THE REDS ARE READY TO WAGE WAR INSIDE CANADA
Before he broke with the party four months ago, T. G. McManus, a member of the Communist Central Committee for Canada, had already been shown his underground hideout, been issued his code name and his orders for sabotaging industry — all part of the Communist blueprint for treason if war should come between Canada and Russia
T. G. McMANUS
WE MIGHT have been two fishermen driving up the Ottawa River for pickerel, or a realestate salesman and his prospect looking
over a piece of summer property. Most of our talk was about the weather and our families. The details had been straightened out long before we left Montreal and the only purpose of this trip was to make sure that I would have no trouble finding the place again.
Near the village of Point Fortune, where the Quebec-Ontario border makes a right-angled turn about halfway between Montreal and Ottawa, we took a side road to a big frame house standing beside a lake. My guide, Harry Binder, chief organizer of the Communist Party in Quebec, stopped the car.
I got out and took a long look at the hideaway which the party had selected for me in the event of a war involving Canada on one side and Soviet Russia on the other. From this quiet rambling dwelling, aided by an elaborate paraphernalia of
contact men, runners and codes, I was to help lead the carefully trained organization of several thousand Canadians which already stands mobilized and ready to transform the Communist Party of Canada into an underground army making underground war against Canada on Canadian soil.
This war, if it comes, will be fought by Canada’s Communists on two major fronts. It will be fought on the production lines, military and industrial. It will be fought with equal intensity from within the Canadian armed forces themselves, where many party members are already in uniform, taking instructions directly from the party and reporting regularly to the party on the success of a subtle, long-range attack against the convictions and the morale of the men they eat with, sleep with and train with.
I am talking facts. For 19 years—until I broke with the party over the issues of Korea four months ago—I stood high in its councils. I was a member
of its Central Committee. I have gone underground with the party before. Until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police caught up with me and interned me in the spring of 1940, I helped to organize and direct the military cadres whose main job—while their members posed as loyal Canadian servicemen —was to spread anti-war propaganda within the forces. Later, after Hitler’s attack on Russia had transformed the “imperialist” war into a “just and democratic” war and I had been freed from internment I joined the Army on party orders.
My role in the next war’s Communist underground—which, I repeat, is already carefully organized and ready for action on an hour’s notice —would have been a more important one. I was to be director of labor activities for Quebec. My job would have been to hinder war production in any way possible—through sabotage, slow-downs or strikes. I was given this assignment by Harry
Binder a year ago, not
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Morris, Becky Buhay, J. B. Salsberg, Norman Penner, Charles Sims, Norman Freed, Stewart Smith and Dorise Neilsen.
Behind the political bureau and behind every other layer of the party leadership there already stands a fully prepared “secondary organization.” When any leader is interned or has to leave the country his place will be taken immediately by a stand-in who has already been appointed. This shadow leadership, as well as the closely compartmentalized nature of the whole structure, has been patterned after underground techniques which proved successful in France, Belgium and other European countries which came under enemy occupation during the last war. During the last three years every Canadian Communist who has visited Europe has made a point of gathering detailed information about underground tactics and reporting on them back here.
I can see the sceptics frowning over their mental arithmetic and hear them muttering that no army so small and dispersed as this is worthy of fear or suspicion or any emotion stronger than contemptuous amusement. It’s true that the underground organization as it was set up when I left the party last July appeared neither ready nor anxious to embrace more than, say, a third or a quarter of the 12,000 Canadians who hold party cards.
I am sure that if a world war breaks out at least half of Canada’s Communists will refuse to make war on Canada.
Many of them, I believe, will face the same dilemma I faced when the fighting broke out in Korea. Regardless of their political and economic beliefs—and I myself have not renounced the political and economic beliefs which led me into the party nearly two decades ago—they will at last find themselves face to face with the ruthless and soul-shattering truth that Communism does not stand for what they thought it stood for.
The Cautious Cliches
They will learn that the lies to which they once subscribed in good heart and good conscience are not the white lies paving the way to a better world.
They will learn that it is not strategic compromises with principle which the party asks of them, but the final abandonment of principle.
They will learn, as I said publicly when I quit the party, that it is “impossible to support a policy that on the one hand supports a war of aggression and on the other advocates world peace.” They will come to the bitter realization that to be a Communist in almost any country except Soviet Russia can involve treason.
But it is a serious mistake to think of the party’s strength in terms of its numbers. Nearly half a million Canadians belong to mass organizations— racial and other minority groups often called language fractions—which slavishly preach and practice the party line. And whether or not it weakened the party numerically a war with Russia would strengthen the party’s will and its dynamic beyond measure. If Russia goes to war with Canada every Canadian Communist who remains a Communist must go to war on Russia’s side—and go active as a militant agent of Canada’s enemy.
In Communism’s ultimate struggle his life will be no more sacred, either to himself or to the hierarchy of international Communism—from which his broad directives will continue to be funneled down—than the life of a Russian front-line private.
As I have said, I was to have directed the sabotage of industry in Canada’s
second-largest province. I do not know precisely what I would have tried to do or how I would have tried to do it. I have no doubt that Buck, Ryerson and perhaps a few other members of the political bureau have clear and specific ideas about what factories the party will try to strike, what assembly lines it will try to wreck and what instruments and methods will be used. But security is one of the party’s greatest obsessions. Even in meetings of the Central Committee it’s an unbreakable rule that nobody asks questions about future planning. Nobody talks, even in the most general terms, about sabotage, espionage or fifth columns inside the armed forces. Nobody even goes so far as to identify the enemy as the government or the people of Canada.
The party will stick to the timetested, if threadbare, clichés. At the last meeting of the Central Committee I attended, in Toronto, we talked for more than 30 hours in a two-day session. We talked in synonyms: “protecting the party apparatus” was the synonym for going underground; “Wall Street imperialism” was the synonym for Canada’s foreigfi policy; “fascist military forces” was the synonym for the Canadian armed services; “fighting for peace” the synonym for fighting for Russia.
But, although even the most ardent Communist sometimes gets weary of these parrot phrases, no Communist misunderstands them. No Communist fails to understand that when the time comes to translate them into action the action will be direct and violent. If Russia goes to war against Canada every good Communist understands that he will do anything in his power—
I repeat, anything—to assist in Canada’s defeat. The only check on the party will be, on the one hand, the
physical measures taken against the party and, on the other hand, the party’s assessment of the operational
Korea hadn’t broken at the time I attended my last meeting of the Central Committee. Ottawa hadn’t begun its enlistment drives for the regular armed forces and for the special United Nations brigade. But even then one of the major items on the agenda was a full discussion, led by Tim Buck, on the need for a “greater and more effective concentration” of party members in the forces. Precisely how great and effective the concentration is now I don’t pretend to know. As I say, the party doesn’t talk in names and numbers if that can be avoided.
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But I do know that there are Communists now in the armed forces, that they are receiving instructions directly from the party and that they are reporting back to the party on the state of the forces’ training, strength and morale. There are party branches close to most of the country’s large military camps (at Pembroke, near Petawawa; at Brandon, near Shilo; at Saskatoon, near Dundurn). Most of the party’s military personnel need only obtain a midnight or an overnight pass to meet the contact men who serve as their links with the party command.
Right now the party’s basic tactic in armed forces is to avoid suspicion. The worst sin a Communist soldier, sailor or airman can do is to talk up the party line in his barracks room. His job is to dig himself in. If he has qualities of leadership he is instructed to try to be a model soldier and strive for promotion. If the party doesn’t consider him officer or N.C.O. material he’s instructed to do his job the best he can, but also to do his best to promote the usual barracks-room beefs about discipline and food. In no circumstances is he to appear to his friends and his officers as anything but a loyal Canadian who fears and distrusts Russia.
Once at a meeting of the Central Committee Buck gave us a long talk about some of the “mistakes” Communist servicemen had made. He cited with disapproval several unnamed soldiers who had “allowed themselves to be identified as leftists.”
In their ultimate role—if the services to which they belong face the ultimate test of war—the party’s hostages in the forces will, of course, be far from passive. Some, I am certain, will not be able to stomach treason. To those who
do not break with the party treason will become a sacred duty.
In its publications and in public speeches the party acknowledges that it has a trade union director (J. B. Salsberg), a woman’s director (Dorise Neilsen), an educational director (Becky Buhay), a director of agitation and propaganda (Leslie Morris) and a youth director (Norman Penner). It does not acknowledge the existence of a director of military activities. It never will, voluntarily at least.
During the war of 1939-45 I worked for a time under the director of military activities and I never knew who he was. I don’t know who he was to this day. I believe he was Sam Carr, then the party’s organizational secretary, now serving a penitentiary term as a convicted spy against Canada. I believe that Carr’s successor as director of “army work” is Stanley Ryerson, who
was also his successor as organizational secretary of the party. I can’t prove it in either case.
It was late in 1939 that I was appointed Carr’s deputy for “army work” in Saskatchewan. At the outbreak of war that September I was the party’s provincial leader in Saskatchewan, a position I’d held for more than five years. At first we Communists were thrown into a state of hopeless confusion. Early in September Buck made a speech in Hamilton supporting Canada’s declaration of war on Germany. Faithfully and with a real
feeling of relief—for I wanted to be a loyal Canadian almost as much as I wanted to be a loyal Communist—I repeated the speech in Regina.
Then Russia marched on Poland. I got a peremptory wire from Carr ordering me to report to Toronto for a special meeting. I took the first train east but the meeting was postponed a couple of days because Tim Buck was out of town. I didn’t ask where he was—you don’t ask questions like that in the party—but everyone understood that Tim was in New York getting fresh instructions from the
American Communist Party.
Tim finally arrived, armed with a manifesto denouncing the war as “capitalist and imperialist.” The political bureau, along with myself and the other provincial leaders, went through a form of discussing it. I was close to rebelling then. But Tim and the others answered my doubts with the stock exhortations—“Life itself will prove who is right,” “The party is always right”—and the stock threats— “Is Comrade McManus’ loyalty wavering?”—and I went along. I still believed fervently in the party’s goals, as
they were represented to me. I was still a convinced Marxist; for that matter, I consider myself a Marxist today. I didn’t like the means, but I thought the end was worth it.
I went back to Regina, dutifully renounced my errors to the comrades of Saskatchewan and dutifully told them Canada had entered the war as a stooge of the international war profiteers. I awaited further instructions.
A few weeks later Stewart Smith, a key member of the political bureau and a former controller on Toronto’s city council, stopped off in Regina in the course of a nationwide tour. It was he who told me I had been assigned to “army work” and gave me my instruc-
At the same time he passed on the assignments for other members of the Saskatchewan party. He told me to hold myself ready to go underground. He assigned me the cover name of Wright. My contact man, he said, would be Jim Litterick, then a Communist member of the Manitoba Legislature, who has since broken with the party. Litterick’s cover name would be Doc.
As part of my routine party training I already had a good working knowledge of codes. Smith told me the code that was now to go into effect and told me where to find the key. It was contained in a certain paragraph of a certain page of a certain magazine. I can’t remember the name of the magazine now. The key changed frequently in the next few months.
Although I was still able to walk the streets of Regina openly the work I now undertook was illegal under the Defense of Canada Regulations. I went halfway underground. I left my home and took a room in an obscure boardinghouse. I
didn’t close party headquarters but I destroyed all except the “harmless” records.
I took over the basement of the home of another safe and unsuspected party member and arranged with half-adozen others to use their homes as special meeting places. In the basement I installed a mimeograph machine and put it in charge of two young party workers.
Then, in my own room, I began writing anti-war pamphlets addressed to Canada’s troops. I’d pass the copy on to my two mimeograph operators. They’d return the pamphlets to me by runner. Then, again by runner, and usually one at a time, I’d call in the party members who were in the Army.
In those days some of the newer recruits whose homes were in Regina were living at home. It was a simple enough matter for a runner to saunter up to their doorsteps and whisper a place and time of meeting. It was not difficult for soldiers stationed at Dundurn to come to Regina on week-end leaves. They’d report to me at night in one of my various rooms. I’d talk to them about the party line, tell them how to promote the party’s interests in their barracks rooms without betraying themselves and send them off with a stack of 25 or 50 pamphlets—seldom so many that they couldn’t easily be concealed in a small kitbag or in the front pocket of their battledress trousers. When they got back to barracks it was their job to plant the pamphlets in the latrines and washrooms with the same secrecy they’d maintained in picking them up from me.
We were fairly successful. When I started I had no more than 20 soldiers working for me in Saskatchewan. Within three months I had 65 or 70.
. . . Too successful, perhaps. By midwinter the Royal Canadian Mounted Police discovered the basement in which my pamphlets were being mimeographed. They arrived while my two operators were turning out a new release. One of them got six months in jail, the other was sentenced to a year.
By April of 1940 I knew Regina was getting too hot for me. In fact, any part of Canada was getting too hot for any known Communist; you needed no special pipe lines to know it was only a matter of time before the Government would crack down on the party leaders, whether it caught them breaking the law or not. I sent our seven children and my wife to her father’s home in Gentilly, Quebec. I took a train to Winnipeg and on Jim Litterick’s instructions disappeared into a room above a store in the north end of the city.
Caught at Gentilly
I made it just as the R.C.M.P. began rounding up and interning the party’s known leaders— those who hadn’t already gone underground. For six weeks I didn’t leave that room. Every night a woman brought mo cigarettes, food and something to read. She was the only person I saw.
One night she handed me a small transparent capsule the size of a pill. Inside, on cigarette paper, was a message addressed to Wright, signed by Doc and written in a hand I recognized as Jim Litterick’s. I decoded it with the help of the magazine then in use as the key and which I had brought with me from Regina. It ordered me to get ready to move that night.
Shortly before midnight a Ukrainian
laborer knocked at my door. “Wright?” he said. “Yes,” I said. He had a truck waiting outside.
We spent the night driving to Fort William, carefully avoiding conversation on any subject except the scenery and the weather. When we arrived he gave me a train ticket to Montreal, $50 in cash and another message from Doc instructing me to find a job in Montreal but to make no effort to contact the party there.
When I got to Montreal I couldn’t resist the temptation to run down to Gentilly to see my wife and kids. The R.C.M.P. walked in a few hours after I did.
I spent the next year and a half in an internment camp at Petawawa.
I was released soon after Germany attacked Russia. In the eyes of the party this temporarily reinstated Canada on the side of freedom and justice.
Two days after my release I met Leslie Morris, head of the party’s agitation and propaganda committee, in Montreal and he ordered me to join the Army. I served for the rest of the war, first as a private in the engineers and later as a medical sergeant.
This part of my service to the party, at least, is not on my conscience, for as long as Russia was in peril and Russia was on the same side as Canada it was possible to be both a good Canadian and a good Communist.
I suppose I might have continued trying to be both if it hadn’t been for Korea. Now I know it can’t be done.
In the next issue of Maclean’s T. G. McManus, former secretarytreasurer of the Canadian Seamen’s Union, will describe in detail how the Communist Party wrecked one of Canada’s most important trade unions, -fa