In 1919, the Canadian state enacted a law that criminalized the advocacy of radical politics. Section 98, as it became, was broad in its terminology, and carried a maximum punishment of twenty years imprisonment. In 1931, the state utilized the law against eight leaders of the Communist Party of Canada in an attempt to declare the organization to be illegal in Canada. The party, however, did not crumble under pressure. At trial, the accused were able to use the courtroom as a forum to protest the legality of the law; after the leaders were convicted, the party campaigned tirelessly for the release of their comrades, and for the repeal of Section 98. The party was successfully able to use its repression to forward its political agenda. This thesis explores how the party navigated Canada’s legal system in order to realize its political goals.
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Thesis advisor: Leier, Mark
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