Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Michel Chartrand 1916-2010

Michel Chartrand is no longer with us. He died this Monday at the age of 93. Long-time labour militant and member of the CSN, Chartrand was one of the union leaders arrested in 1972 which inspired the General Strike of that year. I remember when he spoke to a packed crowd of about 1200 in Vancouver, must have been shortly after the Quebec General Strike and he said that he was an anarchist. Now, I don't know if he really was or not, but that got a lot of cheers and true enough, at that time, the CSN was promoting workers control. He will be missed! Thanks to Dawg's Blog for making me aware of Chartrand's death.


Blogger Nicolas said...

Actually, he was not among those arrested in 1972. He was the head of the Montreal CSN Labor Council and it was the national heads of the CSN (P├ępin), FTQ (Laberge) and CEQ (Charbonneau). But he was arrested and trown in jail at many other time (7 times under Duplessis and a number of other times during liberal times, most notably for 4 months following october 1970).

Many people, including is close friend and biographer, said he was an anarchist. Even the current head of the CSN said that his dead mark the end of a generation who was inspired by anarchosyndicalism. But he was not. He said so publicly many different times. ...And for office on various socialist tickers (4 times actually). His socialism was certainly influenced by libertarian ideas --democracy, self-management-- but that's all.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Thanks Nicholas. My failing memory had confused his 1970 arrest with the the arrests during the General Strike. It would have been 1971 when he spoke to us in Vancouver, not 1972 and made the comment about being an anarchist. I guess like a lot of people sympathetic to anarchism or who have adopted some anarchist ideas he called himself an anarchist even though he was not strictly speaking ideologically one. At any rate he was a good militant trade unionist who was not afraid to stand up for his beliefs.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Werner said...

I met him in Regina way back in the 70s. ... a guy who lived and breathed radical unionism. I remember his comment about Leninist infiltration of the union movement. He said we are NOT a " transmission belt for the party". There was nothing politically correct about the man, very blunt and feminists didn't like him, but I did.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

I received this in my email about Michel.

Werner: He was a redbaiter?

6:59 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Never a red baiter, as far as I recall, Ren. What he was up against were attempts by Maoists to take over the unions, so naturally he had to combat this, just as you and your group have to confront them in Minneapolis. (many of these same Maoists became neoliberals later on, it is worth recalling, while Michel remained true till his dying breath.)

8:32 AM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Larry G: That's better explanation. I could sympathize with him dealing with Maoists.

Too bad about Sonia's blog. I think she is owed some explanation.

10:14 PM  

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