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The Militant, 6 April 1946

George Martell

The Real Aims Behind
Spy Scare in Canada

(23 March 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 14, 6 April 1946, pp. 1 & 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


TORONTO, March 23 – In a Montreal courtroom today, Igor Gouzenko, formerly employed by the Soviet Staff in Ottawa as a secret code expert, submitted evidence calculated to prove that high-ranking officials of the Labor-Progressive Party (Stalinists), in this country are in the service of Stalin’s GPU secret police. Gouzenko charged Fred Rose, LPP Member of Parliament for Montreal-Cartier, and Sam Carr, Stalinist National Organizer, with being recruiting agents for the GPU in Canada.


Despite the sensational nature of the charges, the trial of Rose came as an anti-climax to the monster spy-scare instigated by the Dominion government five weeks, ago today. Numerous arrests were made of persons who were charged with purloining Canadian military secrets for the Soviet Union. The spy hysteria was aimed directly at the Soviet Union. If carried to its logical conclusions, Canada would have been obliged to severe diplomatic relations with the Soviet Government for “unfriendly activities” on its soil.

But when Prime Minister Mackenzie King explained his actions to the House of. Commons on March 19, he had nothing but honeyed words for “our great neighbor to the north” with whom war was – of counsel – “unthinkable.” The spying was the work of evil men about whom “Generalissimo Stalin” had no knowledge and if he had “he would not have countenanced action of this kind.” And now he, King, was seriously contemplating a trip to Moscow to patch things up with “my friend, Stalin.”

Wait ‘Right’ Moment

King was in possession of Gouzenko’s dossiers on the operation of Soviet agents seeking military information in Canada last September. The official pretext for withholding this information was a desire not to upset friendly relations. Subsequent developments revealed, however, that the information was withheld only for a more propitious moment. That moment was decided on by Truman and Attlee with whom King held prior consultations. It came when American imperialism and its British satellite decided to launch their furious propaganda barrage against the Soviet Union.

Obviously, King was chosen to lead off with his disclosures on Soviet espionage activities. In short order, Vandenberg and Byrnes took up the cry of the Soviet “menace to peace,” and it was left to the “unofficial” Winston Churchill to bring “the war of nerves” to its peak.

With his speech Mackenzie King dropped the whole spy scare on the local Stalinists and shifted the issue from the foreign to the domestic front. This new turn of events is sending shivers down the backs of the Stalinist leaders.

Long ago they deserted the principles of revolutionary internationalism. For years they have been shouting their patriotic chants to Canadian capitalism. And the Canadian bourgeoisie was not unwilling to utilize their services against every militant and progressive tendency in the labor movement as long as the alliance with Stalin was necessary. The first sign of the disruption of this alliance has left the Stalinists in the position of riding two horses in different directions.

Cry “Loyalty”

The leaders of the LPP are now filling the air with protestations of “loyalty” to Canada. Fred Rose, who made a dramatic appearance in Parliament while under arrest but then failed to speak, says that the charges are “a political, frameup intended to nullify my fight for the maintenance of close cooperation in postwar policies between Canada and the Soviet Union.” He concludes by saying: “I have fought in the conviction that this is my highest duty to Canada and I shall fight my court case on this basis.”

The Stalinist reaction to the government attacks follows two main lines, both of which were developed by Tim Buck in an article The Plot Against Progress (National Affairs, LPP monthly magazine, March 1946), First is a plea for gratitude and forgiveness on the basis of services rendered Canadian capitalism during the war:

“It was the Communists (read Stalinists) ... who first proposed and won labor management cooperation in Canada during the war. It was the Communists who first proposed that labor should voluntarily adopt the no-strike pledge. It was the Communists who led all sections of the labor movement in support of conscription. Even the Tory press was impelled io pay tribute to the organization and all-out character of the Communist campaign for an affirmative vote in the plebiscite.”

“Warn” Capitalists

Second is a warning to the capitalist government that participation in an alignment against the Soviet Union is “against Canada’s interests.” And as if to frighten Canadian finance-capitalism, whose “interests” are linked by a thousand ties to Wall street, the Stalinists harp on the theme that Canada would become the battleground of a war with the Soviet Union.

On the other hand, Buck paints the rosy picture of the mythical Stalinist-promised paradise that will come to pass if there is “cooperation between the capitalist world and the Soviet Union.” He blandly promises “a high level of employment and national prosperity in the U.S., Great Britain and Canada ...”

It is ironical that Rose’s arrest should have been ordered by Mackenzie King, the head of the capitalist liberal party, whom the Stalinists fervently supported against all contenders for the last five years. They supported him as the “bulwark against Tory reaction” in all the federal and provincial elections since the Soviet Union entered the war. Time and again they split the working class vote and ensured the defeat of the CCF, an independent reformist labor party endorsed by the Canadian Congress of Labor as the “political arm of labor.”

Another ironical situation is presented in the courtroom. Here Gouzenko, the accuser and ex-GPU agent, faces Rose, the accused, charged with being a GPU agent. Both occupy the same political platform, capitalist “democracy,” but are now loyal to different masters.

One Platform, Two Bosses

While Gouzenko was discovering the virtues of capitalist “democracy,” practically every newspaper and every party (with the exception of the party in power) was blasting the Gestapo (or GPU) treatment accorded the spy suspects by the Canadian government. The prisoners were picked up in the dark of night, arrested without charge end held incommunicado for days and weeks in Royal Canadian Military Police barracks. By the device of an Order-in-Council, the Government set aside all the traditional civil rights.

Reactionary elements led by the notorious Col. Drew, Ontario Prime Minister, have been attempting to utilize the case to cut law the LPP. A week ago he delivered an “anti-communist” tirade in the provincial parliament in an effort to sidetrack union pressure for a minimum wage law and other labor legislation. Premier Duplessis of Quebec followed his lead by threatening to invoke the infamous “padlock law” under which police may raid and bar from occupancy the residents of any office, headquarters or home suspected of having “subversive” literature or carrying on “subversive” activities.

Fortunately there is no sign that the labor movement, which is now planning a nationwide movement for increased wages, will succumb to this reactionary pressure, Its entirely correct answer to Drew’s exhortation that, the unions “purge their ranks of communists” was that that was an internal affair of the unions in which Drew was unwelcome.

There is every Indication that the great majority of the organized workers have learned from bitter experience that persecution of the Stalinists by the government will only be a first step towards the persecution of every real progressive and militant tendency In the labor movement.

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