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From the archives

Carbon Copy

In equal balance justly weighed

Slouching toward Democracy

Where have all the wise men gone?

By Populist Demand

When urban and rural voters went separate ways

All the Kremlin’s Men

On seventy-five years of Russian interference

Joyce Wayne

Seventy-five years ago, three days after Japan formally surrendered, bringing the Second World War to a close, Igor Gouzenko vanished from the Soviet embassy on Charlotte Street in Ottawa’s tranquil Sandy Hill neighbourhood. Over the next forty-eight hours, something of a legend was born. The details and chronology differ depending on the teller, but most agree that Gouzenko, who had been in the city since 1943, first headed to the Ottawa Journal. The twenty-six-year-old cipher clerk had secrets to share. But then his courage failed him and he went home.

Gouzenko, who had learned days before that he was to be shipped back to the Soviet Union, was frantic and afraid. He had stolen scores of top secret documents and worried that as soon as the embassy’s military attaché, Nikolai Zabotin, discovered the missing papers, he’d be ambushed and punished.

When he arrived home, at 511 Somerset Street West, a strange-looking two-storey affair with round windows overlooking a park, Gouzenko’s pregnant wife, Svetlana, urged him to try the Journal again. They had their safety and that of their two-year-old son, Andrei, to think about. So he returned to the paper and pleaded with the night desk to inspect his cache of documents. But the editor — perhaps uninterested, perhaps unable to understand the excited Russian before him — made one of the greatest gaffes in twentieth-century journalism and turned Gouzenko out onto the street.

On the surface of things, the Soviets and the Canadians were the best of friends. On St. Catherine Street in downtown Montreal, for example, Eaton’s flew the hammer and sickle above its main doors, and the director John Grierson’s pro-Soviet documentary, Inside Fighting Russia, had been enthusiastically screened across the country. Yet the friendship was paper-thin. Soon, the Canadian government would learn the USSR had been intent on gathering secrets from our Chalk River laboratory, a hive of scientific activity located about two hours northwest of Ottawa. As the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, in New Mexico, moved ever closer to producing the A‑bomb, the Soviets aggressively targeted associated operations here. And Gouzenko carried the proof on that sultry Wednesday night of September 5, 1945.

He lit the match that started the Cold War.

AFP

After his rejection at the Journal, Gouzenko tried the Justice Building at 294 Wellington Street. But the department was closed, and he was told to come back the next day, which he did with his family in tow. He forced his way into the inner sanctum, where he threatened to shoot himself if he wasn’t allowed to speak to the justice minister, Louis St. Laurent. (For years, his pistol was enshrined in the International Spy Museum, in Washington. It was recently returned to Ottawa.) Sent away again, Gouzenko tried the RCMP’s Bureau of Naturalization, where his attempts to defect were refused.

Back at his apartment — technically Russian property — he heard Colonel Zabotin’s chauffeur pounding on the door. Gouzenko and Svetlana, in desperation, hid little Andrei with a neighbour, and Gouzenko jumped over a balcony to get away before Vitalii Pavlov, the embassy’s rezident, broke into the home with a group of Zabotin’s men. Only then did the police get involved. “It was like a game of cops and robbers” is how Amy Knight described the scene in How the Cold War Began, “with the hapless Ottawa police confronting belligerent Russians desperate to find their missing cipher clerk and his documents.”

Gouzenko never did meet with St. Laurent, but he did get the attention of Norman Robertson, who contacted Mackenzie King. The undersecretary for external affairs told the prime minister that a “terrible thing” had occurred. “Robertson seemed to feel that the information might be so important both to the States . . . and to Britain that it would be in their interests to seize it no matter how it was obtained,” King wrote in his diary.

But the prime minister was distracted, putting the final touches on the Throne Speech and preparing to open a new session of Parliament. He was also leery of Gouzenko’s intentions: “My own feeling is that the individual has incurred the displeasure of the Embassy and is really seeking to shield himself.” King was a wartime supporter of cordial relations between Canada and the Soviet Union and didn’t wish to rock the boat; Robertson and others, however, ultimately convinced him to send Gouzenko back to the RCMP, who then transported him to the top secret Camp X, on the shores of Lake Ontario, near Whitby. That’s where Gouzenko fell into the hands of John Leopold.

Leopold was born in Bohemia in 1890 and arrived in Canada in 1912. He was five feet four and of Jewish background — two things that made it difficult for him to become a Mountie. But he spoke several languages and was virulently anti-Communist. In 1918, he managed to join the ranks. “He spent the next decade as a secret RCMP agent,” Knight wrote, “posing as a house painter and working his way up the hierarchy of the radical Canadian labour movement.” Just weeks after Gouzenko defected, Leopold was appointed chief of the RCMP’s intelligence branch, the Special Section, where he became among the most thorough investigators of Communist agents and sympathizers in this country — perhaps the most thorough.

As Gouzenko was whisked off to Camp X, King notified Harry Truman and J. Edgar Hoover, and soon afterwards the befuddled prime minister found himself on a plane to Washington. The president and the FBI director were livid. Most worrisome to them was how deeply the Soviets had infiltrated efforts to build the atomic bomb. Yet Truman, too, was hesitant to decisively expose his Soviet allies.

It wasn’t until February 3, 1946, that the nationally syndicated radio columnist Drew Pearson shocked Americans by announcing that a Soviet spy had surrendered himself and confessed to a “gigantic Russian espionage network inside the United States and Canada.” Pearson, a confidant of the Truman cabinet, had been leaked the information — by the president himself. What’s more, according to Pearson, “the Russian agent taken by the Canadians has given the names of about 1,700 other Soviet agents operating not only in Canada, but also in the United States.”

Gouzenko’s treasure trove of stolen documents, some of which were released to the public only in October 2018, was the spark that many historians believe ignited the Cold War. It was irrefutable evidence that the Soviets had set up an intricate spy operation on Canadian soil — managed by the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU. The telegrams, letters, and handwritten notes showed that Zabotin was running the network from the Soviet embassy on Charlotte Street. What’s more, they showed that an MP, Fred Rose, was operating on behalf of the Soviets from his office on Parliament Hill.

My father, Harry Vine, was born in 1904, in Nesvicz, a tiny shtetl nestled precariously on the undulating border between Russia and Poland. Like his comrade Fred Rose, he was an active member of Canada’s Communist Party. Before that, in Nesvicz, he had witnessed the brutal murder of his two older brothers. When he was only seventeen, his parents sent him to Canada to cut a trail for the surviving family members, whose day-to-day existence had been inalterably transformed by the pogroms, wars, and revolutions being waged in the Pale of Settlement. My father’s brother Irving and sister Fanny made perilous journeys of their own to Windsor, Ontario, where an aunt with a farm and dry goods store offered them sanctuary.

Although our family often met for Jewish holidays, weddings, and bar mitzvahs, I never heard the brothers and sisters talk about the destruction of their humble existence in Nesvicz or about the death of their older brothers. They never spoke to their children about their voyages as solitary teenagers, sailing from the port of Danzig across the Atlantic Ocean. It was not until after my father’s death that I learned of the murder of the eldest brothers. My aunts and uncles happily spoke about whose kids had been accepted into medical school — never about what had ravaged the family back in Russia. Privately, my father continued to recount his adventures during the civil war that followed the revolution, and I was all ears. He seemed mesmerized by the Red Army cavalry, which stormed into Nesvicz during the post-1917 conflict. He would vividly describe a colonel who had held a pistol to his head. He ordered my father to collect the village doctor and escort him to the train station, where wounded soldiers were lying on the railway platform. Fifty years later, my father still spoke with great pride about his own bravery.

I eventually learned that two of my father’s siblings had remained in what is now Belarus, while an older sister, Dvora, married a general in the Red Army and moved to Moscow, where she taught school. During Stalin’s reign of terror, her husband was taken from his bed, tortured in the Lubyanka, convicted of treason during a show trial, and shot by a firing squad. The Nazis murdered the remainder of the Vine family.

Safe in Canada, my father married Rachel, from the old country. But he was restless and eager to join the growing movement of leftists during the Great Depression. He left Windsor for Montreal when his wife took ill, taking his three-year-old son, David, with him. For years, he worked as a labour organizer in the garment factories, and he was the top dog in a group of havers, friends who lived in cold-water flats in the Jewish ghetto in the riding of Cartier.

In 1943, two years before Gouzenko stole those documents, my father campaigned for Fred Rose, who had been born in Lublin, Poland, in 1907. While the Communist Party was technically outlawed in Canada, operating instead as the Labor Progressive Party, Rose was a card-carrying member running against the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation’s David Lewis, in a by-election in Cartier. Rose won by 30 percent (and again by 40 percent in 1945). His was a landmark victory, celebrated by Communists and sympathizers across the country. To this day, he’s the only Communist to have served in the House of Commons — and the only MP convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act.

In the late 1940s, my father’s life took a dark turn. His second wife, Edith Miller, died in hospital after a simple surgical procedure. She had been the head of the Young Communist League in Montreal and an ardent supporter of international Communism. When my father attempted to contact his comrades to announce her death — mostly writers and intellectuals living in the Soviet Union — he discovered many were dead or had gone missing in the gulags. Some had died before the Nazi invasion, in June 1941.

The Gouzenko revelations, along with the subsequent trials and convictions, had frightened my father as much as they disillusioned him. It was clear that Moscow had been actively undoing the Communist Party’s progress in Canada. Disheartened, he returned to Windsor, where he opened a furniture store with his younger brothers.

Although my father spoke with reverence of his Montreal years, there was always an element of secrecy about why he relocated to Windsor. He hid his Yiddish and Russian books, including Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry, in our cold storage room — alongside hand-preserved dill pickles and sugared strawberries. Babel’s short stories from the 1920s honestly portray the brutality of the Red Army and show fascinating sympathy for the Bolshevik struggle. The Soviet intelligentsia lauded him, but his days of favour with Stalin’s regime were not to last. He was executed on an early January morning in 1940, just hours after a show trial that lasted a mere twenty minutes.

On those same lamp-lit basement shelves of ours, I discovered the fiction of Dovid Bergelson, who was also executed, on the Night of the Murdered Poets, in August 1952, during Stalin’s anti-Semitic campaign against “rootless cosmopolitans.” By the time I could decipher the titles on these tucked-away books, I had learned from my father that his favourite Jewish writers were all dead, murdered at the Lubyanka or in yet another fanatical purge.

What struck me as strange, even then, was my father’s nostalgia for all things Russian — literature, music, dance — along with an equally powerful distaste for Canadian culture and the prime minister. This was the McCarthy era in the United States, but even here, he was endlessly fearful of speaking about his past. Once, in grade 3, I stood up in class and announced that Diefenbaker was “a terrible leader.” My teacher, of course, reported my outburst to my mother, Helen Marcus, my father’s third wife. She detested secrecy, but my father admonished me sternly, and I was forbidden to repeat anything I heard at home.

As I grew older, my father’s stories gained urgency. Around the time my aunt’s husband, the Red Army general, was executed, my father had become increasingly devoted to the idea of returning to the Soviet Union. His sister Dvora was in Moscow, but the two did not communicate during the 1930s and ’40s. Mail was stopped or censored at the Russian border, and my father had no knowledge of her troubles. And then, slowly, he turned away from Communism — as did many others who discovered how Stalin had treated their friends and family back home. The dissonance between the cause he’d devoted the best years of his life to and the stark reality of Russia’s anti-Semitic police state tore him apart.

In the early ’30s, Stalin had promised a place for the Jews of the world — a place that might even rid Russia of centuries of virulent anti-Semitism. Birobidzhan was founded at the centre of a modern Jewish Autonomous Oblast, sitting on the Trans-Siberian Railway near the China-Russia border. But even this dream drowned in a bottomless pit of broken promises. After the war, Stalin targeted it and its Yiddish institutions that had given so many Jewish Canadians hope. (Last year, the former party supporter Sol Hermolin told me over a coffee at the Free Times Café, in Toronto’s Kensington Market, that when he misbehaved as a child, his mother would threaten “to leave him behind when the family moved to Birobidzhan.”)

The promise of Birobidzhan had been on the minds of many members of the Communist Party in Canada. And in 1939, only ten days after Canada declared war, they followed instructions from Moscow and publicly supported the now inconceivable Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The party was actively against the war effort throughout the 1940 federal campaign, even claiming that King’s decision to call a wartime election was no better than Hitler’s plebiscites.

Ultimately, Canada banned the Communist Party because of its anti-war position. More than 100 prominent members, including the party’s leader, Tim Buck, were interned at Camp Petawawa in Ontario or Camp Kananaskis in Alberta, or were jailed at Kingston or Hull. Gouzenko’s chief interrogator, John Leopold, who’d infiltrated the party meetings in Toronto during the 1930s, testified against Buck. The crackdown had far-reaching implications. “During the Second World War,” Rhonda L. Hinther wrote recently in Civilian Internment in Canada, “the Canadian government imprisoned, in jails and internment camps, hundreds of far-left activists.” Ethnic groups were particularly vulnerable. To be a socialist from a visible, ideological, or religious minority spelled trouble.

Early in the war, Communist propaganda in Canada made a desperately precarious situation much worse for European Jews. Moscow-approved propaganda against the Allies helped perpetuate the King government’s response to Jewish refugees seeking entry into the country. It must also have profoundly affected the Jewish members of the party already here. How could they tolerate and support Hitler and Stalin’s non-aggression pact?

Between 1939 and 1945, Canada admitted only about 5,000 Jewish refugees. During the same period, China accepted 25,000, Britain accepted 70,000, and the United States accepted 200,000. There was a time, before the war, when Jews were barred from swimming in Lake Ontario: “No Dogs or Jews,” the signage read at a Toronto beach in 1933. The same year, a riot broke out between Jews and Gentiles, at Christie Pits Park in Toronto. During a baseball game, with several thousand in attendance, twenty young people raised a large white sheet painted with a huge black swastika, and some cried “Heil Hitler.” As Cyril Levitt and William Shaffir described in their 1987 book, The Riot at Christie Pits, “Jewish supporters rushed the flag-bearers, and pandemonium broke out. Spectators yelled ‘Kill the Jews’ as youths made after one another with clubs, chains, bats, and broom handles.”

By the time of the riot, Torontonians were well aware of the Nazi rise to power. According to Levitt and Shaffir, newspapers “carried horrifying front-page reports of the atrocities against Jews during the first months of Hitler’s rule.” The Toronto Daily Star “referred to the burning of books in May 1933 as a ‘holocaust,’ and repeated references were made in both the English and Yiddish press to the ‘destruction,’ ‘annihilation,’ and ‘extermination’ of the Jews in Hitler’s power.” Yet five years later, the Toronto Telegram, which opposed Jewish immigration, declared: “It cannot be denied that Jewish people as a class are not popular in Canada.”

Jews weren’t excluded just from swimming in Lake Ontario. After Fred Rose was charged with espionage — after he served six years in prison and was forced to return to Poland — an aura of suspicion and exclusion continued to cloak Canada’s Jewish population. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, investigated in part because of the Gouzenko Affair, were simply U.S. citizens convicted of espionage. But Rose was an elected official who had often lunched with Norman Robertson. And many of Rose’s comrades held essential jobs in government or academia. Here, through well-placed Jewish Canadians, Soviet tentacles had reached the highest levels of power.

While my father and his comrades struggled to create a socialist Canada, Gouzenko helped expose the depth of Soviet activities. Before the revelations, Colonel Nikolai Zabotin was a darling of the Ottawa diplomatic corps. He was tall, with a fine head of blond curls and a penetrating gaze. Women, especially, were mesmerized by his Red Army uniform and flawless French and English. When not trading bons mots around the capital’s most fashionable dinner tables, Zabotin concentrated on Chalk River and the nuclear reactor being built on the banks of the Ottawa River. It was there that the ZEEP prototype was developed with the help of Alan Nunn May and Bruno Pontecorvo. Both physicists had joined the Communist Party in their home countries — Nunn May in Britain and Pontecorvo in Italy. And both worked under cover for the GRU, gathering classified information about Chalk River and Los Alamos. British officials had cleared both men for work at the secret atomic laboratory, likely with the assistance of the master double agents Kim Philby and Donald Maclean.

From Chalk River, Nunn May and Pontecorvo passed secrets along to Fred Rose, who kept morale high among Zabotin’s ring of spies. Once, an official from the Soviet embassy even carried a minuscule chunk of plutonium to Moscow — atomic gold that Nunn May had ­managed to steal. Spies were also embedded in the civil service. Yet many if not most Communist Party members and wartime sympathizers were not aware of the spying activities. They were shocked by the Gouzenko revelations, even as they were considered suspects themselves. Even John Grierson, head of the National Film Board and later the Wartime Information Bureau, was questioned by the Royal Commission on Espionage, which Mackenzie King established. Careers were destroyed, lives ruined.

Twenty-three suspects were detained incommunicado at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, and ten appeared before the royal commission, where Gouzenko was the star witness. They were charged under the Official Secrets Act and sent to prison. Freda Linton, who once worked as a secretary to John Grierson and who was a party member close to Rose, managed to evade the RCMP by leaving the country. She was never charged, and decades later I wrote a novel about her, Last Night of the World.

My father once told me that party members were never sure if they’d be rounded up, interrogated, jailed. And many, like my father, continued in a perpetual state of fear long after Russian espionage ceased to be a burning issue. In my father’s case, his work for the party left him clinically anxious, with bouts of severe depression, for which he was hospitalized. He sometimes recounted life on the lam, sleeping on a different sofa every night after the party was declared illegal. Until his death in 1981, he was suspicious of being detained and fearful of crossing international borders. He never failed to keep all the doors and windows locked. He feared he would be sent back to the Soviet Union, as Fred Rose had been sent back to Poland. He wouldn’t be treated as a hero, he worried, but would meet the same fate as those fallen writers he so revered.

I took a year off from my undergraduate studies at Carleton University to work as an assistant to Ed Broadbent, who had won his Oshawa-Whitby riding in the 1968 general election, defeating the former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Michael Starr by fifteen votes. Broadbent’s office was on the sixth floor of Centre Block, directly under the clock tower. I luxuriated in the leather sofas and old mahogany desks and was awestruck by the parliamentary pages, who gladly brought liquor and wine to an MP’s office on demand. Lunch at the parliamentary cafeteria cost a dollar.

I answered phones and wrote letters on a tomato-red IBM Selectric typewriter. My boss was a dedicated MP who tried to convince me that John Stuart Mill was more important than Karl Marx. He was a joy to work for: fair, easygoing, and somewhat indulgent of a young woman with radical ideas about politics. Once, leading up to the 1972 “corporate welfare bums” election, I accompanied Broadbent to see David Lewis, by then leader of the NDP. I’ll never be sure how, but Lewis recognized me: “Are you the little guy’s daughter? Are you Harry Vine’s girl?” (Lewis himself was short, but my wiry father was only five feet three.) When I admitted that I was, he replied, “One iota of trouble from you and you’re out. Do you understand?”

As it was, I was accustomed to keeping secrets, having been schooled by the best, and for years I made certain to never mention my encounter 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 serious 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 information 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 movements outside of Russia would be sacrificed to support Stalin’s government, no matter how chilling the consequences.

In 2003, the Globe and Mail ’s Jeff Sallot interviewed 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 important 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 influence the policies of their native countries or steal important scientific, 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 protection. 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.

Many of the thirty-nine Canadians suspected of working for the Soviets, including the eighteen 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 nation.”

Not long ago, I sat down with the octogenarian 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 hundreds 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 responsible for the proliferation of Communist candidates 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 firm, saying no country 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 provoked. 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 significant role in everyday Jewish life in Montreal and Toronto, with cultural 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, first 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 parents 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 existence were forgotten, except by those stalwart followers who tried to keep the revolution’s flame 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 profile became de rigueur for the majority of educated Jewish Canadians after the war. We have not been as active in national issues and commentary as our brothers and sisters in France, the United States, or even the United Kingdom.

In 1973, when I was sharing a cooperative home with a group of young radicals on James Street, a few blocks from the Gouzenko apartment 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 comrades, who would occasionally visit his furniture store, to discuss things like the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the 1968 Soviet-led invasion 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 sacrifices she and others had made in the name of the Soviet Union and international Communism.


Inspirations

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

Joyce Wayne was included in Best Canadian Essays 2021 for “All the Kremlin’s Men.”

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