Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 7. June 23rd, 1948
Review of Findings of Canadian Spy Commission
Review of Findings of Canadian Spy Commission
This is a report by the Royal Commission set up in Canada by Order in Council of February 5th, 1946, following the world-shaking revelations of one Igor Gouzenko, sometime cypher clerk of the Military Attache's staff attached to the Russian Embassy with headquarters at Ottawa.
The report itself is a recent acquisition to the V.U.C. Library and is of such an informative and revealing nature as to the tactics employed by the U.S.S.R. abroad, that its reading is recommended, in fact urged, by all those who cherish the fundamental freedoms which are protected in the country of ours.
Then you come to the section dealing with parallel under-cover systems as the report describes them. Each system operated independently of the others and, in fact, a member of one secret organisation would not know who comprised other groups, such was the secrecy which prevailed. It is also possible that there may still under-cover agents operating in Canada.
It is very interesting to note the remarks of Igor Gouzenko with regard to the announcement of the dissolution of the Comintern . . "the greatest farce of the Communists in recent years," he describes such announcement.
Section 11 s.s. 5 deals with recruiting methods as employed by these Russians and the ingenuity that is shown in the method employed to get prospective agents into the "net" indicates that the system has been thoroughly worked out to cover all eventualities. With the exception of one person reported on by the Commission, all the Canadians known to have participated in the passing on of secret information, were members of the Communist Party. The exception was Emma Woikin whose motivation was a sympathy with the Soviet regime.
Study groups were formed by the Communists and there were studied the Communist philosophy and techniques and writings of Marx, Engels. Lenin and later authors. These study groups, the report states, were in fact "cells" and were the recruiting centres for agents. It is further reported that sometimes Moscow would take the initiative in suggesting to Zabotin of the Red Army Intelligence some Communist in Canada to be contacted and enlisted for espionage work, which goes to show how thorough the Russians have been in this espionage work.
A more insidious method of approach was through social contacts. Further, in addition to recruiting among secret adherents of the Canadian Communist movement, Gouzenko testified to a plan to extend the fifth column base by an additional method—Russians and Ukrainians were paid serious attention by the Soviet officials in Canada. Liquidation may be resorted to in respect of their relations back in Russia if cooperation is not forthcoming in Canada, by Russians contacted there.
The increase in the Russian staffs in Canada pointed to an intention to develop a large-scale post-war expansion of the network of Canadians in the military espionage system.
Motivation of agents is a chapter of particular interest. The types chosen were intellectual and there is no evidence that monetary incentive played an important part in the original motivation of those persons whose ideology was sympathetic to the Communist cause.
After the espionage agents were well in the net, then monetary payments were handed over with a purpose of ensuring future co-operation and with a further purpose of having something over the agent, as it were, after the acceptance of this money which is nothing more nor less than a bribe.
The report deals individually and at some length with the persons caught in the espionage ring. Section XII is a summary of the findings of the Commission, while Section XIII contains recommendations put forward by the two Commissioners.
The two Commissioners are prominent members of the Canadian Judiciary, the Honourable Mr. Justice Robert Tascherean, and the Honourable Mr. Justice R. L. Kellock, both of whose legal training and years of experience at the Bar and on the Bench make them well suited for this onerous and exacting task.
It may be said that the Commission was impartial, characteristic of Justice in the British Dominions and further it can be said that they were perhaps too conservative in their findings.
In conclusion, may I recommend that this report of the Commission be read, if not in full, then in parts by all students interested in the welfare of this Dominion. The Library reference of the book is 66.156 S.R.H. X 101 C 212 R.
J. A. Grace.