Listen to historians Reg Whitaker and Greg Kealey (authors of the book Secret Service) tell stories from Canada’s sordid history of political policing:
In 1920–in the wake of a Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and a General Strike in Winnipeg–Canada merged the Northwest Mounted Police and the Dominion Police under a new name: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The RCMP were quickly tasked with investigating organized labour groups and the political left.
“There was a perception at the time that it was necessary to have a more effective national response to what was seen as a national and indeed an international threat of revolution,” explains historian Reg Whitaker, author of the book Secret Service.
“You have a kind of an intervention on the part of government which in a liberal democracy basically stacks the deck. It says if they intervene in treating labour as a suspect community, working people as a suspect community at the same time they’re advancing the interests of business, capital.”
To hear the full story, check out our recent episode about the state of civil liberties and surveillance in Canada.