Civil Liberties Association of Winnipeg

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The Civil Liberties Association of Winnipeg (CLAW) arose at the onset of the Second World War to protest the suspension of fundamental freedoms under the War Measures Act. A leading member of CLAW was Canadian historian Arthur Lower, who wrote prolifically for the Winnipeg Free Press, one of Canada’s most influential newspapers at the time. Other prominent CLAW members included economist Mitchell Sharp, CCF MP Alistair Stewart, and United Church minister Lloyd Stinson, who would later lead the CCF in Manitoba. During the Gouzenko Affair, CLAW was an outspoken critic of the government, attacking the Liberals in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press and writing to members of Parliament. Earlier, CLAW had sent a brief to the prime minister, opposing the deportation of Japanese Canadians. Like many other civil liberties groups during this period, CLAW was virulently anti-communist and was led by liberals and social democrats who refused to work alongside communists. It remained active until at least the mid-1970s, under the leadership of Norman Naylor (pastor of Winnipeg’s First Unitarian Universalist Church).