12.19.2006

spies

Yesterday we learned that the highest law enforcement in the country was spying on Tommy Douglas as if were a criminal.

Douglas shares that honour with every great US reformer, and thousands of minor ones. Like so many of Canada's shameful moments, this one sounds like a diluted version of what goes on south of the border.
Perhaps fittingly, the file contains articles noting Douglas's concern about rumours of RCMP surveillance of Canadians, though there is no indication the politician suspected he was being watched.

"Setting people to spy on one another is not the way to protect freedom," he wrote while NDP leader.

RCMP security and intelligence officers amassed files on 800,000 Canadians and actively monitored thousands of organizations, from church and women's groups to media outlets and universities.

Markings indicate Douglas's file is one of more than 650 secret dossiers the RCMP kept on Canadian politicians and bureaucrats as part of a project known as the "VIP program."
The stories all note that many of the RCMP secret files "remain completely sealed". I hope Canadian historians are trying to do something about that.

The quote from this story that's making the rounds is telling.
A Mountie assessment from the late 1970s says it was difficult to determine the influence Douglas's various leftist associates had over him: "It is felt, however, there is much we do not know about Douglas and the file should be maintained in order to correlate any additional information that surfaces which might assist in piecing this jigsaw puzzle together."
There is much we do not know about Douglas. Of course, there's no indication that the RCMP learned anything that the public didn't already know.

FBI, RCMP, CIA, CSIS: whatever the initials, it's disgraceful.

3 comments:

James said...

Anyone who goes looking for enemies will find them, even if there are none to find.

FormerOwl said...

Hmm. Time for some Canadian spying & dirty tricks history. Unintended comedy included gratis.

In backwards time order --

When the old Communist Party of Canada was doing a renovation of its HQ on Cecil St. in Toronto, it found some old listening devices in the ceiling, likely secretly planted by the RCMP. I am not sure when this was -- sometime in the early 1990's IIRC. No link, sorry.

This barn-burning etc. turned into a tragedy for some RCMP officers - can't remember whether one or two of them took the blame for superiors, had careers ruined, and committed suicide. The Parti Québécois (separatist party) was not amused at the RCMP shenanigans.

Scandals surrounding the RCMP

Fred Rose's problems were partly the result of Gouzenko. But note the change in citizenship law as a result -- no more taking away people's citizenships.

Fred Rose, Communist politician, MP

Gouzenko, the spy/defector was initially very sloppily handled by the RCMP, so he had to go to the newspaper. But it all worked out in the end.

By the way, the Prime Minister of the time, William Lyon Mackenzie King, was an eccentric fellow. As Wikipedia says, "Privately, he was highly eccentric with his preference for communing with spirits, including those of Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, his dead mother, and several of his dogs, all named Pat."

Igor Gouzenko

FormerOwl said...

Sorry, defective link to Fred Rose. Blogger did not allow a preview for some reason. The link should be:

Fred Rose Communist MP