________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 1999

cover The Un-Canadians.

Len Scher (Director). Joanne Muroff Smale and Michael Allder (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: Joanne Smale Communications and the National Film Board of Canada, 1996.
72 min., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: 9196 078

Subject Headings:
Canada-Politics and government-1945-1980.
Anti-Communist movements-Canada-History-20th century.
Internal security-Canada-History-20th century.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Katie Cook.

**.5 /4

In the late 1940s through the early 1970s, one million Canadians were investigated by their own government through an arm of the RCMP called "The Security Panel." During this time, 800,000 files on ordinary Canadians were created by this organization. The Communist "witch-hunts" in the United States are well-known, and they even gave the English language a new word, "McCarthyism." Based on Len Scher's book, The Un-Canadians, this film looks at a little-known period of Canadian history and at the devastation that such secret government policies can have on individuals, families, and the community. Using in-depth interviews, archival footage and frighteningly revealing government documents, Scher brings to life this time in Canada's history. The archival footage is seamlessly woven into the narration and the interviews. Particularly interesting are the clips that show how this Cold War fear coloured our lives. To this end, the Atomic bomb related "Duck and Cover" footage is wonderfully enlightening. Equally interesting (and frightening) are the clips of Quebec's Premier Maurice Duplessis and his restrictive "Padlock Law." At times, however, the interviews drag, and this film could have been shorter. One serious drawback is that its length does not correspond to most standard high school class periods. Nonetheless, this film can be shown in parts very effectively, thereby giving today's students who did not live through the Cold War an interesting insight into the mentality of our governments of that period. This video would be especially useful in a Canadian history class as it chronicles a time in our history that is amazingly absent in our textbooks.


Katie Cook is a social studies teacher and a teacher-librarian at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School in Steinbach, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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