A Canadian Watergate?  Burglary not the work of RCMP squad

Source:  Daily Herald
Date:  Wednesday, May 25, 1977
Author:  Unsigned article, top page 5.
Source:  Arca, File No. DAh-71-16-05251977_0.pdf-5

A Canadian Watergate?

Burglary not the work of RCMP squad

OTTAWA (CP) — The government denies any RCMP involvement in a 1970 break-in and burglary in Toronto which yielded information on so-called subversives working in the public service.

Justice Minister Ronald Basford told the Commons on Tuesday that the federal police force was not involved in the break-in and theft of a mailing list and other documents from the offices of Praxis Corp., a Toronto activist group working with the poor.

Opposition MPs called the break-in a Watergate-style scandal and made new demands for a public inquiry after two Toronto newspapers published weekend stories on the issue.

The Toronto Sun published the names of 21 federal civil servants who were accused of subversive activities by former solicitor-general Jean-Pierre Goyer in a confidential memorandum to Prime Minister Trudeau and several other ministers.

The Globe and Mail said Metropolitan Toronto police are investigating whether the RCMP security branch was somehow responsible for the Praxis break-in and burglary.

Praxis had taken over another group and was using it as “a radicalizing agency among the poor.”

The letter also named 21 civil servants, including some who now are in senior government jobs.  It said they “appear to have as their aim the destruction of the existing political and social structure in Canada.”

Basford, acting for Francis Fox, the current solicitor-general who was not in the Commons Tuesday, said the RCMP were co-operating with Toronto police in investigating the Praxis burglary.

He also said RCMP received information on Praxis from more than one source, but would not comment further.

Frank Oberle (PC-Prince George-Peace River) said in the Commons that Goyer’s office in 1971 took “raw intelligence” from the RCMP relating to Praxis and government employees and added several names of their own to the list of so-called subversives.

Outside the House, Basford refused to comment, saying he was “not briefed.”

Oberle and Elmer MacKay (PC-Central Nova) told reporters Goyer evidently drew up his own blacklist of civil servants who met with government disapproval.

The Goyer letter effectively accused employees of “high treason” although none has been found guilty of any crime, Oberle said.

MacKay said Trudeau and his ministers cited national security and other protections in the past to withhold information on the Praxis break-in and the compilation of the list.

“We still don’t know whether Goyer was fully aware of what was going on,” he said.

Goyer has refused to answer questions on the issue.

Goyer’s letter, leaked to the opposition who released it several months ago with most of the names removed, identified the 21 civil servants as proponents of “extra-parliamentary opposition … opposed … to the electoral process.”

The letter said that Martin Loney, a former civil servant, headed a small group of former campus revolutionaries who wanted to organize other sympathetic civil servants.  [Bold added.]

Others previously named included Walter Rudnicki and Farrell Toombs of government-owned Central Mortgage and Housing Corp. and Robert Rabinovitch, now assistant cabinet secretary for social policy.

Rudnicki was fired for what Basford said were reasons unrelated to Praxis or the list.  He subsequently won $18,000 in damages in a court action for wongful dismissal.

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