By Robert Bothwell
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Communism was distinctly a minority taste, but its claim to idealism, its apparent rationality, and its ability to secure results, to get things done, had a wider appeal. Ordinary politicians, in Canada and elsewhere, worried and sometimes passed laws to turn back the Red tide. For a time in the 1930s Canadian laws banned communism and imprisoned its leaders. Quebec, under a conservative-nationalist government, closed and "padlocked" all premises used for "Communist" meetings. ) Page 7 Communists were denounced as agents and hirelings of the Soviet governmentwith some truth in some cases, as we now know.
Contacts were not limited to trade or ideology. Thousands of former Russians, immigrants before and after the First World War, lived in Canada, but they were ethnically diverse and politically contradictory. Although there were certainly immigrants from the former Russian Empire such as the "Red Finns" and certain left-wing Ukrainians who sympathized with Lenin and communism, they were politically marginal. The same could be said of the Canadian Communist party, which was cobbled together out of the fragments of several older, radical and socialist movements in 1921.
The best way to do this was to shore up the German economy. But somehow this had to be accomplished in a manner consistent with the longerterm worry that with enough encouragement the Germans would again dominate Europe through their superior size, training and organization. Did it matter what Stalin thought? Was the Soviet Union part of the solution, or part of the problem? News from Moscow was mixed. The Canadian embassy there, isolated from the Soviets since the Gouzenko affair, shared its information and interpretations with the Americans and British.