Academic journal article Labour/Le Travail

Gregory S. Kealey, Spying on Canadians: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Service and the Origins of the Long Cold War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2017)

Academic journal article Labour/Le Travail

Gregory S. Kealey, Spying on Canadians: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Service and the Origins of the Long Cold War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2017)

Article excerpt

Gregory S. Kealey, Spying on Canadians: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Service and the Origins of the Long Cold War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2017)

GREGORY S. KEALEY'S Spying on Canadians is a collection of nine essays about searching for and accessing information. It covers the history of surveillance by police agencies from the 1860s to the Cold War. Together these essays, a collection of Kealey's work (articles, conferences papers, and addresses) written between 1988 and 2003, examine the creation of the Secret Service in Canada --a branch of the RNWMP (Royal North West Mounted Police) and later the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). In these essays Kealey illustrates how policing in Canada is intrinsic to the history of the country itself and how police agents have targeted immigrants, labour, and the Left as threats to the nation. Spying on Canadians tracks the changing study of surveillance in Canada and contributes to the field both by expanding the historical context and presenting Kealey's own experience accessing restricted documents. As an authority on policing, surveillance, and security in Canada, Kealey provides readers with studies on the processes of spying, being spied on, and uncovering the history of surveillance.

Spying on Canadians is part of an evergrowing field of research. Over the last two decades, historians such as Steve Hewitt have studied the inherent anti-communism within the RCMP proving that police surveillance of leftists was not a product of the 1950s "Red Scare" but grew from earlier fears of Bolshevik uprisings and labour unrest. Kealey expands this history by going farther back to the years leading up to Confederation. By doing this, he demonstrates how distrust of the radical left and fear of ethnic threats exists within the fabric of Canada's origins as a country. The Secret Service, therefore, came into being with Confederation rather than grew from it. Spying on Canadians provides depth to the earlier history of policing that was not fully explored in Secret Service: The History of Political Policing in Canada from the Fenians to Fortress America (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), the otherwise comprehensive text on police surveillance in Canada written by Kealey, Reg Whitaker, and Andrew Parnaby. Kealey uses the 19th century to explain the origins of Cold War spying. To have a comprehensive history of police surveillance beginning in the 1860s and leading into the Cold War is significant when much of the scholarship on policing is centred on the second half of the 20th century.

In addition to providing greater historical scope to the subject of police surveillance, Spying on Canadians includes a personal angle. Kealey begins the collection describing his own inquiry into police surveillance of academics at the annual meetings of what were then called the Learned Societies. The fear of the spectre of Marxism spreading through academia combined with student radicals during the 1960s and 1970s led the RCMP to watch specific organizations, such as the Labour History Group, and certain academics including Kealey. Beginning his book in this manner, Kealey effectively demonstrates what police surveillance means to him as a historian and as a Canadian.

Kealey divides Spying on Canadians into three parts to facilitate his wide scope. The first section explores the 19th century roots of the Canadian Secret Service and how political policing in this era, from the Fenian raids to the Komagatu Maru affair, was tightly linked to fears of radicalism and anti-imperialism. …

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