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Norman Penner was born in Winnipeg, into a Mennonite family from Ukraine. He is the son of Jacob Penner, a revolutionary socialist and organizer of the Winnipeg General Strike, and Rose Shapack, a Russian Jewish immigrant. His parents met at an address by Emma Goldman. His father was a founder of the Social Democratic Party of Canada and the Communist Party of Canada and was elected to Winnipeg city council in 1933. As a child, Norman became a celebrated orator with the Young Pioneers. After high school, he worked as a full-time officer of the Communist Party of Canada from 1938 to 1941. He enlisted in the Canadian Army and served overseas during World War II. After returning to Canada, he became National Youth Director of the Communist Party. He unsuccessfully ran for office in the 1951 Ontario election and the 1953 federal election. He broke from the Communist Party in 1957 and later returned to school, earning a doctorate from the University of Toronto. He became a Political Science professor at York University’s Glendon College until his retirement in 1995.
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C. Long, 2021.