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Steve Hewitt, Spying 101. The RCMP's Secret Activities at Canadian Universities, 1917-1997 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2002)
Gary Kinsman, Dieter K. Buse, and Mercedes Steedman, eds., Whose National Security? Canadian State Surveillance and the Creation of Enemies (Toronto: Between the Lines 2000)
W. Wesley Pue, ed., Pepper In Our Eyes: The APEC Affair (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press 2000)
NATIONAL SECURITY IN CANADA has been a front-burner topic in the media since the attacks of 11 September 2001. But scholars had been intensely interested in Canada's national security apparatus and its mandate long before this landmark event. (1) This has resulted in critical studies of the state's collection of information on individuals and groups, their methods of determining who and what constitute a threat, their analysis of political climates domestically and internationally, and the decision-making processes through which action has been taken once intelligence has been gathered. The official positions adopted by the state have often differed from the public's perception of what defines national security. Scholars, even more so, have challenged state claims, past and present, about who and what is a threat. Many argue that the national security being protected has been defined by Canada's political, economic, and social elite in ways that contradict standard notions of democratic rights of free expression.
In 1919, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officially began protecting Canada's national security, which in 1984 also came under the auspices of the newly created Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS). Individuals and groups who engaged in or were suspected of engaging in subversion were the targets of surveillance from the RCMP. While the RCMP defined almost everyone and anything on the Left as subversives, they were often times grappling with the conundrum of exactly where to find them, how their agents could gather information about them without being exposed, and in what manner they could use citizens to assist them. The successful perpetuation of the RCMP's surveillance operations occurred because agents found it easy to apply their supple definition of subversives to find targets.
Who or what directs the RCMP/CSIS apparatus is an important question that requires historical inquiry. The Security Panel, which exists under the auspices of the Privy Council, and is responsible for the general direction of CSIS, coordinates Canada's national security efforts. It does not, however, direct the day-to-day operations of the RCMP or CS1S, who behave autonomously. Determining where an order or mandate originated is difficult because the documents that contain the answers are normally not released on the grounds of national security concerns. Without question, it has been the successful use of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (ATIP) by scholars and activists that has made works such as the three under review here possible. (2) Record Group 146, housed in the National Archives of Canada (NA), comprises the documents generated by the RCMP and CSIS which help to shed light on the past activities of Canada's security apparatus. Whose National Security? and Pepper In Our Eyes are both intended as primers for people interested in issues of national security or the events surrounding the APEC affair, and the constitutional aspects of political policing in Canada. Spying 101, with its focus on universities, marks an important step forward in our understanding of the role of universities in society as well as a very good case study of domestic surveillance in Canada.
Canadians hold universities in a position of respect and reverence, elevated perhaps by their mythical ability to turn Canada's youth into employable adults. Universities in Canada are perceived by many as autonomous, independent institutions that occupy a moral high ground within society. But, as public institutions that are funded by federal and provincial governments, but not managed by them, they are often viewed by elites, especially the RCMP, with suspicion because of their autonomy and exclusive membership. The extent to which the RCMP went to investigate both university students and staff members is rivalled only by the zealousness with which they investigated alleged Cold War spies. Since the end of World War II, individual examples of RCMP activities on university campuses have been alarmingly frequent. While the RCMP did not become directly involved in university affairs, its impact on the decision-making process was tangible.
Determining who constituted a threat to Canada's national security was a task …