“National security”: Canadian government’s reason to stalk and arrest people

Posted: April 11, 2013 by batnomin in Uncategorized
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After watching the Fifth Estate documentary called “Enemies of the State”, I had a reason to want to check up my “profile” by submitting a request under the Access to Information laws. In the beginning, before Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was officially formed, RCMP was responsible for the National Security. They were in charge until about the 1980’s. RCMP was removed from being responsible for National Security because of using “dirty tricks”. However, way before they were removed from the position, they had created and played a huge role in something called “Prominent Functionaries of the communist party” (PROFUNC). From what I have understood from the documentary, this particular “project” PRODUNC was formed around 1950’s by the RCMP. Their agenda was to identify and arrest “communists”. According to Stuart Taylor Wood (1950), “PROFUNC had a list of 66,000 communists” that needed to be observed and if necessary arrested in the case of National Security. The Fifth Estate documentary also talks about a document called C- 215 arrest form which was used to document the “suspects” descriptions including physical description, photographs, vehicle information, and their possible escape route. What is worse is that, according to Fifth Estate “it did not take much to be on that form”.  Now, this strikes me as the most shocking, as we as Canadians have something called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The project PROFUNC seems to be in violation of these basic human rights in this country. I cannot even imagine how the people in those years felt, as someone constantly watched over them and their family members. I do not even like to be observed through the security cameras (that are just about everywhere) let alone being watched or stalked directly. It is absolutely terrifying when government officials find out everything about you and stalk your friends, family, and actually visit them.

Now, we are talking about the 1950’s, but this did not just happen in those years. This kind of “National Security” issue happened to Mr. Maher Arar quite recently. Mr. Arar was an engineer who was travelling for work when he was detained and arrested in New York. He was a Syrian born Canadian citizen who lived in Canada. He was arrested because his friend was under the suspicion of having a relation to Al- Qaeda. He happened to meet his friend in a coffee shop which ultimately landed him in the list of “possible terrorists”. Mr. Arar’s situation was worse than just being arrested, as he was shipped to Syria where he was tortured and humiliated.

Howerver, I do not think it was a hundred percent police deviance as the police were just doing their jobs and following a command from above. It was purely a job of the higher ups that just happened to obsess over some innocent law- abiding citizens without a proof or any kind of evidence. In my opinion, the only place where the police deviance comes in is when the police were performing their duties (interviewing the possible suspect’s friends and family members) while following orders.

Reference:

The Fifth Estate. (2010, October 15). Enemies of the State. CBCnews. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2010-2011/enemiesofthestate/

Wood, Stuart.  “Draft Letter to Stuart S. Garson”, 15 February 1950. Retrieved on 10 April 2013 via Wikipedia via CBC website

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Comments
  1. Mike Larsen says:

    Question: If political policing that violates democratic principles is authorized by the federal government and backed by law and policy, can it still be conceptualized as *police deviance*, or is the concept too narrow to encapsulate the practice? I note that the police who participated in PROFUNC investigations did not do so with reluctance – this sort of activity was something that the RCMP Security Service was actively involved in throughout the Cold War period.

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