CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 1999
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.
Katie Cook is a social studies teacher and a teacher-librarian at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School in Steinbach, MB.
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