Series 8 - Political activities

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Reference code

UTA 1597-8


Political activities


  • 1961-1994 (Creation)

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1.78 m of textual and graphic records

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Dr. Morton has always had a deep interest in the political process in Canada, viewed from the left of the political spectrum. This interest translated for twenty years into an active involvement in the New Democratic Party, which he joined in 1961, at the federal and provincial levels, and also in local politics. While sometimes quite critical of his party and individuals in it, Dr. Morton was, from the mid-1960s, active in the development of policies for all levels of the NDP.

Professor Morton first got involved in politics in a direct way as a boy in 1948 when he distributed leaflets for the Saskatchewan CCF. His got his first taste of political organizing in 1962 while trying, as he put it, ‘to unearth New Democrats in the wilds of Dufferin Simcoe’ (letter to Donald C. MacDonald of 28 June 1970). In 1964 he accepted the position of assistant provincial secretary to the party where he did everything from helping formulate policies to writing speeches and the texts of brochures and pamphlets. He was also deeply involved in committee work (especially regarding the issue of bilingualism and biculturalism) and helped organize local election campaigns. Dr. Morton held this post until mid-1966 when he resigned to take up post-graduate work at the London School of Economics.

Dr. Morton’s political activities also spilled over to the federal level. During the 1965 federal election he acted as a speechwriter for Tommy Douglas; these speeches have survived in this series. After his return to Canada in 1968, Dr. Morton initially lived in Ottawa, providing an opportunity to become immersed in federal politics while continuing his involvement at the provincial level. He apparently found politics at the federal level to be less satisfying than at the provincial, for a factor in his move to Toronto in 1969 was his desire ‘to resume a closer and more effective conjunction with politics’ (letter to Rita Hindon, 9 January, 1970). Once settled in, he became a member of the provincial executive of the NDP and its Policy Review Committee (which he chaired from December 1969 to the end of 1972). He was also assigned onerous duties associated with membership and finance, which he did not care for, his principal interest being policy development and public relations. He therefore continued to chair the publications committee, which gave him the freedom to write pamphlets, campaign literature, and press releases (he even designed desk calendars), and to give speeches as requested. In 1970 he was selected as the provincial executive representative in a number of constituencies to the west of Toronto in what is now known as the ‘905 area’. Dr. Morton also played an active role in the 1971 provincial election campaign.

Beginning in 1973, Dr. Morton reduced his active involvement in the Ontario NDP – he stayed on as a member of the Policy Review Committee for a time – but was always available to give and advice and often speeches. He remained active in elections in local provincial ridings; serving, for example, in 1975 as campaign chair for David Busby’s campaign in Mississauga North. At the same time, his wife, Janet, was also active in the local ridings in the Region of Peel. In 1977, they both worked hard in a nearly successful attempt to get Busby elected in his second try in the constituency.

After his return from England in the fall of 1968, Dr. Morton took up an assistant professorship at the University of Ottawa for a year. He was shortly afterwards elected to the federal council of the NDP that October as a delegate from the Ontario party, a position he held until 1972. He wrote policy documents for the national conference held in Winnipeg in 1970 and campaign pamphlets for the federal party over several years thereafter. He was deeply involved in the 1972 federal election and was a candidate in Mississauga North constituency for the anticipated 1978 federal election, but had to withdraw because of other commitments when it was not called. He continued his involvement at the constituency level, however, designing and writing campaign literature and writing speeches for the NDP candidates in Mississauga North in the 1979, 1980 and 1984 federal elections. In other ways, he was also available to provide advice to the federal party, serving, for example, as a consultant on defence policy in the mid-1980s.

At the municipal level Dr. Morton’s principal involvement was with politics in Mississauga. He was a supporter of Hazel McCallion during her successful campaign for mayor of that city in 1978, and was an active member of successive re-election committees through 1985, serving variously as secretary and in charge of publicity. (This support was returned in kind as Mayor McCallion was a forceful booster of Erindale College during Dr. Morton’s years as vice-principal academic and as principal.) In Toronto, he actively supported the campaign of Karl Jaffray during the 1972 municipal elections.

The records in this series document his activities in considerable detail and provide much information about the decision making process within the NDP at the federal and provincial levels. There is extensive correspondence, particularly for the years 1969 to 1972, after which date the volume decreases somewhat, though still a steady, respectable level. His early correspondents were often with the most senior party politicians and officials, including Donald C. MacDonald and David and Stephen Lewis. He also maintained a lively exchange of letters with party officials from other provinces (Walter Ross in British Columbia, Doug Rowland from Manitoba, and Laurier Lapierre and Raymond Laliberté from Quebec are examples) and with union officials. Later correspondents included Michael Cassidy, Ed Broadbent, and individuals with broad political interests such as Eugene Forsey and Mel Hurtig. Attached to this correspondence is a plethora of speeches, radio scripts, and reports.

Many, but not all, of the political pamphlets and some of the political articles Dr. Morton wrote are filed after the general correspondence, in chronological order.

Next are extensive files on the federal elections between 1966 and 1984, provincial elections between 1963 and 1985, and on local political contests, especially in the Region of Peel/Mississauga areas. These files contain any or all of the following: campaign literature, press coverage, posters, and photographs. More specifically, for example, the files for the federal campaigns between 1979 and 1984 contain, amongst other items, mockups for campaign leaflets, drafts of speeches, press releases, and (for the 1984 election) radio scripts for Morton’s ‘Election Talk’ series on the Toronto radio station CFRB. In addition to writing pamphlets, Morton designed some of the brochures and wrote extensively in the Mississauga press about local politics.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The general correspondence files in this series are arranged chronologically. They are followed by files containing his political writings and material on the federal, provincial, and local election contests. The arrangement is chronological within each grouping

1961-1971: B1999-0023/020(01)–(09)
1971-1990: B1999-0023/021(01)–(07)
1967-1994: B1999-0023/022(01)–(10)
1963-1992: B1999-0023/023(01)–(26)
1964-1984: B1999-0023/024(01)–(16)
1963-1992: B1999-0023/025(01)–(27)
1972-1993: B1999-0023/026(01)–(13)
1968-1984: B1999-0023/027(02)–(23)
1972-1985: B1999-0023/001P(02)–(14)

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Researchers are also directed to Dr. Morton’s research files on the New Democratic Party in series 11. Drafts of many of his political writings and addresses, especially those relating to the NDP, may be found in the ‘political and academic manuscripts’ files (1969-1973) and in the ‘non-refereed publications’ section in series 10. Included with the former files are a few addresses by his wife, Janet.

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Posters and other oversized campaign literature have been removed from the following files and filed separately as indicated:

From ==> To
B1999-0023/020(06) ==> B1999-0023/027(02)
B1999-0023/022(09) & (10) ==>B1999-0023/027(03)
B1999-0023/023(09) ==> B1999-0023/027(04)
B1999-0023/023(11) ==> B1999-0023/027(05)
B1999-0023/023(15) ==> B1999-0023/027(06)
B1999-0023/023(18) ==> ==> B1999-0023/027(07)
B1999-0023/020(20) ==> B1999-0023/027(08) & (09)
B1999-0023/023(21) & (22) ==> B1999-0023/027(10)
B1999-0023/023(23) ==> B1999-0023/027(11)

Posters and other oversized campaign literature have been removed from the following files and filed separately as indicated:

From ==> To
B1999-0023/023(24) & (26) ==> B1999-0023/027(12)
B1999-0023/024(03) ==> B1999-0023/027(13)
B1999-0023/024(05) ==> B1999-0023/027(14)

From ==>To
B1999-0023/024(07) ==> 1999-0023/0027(15)
B1999-0023/024(08) ==> B1999-0023/027(16)
B1999-0023/024(09) ==> B1999-0023/027(17)
B1999-0023/025(19) & (20) ==> B1999-0023/027(18)
B1999-0023/025(22) ==> B1999-0023/027(19)
B1999-0023/025(26) ==> 1999-0023/0027(20)
B1999-0023/026(02) ==> B1999-0023/027(21)
B1999-0023/026(08) ==> B1999-0023/027(22)
B1999-0023/026(13) ==> B1999-0023/027(23)

Photographs have been removed from certain files and filed separately as indicated:

From ==> To
B1999-0023/023(21) ==> B1999-0023/001P(02)
B1999-0023/023(25) ==> B1999-0023/001P(03)
B1999-0023/024(06) ==> B1999-0023/001P(04)
B1999-0023/024(08) ==> B1999-0023/001P(05)
B1999-0023/024(10) ==> B1999-0023/001P(06)
B1999-0023/025(23) ==> B1999-0023/001P(07)
B1999-0023/025(26) ==> B1999-0023/001P(08)
B1999-0023/026(01) ==> B1999-0023/001P(09)
B1999-0023/026(02) ==> B1999-0023/001P(10)
B1999-0023/026(07) ==> B1999-0023/001P(11)
B1999-0023/026(08) ==> B1999-0023/001P(12)
B1999-0023/026(11) ==> B1999-0023/001P(13)
B1999-0023/026(13) ==> B1999-0023/001P(14)

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