CD Launch

My Heart is Moved

 

Photograph by Cherie Westmoreland

CD Launch


This project,
My Heart is Moved, is deeply local,
circles of women caring for the global and local
possibilities in their lands and communities.

~ Carolyn McDade


In early June 2007, seven Saskatchewan women traveled to Boston to record the vocal tracks for My Heart Is Moved, a new CD of music by Carolyn McDade & Friends. In all, 85 women from 10 different bio-regions of North America — many of whom had never before met — gathered to sing! All who were there brought with them the breath and life of their local communities, the voices of all in their circles, the amazing preparation and intention of the local group, into the focused work of rehearsals and recording. Songs shaped collaboratively in word and sound by beloved artists, given instrumental voice by exquisite musicians were further shaped as they were sung in community.

 

Please join Carolyn McDade & Friends and the Saskatchewan Singers of the Sacred Web to listen to, sing and celebrate this new release of songs that gives us an emotional entry into the profound and urgent wisdom of the Earth Charter.

7:30 pm Thursday, October 25, 2007
St. Andrews College
1121 College Drive
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon


7:30 pm, Friday, October 26, 2007
Sunset United Church
177 Sunset Drive
Regina

 

 

 

This music, drawn from the heart and words of The Earth Charter, pulls us to where waters run. . . seep. . . pool. . . We need these songs if we are ever to rudder ourselves through the narrows to a deeper understanding of who we are as planetary and cosmic beings, intent on the wellbeing of the community of life of which we are inextricably a part. ~ Carolyn McDade


The Earth Charter is a global People’s document that addresses how we, Earth’s people, need to exist in relationship with one’s self, with others, with Earth, and the larger whole if we are to sustain human life on this planet. Current work on the Charter began in 1994 with Maurice Strong, Chair of the 1992 Rio Summit, and former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, Founder of Green Cross International. The aim of the movement is to have the Charter officially recognized by the United Nations.

The project title, My Heart Is Moved, comes from an Adrienne Rich poem, Natural Resources, published in her1978 book, The dream of a common language.


My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those,
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.


We invite you to let your heart be moved by this beautiful music, to cast your lot with ours as we move from the aquifer of our hearts and souls to reconstitute the world. If you are not in Saskatchewan, you may be able to take in other launch celebrations in Canada and the USA. CDs will be available for sale at the launches and can be purchased in Regina at Bach & Beyond or online.

For additional information, please visit www.carolynmcdademusic.com, email myheartismoved@yahoo.ca.

What is Stephen Harper reading?

I’ve been away and I’m back to an inbox overflowing with goodies. The following, by Yann Martel, caught my eye and will be a website to watch over the next while.

What is Stephen Harper reading?

By Yann Martel
whatisstephenharperreading.ca
April 14, 2007

For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website.

http://whatisstephenharperreading.ca/index.html

 

The story behind the website: http://whatisstephenharperreading.ca/the_story_behind_this_website.html


SK Budget ’07: Update to A Missed Opportunity

The Sask Arts Alliance has provided the following regarding monies to the arts in today’s budget. It’s almost as though the NDP want to lose the next election…

 

SAA Logo

March 22, 2007

2007 – 2008 Provincial Budget

Hon. Andrew Thomson tabled the 2007 – 2008 Provincial Budget: Making Life Better in the legislature today. In a pre-budget briefing, Culture, Youth and Recreation Minister Glenn Hagel spoke about his Department within the context of the Government key priorities: Keeping the Strong Economy Growing, Making Saskatchewan an Even Better Place for Young People, Increasing Access to Health Care for Saskatchewan Families and Seniors, and Building Highways and Infrastructure to Secure Growth.

On the positive side, government is introducing supplementary eye care benefits and enhanced drug coverage for lower income workers (which we presume includes independent contractors). A Saskatchewan First procurement policy was adopted and Sask. Property Management Corporation will allocate 0.5% of capital costs to public art in public buildings. Minister Hagel again committed to bring the Status of the Artist Amendment Act to the spring legislature. The Building Communities Program for new construction, sustainable development and rehabilitation of community-created recreational and cultural infrastructure should also offer opportunities for arts organizations.

Overall though, the budget fell far short of expectations, particularly considering that Saskatchewan is experiencing great prosperity. Given recent government initiatives such as the Music Industry Review and Status of the Artist legislation, it appeared that Government recognized the value of the sector, and understood the demands it faced in terms of both increased costs and increased expectations to meet Government priorities. However, although there are increases in some areas, none are substantial enough to address the long-term pressures facing the arts sector let alone to provide for sustainable development. The Saskatchewan Arts Board allocation is far short of its needs (about 10% of their new money will be earmarked to address this year’s collective agreement and pay equity for their own staff). The Cultural Industries Development Council is still suffering from cuts to its funding that occurred in 2004, and Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation funding is so limited it is losing ground in its efforts to save our heritage.

Although disheartened with today’s budget results, its is a step, albeit a very small one, forward and Saskatchewan Arts Alliance remains committed to work on your behalf for sustainability of the sector.

Following are excerpts from the Culture, Youth and Recreation Estimates. 

Arts Related Estimates With Comparison to 2006-07 Estimates (in thousands of dollars)

Links to all budget documents can be found at http://www.gov.sk.ca/budget0708.

Paladiea’s Points on Conformity

Paladiea has two very interesting and relatively brief pieces about conformity posted at My Blahg.  In The Gilded Cage of Conformity, Part I, she talks about two kinds of people, leaders and followers, and how conservatives use societal pressure to suppress undesireable changes. She cites, as example, the non-acceptance of homosexuality, suggesting that by boiling down any conservative argument against it the result will be “it’s not normal” which, she says, is societal pressure at it’s most basic. Their idea says homosexuals don’t fit in and should be shunned.  Interestingly, she notes that this principle holds true for most conservative arguments.

In The Gilded Cage of Conformity Part II Paladiea discusses humanity’s willingness to conform, citing Stanley Milgram’s experiments with volunteers who when given permission were prepared to administer a lethal voltage on an other human being who would not conform. She uses this example

to illustrate one of the fundamental problems of society today. People are abdicating responsibility for their own actions. From driving SUVs to voting in governments that condone torture. People are just checking out of the active decison making process. And not only that, but they are urged to.

People wonder why conservatism is so attractive, it’s this very reason. If you listen to any speech by Bush, or any advocacy of the patriarchy, the message is clear; “Listen to your superiors, they know best”.

She speculates that people may do so because it’s easier than thinking and also cautions that this may be why the Holocaust happened.

She closes her contemplations wondering how we combat this.  I’d like to rephrase the question.  How dow we engage/re-engage people into active decision-making?  What conversations do we need to begin so that those neuropathways can be re-opened?

SWC changes close doors

The doors fo the 33 year-old Victoria Status of Women Action Group Society (SWAG) will close in December, thanks to the new regulations for funding at Status of Women Canada. From Esquimalt News:

Women’s group decry cuts
Oct 18 2006

Tory budget axe will impact women on low incomes, argues women’s advocate

Andrea Lavigne

Victoria News

One week after the federal government announced changes to Status of Women
Canada’s mandate, an agency that promotes gender equality, women’s groups
in Victoria started packing boxes.

“It looks like after this project is over in December we’ll be forced to
close our office,” said Cindy L’Hirondelle, project co-ordinator for the
Victoria Status of Women Action Group Society (SWAG).

The 33-year-old organization suffered a death blow two weeks ago when the
federal government announced it would no longer fund women’s groups that
do advocacy, lobbying or general research.

“You can’t advocate for anything anymore,” L’Hirondelle said. “A lot of
the work we were doing was systemic advocacy. I mean, that’s how women got
to vote, was through systemic advocacy.”

Anti-Dote, another Victoria-based non-profit organization, networks with
racialized indigineous girls and women to increases the social and
psychological well-being of racialized minorities.

Executive director Winnie Chow says the mandate changes were shocking.

“How do you create change when you can’t advocate for change?”

The funding previously allowed Anti-Dote to employ a couple full-time
workers, who may now have to be laid off.

Status of Women Canada was established in the Trudeau-era to help women
participate in the public policy process and bring gender equality issues
to light.

“The terms and conditions went through a renewal process at the end of
September,” said Claire Rochon, communications for Status of Women Canada.
“The objective of the women’s program has now been changed and now
activities related to advocacy and lobbying are indeed not funded.”

SWAG barely survived provincial cuts to their core operational funding in
2004 – cuts that left them scrambling to pay for rent and telephone bills
for the research centre with private donations.

But in July 2005, Status of Women Canada funded the Victoria group to
study women’s economic justice and allowed them to continue – albeit
tenuously.

Since the Victoria SWAG society’s inception they’ve fought for daycare,
abortion rights, aboriginal women’s issues and pay equity.

But the controversial nature of certain lobbying efforts has led to
friction with other pro-conservative groups. REAL Women Canada, a pro-life
agency that supports traditional family values, lobbied the federal
government to scrap the Status of Women agency for 23 years.

“We believe that lobby groups should not be funded by the taxpayer,” said
Laurie Geschke, national president of REAL Women (which no longer has an
office in Victoria). Despite that REAL Women received Status of Women
funding in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Geschke says funding should come
from private donations.

“Lobby groups should be funded by their supporters and if they don’t have
enough supporters to actually fund their work then they probably shouldn’t
be lobbying for whatever the change is they’re lobbying for,” she said.

But L’Hirondelle says that’s impossible.

“How do you fund a group when most of the membership is low income women?”

In addition, rules against using funding for systemic advocacy make it
impossible for SWAG to apply for registered charity status.

Even so, REAL Women argues that gender equality has been achieved,

“That’s such a nice idea, but it’s not at all true in practice,” argues
Cheryl Suzack, a member of the external advisory committee for the Status
of Women Canada’s Policy Research Fund.

SWAG’s own 2006 report ***Women’s Economic Justice Project*** finds there
are 67 per cent more women in Canada’s lowest income bracket than men.
Conversely, in the highest income bracket ($100,000 and up) there are 337
per cent more men than women – approximately three times more.

Suzack says the recent federal cuts are devastating to important research
on economically disadvantaged women and minority women.

“It’s a hugely significant and disappointing decision that’s been made,
especially since one of our objectives this year was to focus in on
aboriginal women’s issues, which are part of the government’s current
concerns,” she said.

The cuts have even bigger implications to Canada’s image as progressive
and equal society, says L’Hirondelle.

“The federal government has made international obligations under various
UN declarations,” she said. “How can they advocate that internationally
when they’re cutting funding for their own domestic women’s equality
programs?”

alavigne@vicnews.com

I guess this is what PMS and his New Government of Canada were banking on, eh?  No pesky feminists hounding him to make the country a better place for women.


			

Death by a thousand cuts

A New Brunswick perspective on Harper’s round of cuts, with an excellent analysis of why. I can’t get to it online (even though it was published in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal on Sat. Oct. 14) so I’m reproducing it here.

DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS
by Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, Chairperson of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women

There is a brand of politics – shall we call it sniper politics – where groups are picked off one by one.

It’s done carefully so that – it is hoped – no broad segment of the population or one region is hit hard enough that a critical mass can form to fight back. The damage in citizen protest is calculated and deemed acceptable because the gains are assured.

It buys the loyalty of those party faithful whose vote depends on such actions and on nothing else.

That’s what happened to certain groups of Canadians this past couple of weeks. Without having mentioned it neither in the recent election campaign, nor in the Speech from the throne a few months ago, and at the same time as it announced a 13 billion dollar surplus, the federal government picked off citizen voices it does not agree with. Here are a few of the changes that will affect New Brunswick harshly.

The federal government abolished the Court Challenges program mostly because, let’s say it, the program had helped gays and lesbians go to court to get the same rights other Canadians have under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

No matter that the $5-million Program also well served seniors and handicapped Canadians, victims of sexual assault, communities concerned by obscenity and official language minorities (including English-language rights in Quebec, and P.E.I. Acadians’ right to schools in French), among others.

No matter that a few months ago, the federal government was in Geneva bragging to a United Nations Committee that the Court Challenges was a “uniquely Canadian” program that has been successful, that a recent evaluation found that there remains work for the program and so it was extended to March 2009.

No matter that Canadians of all sexual orientations have a right to access the courts and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The official reason for cancelling the Program given by the Treasury Board president is that it didn’t make sense to him for the government to subsidize lawyers to challenge the government’s own laws in court. It is rather disturbing that a government minister does not respect the system and the checks and balances he is sworn to uphold.

In a constitutional democracy, laws can be measured against the constitution. Laws are not perfect, as some eminent jurists have said in response to these cuts, and those who need to point out the imperfections in our laws, in order that they may live on an equal footing with others, deserve to be heard. Now only those who can pay their way to court in Canada will get to challenge laws or seek protection of the Charter.

About a year ago, Stephen Harper was telling Canadians that if he were elected, the courts would hold him in check. What was not said was that people most affected would not be able to get to court.

Another recent change by the government was to the funding rules for community groups. Advocacy and lobbying will not be allowed. In other words, help the victims but don’t try changing the conditions that creates victims – and don’t bother us. If women’s history teaches us anything, it is that nothing ever changed without advocacy and lobbying. As the New Brunswick groups that came together to fight these cuts say, it is thanks to advocacy efforts that women now have access to wage parity, maternity leave benefits and transition houses.

The community groups in New Brunswick that share about $300,000 per year in grants from one affected program, Status of Women Canada, include the Coalition for Pay Equity, the New Brunswick Coalition of Transition Houses, Saint John’s Urban Core Support Network and several others. The change will be devastating for them and for New Brunswick.

The new rules will also eliminate any Status of Women Canada funding for work towards equality. While – for now – leaving intact the amount that is available for grants, the federal government has made such huge changes to the program that it no longer funds what it was created to do, advance women’s equality. You’ve come far enough, baby, as humourist Rick Mercer said last week.

The promise of equality is written in the Charter and Canadian governments have up to now felt some responsibility towards making that promise real, by assisting groups working to end violence, discrimination and poverty, for example.

The federal government also cut $10 million from the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative, designed to support the volunteers who run thousands of services across Canada.

Earlier this year, candidate Stephen Harper assured Canadian women that, if elected, he would “take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women”.

Nine months later, the concrete and immediate measures that Prime Minister Harper announced are mean and unnecessary and will set back equality among Canadians. The equality-seeking groups, one could say, help governments do their job: they work to end violence, poverty and discrimination, they help adults become literate and they even the playing field by giving discriminated groups access to the courts.

New Brunswickers doing equality work, including adult literacy – another abolished program – are stunned by these cuts. This is not the Canada they know. Why is this possible when this is a minority government? Where are the opposition parties? In reality, a large protest movement is building.

These cuts to some pet peeves of some Conservative party faithfuls is likely an attempt to ensure their support, since the party had to follow a moderate road to gain popular support. The cuts are carefully planned to not awaken the general population. But what is scary about snipers is that we don’t know where they will strike next.


			

ACTION on SWC

Two interesting tidbits in the inbox this morning. Please pass these along. The first is from the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL):

But instead of seeing below, just click here.

Well, see below, too, but for a news release from the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC). So good to see NAC building again.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                     Wednesday, October 11, 2006
NAC CONDEMNS CHANGES TO STATUS OF WOMEN CANADA'S MANDATE

Toronto - Last week the National Action Committee on the Status of

Women (NAC) held its Annual General Meeting in Toronto.  NAC membership,

composed mainly of grassroots women's equality-seeking organizations from

across the country, came out of that historic meeting more determined than

ever to fight for equality rights in Canada.

The re-emergence of NAC came on the heels of the federal government's

dismantling of the Court Challenges program, and the 38.5 percent funding

cuts to Status of Women Canada with a fundamental change in its mandate.

"Equality is not a part of the Women's Program under this government",

explained NAC's newly elected president, Dolly Williams. "Minister Bev Oda,

is simply applying Conservative Party ideology."

The federal Conservative government says it will no longer fund women's

groups that do advocacy, lobbying or general research as part of the new

terms and conditions for grants. This is seen as a deliberate tactic to

cripple the women's organizations that rely on these funds to promote

substantive equality rights for women in Canada.

The elimination of the Court Challenges Program also confirms the new

government's game plan. "NAC has been able to use this program in the past

to question the constitutionality of cuts to core funding for

equality-seeking women's organizations, affirmed Ms. Williams. The

government thinks that it has found a way to silence us and our sister

organizations, but we will not be deterred."

In the face of the Harper government's new tactics to yield women's issues

non-existent and near invisible, NAC's membership is determined, despite

these obstacles, to assert a national voice to advocate and lobby for

equality.

"Women will not stand by passively while this minority government unravels

the work accomplished by the equality-seeking women's movement and its

social justice allies over the past thirty years", concluded Williams.

The National Action Committee on the Status of Women has been one of

Canada's longest running equality-seeking women's organizations. A coalition

of member groups, NAC has been fighting for women's equality for over 30

years.

For further information contact Dolly Williams at the NAC office:

416.932.1718 or Toll free: 1.866.665.5124 or via email: nac@web.ca

Writers Decry Cuts

From The Writers Union of Canada:

October 6, 2006

WRITERS DECRY CULTURE CUTS

“The fresh round of cuts to Canada’s cultural programs by Harper Conservatives will be a serious impediment to all Canadians who enjoy visiting museums and reading books,” says The Writers’ Union of Canada chair Ron Brown.

At a recent meeting of its National Council, the Writers’ Union of Canada unanimously agreed to demand a meeting with Minister of Canadian Heritage Bev Oda to discuss the cutting of funds to a variety of cultural programs including regional museums, adult literacy and programs that promote Canadian culture abroad.

“It has become clear that this government is no great admirer of Canada’s culture,” said Brown. “Canada’s regional museums, like our writers, help tell the story of Canada to other Canadians. These institutions are strapped for funds at the best of times. This is a slap in the face of local heritage,” he said.

Adult literacy programs have also been slashed. “At the same time as the Ontario government recently launched its Spirit 2006 program to promote literacy, the federal Conservatives are placing a serious hurdle in the way of adults who want to enjoy the rewards of reading books, many of which Canadian writers create,” Brown added.

Regarding the cuts to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ “public diplomacy” program Brown added, ” It is odd that at a time when the U. S. government, which Mr. Harper so admires, has tripled its cultural diplomacy budget, our government is working to reduce ours. What better way to tell Canada’s many cultural stories abroad than through programs like these?” said Brown. ” When all these cuts are factored together, it’s as if the Harper Conservatives were ashamed of their own culture.”

The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing professional authors of books. Founded in 1973, the Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well being of all writers. For more information, please visit http://www.writersunion.ca.

 

– 30 –

For additional information
Ron Brown, Chair -The Writers’ Union of Canada
or
Deborah Windsor, Executive Director -The Writers’ Union of Canada
416-703-8982

Fed Cuts: Impact on Arts Sector

More from my inbox, this one from the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance (not available online):

For immediate release

September 26, 2006

FUNDING CUTS SEVERE BLOW TO ARTS SECTOR

The federal Government’s recent announcement of funding cuts to the arts sector is a severe blow to the arts community. “The cuts are unwarranted,” explains SAA President Skip Kutz. “They came without advance warning at a time when Canada has a $13.2 billion surplus.”


Government suggestions that programs such as the Museums Assistance Program (MAP) are wasteful and ineffective is perplexing, and incorrect. In Saskatchewan, MAP has supported programs of many of our exemplary museums such as the Western Development Museum, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Moose Jaw Art Gallery and Museum, and Wanuskewin Heritage Park to list a few. The loss of this program is especially disconcerting given the Conservative Party’s promise during the last election to bring in new investment to the museums community.


The arts and culture sector is at the heart of our communities, bringing a richness and diversity to all our lives. The sector offers significant opportunities for social and economic development – a priority shared by all Canadians. Investment in the sector is money well spent.

-30-

 

Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, a non-partisan coalition of arts organizations provides a collective voice for the arts in Saskatchewan. SAA promotes the lively existence and continued growth of the arts and cultural industries in Saskatchewan. Established in 1984, the SAA advocates on issues such as public funding of the arts, freedom of expression, and artists’ working conditions.

For additional information:

Marnie Gladwell, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Arts Alliance
#205A 2314-11th Ave., Regina, SK. S4P 0K1
t. 306 780-9820 f. 306 780-9821
director@artsalliance.sk.ca
www.artsalliance.sk.ca

So You Trust Our Secret Police? Think Again.

Here’s another piece by Dr. John F. Conway. If you missed the earlier piece, it’s Safe and Secure in Our Beds?.

So You Trust Our Secret Police? Think Again.

by J. F. Conway

Conway is a University of Regina political sociologist and the author of The West: The History of a Region in Confederation and Debts to Pay: The Future of Federalism in Quebec.

An Innovative Research Group poll taken after the early June bust of “the Toronto 17” should cause deep concern among all Canadians. Sixty-two per cent of Canadians agreed with the proposition that without national security all other rights of Canadians were simply theoretical. This is the argument presented by federal lawyers before the Supreme Court in an effort to defend the constitutionality of the use of “security certificates,” i.e., the right of the secret police to incarcerate suspected terrorists for an indefinite time without laying charges or proceeding to trial. Another 40 per cent declared a willingness to see our civil liberties eroded in the name of national security. One in three expressed worries that they could be personally victimized by terrorist acts, and one in four felt that they or someone close to them could have been killed or injured by the actions of “the Toronto 17.” The campaign of terror and fear by our secret police and the Harper government is working. Fear is stalking the land, infecting our democracy.

Fear, deliberately provoked and orchestrated, has always been a favourite tool of governments in efforts to win public support for questionable, controversial policies. In this particular case, the Harper government chose to mount arguably the biggest peacetime combined police and military operation since the 1970 War Measures Act to round up a gang of hapless, abjectly stupid ideological zealots suffering from terrorist fantasies and delusions of grandeur. Based on the evidence so far reported on “the Toronto 17,” they would have difficulty successfully organizing a community soccer tournament.

Canadians should resist giving instant credence to unsubstantiated claims made by our secret police, and hysterically echoed by Prime Minister Harper and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, given the Harper government’s political agenda. That agenda has been further clarified in recent days. Besides trying to stampede a reluctant Canadian public into supporting the deployment of Canadian troops in Afghanistan and appeasing the U.S. government’s demands that Canada enthusiastically join the global war on terror, Harper now wants to persuade Canadians to support a massive $15 billion increased defence spending program billed as essential for our participation in this war. And this $15 billion is not earmarked for military tools for the defence of Canada, or for UN peacekeeping abroad, but rather for acquiring the military equipment essential for wars of aggression, invasion and occupation of foreign territories.

Let us remember the lessons about our secret police so painfully learned during Canada’s last brush with terrorism and its suppression – the 1970 FLQ crisis and the invocation of the War Measures Act. Public hysteria was whipped up by leaked claims of the secret police, and politicians and governments who uncritically echoed them: FLQ terrorists had infiltrated all key institutions of Quebec; 3000 armed FLQ terrorists were ready to begin an insurrection; the FLQ had a “hit list” of 200 Quebec leaders marked for assassination; the kidnappings of the British diplomat and the Quebec Labour Minister were but the first step in a revolutionary plot for takeover; a massive bombing campaign was in the works; there would be a bloodbath of executions followed by the installation of a provisional government. It was all a pack of lies, but led to a wave of arrests and violations of civil liberties focussed in Quebec, but affecting suspected individuals and groups all across Canada. And the suppression enjoyed almost universal public support.

In the years after the crisis Canadians learned how they had been manipulated by the secret police and politicians in power, thanks to Ottawa’s Royal Commission of Inquiry Into Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Policy (the McDonald Commission) and Quebec’s Keable Inquiry into Illegal Police Activities. These inquiries exposed the dirty tricks and illegal actions employed by the secret police against not only the FLQ, but the democratic sovereignty movement, as well as other individuals and groups on a list of “the politically suspect” (including members of parliament, candidates for election, student groups and trade unions). Seventeen past and present members of the RCMP’s Security Service were charged with 44 offences following the release of the Keable Report (there would have been more, but the federal government stonewalled the Commission’s request for documents). The McDonald Commission also reported a long list of dirty tricks and illegal actions carried out by the secret police, though these did not result in charges and trials (and portions of the report have yet to be released). These included over 400 illegal break-ins, thefts of dynamite, theft of the membership list of the Parti Québécois, an act of arson, unauthorized mail openings, surveillance of MPs and candidates for office, investigations of the NDP’s Waffle group, illegal detentions involving psychological and physical violence to recruit informers, forging and releasing documents under the FLQ’s name calling for violence to win independence, the massive infiltration of the FLQ to the point where by 1972 secret police agents had a voting majority in the organization. The list goes on and on.

Most of the perpetrators of the dirty tricks and illegal activities among the ranks of the secret police were never charged, and those who were charged either received unconditional discharges upon pleading guilty, or the charges were later dropped. In other words, the secret police were, in practice, not subject to the laws of the land but could cynically violate them at will in the name of “national security.” As a result, the McDonald Royal Commission recommended that, in future, the police, including the secret police, cease illegal activities, that mail openings and break-ins occur only under the oversight of a judge, and, allegedly most importantly, that the secret police be removed from the RCMP and that a civilian secret police agency be set up. In 1984, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was accordingly established.

This was an entirely cosmetic move and smeared the RCMP, suggesting that the secret police got out of control due to failures of the RCMP’s command structure. This is nonsense. The secret police was doing what the secret police always does, and continues to do under the CSIS structure. And they were doing it under the political direction of the government of the day. Indeed, it can be reasonably argued that the RCMP’s command structure, history and culture may well have imposed a bit of restraint on the activities of the secret police, a restraint that is absent in CSIS. Testimony before the McDonald Commission revealed that some rather bizarre plots proposed by secret police zealots were denied authorization at senior levels. Hence, I trust CSIS even less than I trusted the RCMP’s Security Service.

And what about the directive from the McDonald Commission that the police, including the secret police, always act within the law? Such a rule makes it very tough for the secret police to do what secret police do. Well, that problem has been solved. There is a new “doublethink” law allowing the police to act illegally while upholding the law. If that sounds a bit Orwellian, it is because it is – a law making breaking the law legal while enforcing the law. The new so-called Immunity Law was passed in February 2002 and allows police agents of all sorts to commit crimes in the line of duty. Any crime can be committed except those involving obstructing justice, sex crimes, and violence causing bodily harm (making violence that leaves no marks or breaks no bones perfectly legal). During 2004-05 Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day recently admitted that many crimes were committed by police covered by the immunity statute.

Therefore, secret police agents can actively work with suspects, or with individuals and groups targeted for political reasons, in order to encourage violations of the new, draconian anti-terrorist law, particularly in actively encouraging elaborate conspiracies to carry out fantastic terrorist plans. And all those illegal actions carried out by secret police in the 60s and 70s that led to the government inquiries would now be perfectly legal.

Our secret police is now unconstrained by law. Our democracy and our civil liberties are in big trouble. The next sensational terrorist bust could well involve a “sleeper cell” containing a majority of secret police agents.

Dr. J. F. (John) ConwayProfessor and Chair
Department of Sociology and Social Studies
University of Regina
Wascana Parkway
Regina, SK S4S 0A2

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