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?
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.