Posts Tagged ‘National Security’

Prominent Functionaries, also known as, PROFUNC was a national security initiative that lasted over 30 years (1950 -1983). The plan was to spy on and intern suspected communists along with their sympathizers. The RCMP would go as far as going undercover and pretending to be friends with some of the suspected communists to gain intelligence. The state essentially perceived some Canadians as a national threat just for being associated with someone having certain political beliefs which is actually completely legal. The RCMP targeted anybody with party membership, family connections or associations that suggested sympathy with communist Canadians.  Jimmy Laxer, son of Robert Laxer was drawn up in this documentary as an example of a child who suffered due to his parents beliefs. Jimmy Laxer reported that he felt like he was being watched as a child because of his family. One can only imagine the effects this anxiety could have on a child. The fact that this was going on with approval from the Canadian government and without anybody knowing about it really made me think about the kinds of things that could be going on today. How could something of this nature be approved by our government? I find it interesting that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into law one year before PROFUNC ended.

The police deviance in PROFUNC can be understood with the help of Maurice Punch. PROFUNC would be a typology of deviance referred to as “system failure with a societal impact” (Punch, 2009). The Government of Canada approved this program, therefore making it an issue of the state. The implications of this decision causes Canadians today to think twice about just how much trust they put into our police officers and government. PROFUNC is representative an example of police deviance as it captures how the state can allow and approve corrupt practices such as spying and interning on a societal scale. PROFUNC, an externally driven form of corruption conveys state domination as the police that are linked to state or local politicians following orders and carrying out the state or local politician’s illicit aims (Punch, 2009). In this case, spying on anybody associated with left wing communist Canadians. The RCMP must act on the states illicit aims, more specifically communism. This helps us understand how PROFUNC would be a system failure. It’s important to note that Intelligence does not necessarily have to be 100 percent true. An assumption can be considered intelligence; however the RCMP does have to act with complete discretion and is not supposed to act on assumptions. The case of Maher Arar illustrates how minor assumptions can have serious consequences. Maher Arar was caught speaking to a terrorist of Muslim decent and was arrested and sent to Syria, where he was tortured for one year.

This biggest thing to understand about PROFUNC is that the federal government approved it. This factor greatly magnifies the significance of this program. When thinking about people like Jimmy Laxer who suffered anxiety as a child due to his parents believe I can’t help but feel empathetic. Canada prides itself as a nation of freedom and equality, are the beliefs of communist Canadians really more important than upholding the standards Canada claims to have?

References

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

Punch, M. (2009). Police Corruption. New York: Routledge 2011.

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For more than 30 years, Canada’s federal government had a top secret plan in place, called Profunc, to be launched if there was ever a threat against the country. The Profunc plan was run by national security (RCMP) and the federal government. National security is now known as CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service). National security was to strip some people’s basic rights because they were deemed to be an enemy of the country. The country had secret envelopes known as C215 made from secret briefings. People’s names and addresses were easily added on the list which was kept in a safe and sealed place. If the cold war ever turned into a hot war, the Profunc plan was to be put into action and the people on the list were to be rounded up, including wife and children, and be detained because they were considered to be a threat to the country. I believe Canada’s dark history of Profunc was highly unethical but serious measures are to be taken in these types of circumstances.

Moreover, Profunc was set up to round up suspicious people associated with parties such as communists because they posed a threat against the country. However, the list made by the RCMP was top secret; people who did not pose any threat or could not even be considered to be a potential threat to the country were on the list and these people had no idea they were on it. Furthermore, the federal government agency went along and signed the plan of Profunc which allowed people to be spied on for a number of years. I am highly shocked that something like this could happen in Canada, even when we have the Charter of rights and freedoms in place. On the other hand, the Profunc program does not represent any police deviance because the government’s administrator signed the Profunc plan and initiated it in place. The plan was to be operated if national security was threatened. The people of national security would by all means be following through with their orders to protect the country.

Furthermore, the Profunc plan does not represent police deviance but could be seen as police deviance. The federal government can not share all of its secret plans with the public because then they would be giving away their secrets that could be used against them by other countries. According to Punch (2009) police deviance occurs when it is externally driven, such as state domination, capture by deviant elite or within the police domain. However, the federal government and national security did what they felt was best for the country. Considering someone to be an enemy of the country based on suspicion and political beliefs is wrong and represents corruption. For instance, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, national security is to take further measures to prevent threats against the country; however, I hope there aren’t plans like Profunc in place to round up people to be detained without any hard evidence. We can not be detaining innocent people based on suspicion; this is a serious issue, look what happened to Maher Arar. It’s interesting to learn how “the bill was to die of old age” and “put to sleep by someone who didn’t even know it existed” (CBC, 2010).

References Cited

CBC News. (Producer) (2010). The fifth estate [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2010-2011/enemiesofthestate/

Punch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Portland: Willan Publishing.

Arar, M. (2013). Mahers story. Retrieved from http://maherarar.net/mahers story.php