First Published: People’s Canada Daily News, Vol 7, No. 163, July 11, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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On Friday, July 8, the first case arising out of the February 23, 1977 RCMP raid on the Norman Bethune Institute in Kitchener-Waterloo finally came to trial at the Kitchener Provincial Court. The events in the courtroom fully confirmed that this is a case of blatant political persecution and frame-up, and that the prosecution had no evidence which was not fabricated. The crown was forced to drop the charges of “aiding” someone to violate the Immigration Act which it had laid against Douglas Wahlsten, a University of Waterloo professor and spokesman for the Anti-Imperialist Alliance. The prosecutor admitted that he lacked “admissible” evidence for a conviction, although he did claim to have some “inadmissible” evidence which he refused to reveal.
The February 23 raid by the RCMP goon squad and the arrest of seventeen individuals, including Comrade Hardial Bains, Chairman of CPC(M-L), were acts of utter desperation by the quisling Canadian state. At the same time that Pierre Elliot Trudeau was kow-towing to the U.S. imperialists in Washington and pledging complete loyalty to their cause of aggression and war, over twenty plainclothes RCMP hooligans ransacked the offices of the Kitchener-Waterloo branch of the Norman Bethune Institute and the homes of several comrades working there. This raid was a vain attempt to disrupt the work of the historic Third Congress of the Party which was in progress at the time, and it was part of a long campaign by the reactionary state to crush the Party of the proletariat in Canada and suppress the revolutionary movement of the working class against the shifting of the burden of the economic crisis onto its back and against the two superpowers and the reactionary bourgeoisie.
The state maintained from the outset of this affair that it was merely an immigration matter and had “no political overtones”. However, the facts show otherwise. On February 23, sixteen comrades of CPC(M-L) were arrested for supposedly “aiding” one American to violate the Immigration Act, and they were carted off to the Kitchener jail, where they were detained all day and refused the right to make a phone call. Fourteen of these comrades were formally charged under Section 46j of the Immigration Act. When ten of these comrades appeared in court on April 7 for trial, the prosecutor was unable to proceed because, he claimed, there was too much evidence to sift through from the raids and he needed more time to prepare his case. In addition, further charges might be laid, he boasted. But he beat a cowardly retreat when asked to reveal what some of this “evidence” might be. One comrade went to the prosecutor’s office several times and demanded to see the “evidence” so that it could be exposed, but the crown claimed it had the right to keep everything secret until the trial itself.
When all fourteen comrades charged with “aiding” appeared in court on May 5 to set trial dates, the charges against ten of them were suddenly dropped with no explanation. Conspicuously, the charges were not dropped against Comrade Hardial Bains. The reactionary forces were obviously near panic in the court. When one comrade vigorously denounced the state for harassing him and others, forcing them to take time off work to come to Waterloo to face these flimsy charges, the judge threatened him with contempt of court. When the audience in the courtroom snickered at the ridiculous arguments presented by the prosecutor to show why he should be allowed to go on harassing the comrades, the judge threatened to have everyone cleared out of the courtroom.
May 5 marked the fifth appearance in court for Doug Wahlsten, who had been returning every week to demand that a trial date be set and the evidence be revealed. Finally, July 8 was set as the earliest possible trial date, and the comrade then demanded that the state reveal its evidence so that he could prepare his own defence. Both the prosecutor and the judge pointed out that the accused has no right to see the evidence against himself under Canadian law.
The comrade therefore conducted his own investigation of the activities of the state in this affair in order to expose the frame-up and the crude attempt at political persecution. However, he never had the opportunity to present his case in the bourgeois courts, because the prosecution confessed on the trial day, July 8, that it in fact had no evidence against him which could withstand scrutiny. When the comrade denounced the state for this harassment and began to review the facts of this case, how he had been dragged off to jail, forced to return to court week after week, etc., the judge abruptly declared the case dismissed and then adjourned the court.
As for the three comrades with charges remaining against them, the prosecutor refused to say whether their charges would also be dropped. He made it clear that they would be forced to prepare for trial and that they would be informed at the last minute if the prosecution would proceed. The next trial is July 15, when a comrade arrested at her apartment is to be tried for “aiding” someone who was several blocks away at the NBI. This shows the insufferable arrogance of the reactionary Canadian state, that it can persecute Marxist-Leninists with charges which have absolutely no basis in the world of facts, while the fascists who carry out this harassment remain entirely within the limits of bourgeois law.
This campaign by the state to whip up anti-communist hysteria and isolate the Party from the people has produced exactly the opposite effect. A broad section of the people has seen through the frame-up and has learned a few things about the class nature of the Canadian state in the process. The Canadian state is the state of the rich, the state of the U.S. imperialists and the reactionary bourgeoisie. It is the instrument for the suppression of the proletariat by the big bourgeoisie. The system of bourgeois law and the courts affords numerous rights to the rich and their windbag lawyers, but it means brutal suppression of the rights of the working class and the genuine patriots in Canada.
A large number of progressive and democratic individuals from coast to coast responded to the February 23 RCMP attack on CPC(M-L) and Comrade Hardial Bains with outrage and utter contempt. Immediately, this cowardly and fascist attack was denounced by workers, students and many others. When the organizing committee to found the Canadian People’s (Citizens and Residents) Defence Committee was formed following the raid, many letters and contributions were sent to support the work of the committee. The CPDC was founded amidst great enthusiasm on May 4 at a conference at the University of Waterloo, and the next day a militant demonstration of over 150 people marched behind the banner of CPDC to the Waterloo courthouse, where they denounced the political persecution of CPC(M-L) and Comrade Hardial Rains and vowed to build the CPDC and work for the establishment of a genuinely independent and democratic Canadian state.
Because the trumped-up charges against the comrades had lost credibility amongst the masses and had instead evoked bitter class hatred for the reactionary bourgeoisie, the state decided not to risk further exposure in this case, so the prosecutor turned tail and ran. The state waited until the last moment to announce that charges were being withdrawn in order to harass the supporters of CPC(M-L) to the maximum.
True to its class nature, the bourgeois state has picked up a big rock, only to drop it on its own foot. Not only has this attack on CPC(M-L) turned the RCMP and a certain prosecutor into laughing stocks in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, but the quisling state is now faced with the newly-founded Canadian People’s (Citizens and Residents) Defence Committee which has taken up the mission to Defend the Basic Interests of the Canadian People! The CPDC has made it clear that it is, going to do much more than just fight some legal battles in the posh courtrooms of the rich. It is going to mobilize the broad masses of the Canadian people to defend themselves against all kinds of social and political persecution by the state-as well as against state-organized racist attacks. Furthermore, the CPDC is going to work for the establishment of a new state, a genuinely independant and democratic state.
The Kitchener-Waterloo branch of CPDC, which was founded six days after the historic Four Point Programme of CPDC was issued, distributed several hundred leaflets at the courthouse and in the Kitchener-Waterloo area on July 8 denouncing police harassment and political persecution of progressive individuals and announcing its intention to mobilize the masses of people to defend themselves against state attacks on many fronts. This leaflet threw the reactionaries at the courthouse into a frenzy, but several youth being persecuted in the courts that day expressed their agreement with many points raised by CPDC and welcomed the formation of the local branch.
No matter what happens in the upcoming trials arising from the February 23 RCMP raid, the battle against the U.S. imperialists, the reactionary bourgeoisie and their state is going to carry on. With the leadership of their Marxist-Leninist party, CPC(M-L); and the tireless work of their mass defence organizations, including CPDC, the proletariat and people of Canada are bound to win victory and establish a’ genuinely independent and democratic state.