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Literary Review of CanadaLiterary Review of Canada




20 STEPHEN MARCHE The Passport JEAN MCNEIL Travels with Elizabeth Bishop

ANNA PORTER A Publisher’s Life JOHN ALLEMANG Newsrooms Past

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Page 22

with him to anyone except my father. I asked
why the NDP leader was so upset almost thirty
years after Rose’s election, and he responded
by detailing how the Rose campaign was better
organized than the CCF’s effort.

For decades after that 1943 by-election, my
father, who never was interrogated by the
RCMP — or so he claimed — argued that the
information gathered by Rose’s ring of spies was
of no importance and certainly nothing of ser-
ious interest to the Soviets. He maintained that
it was material anyone could have gleaned by
reading the daily papers or reviewing Hansard.
He believed the RCMP had exaggerated the case
and that Fred Rose was innocent. Only shortly
before his death did his views change.

Of course, it was not the case that the informa-
tion collected by the Soviet spy ring was of little
consequence. It was so important that Gouzenko
helped trigger the Cold War and rearrange the
Canadian political landscape. And it was now
clear that Soviet support for Communist move-
ments outside of Russia would be sacri�ced to
support Stalin’s government, no matter how
chilling the consequences.

In 2003, the Globe and Mail’s Jeff Sallot inter-
viewed Martin Rudner, then the director of
Carleton University’s Canadian Centre of
Intelligence and Security Studies, about the
Gouzenko case. “It was absolutely explosive,”
Rudner said, “probably the single most import-
ant event in counterintelligence.” As Sallot
wrote, “Mr. Gouzenko disclosed the existence of
Soviet ‘sleeper networks’— spy rings consisting
of secret agents recruited at early ages and kept
in place for years until they attained positions
from which to in!uence the policies of their
native countries or steal important scienti�c,
military or political secrets.” And, according
to documents revealed by a later defector,
Gouzenko’s defection “effectively paralyzed
Soviet espionage efforts in Canada for 15 years.”

Igor Gouzenko and Svetlana were granted
Canadian citizenship and new identities after
they left Camp X. Their home in Port Credit,
Ontario, was under constant RCMP protec-
tion. Although Gouzenko feared that Soviet
agents would assassinate him, he managed to
appear on television, always wearing a bag over
his head. And he kept busy writing books. His
novel about Stalinist Russia, The Fall of a Titan,
won the 1954 Governor General’s. He died in
Mississauga on June 25, 1982.

of working for the Soviets, including the eight-
een convicted under the Official Secrets Act,
were Jewish, compounding the age-old trope
of the Jew as traitorous troublemaker. That
Jews were also responsible for the Russian
Revolution became an article of faith for many.
As Allan Levine put it in Seeking the Fabled City,
“Jews were frequently portrayed in the English-
and French-language press, and by politicians,
church leaders, and businessmen, as dangerous
Bolshevik sympathizers; urbanites, rather than
farmers, who threatened the virtuous rural ideal
imagined for Canada; and above all, as a ‘race’
that could never truly assimilate into a Christian

Not long ago, I sat down with the octogen-
arian Solomon Blaser, to record his memories
of growing up in the Toronto branch of the
Communist Party. He recalled his early days
at his parents’ cabin at Camp Naivelt, open

to Jewish members and their friends, near the
Credit River outside of Brampton. Paul Robeson
and Pete Seeger sang for the campers, and hun-
dreds of orators promised a better world under
Communist rule. “My parents were looking for
a place for their children to swim and play in
the fresh air,” Blaser explained. “To purchase
the land for Camp Naivelt, the members asked
the Ukrainian comrades to make the offer to the
landowner, who never would have agreed to sell
his farmland to Jews.”

Levine estimates that 30 percent of Canada’s
Communists in 1930s were Jewish, although
other historians consider that percentage low.
Regardless, the impression that they were respon-
sible for the proliferation of Communist candi-
dates before and during the Second World War
profoundly affected Canadian immigration
policy. While the U.S. and Britain began to open
their doors to Jewish refugees, Canada steadfastly
adhered to its position of “none is too many”
(the phrase that Irving Abella and Harold Troper
used to title their landmark 1982 book) long after
the existence of the death camps became widely
known in 1944.

When the detention of the Soviet spies made
the headlines in February 1946, it served to
entrench the wartime views of Frederick Blair,
who directed immigration under Mackenzie
King. Even though Blair was fully aware of the
plight of refugees, he stood �rm, saying no coun-
try could “open its doors wide enough to take
in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish people
who want to leave Europe: the line must be
drawn somewhere.”

As my father reached the end of his life,
he expressed his disappointment with the
Communist Party and the anti-Semitism it pro-
voked. What haunted him was Stalin’s doctrine
of “socialism in one country,” which he believed
crushed movements outside Russia. During the
1930s and early 1940s, the Canadian Communist
Party had played a signi�cant role in everyday
Jewish life in Montreal and Toronto, with cul-
tural events, summer camps, rallies, and other
activities. But the Jewish membership began
to shrink after the war. Moscow’s meddling in
Canadian politics even frightened the greater,
less politicized Jewish community.

At the Twentieth Party Congress, in 1956, �rst
secretary Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin
and his “cult of personality.” The curtain was
finally pulled back on the former premier’s
egregious crimes. Party members could no
longer hide their suspicions: the Soviet Union
had been transformed into an autocratic police
state. It was also a time when the Canadian par-
ents who spoke Yiddish at home and founded
Camp Naivelt increasingly encouraged their
children to attend university and professional
schools — while keeping their heads down.
Fewer and fewer Jewish Canadians entered
politics. Fewer became journalists. The trials of
shtetl life and the Bolshevik-leaning poets and
storytellers who narrated a rich but tragic exist-
ence were forgotten, except by those stalwart
followers who tried to keep the revolution’s
!ame burning, even after it had burned out in
the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc.

It’s no exaggeration to say that keeping a low
pro�le became de rigueur for the majority of edu-
cated Jewish Canadians after the war. We have
not been as active in national issues and com-
mentary as our brothers and sisters in France,
the United States, or even the United Kingdom.

home with a group of young radicals on James
Street, a few blocks from the Gouzenko apart-
ment on Somerset, Phyllis Clarke came to
visit. Clarke was the co-editor of Yours in the
Struggle: Reminiscences of Tim Buck, a book she
was researching at the time. She was a stern-
looking redhead with tightly curled hair, and
she reminded me of my father’s former com-
rades, who would occasionally visit his furni-
ture store, to discuss things like the 1962 Cuban
Missile Crisis and the 1968 Soviet-led inva-
sion of Czechoslovakia. Those aging comrades
would speak in hushed tones of J. L. Cohen,
“the people’s lawyer” who defended many of
the suspects rounded up by the RCMP. Clarke
was Cohen’s daughter, and she had devoted her
life to socialism.

I stared at her, and she glared back at me. I’ll
never know if she recognized me, as David Lewis
had back on Parliament Hill, or if she thought
my New Left housemates and I were pretenders,
who understood nothing about the sacri�ces she
and others had made in the name of the Soviet
Union and international Communism.


Yours in the Struggle:
Reminiscences of Tim Buck
Edited by Phyllis Clarke and William Beeching
NC Press, 1977

How the Cold War Began: The Gouzenko
Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies
Amy Knight
McClelland & Stewart, 2005

Seeking the Fabled City:
The Canadian Jewish Experience
Allan Levine
McClelland & Stewart, 2018

The Iron Curtain
Directed by William A. Wellman
Twentieth Century Fox, 1948

A body is lightning in a bottle.

Some small miracle,

a sequence of events

necessary for one.

All of them political.

Especially those that aren’t.

The word strains like us

to contain multitudes, de�ning

one thing against another.

Me. A mass. A thing passed

or a thing of importance. Both


& boundless.

Dominik Parisien

Dominik Parisien is an editor and the author
of We, Old Young Ones, a chapbook. His debut
collection, Side Effects May Include Strangers,
is due out this fall.

Calling a Body a Body


Page 23

in the late 1970s, some-
one lent my father a copy
of Bilingual Today, French
Tomorrow. The book is now

mostly forgotten, but at the time it circulated
widely in English Canada. The author, a retired
naval of�cer named Jock V. Andrew, argued that
Pierre Trudeau’s policy to increase bilingual-
ism in the federal civil service was simply the
�rst step in a larger plan to turn Canada into a
completely French-speaking country. The prom-
inent aeronautical engineer Winnett Boyd, who
believed that Andrew’s thesis was “dif�cult to
refute,” provided the foreword.

The slim volume, with a giant blue !eur-de-lys
on its cover dominating a red map of the coun-
try, sat on my father’s chest of drawers for about
six months before it disappeared. Either he
returned it to its lender or my mother, who was
born and raised in Quebec City, found a way to
dispose of it. I don’t think my father ever looked
at it. He was not much of a reader, and he was
not a gullible man. But he did have a visceral
dislike of Trudeau and an inherited suspicion
of Quebec. Like many Anglo Canadians who
enlisted during the Second World War, he deeply
resented the prime minister’s avoidance of mil-
itary service and opposition to conscription.

Not available in bookstores, Bilingual Today,
French Tomorrow had to be ordered directly from
the author, for $3.50. Still, it sold more than
120,000 copies in its �rst year. These copies, in
turn, were widely shared among friends and
family. The informal circulation anticipated
the way misinformation often spreads on the
internet—unimpeded by media �ltering, below
the public radar, and away from critical scrutiny.

Andrew’s claims were taken up by some of
those whom Stephen Harper would later describe
as “old stock Canadians”— citizens of British
heritage who saw Canada as an English-speaking
nation that was politically and culturally linked
to the U.K. This group had assumed that the
French-speaking population centred in Quebec
would continue to play a minor role in national
politics and, in due course, would become assimi-
lated into the more successful political and
economic culture of English Canada. But in
the late 1960s, with the election of Trudeau and
the escalating debate about Quebec’s role in
Confederation, this assumption had become
more dif�cult to maintain.

Bilingual Today, French Tomorrow tapped into
the concern that many Canadians had about the
increasing visibility of the French language in the
country’s commercial and political life. At the
time of its publication, in 1977, there were loud
complaints that French was being “shoved down
our throats,” after the government required

manufacturers to include both of�cial languages
on product packaging. The increased visibility of
French coincided with Ottawa’s af�rmation of
multiculturalism, which recast cultural diversity
as something to be celebrated, rather than as a
problem to be managed. The of�cial recogni-
tion of both bilingualism and multiculturalism
represented a challenge to the Anglo Canadian
understanding of national identity.

Andrew sought to expose the deeper and dis-
turbing purpose behind bilingualism. He was
convinced that a secret plan had been carefully
worked out long ago by a cabal of powerful
French Canadians and was now being imple-
mented through careful political manoeuvring
by Trudeau and his secretary of state, Gérard
Pelletier, with the help of a fifth column of
“goons.” Andrew maintained that Trudeau,
“under cover of some very clever double-talk,”
had set out “to convert Canada from an English-
speaking country into a French-speaking coun-
try.” Official bilingualism was “nothing but a
smokescreen for what is really happening.” This
conversion was “the primary and sole objective”
of the government, and would “remain the same
until every city, town and village in Canada has
become French-speaking and French-controlled.”

Trudeau had employed specific strategies,
Andrew contended, to bring about this trans-
formation. The most important: the require-
ment that all signi�cant positions in the federal
civil service, the armed forces, and the RCMP be
held by individuals who could speak both lan-
guages. This, supposedly, would ensure French

Canadian control of critical national institu-
tions. It was a simple and obvious fact that they
were far more likely than English Canadians
to be bilingual, since the latter previously had
little reason to learn French. The larger plan also
included changes to immigration policy that dis-
favoured those from Britain but welcomed new-
comers from French-speaking countries, as well
as government support for the internal migra-
tion of French Canadians within the country.

Now that Quebec had “for all practical
purposes removed all vestiges of the English
language” from its territory, it could serve as
“an impregnable bastion, breeding pen, and
marshalling yard for the colonization of the rest
of Canada.” Once they were resettled in English-
speaking communities, the new arrivals would
be encouraged to demand services in French.
This secret operation was being implemented
with the “organizational assistance of the French
Church, and under cover of an organization
called the Richelieu Society.” Andrew also
pointed to “paid agitators (of�cially termed ‘ani-
mators’)” who were “inciting French-Canadians
to militant racism” and demanding services in
French from every level of government. He was
con�dent that once English Canadians woke up
to what was happening, they would resist the
Trudeau plot with all the resources available to
them. And because the plot was so far advanced,
violence—even civil war—might be necessary.

forces that lie behind signi�cant events or social

Language Barrier
The life of a conspiracy theory

Richard Moon

Clandestine attempts to keep English Canadians out of power?








Page 43

debuts—a novel, Vanishing Monuments,
and a poetry collection, Junebat—came
out, but I’ve still not seen either of them
in a bookstore. Not in person, at least.

In April, I was supposed to see my books in a
lot of bookstores. I had a three-week tour lined
up, with around twenty events, in Winnipeg,
Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal,
and Guelph. In May, I should have seen my
books in, at least, St. Louis, Lincoln, Chicago,
Minneapolis, and Kansas City (where I currently
live). In June, I was planning on Vancouver,
Portland, maybe New York City, and, hopefully,
Los Angeles.

We all know why I couldn’t visit any of these
bookstores. In the second week of March, shortly
after my partner and I decided not to attend
a large literary conference in San Antonio, it
became clear that I wouldn’t be going anywhere.
Despite the fact that my publishers, Arsenal Pulp
and House of Anansi, had teamed up to arrange
an excellent tour—especially for a debut author
publishing with indie presses—and despite the
fact that I’d funnelled a majority of my energy
for the first months of 2020 into making sure
I could do these books justice, I was suddenly
staring down the barrel of a pandemic.

I probably should have been suspicious when
everything seemed to be going extremely well.
Winning the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s RBC
Bronwen Wallace Award in May 2019, selling
my two debuts to two of my favourite Canadian
presses in the weeks that followed, and being
photographed in January for a Quill & Quire
cover: each of these things alone should have
been a warning that something big was going
to come along to ruin the moment. With each
of these milestones, I should have remembered
that as well as things have turned out for me,
nothing has ever come easy. Every good thing
comes with caveats.

The hardest thing about publishing my first
two books at this strange time has been how
unreal those publications feel. I suffer from
depression, and one of the greatest challen-
ges I face is getting out of my own head and

being present. My brain is always searching
for a way to subvert or obfuscate reality, to jus-
tify the deflation and pain it wants me to feel.
I was looking forward to my tour not because
I’m particularly well suited for travel or social-
izing, but because seeing posters for my events,
and having people sit and listen to me read, and
seeing some of those same people line up after
with my books in their hands for me to sign were
all experiences I knew not even my brain could
steal from me.

Vanishing Monuments and Junebat were both,
in their own ways, harrowing to write. Both
touch on mental health — specifically depres-
sion. Both take root in my coming to terms with
being non-binary. This aspect of my identity can
feel unreal, particularly in public, where it is
often illegible. Since my books centre on non-
binary experiences, I was particularly excited to
meet queer people with whom I could be confi-
dent in my identity’s legibility. I envisioned my
tour as an opportunity to have my work as well
as my own queer self validated.

With these events cancelled, the texture of
my life hardly changed with the publication of
my books. I’ve done a bunch of virtual events,
of course, which have been nice. I’ve had some
heartening profiles and reviews written, and have
received some generous notes from readers. But
the fact this has all happened remotely means
it’s easy for my brain to reject that I’m finally a
published author. Instead of getting the experi-
ence of launching my books across Canada and
the United States, I’ve been doing little besides
walking my dog, worrying about the state of the
world, and collecting unemployment. The mile-
stone I’d been working toward for so much of
my life has passed by with little pomp.

The most positive outcome of all of this is
how losing my tour brought me back to writing.
The pandemic forced me to realize how little
control I have over my life, while also illumin-
ating where the little control I do have resides.
And that is in creating the work itself. I may not
see my books in a bookstore in 2020, but I can
at least hope they will still be on the shelves by
the time I publish again.

My Tour of Nowhere

John Elizabeth Stintzi is the author of Vanishing Monuments and Junebat.



Page 44


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