HEAPS, ABRAHAM ALBERT (1885–1954), Canadian Labour leader, politician. Heaps was born in Leeds, England and attended school until 13, when he went to work to help support his family. He apprenticed as an upholsterer, and opened his own workshop and managed a large furniture store before he immigrated to Canada in 1911. Once in Winnipeg, Heaps worked as an upholsterer for the Canadian Pacific Railway and became active in the local labor movement. He also joined the English branch of the Social Democratic Party of Canada, and was a pacifist in World War I. After two failed attempts to secure a seat as alderman, Heaps was elected in a 1917 by-election and subsequently won his seat easily. Heaps was one of the main leaders of the Winnipeg General Strike, heading the strikers' Relief Committee. He was charged with seditious conspiracy and, after his release on bail, traveled to various Canadian cities to raise support and funds for the defense of the strikers. His conducted his own defense at his 1920 trial, and was the only one acquitted of the eight charged with seditious conspiracy. After several years in the insurance business, Heaps was elected in 1925 to the federal House of Commons. He served as a Member of Parliament representing the heavily Jewish riding of Winnipeg North until 1940, first for the Independent Labour Party and then for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). He served as parliamentary whip for the CCF after 1935, and with the head of the CCF, J.S. Woodsworth, he strongly advocated the passage of social legislation, such as the federal old age pension and unemployment insurance. Heaps' greatest sense of failure was his inability to convey the threat of the totalitarian regimes in Russia, Italy, and especially Germany. Resorting first to quiet diplomacy, he tried in vain to convince the federal government to open Canada up to desperate Jewish refugees from Hitler's Germany. He was no more successful with the public condemnation of the government of Mackenzie King. Despite Heaps' often-stated belief in the complete and vigorous prosecution of the Canadian war effort in World War II, Woodsworth's opposition to the declaration of war in September 1939 made Heaps suspect as well, and he was defeated in the federal election of 1940. Heaps subsequently held several government jobs, before moving to Montreal, where he briefly worked in the dress industry and as an arbitrator of labor disputes before his retirement. Heaps married Bessie Morris (d. 1938) in 1913, and they had two sons, David and Leo, both of whom earned the Military Cross for distinguished wartime records. Leo also served with the Israeli army during the War of Independence. Heaps remarried in 1947, to Fanny Almond. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. and M. Gutkin, Profiles in Dissent: The Shaping of Radical Thought in the Canadian West (1997); L. Heaps, Rebel in the House: The Life and Times of A.A. Heaps, M.P. (rev. ed., 1984). (Henry Trachtenberg (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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