To say the documentary by the CBC’s The Fifth Estate called “Enemies of the State” shocked me in regards to the freedom given to us Canadians would be an understatement. At a secret meeting which included senior officials of the RCMP and the federal government in 1950 a plan called PROFUNC, meaning Prominent Functionaries, was put in place incase Canada felt a threat to its national security to arrest all people known to be communists or have ties to communists. It’s unbelievable to hear about how there were arrest documents drawn up, also known as C-215 forms, and consistently updated throughout the years for those deemed suspicious. Not only were the men of the house targets in this situation but their families were not safe either including their wives and even children were to be arrested. The reason this is so interesting is because the list of people being watched and spied on were in fact just regular law abiding citizens who had never previously committed a crime in their lives whatsoever. There were supposedly more than 66,000 Canadians on the list which also included information starting from addresses all the way down to possible escape routes. From what I picked up on was that it didn’t take much to get your name on the list as even the slightest possible left-wing view could land your name on there. This ties in to our discussions in class in regards to the G20 protests as it took even the slightest bit of suspicion of protesters to act out and either aggressively arrest people or just in general respond violently towards the crowd. It is similar to the story about the guy who was arrested unlawfully for wearing a bandana around his neck while walking the streets where the protests were taking place. He was simply arrested because orders were given by higher authority to arrest anyone who was deemed to be a part of a group the police felt was “the enemy” simply based on suspicion and personal judgment.
I believe this also ties in greatly to the Maher Arar case in which he, a Canadian citizen who was originally born in Syria, was detained in a layover in New York on the basis he was a suspected terrorist and had ties to Al-Qaeda and sent him to Syria. This all took place regardless of the fact that he even had a Canadian passport on him at the time. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, hatred splurged towards individuals who even at the slightest bit resembled the terrorists. This led to a spike in the number of names on the No Fly List with many of the names including common names amongst Muslims. It is unfortunate because many religions, including the Sikh religion for myself, have a countless number of people who have similar names. This led to people who had either similar names or even names that matched those on the No Fly List and were either questioned or completely denied from boarding flights because they were not able to prove they are not the person in question. These types of lists exist all over the world, which is understandable because it helps fight off potential threats against national security. Although at times it may seem a little extreme when it comes to police taking action against particular people of events, it still makes you think what it would be like without those types of initiatives in place. These types of plans, including PROFUNC, do leave me at a little bit of unease because of all the innocent people who unfortunately have to deal with scenarios solely due to suspicion against them. However you also have to take into consideration that these types of plans do give countries that extra line of defense against possible threats and keeping their states safe.
Gallos, D. (2010, December 16). Fightback. Retrieved from The Marxist Voice of Labour and Youth: http://www.marxist.ca/analysis/history/626-profunc-revealed-canadian-state-planned-arrest-of-over-66000.html
Punch, M. (2009). Police Corruption. New York: Routledge 2011.
The Fifth Estate. (2010, October 15). Enemies of the State. CBCnews. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2010-2011/enemiesofthestate/