Daily Archives: August 29, 2011

Frye’s RCMP File

Frye’s Spies: Documents in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Files on Northrop Frye

Jim Bronskill’s uncovering the security files that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police kept on Frye for a dozen years has been reported in the blog, a story that was picked up by numerous news organizations.  The entire episode seemed so unlikely that I felt obliged to get a copy of the files, which I requested from the Library and Archives of Canada and which were kindly provided me.  Reading the files is like watching a Beckett play where nameless bureaucrats with not enough serious work to do write memos and shuffle papers around as if their trivial actions were of great moment.  One finds oneself laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Still, we do learn something from the security files that we didn’t previously know: the extent of Frye’s involvement with a number of left‑wing committees and organizations precisely at the time he was writing all those critiques of the student protest movement.  From the files we discover that Frye was involved, as a sponsor or signatory, with the following:

  • Montreal Hemispheric Conference to End the Vietnam War
  • Opposition to Trudeau’s invoking the War Measures Act
  • International Conference on Racism and War
  • Corporation des enseignants du Québec
  • International Commission of Inquiry (Vietnam War Tribunal)
  • Vietnam Moratorium Committee (Montreal)
  • Faculty Committee on Vietnam (University of Toronto)
  • Alexander Defence Committee
  • International Forum Foundation
  • Canadian Committee for Amnesty in Portugal
  • International Teach‑in on China
  • Canadian teachers opposed to “ the U.S. policy of ‘genocide’ in Vietnam”
  • Committee established to aid the students accused of violating the Anti‑subversion Act of 1951
  • Toronto Committee on Disarmament

Many of the security files are heavily redacted and some 40 of the 142 pages have been withheld altogether, pursuant to the regulations of the Access to Information Act.  But as I read the files, slogging through the deadening bureaucratic prose, there are 39 separate entries.  What follows is a brief abstract of  each of the 39 entries.

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