The RCMP Security Service and McDonald Commission

Posted: October 7, 2011 by Sexycop in The McDonald Commission

When we think about an example police deviance and accountability, there is nothing like the RCMP and Security and McDonald Commission example. During that time the intelligence branch of the RCMP, known for the time as the security service, had a history of covert operations of political nature and questionable legality. What happened in 1970? The October crisis happened. The October crisis was a campaign of ‘dirty tricks’ targeting Quebec Sovereignstist groups. Many allegations for crimes committed by the RCMP security service included electronic surveillance, unauthorized mail opening, and breaking and entering.

Before all this began there was a reason why this was all taking place. The Quebec nationalist group  Front de libération du Québec (FLQ)  were responsible for the kidnapping of James Cross, the British trade commissioner in Montréal. They demanded the release of convicted and detained fellow FLQ members. Things were out of hand with many bombings all over Quebec and many other places.  The FLQ were responsible for multiple kidnappings of important people from different countries. Things were our of control so Prime Minister Trudeau introduced the Wars Measures Act to control the situation but gave the police the power to arrest anyone without a warrant. This is where many police officers took advantage of civilians going through there mails, entering houses without any consent. Many laws were broken during the October Crisis due to the fact the War Measurements Act had taken place.

The RCMP allegedly had 400 break-ins without warrants,  497 persons had been arrested under the War Measures Act, of whom 435 had already been released. “The other 62 were charged of which 32 were accused of crimes of such seriousness that a Quebec Superior Court judge refused them bail”(Wikipedia, Link). This is where many might consider the abuse of power from the police was best shown. Many officers felt invincible seeing any members of the society under suspicious activity and put them in jail. After the crisis was over the federal Cabinet gave unclear instructions to the RCMP Security Service, permitting suspicious  acts which were later judged as illegal by the federal Inquiry into certain activities of the RCMP.

Exposures of wrongdoing by members led to the McDonald Commission, and to the transfer of security intelligence responsibilities to a new civilian organization called the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). The McDonald Commission revealed that the FLQ was completely infiltrated by police agents.  The Commission’s report, released in 1981 with the exception of one volume which has never been released for “national security” reasons, found police agents were responsible for planning and sometimes carrying out terrorist activities within the FLQ. This is a sheer example of police corruption and police deviance that was going on by the police members. Even though  RCMP Commissioner William Higgitt and former Security Service Director General John Starnes testified that they knew member’s occasionally broke laws in performance of duties. RCMP officers also claimed that they had told their ministers of various activities, but Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and other ministers testified that they hadn’t received any information on any activities.(thecanadianencyclopedia, Link)

Even though after all the allegations made to the RCMP and many conspiracies, allegedly Flaked by members were forgotten as time passed on. They say you are doomed to repeat history if  you are not familiar with it.  As time progressed the RCMP resumed its intelligence role along side with CSIS, both now take part in high policing matters.

When I was searching for my topic, I typed in ‘October crisis’ in the Google search engine. The first results that came up were from Wikipedia, this source had a good and broad information about the October crisis. Other results that showed up on Google on the October crisis were mainly Quebec time lines, according to the Quebec government. They had listed different numbers of arrest made then the other sites; probably because there is an discretionary feeling that Quebec government had about the events that took place in 1970. Another key term I typed in was the ‘McDonald Commission’ and again the first search results were from Wikipedia. But this time it did not give sufficient amount of information on this key search. How ever the following results such as the Canadian encyclopedia, had good amount of information on the search.


  1. Mike Larsen says:

    Some points of clarification:

    (1) The term ‘October Crisis’ refers to the events surrounding the FLQ kidnappings and the immediate response to them by the Canadian government (ie. the invocation of the War Measures Act). The RCMP’s ‘dirty tricks’ campaign was certainly related to these events in a general sense, but the campaign took place throughout the 1970s and was not coterminous with the October Crisis.

    (2) Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act, not the War Measurements Act.

    (3) Please clarify what you mean by “Even though after all the allegations made to the RCMP and many conspiracies, allegedly Flaked by members were forgotten as time passed on.”

    A key challenge for your next post will be to locate the post-October Crisis ‘dirty tricks’ campaign within the broader history of actions by the RCMP Security Service. It was ultimately the revelation of the illegalities committed by the RCMP in this context that led to the creation of the McDonald Commission, but the history of the Service – and of deviance committed in the name of national security – stretches back to the early 1900s. Consider the RCMP’s infiltration of Canadian university campuses throughout the 20th Century, the Cold War purges of gays and lesbians from the public service, the PROFUNC plans for mass internment revealed by the CBC (, the surveillance of Canadian political figures (, etc.

  2. […] were being formed in universities to the leading of October Crisis. ‘In testimony to the McDonald Commission, those involved in planning operation of disruption cited among other  motivating factors such […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s