#1
The following letter went on on Morfiny Books World Review earlier today, and having checked the facts therein, it seems a very worthy cause to support.
Dear Fellow-Canadian,
I have been pressing the issue discussed below since last year. I have no personal axe to grind, save that I am a writer, not yet famous, who likes to get the facts straight. Having tried in vain to enlist the help of my M.P., Mr. Gary Schellenberger, who tells me he has better things to do than check out a cover-up on high treason, I am sharing the problem with you.
The Herbert Norman case shook Canada fifty years ago, but it is surely not closed. Lester Pearson himself was intimately involved, as a patron of the man who suicided before his role was examined thoroughly. His part in the affair has never been adequately exposed.
Since Mr. Schellenberger has declared, after some considerable delay, and presumably consultation with others, that he is too busy to take up this unsolved treason case, I am circulating this summary of events in the hope that somebody else with influence will pursue it.
I have to say that, until I read Professor Barros’ book last year, I knew nothing of the case except the vaguest details, but what he wrote about the cover-up shocked me into starting this latest enquiry.
Quote from No Sense of Evil, by James Barros, second edition, published in Canada by Random House, 1987, with assistance from the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council.
“On November 4, 1986, about a month after this book appeared in Canada, Dr. Alex Kindy, the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament from Calgary East, got up in the House of Commons to ask the Solicitor General certain questions related to the Norman case.
Among other things, he wanted to know whether the Solicitor General knew the identity of the employee of the National Council for Canadian Soviet Friendship whom the RCMP had described as a rabid and dangerous communist. Also, was the Solicitor General aware of the fact that Norman had attempted to recruit former Secretary of the Cabinet Robert Bryce into the Communist Party when both were students at Cambridge University?
He pointed out that, although Bryce had known in the autumn of 1950 that Norman was being questioned at External Affairs as a possible Russian penetration agent, he never divulged that information to the RCMP. If that was so, did the Minister intend to inquire why such information was withheld from the Force?
Dr Kindy was looking for oral answers to written questions which under House of Commons rules must be given within 45 calendar days. The allotted day came and went but the Solicitor General chose to ignore the ruling, and, by remaining silent, technically was in contempt of the House. He may have thought that by saying nothing, the whole matter would vanish, like a bad dream. He also may have felt that Dr. Kindy had merely been pressured by a constituent to pose questions without having a personal interest in the subject. If that were the case, he certainly would not insist on a reply.
However, the Solicitor General made a serious mistake for Dr. Kindy rose again in the House of Commons on December 19, 1986. This time he wanted the Solicitor General to respond on a point of order. The government spokesman assured him that an answer was being prepared and would be given in January 1987, when the House would reconvene after the December recess.
On Jnauary20, the government provided what can be considered a non-answer, by informing Dr. Kindy and the House that it wished ‘neither to confirm nor deny the facts or allegations mentioned in these questions, based on the established tradition adhered to by all governments, not to comment publicly on the details of specific security matters’ and consistent with the provisions of the Access to Information Act.
Since 1951, at the earliest and certainly as late as 1957, successive Canadian governments were morally obligated to clear Herbert Norman’s name and reputation from the taint of involvement in Russian espionage activities. As the government refused to issue any denials, Dr. Kindy’s questions were heaven-sent to remove, once and for all, any doubts held by some about Norman’s loyalty to his country.
Why the refusal in this particular instance? Over the years, following the Norman case, Canadian governments were not averse to discuss ‘security matters’ in the House of Commons. Indeed, they did not hesitate to talk about the Gerda Munsinger case and that of George Victor Spencer, both mentioned in this study. Setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into the indiscretions and faults of the RCMP Security Service is further proof of their willingness to bring such matters into the open.
The government’s refusal to answer Dr. Kindy’s written questions left many uneasy and dissatisfied. This was clearly reflected in an exchange that took place on March 17,1987, in the House Standing Committee on Justice and the Solicitor General between Allan Lawrence, the Progressive Conservative member for Northumberland and a former Solicitor General, and the Minister of Justice, Ray J Hnatyshyn. On that occasion, Mr. Lawrence observed, “We have been quite concerned about the reluctance of the government to release information regarding” Norman’s death. After so many years, “why in heaven’s name, are the public and the members of the House of Commons denied access to this information?”
The Minister replied that he wished he had an answer but he did not. Neither was he sure that he had direct ministerial responsibility for the matter but out of respect for Alex Kindy and Allan Lawrence, he would attempt to acquire what information he could and convey it to both of them.
End of quote
Meanwhile, to save my typing fingers, the Toronto Star had taken an interest, been refused answers it wanted ( and was entitled to under the Access to Information Act ) from the CSIS, and gone to the Commissioner of Information, who asked the same poor old Solicitor General to instruct the security service to comply with the law.
Quote again
When the Solicitor General refused to do so, the Commissioner of Information asked the Toronto Star to pursue the matter in the courts. She informed the paper that, according to one of the statutes in the Access to Information Act, she could provide necessary funds to pay its legal costs in the litigation against the Solicitor General.
The Government, in its desire to stonewall responses to the Norman question and to cover up its protruding warts, had mounted a spectacle in which one of its officers (the Commissioner of Information) would provide public money to a newspaper so that it could sue the Solicitor General. Why would it go to such extraordinary lengths to deny its electorate access to information that, in some respects, is more than thirty years old?
On April 10, 1987, Dr. Kindy rose again in the House, this time to put a question to Joe Clark, the Secretary of State for External Affair. Pointing out that the government’s stance on the Norman case was contrary to the spirit of the Access to Information Act, he asked. “ Could the Secretary of State reveal what is behind the cover-up? Why is Canada still protecting a former mole of the KGB?”
There are “no skeletons in the closet,” Clark unctuously replied, suggesting to Dr. Kindy “not to pursue skeletons that do not exist.” He added, “it would be unnecessary and unworthy to raise 30 year old questions here in the house.”
Coming from so important a minister, the response, no doubt based on bad advice, was inadequate as it failed to answer the queries Dr. Kindy had initiated several months before. To deem raising the Norman question ‘unnecessary and unworthy’ even after thirty years, is invalid on two counts.:first, even after forty years, the government, rightly, seems to have no compunction to bring up the issue of war crimes committed elsewhere. Is espionage against Canada a less serious crime? Second, the crucial remaining issue that Clark failed to grasp in the Norman case is simply this: If the security system in use between 1950 and 1957 has been improved, is the present system better equipped to prevent repetition of the deferential and preferential treatment Norman had received?
End of quote
I might add that there is also a value in truth for its own sake, a fact that often escapes governments. I have no idea if Professor Barros is still alive – I emailed his university but they never replied - but his work deserves to be honored.
Whose names are being kept quiet, and why? Why is my M.P., Mr. Schellenberger, too busy to submit a simple written question that his legislative assistant could write in ten minutes, that would take up the gauntlet of cover-up thrown down by Joe Clark over 25 years ago? Mr. Schellenberger is a member of the government party, which openly espouses open and honest administration. Let’s take them at their word.
Please add your voice to mine and seek all possible parliamentarian assistance in getting to the bottom of this enigma, at last.
Yours truly
Ross McKay
(a fourth generation Canadian, born in Stratford.)