The Cold War was a long period of conflict between rival superpowers – the US and the USSR – and their allies and proxies. Canada was a key ally to the US in this conflict. The ideological and political Cold War between the capitalist west and communist Soviet Union played out globally. On the Canadian front, the federal government had been actively investigating and seeking to disrupt suspected communist and socialist activity since around the time of the Winnipeg General Strike. The Cold War just intensified things and put them in the context of a global conflict. Internally, this was not a battle between rival factions of equal strength. The RCMP had the resources and backing of a state. The targets of the RCMP, on the other hand, were rarely linked to anything resembling an ‘international communist conspiracy’. While there were definitely spies, many of the targets of the RCMP were merely ideological opponents, sympathizer etc.
Communists were first seen as traitors and less likely as spies. The Kellock–Taschereau Commission or the Gouzenko Affair inspected the findings related to the circumstances surrounding the communication by public officials and other people in positions of trust of secret and confidential information to agents of a Foreign Power, more popularly known as the Kellock–Taschereau Commissioner of the Gouzenko Affair. The Royal Commission appointed by Rt.Hon. Mackenzie King on February 5, 1946 to investigate the allegations set forward by Igor Gouzenko that a spy ring of Canadian Communist was handing over secret and top secret information to the Soviet Union. (Link). The security measures that were taken after the Gouzenko affair of 1945-6 for the approval for national insecurity was to put widespread surveillance and penetration of the Communists by police, including security screening of public employees, immigrants, and applicants for citizenship.
According to the article ‘The Antagonists: Cops versus Commies’ “Gouzenko affair firmly fixed the image of Communism as an arm of Moscow in the Canadian mind”, the loyalty to Moscow meant that the Communists would do whatever to achieve their dreams of a better world, more cooperative, and more egalitarian. “The state maintained that the Communists were mere tools of Moscow, and the implication, by extension, was that all forms of the left-wing ideology were tainted with disloyalty.” The numbers of members estimated by the RCMP was 18,000 to 21,000 and were viewed as ‘larger than life supermen who could wreak untold havoc if unchecked’. Before the electronic era data processing, there were 21,000 individuals on file and 2,300 organization (mostly trade unions) recorded by the RCMP. In 1954, 17000 files on individuals were dropped and in 1958 several thousands were considered useless. Those meant that the RCMP Security Service knowingly or unknowingly invaded people’s privacy and harass them for mere suspicion.
With the Gouzenko affair occurring and the threat of the Korean War becoming a precursor for the ‘third World War’ the government of Canada decided they needed to take action and create a black list or known as PROFUNC, which stands for PROminent FUNCtionaries of the communist party. This was a top secret plan to identify and intern Canadian communists and crypto-communists during the peak of the Cold War. In the 1950’s RCMP Commissioner Stuart Taylor Wood had a PROFUNC list of approximately 16,000 suspected communists and 50,000 communists’ sympathizers to be observed and possibly be interned, in a national security state of emergency such as The third World crisis with the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR) and Red China. The RCMP where given direct order to spy on these individuals that seemed a threat to the nation, people such as Tommy Douglas. There was also a separate document related to the PROFUNC, known as the C-215. This document contained personal information such as age, descriptions, and photographs etc. This list basically gave the police the power to harass individuals that were suspected to be communists or sympathizers. The behaviour that the RCMP projected to these individual was nothing more than deviant because of the use of inappropriate actions used against them.(Link)
Crowd gathered in front of the Montreal courthouse where the Soviet spy ring trials occurred, March 1946.
In the book ‘Spying 101 The RCMP’s Secret Activities at Canadian Universities, 1919-1997′ by Steve Hewitt in chapter 8 ‘Moving from Campus to Community’, talks about how the RCMP Security Service’s in 1971 on Parliament Hill showed Members of the Cabinet Committee on Security and Intelligence, including P.M Pierre Trudeau and many more watched as the security services preview of the word of radicalism to come. The slide showed menaces to the nation and the RCMP believed that the ” 1970s would make the 60s look like the 50s” (Hewitt Steve, pg.173). The police claimed that the virus that infested campuses in the 1960s was now in the ‘process of spreading to the wider society’ hence the chapter title ‘Moving from Campus to Community’. The Security Service was not only interested what was happening in campuses but also what was happening off campuses too. The RCMP were attempting to discover whether there was any FLQ activities happening at Quebec universities.
Groups of sympathizer and radicals 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 as the Sir George Williams University computer incident, connections between American and Canadian radicals’. Then the October Crisis happened where the FLQ members used violence. The RCMP came into action and was given encouragement given by the federal government to lunch countermeasures, such as break-ins and alleged assassination. These actions were cause of the Wars Measures act implemented by Prim Minster Pierre Trudeau. There is not much information about what the Security Service and what they did against those that were not ‘separatist-terrorist’. Even tho catching spy’s was not meant for RCMP the McDonald Commission set up a civilian Security service called the CSIS to deal with espionage, terrorism and subversion. (Link)
Hewitt Steve, Spying 101 The RCMP’s Secret Activities at Canadian Universities 1917-1997, 2002, University of Toronto Press
The Antagoniosts: Cops Versus Commies