October 25, 2010

On the PROFUNC revelations

Statement from the Central Executive Committee,
Communist Party of Canada
October 25, 2010

The latest revelations regarding the “PROFUNC” blacklist prove that the Cold War era witch-hunt tactics included highly organized plans to intern thousands of Communists and other critics of the anti-democratic, anti-working class, pro-war policies of the Canadian state.

When evidence of this plot first surfaced a decade ago, the Communist Party of Canada condemned this draconian operation and demanded full disclosure of the plans. Now, the CBC’s Fifth Estate has exposed in chilling detail the extraordinary extent of these internment preparations.

Back in February 2000, the Communist Party of Canada condemned this plot as “entirely consistent with the prevailing anti-communist policies of the Canadian state,” not just an isolated relic of history.

Ever since our formation in 1921, the Communist Party has faced continued harassment from police and security forces. Tim Buck, our Party’s long‑time general secretary, and seven other Party leaders were arrested and imprisoned during the 1930s under the notorious Section 98 of the Criminal Code which outlawed so-called “subversive organizations.” An attempt was even made to assassinate Tim Buck in Kingston Penitentiary.

Many Communists were interned at Petawawa and Kananaskis during the Second World War, and even blocked from joining the Canadian Armed Forces during the military struggle against Hitler fascism. Party offices and meeting halls were closed; printing presses and other assets were seized, and our press and publications banned. Following WWII, the Party and its activists suffered state-organized persecution for decades during the “Cold War” period.

In fact, mass suppression of civil rights and democratic freedoms has been a constant political factor from the origins of this country. The military defeat of the Métis resistance struggles, the War Measures Act, the mass internments of ethnic groups during the First and Second World Wars, relentless police attacks against the labour movement – all these illustrate the reality that from its very beginnings, the Canadian capitalist state has used the police, military, courts and spy agencies against its “enemies”.

The PROFUNC program was not created out of thin air; it was a more organized and sweeping version of earlier repression, based on the foul lie that the Communists were “agents of a foreign power.” The PROFUNC (PROminent FUNCtionaries of the Communist Party) list was created in 1950, under the direction of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Stuart Taylor Wood. This blacklist grew to include some 16,000 “suspected communists” and 50,000 “communist sympathizers” to be observed and potentially interned during a state of emergency such as war against the USSR. The identities were kept in sealed envelopes filed at Mountie detachments across the country.

A separate arrest document was written up for each potential internee. These C-215 forms were updated regularly, including descriptions, photographs, vehicle data, and other information. Even “escape routes” from the personal residences of those on the list were noted.

“Mobilization Day” (M‑Day) was designated as the day to arrest and transport people on the PROFUNC list to temporary detainment centres across Canada, including Casa Loma in Toronto, a country club in Port Arthur, and Regina Exhibition Park. From these centres, male detainees would then be transferred to penitentiaries across Canada, while women would be interned at facilities in the Niagara Peninsula or Kelowna. Their children would be sent to relatives or interned with their parents. Internees who broke prison rules could be held indefinitely, or shot while attempting to escape.

Some people have expressed shock that prominent non-communists were included in the PROFUNC list, such as Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas, whose ‘crime’ was apparently his association with Communists in the fight to win universal Medicare in Canada. The point, however, is that any attack on democracy and freedom inevitably expands to target all those who might speak out in opposition.

This was shown during the 1970 October Crisis, when PROFUNC was used to help detain hundreds of so-called Front de libération du Québec suspects, most of whom had no affiliation with the FLQ. Almost all of these “suspects” were eventually released without charge, but the goal was to terrorize a wide range of progressive activists, just as the Cold War accusations aimed at undermining the militant labour and people’s movements of the 1940s and ‘50s.

The PROFUNC list remained in force during the 1970s; in fact, the Canadian Penitentiary Service received updated PROFUNC lists to make them aware of the number of potential internees.

It was not until the 1980s that Solicitor General Robert Kaplan introduced administrative changes to remove the barriers which Communists and others faced in trying to cross the Canada-U.S. border. These changes effectively ended PROFUNC by forcing the RCMP to scrap the list.

The wrongful and illegal activities of the RCMP were well documented by the MacDonald Royal Commission back in the early 1980s. ‘Dirty tricks’ included unlawful spying and wiretapping, theft of documents, destruction of property, the use of `agent-provocateurs,’ etc. The revelations about the RCMP’s scandalous role in subverting and attacking a wide range of democratic movements compelled the federal government to turn over authority for domestic espionage to the newly-created CSIS. But this move did not eliminate the menace to civil rights and democratic freedoms; it merely made CSIS the main perpetrator.

This threat remains very real today, especially given the consistent efforts by the minority Harper Conservative government to crush, silence and jail opposition voices, and to create scapegoats to divert public anger from the impact of the capitalist crisis and anti-working class policies. The so-called “war on terror” is used to justify wide-ranging surveillance and infiltrating of people’s opposition movements, to portray racialized communities as potential “enemies” which must be closely watched by CSIS, and to bar anti-war activists from entering Canada.

The vast expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars on “security” for the Winter Olympics and the G8/G20 Summits was not intended to block non-existent or wildly inflated “security threats,” but rather to intimidate Canadians from expressing public opposition against the policies of the federal and provincial governments. The mass arrest of over 1,100 protesters during the G20 Summit in Toronto is powerful evidence that plans to suppress dissent remain very much alive at the highest levels of the Canadian state.

The latest revelations reinforce our demand that the Canadian government must make public all documents relating to this sordid affair, including the names of individuals whose civil and human rights were to be violated. We demand an official apology to the Communist Party and to the families of all those individual Communists who were targeted under the PROFUNC plan.

We reiterate our long-standing call for the abolition of the RCMP (which prepared the PROFUNC lists), and for the disbanding of CSIS, which conducts surveillance of present-day critics of government policies.

We urge the entire labour and democratic movement – the main target of the drive to criminalize dissent in Canada – to demand a complete and final end to the policy of drawing up plans for the mass crushing of opposition forces. The defeat of the Harper Tories will be an important step in building the movement for a more democratic Canada, and we pledge to continue to do everything in our power to achieve these goals.


For more information, please contact CPC leader Miguel Figueroa at 416-469-2446 or figueroa@cpc-pcc.ca.

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