Warm, fuzzy, proud to be Canadian citizens likely haven’t heard the term “ProFunc”. Prominent Functionaries of the Communist Party was a top secret program of the Canadian government and RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to identify, monitor and plan for internment of Communists, Communist sympathizers and their families. In 1950, RCMP Commissioner Stuart Taylor Wood spear headed ProFunc, complete with arrest document C-215; a form filled out with information on 16,000 “Communists” and an estimated 50,000 “sympathizers”. These citizens were often under surveillance – form C-215 included details far beyond name and last known address. Details like “possible escape routes from residence” were required on each and every arrest document. Regularly updated and kept on file in RCMP headquarters across the country – citizens were oblivious to the consequences of a ProFunc crack-down.
Great care was taken; not only to maintain secrecy, but to practice for that day when the hammer fell. Any unsuspecting citizen with the unfortunate luck of a C-215 on file, faced a possibility of arrest and detention without formal charges, separation from family members, solitary confinement, strict rations of food, and standing orders to shoot if they tried to escape. This was Canada, from 1950 until 1983 – a matter taken most seriously by bureaucrats on a secret mission, unencumbered by matters of human rights or legality – I doubt they grasped the irony of their actions.
On Oct. 16, 1970 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau put Canada under Marshall Law by evoking the War Measures Act – a response to the kidnapping of British trade commissioner James Cross and Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte by the FLQ (A radical Quebec separatist group). In a recent interview by CBC, retired Lt. Julien Giguere who headed the Montreal anti-terrorism unit at the time of the October Crisis, admitted they only had 60 or so names on their list of FLQ members or sympathisers; given the severity of Trudeau ordering marshall law – they thought it best to pad the suspect list. Over 500 arrests were made; most with absolutely no affiliation, widely assumed to have been taken from the established ProFunc lists
Canada’s Solicitor General, Robert Kaplan put an end to ProFunc in 1983. It wasn’t until January of 2000, when Canadian Press reporter Dean Beeby broke the story of ProFunc’s existence, that those listed finally understood why they always felt they were being followed. Profunc cared little for details such as duly elected representatives or status – Tommy Douglas, leader of Canada’s New Democrat Party, had a fat C-215 file – the slightest hint of “civil unrest” could have put the father of Canadian social medicine behind bars.
Understanding Cold War hysteria isn’t difficult – grasping the scope of “big brother” in terms of modern technology, is a sobering thought. Pondering the reality of ProFunc, a nasty piece of business conducted within the back rooms of my nice little country, serves as a wake up call. If any government decides the “end justifies the means”, we are powerless – human rights, code of law, due process – chuck them out the window. Holy crap indeed.