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Gouzenko’s Statement

Commission’s Mandate (PC411)

Motivation

Fred Rose testimony


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Gouzenko’s Statement

The following is a copy of Igor Gouzenko’s official statement to the RCMP on 10 October 1945 (five months before the commission was established). The statement is available in the commission’s final report on pages 638-40:

“I, Igor Gouzenko wish to make the following statement of my own will:

Having arrived in Canada two years ago, I was surprised during the first days by the complete freedom of the individual which exists in Canada but does not exists in Russia. The false representations about the democratic countries who are increasingly propagated in Russia were dissipated daily, as no lying propaganda  can stand up against facts.

During two years of life in Canada, I saw the evidence of what a free people can do.  What the Canadian people have accomplished and are accomplishing here under conditions of complete freedom- the Russian people, under the conditions  of the Soviet regime of violence and suppression of all freedom, cannot accomplish even at the cost of tremendous sacrifices, blood and tears.

The last elections which took place recently in Canada especially surprised me.  In comparison with them the system of elections in Russian appear as a mockery of the conception of free elections.  For example, the fact that in elections in the Soviet Union one candidate is put forward, so that the possibilities of choice are eliminated, speaks for itself.

While creating a false picture of the conditions of life in these countries, the Soviet Government at the same time is taking all measures to prevent the peoples of democratic countries from knowing about the conditions of life in Russia.  The facts about the brutal suppression of the freedom of speech, the mockery of the real religious feelings of the people, cannot penetrate into the democratic countries.

Having imposed its communist regime on the people, the Government of the Soviet Union asserts that the Russian people have, as it were, their own particularly understanding of freedom and democracy, different from that which prevails among the peoples of the western democracies.  This is a lie.  The Russian people same understanding of freedom as all the peoples of the world. However, the Russian people cannot realize their dream of freedom and a democratic government on account of cruel terror and persecution.

Holding forth at international conferences with voluble statements about peace and security, the Soviet Government is simultaneously preparing secretly for the third world war.  To meet this war, these Soviet Government is creating in democratic countries, including Canada, a fifth column, in the organization of which even diplomatic representatives of the Soviet Government take part.

The announcement of the dissolution of the Comintern was, probably, the greatest farce of the Communists in recent years.  Only the name was liquidated, with the object of reassuring public opinion in the democratic countries.  Actually, the Comintern exists and continues its work, because the Soviet leaders have never relinquished the idea of establishing a Communist dictatorship throughout the world.

Taking account least of all that this adventurous idea will cost millions of Russian lives, the Communists are engendering hatred in Russian people towards everything foreign.

To many Soviet people here abroad, it is clear that the Communist Party in democratic countries have changed long ago from a political party into an agency net of the Soviet Government, into a fifth column in these countries to meet a war, into an instrument in the hands of the Soviet Government for creating artificial unrest, provocation, etc., etc.

Through numerous party agitators the Soviet Government stirs up the Russian people in every possible way against the peoples of the democratic countries, preparing the ground for the third world war.

During my residence in Canada I have seen how the Canadian people and their Government, sincerely wishing to help the Soviet people, sent supplies to the Soviet Union, collected money for the welfare of the Russian people, sacrificing the lives of their sons in the delivery of supplies across the ocean- and instead of gratitude for the help rendered, the Soviet Government is developing espionage activity in Canada, preparing to deliver a stab in the back of Canada- all this without the knowledge of the Russian people.

Convinced that such double-faced politics of the Soviet Government towards the democratic countries do not conform with the interests of the Russian people and endanger the security of civilization, I decided to break award from the Soviet regime and to announce my decision openly.

I am glad that I found the strength within myself to take this step and to warn Canada and the other democratic countries of the danger which hangs over them.

I have read the foregoing translation which was made from my original statement in Russian, and have found it to be correct.

October 10th, 1945.”

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Commission’s Mandate

The commission’s mandate is detailed in the text of the order-in-council (PC 411) that officially created the commission on 5 February 1946.  The following is a reproduction of PC 411:

“The Committee of the Privy Council have had before them a report dated 5th February, 1946, from the Right Honourable W.L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister, representing:

That is has been ascertained that secret and confidential information has been communicated directly or indirectly by public officials and other persons in positions of trust to agents of a Foreign Power to the prejudice of the safety and interests of Canada;

That by Order in Council PC6444 dated the 6th day of October, 1945, the Acting Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice were authorized to make an Order that any such person be interrogated and/or detained in such place and under such conditions as the Minister might from time to time determine if the Minister were satisfied that it was necessary so to do;

That it now seems expedient in the public interest that a full and complete inquiry be made into all the facts relating to and the circumstances surrounding the communication by such public officials and other persons in positions of trust of such secret and confidential information to the agents of a Foreign Power.

The Committee, therefore, on the recommendations of the Prime Minister, advise that the Honourable Robert Taschereau, a Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Honourable R.L. Kellock, a Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, be appointed Commissioners under Part I of the Inquiries Act, Chapter 99, Revised Statutes of Canada, 1927, and any other law thereto enabling, to inquire into and report upon which public officials and other persons in positions of trust or otherwise have communicated, directly or indirectly, secret and confidential information, the disclosure of which might be inimical to the safety and interests of Canada, to the agents of a Foreign Power and the facts relating to and the circumstances surrounding such communication.

The Committee further advises:

  1. That for all such purposes properly incidental thereto the said Commissioners shall without limiting the powers conferred upon them by the said Part I of the said Inquiries Act, have and possess the power of summoning and that they be empowered to summon before them any person or witness and of requiring them to give evidence on oath or affirmation, orally or in writing, and of requiring them to produce such documents and things as the Commissioners deem requisite to the full investigation of matters into which they are appointed to examine;

That the said Commissioners be directed that a record shall be made of all the evidence which shall be given or produced before them as to he matters of the said inquiry and that the oral evidence of witnesses before the said Commissioners shall be taken in shorthand by a shorthand writer, approved and sworn by the said Commissioners or one of them and shall be taken down question and answer and it shall not be necessary for the evidence or deposition of any witness to be read over to or signed by the person examined and said evidence shall be certified by the person or persons taking the same as correct;

That the said Commissioners may adopt such procedure and method as they may deem expedient for the conduct of such inquiry and may alter or change the same from time to time;

  1. That the said Commissioners be empowered in their discretion from time to time to make interim reports to the Governor in Council on any matter which in their judgment is the proper subject of such a report together with the evidence then before them and their findings thereon;
  1. That the said Commissioners be authorized to engage the services of such counsel and of such technical officers, and experts, and other experienced clerks, reporters and assistants as they may deem necessary and advisable; and
  1. That all privileges, immunities and powers given by the Order in Council P.C. 1639 passed on the 2nd March, 1942, shall apply.”

 

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Motive

The issue of motivation is an extremely complex and confusing aspect of the report. At times, the commission contradicts itself by suggesting that people betrayed Canada out of loyalty to Russia, while at other times suggesting that personal ideology was the dominant motive. Media coverage is similarly replete with false suppositions. While each suspect had varying motives, to suggest that a general motivation was loyalty to Russia is false. In fact, only one suspect suggested that they were loyal to the Soviet Union: Emma Woikin. In many cases, people felt they were helping Canadians.

Excerpt from Emma Woikin’s testimony before the commission:

Q= Not what you did, what did you say (to Major Sokolov)?

A= I said I would help him.

Q= He asked you whether you were willing to give information which would be of interest. Of interest to whom?

A= He said the Soviet Union.

Q= And you accepted that?

A= Yes

********

Q= Then would you explain why you were willing to do what Sokolov asked you to do.

A= Perhaps it is because I have a feeling of love for that country. Perhaps it is because we think that there is- we may be wrong or we may be right- but there is hope for the poor or something.

Q= If I understand what you mean, it is that you were sympathetic with the Soviet Union?

A= I don’t know why, but I did

 

 

Kathleen Willier‘s testimony:

Q= Is he (Rose) the first one who suggested you could contribute to the promotion of the Soviet government by giving him in general terms information of value which was passed through your hands in the office, the High Commissioner’s office?

A= He didn’t say ‘Soviet Government’. He said the Canadian party, the Canadian Communist Party.

Q= Just what did he say to you?

A= That the party would be very glad to have some information sometimes in order that their policy-to affect public opinion-the sort of facts they would have. This is all I know.

**********

Q= Would it be right to put it this way; that you felt that there was a higher law, owing to your, let me say, political convictions?

A= Yes. It was a struggle; it is always a struggle.

**********

Q= What Mr. Adam’s asked you to obtain from the office of your employers would be information you thought would be of interest of the Soviet Union?

A= He did not put it like that. He said the Party policy is to do this, and they would like information, but he never mentioned the Soviet Union.

**********

A= I did not think of the Soviet Union; I thought of the Canadian party

 

 

Edward W. Mazerall‘s testimony:

A= At the same time I did not like the idea of supplying information.  It was not put to me so much that I was supplying information to the Soviet Government, either.  It was more that as scientists we were pooling information, and I actually asked him if we could hope to find this reciprocal.

Q= Did you ever have that experience?

A= I did not; no.

Q= Have you ever known of information of any kind being supplied by Russia?

A= Very little.

msthemeseparator

 

 

Gordon Lunan‘s testimony:

A= Jan was always bringing up the question of expenses and he did mention this question of taxi rides, but it was from our point of view a preposterous suggestion and I simply ignored it.

Q= When you say “from our point of view” whose point of view do you refer to?

A= Mine and Smith’s and Mazerall’s.

Q= Did you discuss that with them?

A= Yes, I did.

Q= With the three of them?

A= No.

Q= With whom?

A= With each one at one time or another and I discussed the question of expenses.

Q= Tell us what you said to them?

A= I told them that if they were involved in any expenses there was an offer for those expenses to be covered.  Each one of them, however, said there was no such possibility of expenses, the question did not arise for them.

Q= From what you say I take it they did not want to take any money?

A= Correct.

Q= Either as a disbursement to cover expenses or otherwise?

A= That is correct.

Q= What was their motive to do what they did?

A= Their motives would be idealistic or political.

Q= What do you mean by political?

A= That they felt they were serving a valid political motive in doing this.

Q= What do you mean by political?

A= I cannot describe for them their motives.

Q= What do you understand they meant by political?

A= I used the word myself.

Q= What did you use the word for?

A= That certainly there would be some motivation for doing this type of work, and it would have to be one involving ideals.

Q= Party sympathy?

A= Yes, that would be fair.

Q= When we say “party” there is only one Party that is meant, the Communist Party?

A= That is correct.

 

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Fred Rose

The government was hesitant to detain Fred Rose. They were concerned that, as a Member of Parliament, Rose would seek sanctuary in Parliament to avoid arrest (MPs can not be arrested while physically in the House of Commons). An arrangement was made with Rose mid-way between the commission’s investigation, and he agreed to surrender himself voluntarily.  As a result, unlike the detainees Rose had a lawyer present when he was questioned by the commission. He refused to answer the commissioners’ questions and instead directed his counsel, J.L. Cohen, to make statements on his behalf.

Mr. Cohen: Gentlemen, since we left I have spent as much time as I could in examining into this question.  I have read as carefully as I could the Inquiries Act which is the basis of the Order in Council which created this Commission, and I have read too the extended powers that you have apart from the Inquiries Act under the Order in Council.

I have seen that you have all the rights and powers of a civil tribunal together with the extended rights as to procedure that you have in your Order in Council.  The stand that I must take this morning is the same as that I took before you the other day

I do not wish to reiterate but we feel that the effect of testifying before this civil tribunal will have directly the effect of removing from the Witness Rose the protections that the Criminal Code and the jurisprudence has surrounded the person of an accused once he is before a court. May I use also the term “sanctity of his position,” that he cannot be compelled by any criminal court to testify against himself or give evidence which will disclose the nature the defence that he intends to make before the actual date on which he makes his defence.

If that be the case, then with all the respect that I have for the Commission I say that you, having the powers of a civil tribunal, will be doing indirectly what no judge in a criminal court can do directly.  I have had occasion to examine into the use that has been made of depositions taken before this Commission and the testimony of other people in their own trials before the criminal court and also in the trials of others before the criminal court and, therefore, gentlemen I must say that we firmly believe that we should not testify until the trial of Rose is completed after May 20.

Mr. Commissioner Kellock: Have you any authorities to support the position you take?

Cohen: I have none except what I consider to be the basic rights of an accused which stem from the Magna Charta, which I am not going to read or refer to except by name, and which have been hallowed by jurisprudence ever since our Code has been put into effect.

Mr. Commissioner Taschereau: We take it that Mr. Rose refuses to be sworn?

Cohen: That is the position Rose has been advised by counsel to take.

Taschereau:  All right, we will consider it.

Cohen: While I am on my feet, may I put in, for the purpose of the record, the fact that it is common knowledge as well as judicial fact that Rose is a member of Parliament representing the constituency of Cartier and as such he has certain rights of immunity.

Kellock: While the house is in session, but it is not in session.

Cohen: I suggest that the law is that he has those rights of immunity for forty days before the house is in session and for forty days after the house is in session.

Kellock: Immunity from arrest, but that is not the point here.  It is only a question of testifying.

Cohen: Immunity from arrest with all its —

Kellock: The principle is quite different, as I understand it.

Cohen: I am not going to argue this question before you.  This is a matter which is directly within the jurisdiction of the Commission.  You are sitting with the powers of a civil tribunal and I suggest that all the rules of civil law in connection with the immunity of members of Parliament are quite clear that a member has immunity from arrest in a civil matter.

Tashereau:  You understand that we have the powers that are given to us under the Act and in addition we have the powers of a civil court for the purpose of compelling a witness to speak.

Cohen: As I said before, you have the powers under the Inquiries Act and you also have the powers under the Order in Council which, as I said, go far beyond the Inquiries Act.  But I do not think they go so far beyond the Inquiries Act as to remove from a member of Parliament his right of immunity from arrest in a civil matter.

Kellock: All I am pointing out to you, Mr. Cohen, is that there is no question of arrest at the moment; it is a question only of testifying.

Cohen: I did not say there is.

Kellock: Let us not talk about something that is not relevant.

Cohen: Since you intend to deliberate on the matter I thought I would make these remarks to you so that you would have our position completely and fully before you.

Kellock: I was simply asking if you had any submissions that were relevant.  There is no question of arrest; it is a question only of testifying.

Cohen: I have tried to make my position clear.

Kellock: That is all you wish to say?

Cohen: That is all I can say.

E.K Williams: Messrs. Commissioners, there are two matters that occur to me following what has been submitted by my friend.  While I know that he is speaking with the full approbation of his client who is here before the Commission, after all it is the client who has to take the responsibility of taking the advice of counsel, I respectfully suggest to the Commission that Mr. Rose himself should state whether or not he declines to be sworn.

Tashereau:  I think the Bible should be offered to Mr. Rose.

The Secretary: Take the book in your right hand, Mr. Rose.

Rose: I refuse to be sworn.

Williams: Then in his latter remarks my friend made some reference to immunities.  I suggest that for the purpose of this recorded it should be clearly stated on Mr. Rose’s behalf or by Mr. Rose himself that he claims whatever immunity he may be entitled to as a member of the House of Commons so that the Commission may know exactly where it stands

Cohen: I do not know whether that is an appropriate request to make in view of the fact that it is a submission in the law which is properly made by counsel.  I am speaking not only for myself but for the other counsel, Mr. Finer of Montreal and Mr. Hiller of Ottawa, who, I believe, approve of the legal propositions I have made.

Kellock: If your client hears you and does not dissent, I suppose he approves.

Cohen: I hope he will not disallow what I have said because that might bring in serious adjustments

Kellock; We have had that here.

Williams: That was not exactly my point.  My suggestion is that he should say definitely now that he is or is not relying on any immunities to which Mr. Rose may be entitled.

Cohen: Perhaps I can put it this way.  I tried to make it clear to the commissioners that Rose is a member of Parliament.  The question of sanctions by this Commission may arise in you minds, and properly so.  A question of law, the question of immunity exists in these circumstances and I have pointed out to the Commission that that question of immunity should be considered by the Commission if and when they consider sanctions in connection with the refusal of Rose to testify.

Kellock: As I understand the point Mr. Williams is raising, when you speak of immunity from arrest which may arise if this Commission decided to impose sanctions on your client for refusing to be sworn, but the point is that there is no obligation to be sworn and testify before this Commission.

Cohen: No, the question of immunity arises after his refusal to be sworn.

Tashereau:  All right.

Kellock: Anything else, Mr. Williams?

Williams: I have nothing else to add, Messrs. Commissioners.

Tashereau:   We will consider that.

Cohen: We will await you pleasure.

Short recess ensued.

Tashereau:  Well, Mr. Cohen, we have had the opportunity of considering your objection.  As you know, this investigation has been going on for a number of weeks, and the evidence show that Mr. Rose has been guilty of misconduct in connection with the subject-matter which we have been investigating.  We wanted to give Mr. Rose an opportunity to come here and answer to those charges; but in view of the attitude which he now takes, and in view of the fact that he has refused this opportunity, we feel free to report to the Governor General as we see fit.

Cohen: That is exactly within the terms, I think, of Section 13 of the Inquiries Act.

Tashereau:  That will be all, thank you.

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