Workers’ Unity League, Toronto City Council, Member of Provincial Parliament 1902-1998
Born in Poland, Joseph Baruch (J.B.) Salsberg arrived in Toronto with his parents at age 11. He began working full-time in garment shops just two years later. Although studying to be a rabbi, he was drawn to labour activism in the garment workers’ union. He became an active Labour Zionist, moving to New York to serve as general secretary of the North American group from 1922 to 1924. He returned to Toronto to become an organizer for the hatters’ union. He joined the Communist Party and eventually served on the Central Committee. In 1932, Salsberg became general organizer for the Workers’ Unity League, which was under Communist leadership. In 1938, he was elected as a Communist to Toronto city council and in 1943 to the Ontario Legislature, where he served until defeated in 1955. Soon after he broke with the Communist Party over antisemitism in the Soviet Union. He continued to be active in Jewish organizations for many years to come.