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What we got: The details
Some stories touch on employment with the RCMP (but for more see Federal human
rights protection); most focus on RCMP surveillance of and files on gay people
(among many others).
- TBP Oct 75: Phoney privacy law won't protect gays. First reading, 22 Jul 75,
of proposed federal human rights legislation (bill not named). An "apparently irrelevant
excrescence" deals with "protection of personal information." Story notes likely existence
(based on info from unnamed former civil servant) of files collected by RCMP after prime
minister John Diefenbaker, in 1961, said all homosexuals working in External Affairs
should be dismissed.
- TBP Jun 76: RCMP investigates gay movement. Security Service officers
visit office of GATE Toronto, 10 Mar 76, to ask "what plans the gay movement was
making in connection with the Olympics, to be held in Montreal in July." Seen in
connection with massive pre-Olympic "clean-up" by Montreal police.
- TBP Nov 76: Coalition demands meeting with Solicitor General. NGRC,
representing 33 groups across Canada, solicits Francis Fox, minister responsible for
RCMP. In response to 1 Oct 76 G&M story in which RCMP spokesperson says recruits
are investigated for "character weaknesses -- alcoholism, homosexuality and traits such as
extreme dependence on one's mother."
- TBP May 77: See Fox's response in Federal employment rights, saying open homosexuality should not be an issue in "any government department or agency". He does not specifically mention the RCMP.
- TBP Oct 77: RCMP still keeping files on gays. Reports a series of August
G&M stories (undated) providing "additional proof" of RCMP homo files. Stories cite
Superintendent J. R. Bentham, who "confirmed that ... if somebody applied for a job in
the force and he was found to be a homosexual, he would be placed in 'character
weaknesses' files." G&M also reported that RCMP spends "millions of dollars" gathering
information on "people regarded as potential security risks" and makes "widespread use of
prostitutes and homosexuals, who are among their many informants."
(G&M stories likely in connection with Royal Commission on the RCMP, under Justice
David McDonald, begun in Jul 77. A year earlier, RCMP officer Robert Samson, on trial
in Quebec in connection with a bombing, had confessed to many misdeeds and implicated
other members of the force.)
- TBP Dec 78: Operation Liberty protests increased state repression.
Demonstrations held 17 Nov 78 (first scheduled for 16 Oct, anniversary of 1970 invocation
of War Measures Act) in Montreal, Toronto, and Halifax, protest "growing list of police
crimes, harassment against working people and those demanding social change, and the
increasingly repressive laws being introduced under the guise of 'national security.'"
- TBP Dec 78: Civil rights under attack: a chronology (sidebar to story above).
Lists RCMP actions (among others) going back to Aug 69, against the NDP, the Front de
libération du Quebec, the Parti Québécois, and various labour and
progressive groups. Notes legal changes Jul 77 and Feb 78 increasing surveillance powers
- TBP Sep 79: RCMP porno raids to be challenged. Extensive "raids on gay
bedrooms across the country" noted. (Stories go back to TBP May 79, not recorded here.
Possession of pornography was not illegal; RCMP apparently acting to enforce Customs
laws on its importation.) "At its annual conference in Ottawa [27 Jun - 2 Jul 79], the
Canadian Lesbian and Gay Rights Coalition agreed to make presentations to the McDonald
Royal Commission investigating RCMP wrongdoing."
- TBP May 80: Security Paranoia & the Fruit Machine. In 3-page feature,
TBP reprints slightly abridged chapter, "The Homosexual Witchhunt", from John
Sawatsky's recently published book, Men in the Shadows (Doubleday Canada,
1980). Chapter covers activities, beginning in the 1950s, of RCMP Security Service
subsection A-3, whose sole purpose (the article's intro notes) "was the identification and
dismissal of every gay person in the employ of the public service."
Effort included a "plan to record the movement of all known Ottawa gays on a gigantic
map of the city.... More bizarre and sinister is the A-3 caper uncovered in Chapter 12, 'The
Fruit Machine,' which records the history of a failed programme to develop a device which
could detect sexual orientation by measuring the involuntary changes in the pupils of the
eyes of subjects exposed to erotic pictures."
- TBP Oct 81: Opening the Mounties' closet: The McDonald Commission
pinpoints an RCMP security obsession: homosexuals. Royal Commission under
Justice David McDonald releases "massive report on RCMP wrongdoings" 25 Aug 81
(commissioned Jul 77). Confirmed "what was already known and widely feared. The
RCMP's Security Service has committed numerous illegal acts, ranging from mail-
tampering to kidnapping and arson. It has lied to responsible government ministers. It has
carried out surveillance of Canadian citizens on a far grander scale than anyone suspected."
Commission reported that as of Dec 77, the RCMP had files on 800,000 citizens -- one out
of every 30 Canadians. It recommended the Security Service be abolished and replaced
with an agency independent of the RCMP.
Report confirmed John Sawatsky's version (see May 80) of 1960 surveillance of all known
homosexuals in Ottawa, and also recommended "that the existing Security Service files on
homosexuals be reviewed and that those which do not fall within the guidelines for opening
and maintaining files be destroyed."
- TBP Mar 82: File-destruction policy lacking. Federal solicitor general Robert
Kaplan, responsible for the RCMP, responding to an inquiry from GO (date not given),
says "it would be unwise for me to authorize any file destruction by the RCMP in the short
term." He promised that once a policy was devised, "many of the existing RCMP security
service files will be destroyed."
- TBP Jul 82: Government stalls RCMP reforms. Robert Kaplan reported to
have announced (no date given) that "long-awaited legislation establishing a civilian
security agency would not be introduced during the current sitting of parliament" (ending
- TBP Apr 83: Mounties await policy on destruction of files. Kaplan announces
formulation of his policy (date not given), saying ultimately "hundreds of thousands" of
files would be expunged. Criteria for retaining files reported as "extremely vague ... they
sound remarkably like the justification used for opening the files in the first place."
- TBP Jul 83: Big Brother is watching you... Bill C-157 introduced (no date
given) to create the civilian (i.e., non-RCMP) Canadian Security Intelligence Service
(CSIS). Story says CSIS "would be able to open our mail, peek at our income- tax returns,
tap our telephones and break the law." Quotes Ontario attorney general Roy McMurtry:
"Members of the (new) force would have powers far exceeding those granted to any police
agency, including the power to routinely and secretly break the law of the land." Quotes
Toronto police chief Jack Marks: "They will have no more authority ... than we have."
- TBP Oct 83: Dated directive in force: Mounties get their (own) man. Ottawa
file clerk, after only a month on the job, transferred out of RCMP Security Service to its
human resources branch, after investigation revealed he was homosexual. Directive cited
dated from 1963, but had not been made public until 1978, before the McDonald
- TBP Nov 83: Challenging '50s-style Mounties. CGRO appears 28 Sep 83
before Senate committee studying bill to create CSIS, says new agency must not repeat
RCMP's practice of "uncontrolled institutional gay- bashing." CHRC's Gordon
Fairweather, appearing 4 Oct 83, says civil service security checks are a "glorious waste of
a lot of people's time." There had been 76,521 such checks in 1982.
- TBP Sep 84: From RCMP to CSIS: the spies' shell game. Reports "Bill C-9,
passed by Parliament in June , is now in effect: the replacement of the RCMP's
Security Service with the new Canadian Security Intelligence Service is now underway. ...
Ninety percent of the RCMP Security Service personnel have been transferred to the CSIS.
With all the handing in of red suits and badges and the issuing of civilian suits and badges,
it looks as if only the name has been changed to protect the guilty."
- TBP Nov 84: Homofiles destroyed says outgoing Kaplan. Departing solicitor
general Robert Kaplan (the Liberals had been defeated in the federal election of 4 Sep 84)
tells Svend Robinson in a 14 Jun 84 letter that "all files opened in the past solely on the
basis of an individual's sexual orientation have now been destroyed, and this category of
file has been discontinued."
- TBP Jul 85: Queer-free and proud of it: The Mounties recruit only the
best, and that doesn't include the likes of you. TBP reprints in full RCMP
Policy in Respect of Homosexual Conduct, prepared by commissioner R. H.
Simmonds in response to question from Svend Robinson, 1 May 85, on impact of Charter
of Rights and Freedoms (in effect 17 Apr 85) on force's policies. Citing "bona fide
operational / occupational impediment," it states that "RCMP policy in respect of
homosexuals is, and remains, that they are not knowingly engaged or retained in the
RCMP as peace officers." Includes extended rationale, later called "the most homophobic
government document on public record."
- TBP Aug 85: Unacceptable and absurd: Human rights chief trashes
RCMP homophobia. CHRC's Gordon Fairweather, appearing May 85 before Equality
Rights committee studying effect of Charter, says exclusion of homosexuals from RCMP
and Canadian Armed Forces is "absurd ... even more absurd given that homosexuals are
not restricted from employment within Canada's new security service" [CSIS].
- TBP Nov 85: RCMP officers doubt morality of anti-gay policy. Two officers
appearing before Equality Rights committee disassociate themselves from official RCMP
policy. The force's excuse of "operational impediments" is, one says, "based more perhaps
on misconceptions than on a realistic appraisal."
- TBP Jan 86: Equality committee calls for gay rights (see also Federal human
rights protection for this and the story below). Recommendations include end to ban on homosexuals in
RCMP and no anti-gay bias in security clearance guidelines.
- TBP Apr 86: Victory for gay equality. Government says, 4
Mar 86, that it will "take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that sexual orientation
is a prohibited ground of discrimination in relation to all areas of federal
jurisdiction" (emphasis added). Perrin Beatty, solicitor general, says sexual orientation
will no longer be a factor in RCMP hiring and promotion.
- Xtra 8 Dec 89: Pulling teeth: The Tories move forward on gay issues, but
slowly. Report from NDP MP Svend Robinson notes case of RCMP officer Jim
Stiles, who had challenged dismissal based on sexual orientation, settled out of court, and
was reinstated (no dates given).
And that, I think we can safely say, is the end of that story.
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