January 29, 1950 – June 29, 2022
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) with heavy heart informs you that Comrade Jim Nugent passed away before midnight on June 29, 2022. We send our deepest sympathies to his lifelong partner Christine, their sons and families, his siblings, all family members and to his comrades, former co-workers and many friends.
Jim was diagnosed with lung cancer at an already advanced stage barely four months ago. He and Christine set the tone for all those devastated by the news by waging a heroic battle to live life to the fullest no matter what the conditions and circumstances. Bravo! They inspire us all to rely on each other always, especially in times of greatest need.
Indeed, living life to the fullest under all conditions and circumstances is what Jim did all his life. He was a stalwart of the Party in Ontario, representing the very best the Canadian working class has given rise to.
His grandfather came to Canada after refusing to fight for King or Kaiser in World War I. He took a job as a conductor for the Toronto Transit Commission. Jim’s father also worked for the TTC, repairing the bodies of the vehicles, before buying a farm in 1972 near Barrie, Ontario where Jim and his family have lived ever since.
These beginnings made Jim partisan to the workers’ cause of emancipation all his life. It impelled him to support the most vulnerable and unorganized workers and become a union organizer, as well as a political activist who joined the Party to make sure the workers received the leadership and orientation needed to achieve successes and then turn them into historic victory. From the beginning Jim showed what he was made of when he never recoiled when threatened, imprisoned and even fired for his organizing activities.
Since they were students at the University of Windsor, Jim and Christine supported the struggles of the Vietnamese and other peoples of the world for liberation, becoming an integral part of the international communist and workers’ movement in support of the cause of peace, freedom and democracy at home and abroad. This began when, as students, they marched onto the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor to protest the war in Vietnam, confronting U.S. state troopers at the international line.
Jim and Christine subsequently went to Calgary to participate in organizing farm workers, many of them migrant labour from abroad, as well as Quebec, Newfoundland and other places from where the youth had to travel to find jobs. In Calgary, at the University where they went to do research, they met the Party at its literature table and henceforth became part of its life and work.
Throughout his life Jim continued the habit of doing research about the struggles and causes he supported, going to the heart of the matter of what the working people were doing and why, and seeking how to move the struggles forward.
As is the case with many Canadian workers, during times of economic crisis Jim worked many jobs. He built steel beams at a factory in Barrie. He farmed crops and herded sheep. Many more were the jobs during the years of recession and high unemployment. Finally the Ironworkers Local 721, in appreciation of his union organizing, gave him an apprenticeship, whereupon he became a journeyman and from that vantage point he worked building many of the Toronto projects still standing today, including the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Jim informed us that the highlights of Party life were the fight to disseminate revolutionary literature, postering and the struggle against state-organized racist attacks and police impunity. This fight affirms the right to be, he said, without which nothing makes sense. Wherever the fight for rights was taking place, there he was: from the Artistic woodworking strike, to the national campaign against the racist Green Paper on Immigration to the battles against the Western Guard and the Keep Canada White meetings, which the Party’s resistance fighters shut down, to fighting day in and day out to poster and sell People’s Canada Daily News and other party publications on street corners.
Thanks to this work and revolutionary spirit, the way forward was opened for the right to disseminate revolutionary literature and views, to combat state-organized racist attacks, oppose the criminalization of dissent and workers’ struggles, and fight for what is right in the face of the egregious hypocrisy of the ruling circles.
In the course of this in the 1970s, Jim also became a worker politician and ran in the 1974 federal election on behalf of the Party in the High Park riding in Toronto. Throughout the 1980s he continued to champion the fight for justice in all fields of endeavour and the fights against the neo-liberal, nation-wrecking agenda of the rich during the decades of reaction that followed.
He joined the work of the Workers’ Centre, including by joining its journalism team, reporting on the struggles of the hydro and TTC workers and many others for Ontario Political Forum, as well as researching international news. He also led the teams of volunteers who built the Workers’ Centre and look after the technical base of the Party Press. To the very end of his life he helped anchor the work of injured workers in Barrie and throughout Ontario. He also took up another field of work of great importance, working side-by-side with the immigrant women of Bangladeshi origin in building an organization which upholds their rights and fights for the rights of all.
The fight to which Jim dedicated his life takes on even greater significance today in the context of legislation which criminalizes opinion and organizing activity in the name of national security. Jim always took a stand against the rulers’ endless repetition of mantras about peace, freedom and democracy while in deeds doing the opposite, replacing looking after the people’s well-being with constantly funding the expansion of NATO and NORAD and engaging in warmongering.
With the last of his strength Jim condemned the dangers the rulers are creating for the working class and expressed his admiration for what the fighting workers and youth are doing to turn things around. His sense of humour never faltered in his characterization of what the rulers are up to in Ontario in the north and in the south, always expressing confidence that the Indigenous people, women, youth and workers will prevail in their struggle.
On this saddest of occasions, the Party membership joins the Central Committee to express profound appreciation to Jim for being there at every step of the way, making his own unique contributions to our collective work to open society’s path to progress and the emancipation of humankind.
In paying our respects we highlight the essence of Jim’s contribution: his fidelity to the work to unite the working people and oppressed of all lands in order to create a new world where workers have empowered themselves and are in control of economic and political affairs and fully engaged in the struggle to humanize the natural and social environment.
Red Salute and profound appreciation to you, Jim Nugent, ever present.
Anna Di Carlo,
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)
June 30, 2022
Messages and remembrances to the family or the Party can be sent to email@example.com.