First Published: In Struggle No. 224, Oct 28, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Since the events of October 1970, many people have become interested in under cover police operations. The media has revealed many wide-scale police operations against union and progressive organizations: Operation Odd Job (theft of documents from the Agence de presse libre du Quebec), Dragon II (infiltration of the 1972 Common Front), Ham (theft of PQ membership lists), against the postal worker etc. What is less well-known however is that it is daily routine for the police forces to infiltrate and recruit informers so that they can pull off major operations. These daily actions are an integral part of police methods to repress progressive and workers movements and organizations.
The story which we are going to tell here is the story of Guy Villeneuve, an IN STRUGGLE! member, who received an offer from the RCMP to become an informer. His story is not unique. It has been repeated in Halifax, Victoriaville, Hamilton, Toronto....
In issue 215 of IN STRUGGLE!, we revealed the name of a RCMP informer in Halifax who was paid to gather information on our Organization.
In Sept-Isles, a union militant, P.E. Giguere, received a visit from RCMP agents. In coming issues of the paper, we will be giving other examples of RCMP and provincial and municipal police attempts to infiltrate and corrupt.
It is three in the afternoon, Tuesday, October 7. Two RCMP agents ring the bell at the home of Guy Villeneuve, an IN STRUGGLE! member. Dressed as ordinary civilians, aged around 30 and 40, looking like honest husbands and fathers, the two strangers identify themselves and one of them shows his identify card. He then asks if they can talk to Guy for a couple of minutes. Guy is alone at home. They are blocking the doorway, 5’10“ and 170 pounds each. Guy immediately asks them if they have a warrant against him. They say no and continue “You should have a good idea why we’ve come to see you”. Intrigued, Guy says no, and leads them down to the basement. Once they are there, the two agents inspect the premises to assure themselves that there is no one else there and that the doors and windows are properly closed. The agents ask Guy if he would not prefer to go out with them to a restaurant or a pub. Even though he refused, the offer was repeated many times during the interview.
They introduce themselves again, giving their names and saying that they are inquiring into IN STRUGGLE! and that they “are ready to pay”. They explain that they are doing the inquiry “in collaboration with national security...”
The agents add that they are going to visit people who are starting to get fed up and demoralized. They are trying to get them to collaborate to prevent violence, the revolution and foreign interference into the country by countries like China or Russia. “It’s the communists who make strikes last so long.” The two’agents also tell Guy that they know his whole “file” and that he is a long time member of IN STRUGGLE!
“We know that you’re a long time and a long time honest member. We know that you’re open, honest and very important in the Organization. How is it that an intelligent guy like you is working such long hours for so little money? Do you really believe everything that’s said in your newspaper? You look like an honest fellow. Do you think that all the people in the Organization are as honest as you? What are the other members of the Organization going to say when they hear that you were visited by the police like this?”
Guy asked them to leave. He did so many times during the time they were there.
But every time, they changed subjects and tried to orient the discussion onto a more general subject like the role of the police: “We aren’t involved in politics.” Guy answered by giving examples from the time of the October Crisis which prove the contrary.
When the discussion began again on the subject, one of the agents came back to more direct questions about Guy’s position in the Organization. “What are your current tasks? We want to know your secret activities”, or about his personal life: “Does your brother still live with you?”
Guy refused to answer the questions and the agents “apologized”: “We’re not like the QPP, we don’t use intimidation... We don’t probe into people’s personal lives.” During the conversation, the agents praised Guy’s carpentry workshop. They even offered him a job as a cabinet-maker at $15.00 an hour!
The agents once again make him an offer to collaborate. “Don’t feel pressured. Think it over. Can we come back and see you? We’d like to talk with you again.” Guy, who had remained on his guard throughout the interview firmly told them that he was not interested and that the next time, they would not be allowed in without a proper warrant. One of the agents leaves his name and telephone number on Guy’s cigarette pack. Louis Duhamel, 283-4375. “I hope you don’t publish it in your paper,” he adds. And, after an hour, the agents leave.
As we said at the beginning, this case is far from being unique. The manner of proceeding is often the same. There are often two police. They succeed in getting into people’s homes by physically pushing their way in so as to intimidate the person from the start. They assure that the person is alone. It is a flagrant case of violation of a private domicile. The police profit from the fact that the people are curious or overwhelmed to begin the discussion.
Just like in the police films, the interrogation often jumps around from subject to subject. The police jump from one question to the next to get the victim off his guard or to make him reveal something without thinking, about the Organization or the personal life of other people. Often, the same agent asks the questions while the other one observes the reactions and takes notes. There is also the carrot and the stick tactic. First the victim is flattered “you’re very intelligent and honest”, “you work well”. But afterwards there are insinuations that they can hurt the victims “we know your whole file”.
They also try to exploit difficulties people are going through: cases of separations, demoralization, etc., and try to sow doubts about the Organization “do you really think that everyone within the Organization is as honest as you?” They succeed in picking up this conversation with the person by switching to more general subjects: the role of the police, the violence of communists, etc. They do not give up easily.
These police agents who do the work of scum are real professionals. They are highly-paid experts whose job is to destabilize union and political organizations. Militants and progressives who are victims of these visits should not take chances in talking with them.
Nonetheless, even if it is preferable not to talk with these agents, one should not attribute to them powers which they do not have! On the contrary, in cases where they pretend to “know it all”, the questions posed often indicate that this is not the situation. They are “fishing” for information. These agents are often afraid to make contact with the person they aiming at: they avoid parking their car on the street which they wish to visit, they wait for the person to be alone and they constantly check the windows of the house in which they are.
The only defence is to counter attack as soon as the police enter without a warrant. Victims of these violations should immediately alert their lawyer and neighbouring friends by telephone. These agents are acting in total illegality when they enter a private home without the consent of the resident.
At a time when the State seems to be developing this type of police operation against opposition movements which are growing everywhere in Canada, it is important for the victims to speak out about the work of these police agents. Too often the police play on the fact that interrogated people are afraid of losing their jobs or of other reprisals. Only a collective fight-back can be effective in limiting these underhanded police operations.
We would ask all those who are victims of such manoeuvres to inform the newspaper IN STRUGGLE! which could also offer these people support. Through a unified fightback the labour and progressive movements will be able to increasingly identify who these political police and agents are counter their attempts to build a network of saboteurs.