Motivation of Agents

Perhaps the most startling single aspect of the entire Fifth Column network is the uncanny success with which the Soviet agents were able to find Canadians who were willing to betray their country and to supply to agents of a foreign power secret information to which they had access in the course of their work, despite oaths of allegiance, of office, and of secrecy which they had taken.

Many of the Canadian public servants implicated in this espionage network were persons with an unusually high degree of education, and many were well regarded by those who worked with them in agencies and departments of the public service, as persons of marked ability and intelligence. [...]

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There is no evidence that monetary incentive played an important part in the original motivation of those persons whose ideology was sympathetic to the Communist cause, who agreed to act as espionage agents.

On the contrary the evidence is overwhelming both from the documents and from the testimony of several such agents themselves [...] that their original motivation was a product of their political ideology and of the psychological conditioning received n the study-groups. [...]

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It seems to be general policy of the Communist Party to discourage certain selected sympathizers among certain categories of the population from joining that political Party openly. Instead, these sympathizers are invited to join secret “cells” or study groups, and to take pains to keep their adherence to the Party from the knowledge of their acquaintances who are not also members of the Communist Party. The categories of the population from which secret members are recruited include students, scientific workers, teachers, office and business workers, persons engaged in any type of [...]

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administrative activity, and any group likely to obtain any type of government employment.

The reason suggested by some of the agents in their evidence for the curious practice of keeping their political affiliations secret was that by this means they would avoid unfavourable discrimination in obtaining positions. [...]

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But there would appear to be a further basic object and result of this technique of secret membership of the Communist Party organized in secret “cells” or study-groups.

This object is to accustom the young Canadian adherent gradually to an atmosphere and an ethic of conspiracy. The general effect on the young man or woman over a period of time of secret meetings, secret acquaintances, and secret objectives, plans and policies, can easily be imagined. The technique seems calculated to develop the psychology of a double life and double standards. [...]

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A reading of the evidence before us, taken as a whole, indicates also that this technique seems calculated to affect gradually and unconsciously the secret adherent’s attitude towards Canada. Often some of the agents seem to have begun their Communist associations through a burning desire to reform and improve Canadian society according to their lights. But one effect of prolonged habituation to conspiratorial methods and the conditions of secrecy in which these people work is to isolate them from the great mass of the Canadian people. [...]

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Thus it seems to happen that through these study-groups some adherents, who begin by feeling that Canadian society is not democratic or not equalitarian enough for their taste, are gradually led to transfer a part or most of their loyalties to another country, apparently without reference to whether that other country is in actual fact more or less democratic or equalitarian than Canada.

Indeed, a sense of internationalism seems in many cases to play a definite role in one stage of the courses. In these cases the Canadian sympathiser is first encouraged to develop a sense of loyalty, not directly to a foreign state, but to what he conceives to be an international idea. This subjective internationalism is then usually linked almost inextricably through the indoctrination courses and the intensive exposure to the propaganda of a particular foreign state, with the current conception of the national interests of that foreign state and with the current doctrines and policies of Communist Parties throughout the world.

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Source: Honourable Mr. Justice Robert Taschereau and Honourable Mr. Justice R.L. Kellock, Commissioners., "Motivation of Agents" in The Report of the Royal Commission, (Ottawa: King's Printer, 1946), 57-58, 69-73

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