the Communist Party and not to the Canadian government or the union.
Names Reds At Meeting.
He said that before he worked on the shipping strike he attended a meeting run by men he called the top echelon of the Communist Party in Canada.
Among those attending the meeting, he said, were George Harris, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian branch of the United Electrical Workers; Dewar Gerguson, vice president of the Canadian Seamen’s Union, and Oscar Roy, of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers.
In telling how he joined the party, Walsh said he was first assigned as a party organizer in an unemployment camp and then sent to work in mines and lumber camps in the Rouyn and Noranda section of Quebec and worked there from 1937 to 1940.
In 1940, he continued, he was ordered to enlist in the Canadian Army to carry out “revolutionary defeatism.”
He said he was dishonorably discharged four months later because of what he termed “subversive activities.”
Was Sent Overseas.
His nexgt assignment, Walsh said, was in getting Communists to work at the large Shipshaw power project in northeast Quebec. He said he was “instrumental in getting about 150 top Communists” to work there.
Walsh said he remained there about two years and until in 1943, he was ordered to attempt to reenlist in the Army. He said he was successful in this, and was sent overseas where he was in contact with Communist cells in the Canadian army, navy and air force. Their task at that time, he added, was to agitate for the opening of a second front in Europe against the Germans.
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