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Philip Murton: 1950-2020

Michelle Robidoux

December 4, 2020

It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Philip Murton this morning, at age 70. Philip was one of the original members of the International Socialists, which was founded in 1975. His life-long commitment to the ideal of working-class self-emancipation was nurtured in a period of worldwide revolts, including May 1968 in Paris, the Portuguese revolution of 1974, anti-colonial struggles, and the defeat of the US in Vietnam.
His experience of the upturn in workers’ struggles in the 1970s forged a strong sense of the potential power of workers. When that wave of struggles receded, his grounding in Marxism helped him navigate through the difficult downturn. In the wake of the historic 1978 postal workers’ strike, which led to Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ president Jean-Claude Parrot being jailed for defying an injunction on picketing, Philip wrote a pamphlet, “Postal Workers On Strike”, analyzing the strike and providing socialists with an understanding of the contradictory nature of the trade union bureaucracy. For a newly-formed organization, this perspective was invaluable and provided a useful guide to a small network of socialists largely on the margins of working class struggle. Philip had been a postal worker, and later went on to play an important role in unionizing administrative staff at the University of Toronto. He was a proud member of United Steelworkers local 1998, where he served as Chief Steward and as a member of the Executive.

He was independent-minded, and stayed true to his principles throughout his many years of political activity. He always had the long view of the necessary struggle for a socialist future, which allowed him to navigate tumultuous political times with understated humour. He was active for decades in the Toronto East branch of the IS, and was a fixture on demonstrations and sales of Socialist Worker.
Sadly, Philip was diagnosed with a rare form of Parkinson’s shortly after his retirement. He remained active until he was physically unable. He was a wonderful comrade who will be greatly missed. Our thoughts go out to his partner Deanna, his two children, Del and Daniel and their families.
• A celebration of Philip’s life will be held when conditions related to COVID allow. Details will be updated here at that time.

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