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In a Direct Line - Photo by Ulli Diemer

Foreign funding for Canadian political parties

By Ulli Diemer

Letter to the Editor, The Toronto Star

Those who have been losing sleep worrying that agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) would find themselves on the unemployment lines now the Cold War is over can stop fretting. Solicitor General Doug Lewis has found a new line of work for CSIS. Since we’re a bit short of real live Moscow-style Communists, Mr. Lewis is dispatching CSIS to do historical research. The subject: allegations that the Communist Party of Canada used to receive subsidies from Moscow.

Never mind that there would have been nothing illegal about such subsidies, as Mr. Lewis himself acknowledges. Never mind that the payments, if they occurred, were obviously money down the drain, since the Communist Party of Canada lost all hope of credibility decades ago largely because it had turned itself into a transparent mouthpiece of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Kremlin. And never mind that the Communist Party is now in a state of terminal collapse. With Liberal MPs cheering him on, Mr. Lewis has concocted this make-work scheme for the under-employed CSIS snoops. If nothing else, this new-found willingness to spend money to keep people employed is a noteworthy change from the Tories’ usual obsession with cutting government spending.

But why stop there? Why not put CSIS to work investigating other Canadian political parties which receive money from foreign-controlled organizations? How about an inquiry into the campaign funds which the Liberal and Progressive Conservative Parties receive, year after year, from American-owned companies? How about an investigation of the extent to which the campaign in favour of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States was funded by U.S.-controlled corporations?

And why not put the Star’s reporters to work preparing a series of front-page exposes of secret CIA payments to political parties, government officials, senior police and military officers, trade unions, universities, newspapers, radio and TV stations, etc., in dozens of countries around the world? Or perhaps an in-depth expose of how the White House and the Vatican collaborated to secretly channel funds to Poland’s Solidarity movement and to other oppositional groups in the former Soviet bloc?

I’ll be watching for the results of these investigations with eager anticipation. But I won’t be holding my breath.

Ulli Diemer
16 March, 1992

Postscript - The Ironies of History: In December 2007, Karlheinz Schreiber testified before a House of Commons committee that in 1983 he had been involved in funnelling foreign money to Mr. Lewis’s future boss, Brian Mulroney, to help him in his (successful) campaign to take the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party from Joe Clark. According to Mr. Schreiber, the money was supplied by Franz Josef Strauss, the right-wing premier of Bavaria, who at the time was also chairman of Airbus Industrie. The amount of German money secretly provided to the Mulroney campaign is said to have been substantial enough that it may well have been a deciding factor in the close-fought battle between Mulroney and Clark.