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Synopsis

In this unique and extraordinary memoir, Ben Swankey sums up a lifetime of labour and socialist activism. He begins with a remarkable evocation of his Saskatchewan childhood in the farming community of Herbert. While still a teenager, Swankey hitchhiked and rode the rails to Vancouver, where he came in contact with the unemployed movement and made a lifelong commitment to socialism. This decision brought him into the Young Communist League and the Communist Party as an organizer in the massive protests that shook Alberta during the Depression, particularly the Edmonton Hunger March in 1932. He mobilized support for the On to Ottawa Trek, worked with Crow’s Nest miners and ultimately was interned during the Second World War for his political beliefs. What’s New gives unique first person accounts of these remarkable periods in Canadian history. After service in the Canadian artillery following his release from internment, Swankey became leader of the Labour-Progressive Party in Alberta before moving to Burnaby, BC with his family, in 1957. Here he began an entirely new career as a labour writer and policy analyst. His long, close friendship with Harry Rankin, BC’s crusading labour lawyer and long-time city councillor, gave him an unparalleled perspective on the labour and political life of the province. Swankey remained active into his 80s, working with the Council of Canadians and BC seniors’ organizations to defend and expand our Medicare system. This is the life story of a unique Canadian.

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