Posts Tagged ‘PROFUNC’

PROFUNC: an example of political deviance

Posted: April 13, 2013 by rachellelouden in Uncategorized

To determine whether PROFUNC is an example of police deviance, we must first define deviance. Punch (2009) defines deviance as behaviours and conducts which go against the norms and expectations that a group or an organisation holds. He also, of course, acknowledges that violation of the criminal law is too a form of deviance. I do not believe that PROFUNC was a form of police deviance based on definition but, I do believe it was a form of political deviance. PROFUNC was a plan approved by the Federal Government of Canada which delegated the powers to the police to use extreme measures to detain people of communist belief and these apprehensions were for the most part based off of fear and suspicion.|

Fear, suspicion, spying and lists contributed heavily in helping the PROFUNC initiative reach the heights that it did. Because of fear of threat to the state, the program was created. Because of suspicion, many people were detained without reason, other than suspicion alone. Because of lists, people were put under surveillance largely impacting their future and reputation. Because of secretive spying, people were unaware to the threat they were facing from the state. To sum up the amount of fear that was imminent during this time, in the Fifth Estate documentary, ‘Enemies of the State’ (2010), James Laxer states “the police were bad, the police were our enemy, the police were out there to do us harm.”

Even though the PROFUNC initiative was abolished (supposedly), we can still to this day see similar instances where a fear of mentality becomes a political issue and creates a large impact with lasting consequences. Look at the Maher Arar incident as a genuine example. In the PROFUNC era, it were communists who were deemed to be ‘enemies of the state’ as a reflection on the times. Post September 11th, there was a common misconception placed upon Muslims, and they then became the picture of an ‘enemy of the state’.  Maher Arar was essentially kidnapped, much like the people taken from their homes during the PROFUNC program who were detained in internment camps. Although logically it seems as though these demonstrate unlawful confinement and a breach of charter rights, because of approved legislation, these were not.

Accountability mechanisms in these instances become immersed in very murky water. Because many of the documents surrounding their operations are heavily censored and large portions of information are left out due to reasons of ‘national security’, it is very difficult to create accounts of accountability to determine whether actions were justified. Another problem that exists in both of these instances is the sharing of lists without caveats. The list which was creating for the PROFUNC program created issues where people would try to get into the United States, but were denied access because of the list. For Maher Arar, the RCMP gave the list, again without caveats, to the CIA which then led to his
torture in Syrain prison. Both of these lists were created on suspicion and were not always accurate in who the determined to be a red flag.

The Fifth Estate. (2010, October 15). Enemies of the State. CBCnews. Retrieved from
Punch, M. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. London; New York: Routledge.


Posted: April 11, 2013 by tysonnesdoly in Uncategorized
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“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”
― Karl Marx (Karl Marx Quotes)


            North America is referred to as a “developed” nation compared to nations such as South Africa, Afghanistan and Russia (UN, 2011). However, I feel like this is something that we as Canadians have, directly or indirectly, taken advantage of. I believe we have an attitude that we are invulnerable to any type of large scale political repression. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened for close to 30 years after the 50’s. During this time, the RCMP and the Canadian government put together a list labeled “PROFUNC,” which stood for, “Predominant Functionaries of the Communist party.” This list was to be used to detain all suspected communists supporters and ‘sympathizers,’ including their families, and hold them in any case of a ‘perceived’ national emergency. This list included approximately 16,000 supporters and 50,000 sympathizers***. The RCMP had conducted surveillance of these individuals and is alleged to have even been involved in forms of intimidation to the individuals and their families. To learn more on this subject click here.


            This behaviour by the authorities is very obviously deviant as the allegations that justified the disregard for these people’s rights were solely based off of their ‘legal’ opposition to the current government. It is, however, difficult to focus on an individual form of police deviance to really understand it. A form of deviance that best describes this case is the “Ideological combatants” (Punch, 2009). The premise behind this form is that the political influence behind the police is the main driving force behind police actions. The fact that this initiative was authorized by the federal government supports the theory that it was an effort to take extreme measures to prevent a real democratic revolution. The responsibility of the deviance falls on not only the frontline officers, but of the organization and government structure as a whole. Obviously, the orders filter down from the top and end up at the constables who carried out the “beat work.” Just because the officers were ordered to conduct themselves in this way, doesn’t mean it was legally or morally justified. Take the “Nuremberg defense” used by Nazi soldiers after the holocaust, for example. Just because they were “taking orders,” doesn’t necessarily mean they are free from any type of responsibility (Eichmann). Police officers are held at a high standard of ethics regarding the discretion used and when it comes to violating the rights of individuals, politics has no place.

            The treatment of Capitalist opposition at the hands of the RCMP from the 1950’s to the 1980’s was a dark time in Canadian policing history. To understand this form of deviance, one must not follow blindly with the ideologies of the ruling class. The individuals affected by the PROFUNC initiative have the absolute right to freedom of speech and the right to think independently. We as Canadians must ensure that we do not take for granted the democratic rights available to us and must make sure to keep all levels of law enforcement and government accountable; as they are ultimately at the mercy of the public, not the other way around.


Eichmann, A. (n.d.). The Trial of Adolf Eichmann. Retrieved 2013, from

Karl Marx Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved 2013, from Good Reads:

Punch, M. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. London; New York: Routledge.

UN. (2011). Human Development Report. New York: UNDP.

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.


The Fifth Estate. (2010, October 15). Enemies of the State. CBCnews. Retrieved from

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

PROFUNC: Severe Deviance

Posted: April 11, 2013 by JatinderThandi in Uncategorized

At a secret meeting amongst senior officials of the RCMP and the federal government in August of 1950, a plan called “PROFUNC” was permitted.  PROFUNC is an abbreviation for “Prominent Functionaries of Groups with Communist Affiliation.”  It was created so the Canadian government could detain anyone with communist links or perceived to be a threat to Canadian nation security.   It didn’t take much to get on this list; being a member of a communist party or organization, being related to a member, or even being was enough to get someone’s name on there.  There were apparently more than 66,000 Canadians on the list.  After watching the fifth estate documentary, called ‘enemies of the state’ I was shocked a plan like this was even allowed and continued to operate for so many years.  Surprisingly, the PROFUNC operation remained in place until the 1980s.   It’s hard to picture today that a Canadian government would agree to a plan to arrest thousands of law-abiding Canadians and lock them away just because they were alleged to be a threat to Canadian democracy.  Under the plan, targets on the list could be held forever, subject to severe discipline, and shot if they tried to escape custody. The arrests made beneath PROFUNC were specified a code name, C-215.  Another surprising fact is that not only the actual suspects were targets of the operation.  Arrests made under C-215 not only involved the suspect but also his/her family and all other people that were close to the suspect.

It is obvious that the originators of the Profunc operation were using their powers to their advantage.  In doing so, they felt they were able to misuse their powers as influential figures.    The G20 Summit could be compared to this because similarly the police officers also mistreated their powers.  Like PROFUNC, the officers at the Summit had no respect for the civil rights of the people arrested.  Protesters and bystanders were searched, intimidated, beaten, arrested, and detained just because they exercised their democratic right to protest. Hundreds were arrested and detained for days; many were beaten, abused, or sexually harassed by the police.  With PROFUNC, everybody who expressed their opinion in contradiction of the Canadian government was put on the list.  The plan led to a mass number of arrests of citizens that had not committed a single crime.  For instance, Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen once spoke to an individual assumed of being part of a terrorist attack; for this he was not allowed into Canada and was deported where he was tortured for over a year.

PROFUNC simply represents police deviance in that it violated the constitutional rights of thousands of Canadians, similarly how the corrupt police officers do as well.  The PROFUNC operation abused their power and took advantage of law-abiding Canadians, just like how deviant police officers continue to do so today.  I’ve always thought of Canada as a country that would not have allowed a plan like this to operate.  The PROFUNC idea may have been considered a good idea by the creators but I think it was way too extreme the way it was set up.  Any time innocent citizens are being arrested and tortured is wrong and a plan like PROFUNC should not be permitted to operate.

The Fifth Estate. (2010, October 15). Enemies of the State. CBCnews. Retrieved from

Enemy of the State

Posted: April 11, 2013 by jasprdha in Uncategorized

For almost 30 years a government agency called PROFUNC, which stands for “PROminent FUNCtionaries of the communist party” produced lists and maintained these lists of people suspected to be involved with the communist party. PROFUNC would allow members of the communist party who were placed on these lists to be picked up at a moment’s notice and be detained, if there was a perceived threat to national security and a threat to the state. The RCMP who started this initiative would spy on Canadians and gather intelligence about Communist party members, going so far as becoming friends and maintaining relationships with people they are spying on. The state believed some Canadians were a national threat just for being associated with someone having political beliefs which is completely legal. The RCMP would gather a list and create files called C-215 which were detainment orders. The people on these lists were to be gathered on a certain day called M-day. Luckily M-day never came and the majority of Canadian citizens who were labelled communists, according to PROFUNC, never had to deal with this situation. This raises questions of ethics within the RCMP and the state spying on their own citizens.

National security, a term which has no solid meaning yet can cause so many problems. It is a term that can cut through citizens’ rights as if they never existed. PROFUNC was in complete violation of Canadian citizen’s rights. All Canadian citizens have the same rights despite their political ideology. The initiative was carried on for decades and no one knew it was happening. To this day many people on those lists do not know that they were being spied on. Not until a public official stumbled across it which ultimate resulted in the initiative being shut down.

PROFUNC can be seen as police deviance in a way that the police are in place to protect the citizens of the state. So why would the state issue orders for the police to spy on their citizens. Though it is not the traditional form of deviance there certainly are ethical concerns. Just like a police officer who commits perjury is keeping information from the public and the state, the state is keeping information from their citizens. Granted there are things that cannot be made public for obvious reasons such as giving intelligence to other countries. Though the government might have taken spying on their own citizens too far, the federal government felt a need to protect their “national security” even though considering someone to be an enemy of the state based on suspicion and political beliefs is wrong and represents a form of deviance. We see in our times many threats to our nation and after September 11 the caution level was escalated 10 fold. Many allegations were brought forth about people being detained for no apparent reason, for example Maher Arar.

Though many try to seek blame for PROFUNC it is hard to pin point who had authorized this order. Though it had come from the prime minister’s office, was it the RCMP who escalated and made the circumstance seem worse than they actually were? National Security operations are generally done behind closed doors and with no supervision. PROFUNC continued for a number of years which kept a lot of people in Canadian society and the government of Canada ill informed. The fact is, the RCMP gathered intelligence for over a thousand individuals in Canada based on suspicions, and to this day the state could be doing the exact same thing, but because of “national security” we will never know…

Arar, M. (2013). Mahers story. Retrieved from story.php

PROFUNC: Using fear to justify repression

Posted: April 11, 2013 by mateffi in Uncategorized

               The PROFUNC program began during 1950s after the Cold War. It was made in fear of the Cold War becoming a “Hot War”. There was a common fear of communism within the Canadian Government. PROFUNC would target groups of people who were believed to be soviet or communist sympathizers. Stuart Taylor Wood was involved in identifying and neutralizing suspected spies. He planned on spying and interning on 16,000 suspected communist and maybe 50,000 sympathizers. This list was made by the RCMP and it qualified thousands of Canadians for indefinite incarceration. The RCMP referred to this as M Day; this was when special teams in uniforms arrived to neighborhoods where they awaited a signal that would allow them to enter suspected homes and roundup believed communist threats. This would happen all across the country in the event of international hostility.

               I was very surprised that the PROFUNC program existed for as long as it did and that it had government approval. In a sense it does make sense that the Canadian government would approve a program like this because their main concern is protection of their political ideology but the problem with the PROFUNC program is it used fear to justify repression in the name of national security. I would consider this being a form of combative/strategic corruption. Punch describes this as the aggressive efforts to gain convictions and achieve results against suspected terrorist suspects through extra legal means. PROFUNC specifically targeted Canadians that supported political beliefs that were in fact legal to support. The police at this time were going way beyond their duties of power by being able to watch, monitor and snatch someone due to “suspicion” and/or their political belief. None of these “suspected” Canadians had any evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were in fact a threat, instead it was all based on suspicion. The PROFUNC program stripped thousands of Canadians their basic rights to keep public order.

The end of the Fifth estate documentary makes the viewer question whether we live in a surveillance state. Although the PROFUNC program has ended it seems that spying on “suspicious” political activist continues till this day. There are many government agencies that spy on Canadian citizens who are involved in democratic activity such as CSIS , CBSA, and the RCMP. Program such as PROFUNC makes Canada appear as a surveillance state with a repressive government.


Posted: April 11, 2013 by ryanuppal in Uncategorized

PROFUNC, which stands for “Prominent Functionaries of the communist party” was a top secret plan created by the government of Canada to identify and contain Canadian communists. PROFUNC was established in 1950 to detain individuals seen as a threat to Canada’s national security. The arrests made under PROFUNC were given a code name, C-215. Arrests made under C-215 not only included the suspect in question but his/her family, children, grandparents, and all other individuals that were close to the suspect.

It is apparent that the creators of PROFUNC were using their administrative powers to their advantage. In doing so, they felt they were able to abuse their powers as authoritative figures. This brings us back to the G20 Summit in Toronto. The police officers that day also abused their powers. Like PROFUNC, the officers at the Summit had no regard for the constitutional rights of the people they injured. The list that was used in PROFUNC consisted of over 60,000 names of individuals who were suspected of being communists without having much of a history of them, once again much like the G20 Summit. The individuals that were harmed or contained in temporary cells did little to nothing wrong. They were suspected of being criminals and were suspected of having committed a crime because of the very few that came to the Summit to break laws. With PROFUNC, because of the rise in spies and communism post-war, anyone who voiced the slightest opinion against the Canadian government was put on the list.

Post 9/11 Muslims and people of other nationalities around the world were accused of being terrorists despite having no interaction at all with any terrorist organization. Like many of the individuals on the PROFUNC list who came into contact with various Canadian communists, Maher Arar once spoke to an individual suspected of being a part of the terror attacks. Because of a simple interaction he had, he was denied admission into Canada, his home country, and deported to Syria where he was tortured for over a year. Once again it is evident that minor assumptions made by those with authority can have drastic consequences on innocent individuals.

PROFUNC simply represents police deviance in that it violated the constitutional rights of many Canadians just as deviant police due. Deviant police abuse the power given to them for personal gain. PROFUNC took advantage of innocent Canadians and invaded the privacy that is promised to every Canadian. PROFUNC was abolished a year prior to the created of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, something that was so terribly wrong was destroyed after thirty years, how long will it take for our government to realize that deviant police acts need to be abolished as well? What will it take for our government to finally put an end to the abusing of ill-advised citizens who do not know better?