CIA activities in Canada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

It has been traditionally believed that any U.S. Central Intelligence Agency activity in Canada would be undertaken with the "general consent" of the Canadian government, and through the 1950s information was freely given to the CIA in return for information from the United States.[1][2] However, traditionally Canada has refused to voice any anger even when it was clear that the CIA was operating without any authorisation.[3]

Apologists have noted that Canada was vital to CIA operations as it "physically occupied the territory between the United States and the Soviet Union.[4] However, on May 28, 1975 Solicitor General Warren Allmand directed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to begin investigating the levels of CIA involvement in Canadian affairs.[5]

Today, the country continues to cooperate with the CIA, enabling their black sites, allowing ghost planes to land and refuel in Canada, en route to delivering prisoners to unknown locations.[6] The Canadian counterpart of the CIA is the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and its agency heavily cooperates with the CIA.

Project MKULTRA[edit]

The CIA convinced the Allan Memorial Institute to allow a series of mind control tests on nine patients in the Montreal school, as part of their ongoing Project MKULTRA.[7]

The experiments were exported to Canada when the CIA recruited Scottish psychiatrist Donald Ewen Cameron, creator of the "psychic driving" concept, which the CIA found particularly interesting. Cameron had been hoping to correct schizophrenia by erasing existing memories and reprogramming the psyche. He commuted from Albany, New York to Montreal every week and was paid $69,000 from 1957 to 1964 to carry out MKULTRA experiments there. In addition to LSD, Cameron also experimented with various paralytic drugs as well as electroconvulsive therapy at thirty to forty times the normal power. His "driving" experiments consisted of putting subjects into drug-induced coma for weeks at a time (up to three months in one case) while playing tape loops of noise or simple repetitive statements. His experiments were typically carried out on patients who had entered the institute for minor problems such as anxiety disorders and postpartum depression, many of whom suffered permanently from his actions.[8] His treatments resulted in victims' incontinence, amnesia, forgetting how to talk, forgetting their parents, and thinking their interrogators were their parents.[9][10]

When lawsuits commenced in 1986, the Canadian government denied having any knowledge that Cameron was being sponsored by the CIA.[11]

Possible manipulation of political affairs[edit]

When the Avro Arrow aerospace program was cancelled in 1959, many believed that the CIA was partly responsible, fearing Canadian intrusion into aerospace dominance.[12]

In 1961, the CIA wrote an intelligence estimate titled "Trends in Canadian Foreign Policy" which suggested that the Conservative government of John Diefenbaker "might take Canada in a divergent direction" and seek "a more independent foreign policy" and suggested that a return of the Liberal Party might "soften the Canadian resistance to the storage of nuclear weapons on Canadian soil".[13] In 1967, Prime Minister Lester Pearson announced he would investigate the allegations of the CIA helping him oust Diefenbaker.[14]

In 1982, Canadian Member of Parliament Svend Robinson accused the CIA of infiltrating the RCMP and funnelling political contributions to favoured politicians in provincial elections from 1970-76.[15] The information seemed to arise from John H. Meier, an aide to Howard Hughes, but a secret investigation turned up no evidence of such a conspiracy.[16] The RCMP allegations dated back to 1977, when it was shown that they were "linked" closely to the CIA.[17]

Later development[edit]

By 1964, the CIA also closely monitored the Canadian wheat industry, as the United States hoped to sell wheat to the Soviet bloc countries[4] When the American embassy was seized by Iranian students in 1979, Canadian diplomat Kenneth D. Taylor was made the "de facto CIA Station Chief" in the country, but kept his new position secret from Canadians.[18]

An indication of the United States' close operational cooperation with Canada is the creation of a new message distribution label within the main US military communications network. Previously, the marking of NOFORN (i.e., no foreign nationals) required the originator to specify which, if any, non-US countries could receive the information. A new handling caveat, USA/AUS/CAN/GBR/NZL eyes only, used primarily on intelligence messages, gives an easier way to indicate that the material can be shared with Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand.[19]

Aware that the Canadian Khadr family knew valuable intelligence about the inner workings of al Qaeda, the CIA hired Abdurahman Khadr to act as an informant and infiltrate Islamist circles.[20] The CIA also paid the Pakistani government $500,000 to capture and interrogate his older brother, Abdullah Khadr, ostensibly torturing him to secure answers and confessions.[21]

As of 2006, Canada had allowed 76 CIA flights to use the country's airbases, primarily in Nunavut and Labrador, to carry prisoners from the War on Terror to black sites overseas.[6]


  1. ^ Vienneau, David. Toronto Star, "No secrets hidden from CIA in 1950s, former official says", April 14, 1986
  2. ^ Canadian Institute of International Affairs, "International Journal, 1972"
  3. ^ Sawatsky, John. "Men in the Shadows: The RCMP Security Service", 1980. p. 5
  4. ^ a b Mount, Graeme Stewart. Canada's Enemies", p. 117
  5. ^ Buncher, Judith F. "The CIA and the Security Debate", 1976
  6. ^ a b USA Today, Declassified memos show 74 CIA air landings in Canada, February 23, 2006
  7. ^ Cawley, Janet. Chicago Tribune, Brainwash tests in '57 haunt CIA, June 1, 1986
  8. ^ Marks 1979: pp 140–150.
  9. ^ Turbide, Diane (1997-04-21). "Dr. Cameron's Casualties". Retrieved 2007-09-09.
  10. ^ Collins, Anne (1998) [1988]. In the Sleep Room: The Story of CIA Brainwashing Experiments in Canada. Toronto: Key Porter Books. pp. 39, 42–3, 133. ISBN 1-55013-932-0.
  11. ^ Vienneau, David. Toronto Star, Ottawa unaware CIA funded tests, new report says, May 8, 1986
  12. ^ Nickerson, Colin. Boston Globe, How Canadian fighter plane fell to earth, January 12, 1997
  13. ^ Thompson, John Herd. "Canada and the United States: Ambivalent Allies", p. 217
  14. ^ The New York Times, Canada to check hint of meddling by CIA in 62-63, March 2, 1967
  15. ^ Ward, Peter. Boston Globe, "Canada: CIA Probed", May 23, 1982
  16. ^ Christian Science Monitor, Canada says study of CIA shows no vote rigging
  17. ^ Trumbull, Robert. The New York Times, Mounties of Canada are linked with CIA, November 25, 1977
  18. ^ Valpy, Michael. The Globe and Mail, Canada's man in Tehran was a CIA spy, January 23, 2010
  19. ^ US Defense Information Services Agency (19 March 1999). "DMS [Defense Messaging Service] GENSER [General Service] Message Security Classifications, Categories, and Marking Phrase Requirements Version 1.2" (PDF).
  20. ^ CBC, CIA paid me to spy, Abdurahman Khadr, March 5, 2004
  21. ^ Shepherd, Michelle, Toronto Star, Abdullah Khadr must be extradited to U.S., government lawyers argue, April 9, 2010