THE ADVOCATE 623
VOL. 76 PART 4 JULY 2018
nary domestic offences”. Correspondingly, legislation such as the Official
Secrets Act shifted the burden of proof from the state to the accused. Further,
they pointed to certain of the procedures employed as being intended to be
preventative, as the wording of P.C. 6444 suggested (“ … if satisfied that with
a view to preventing any particular person from communicating secret and
confidential information to an agent of a Foreign Power or otherwise acting
… ”), rather than punitive. And in February 1946, when P.C. 6444 was used,
having suspects swept up at once and without warning could have lessened
the opportunity for them to collaborate with each other or with handlers.
All this was against the backdrop of the severe threat that Gouzenko
appeared to have revealed and that, in the view of the commissioners, had
to be acted upon.
With respect to other procedural issues, the commissioners suggested that
criminal safeguards were misplaced as the Royal Commission had no power
to punish for a crime; it would have been wrong for commissioners to tell
individuals they need not speak when by statute witnesses would be liable
to imprisonment for not taking an oath and answering questions; and there
was no duty on the commissioners to advise individuals of the available protection
under s. 5 of the Canada Evidence Act (indeed, the commissioners
“felt it is too often lost sight of that the law is not designed to handicap society
in its endeavour to protect itself against those of its members who commit
offences against it, nor to give advantage to such persons”).
AND ABOUT GOUZENKO …
As reflected in the Royal Commission’s final report, the commissioners
were “impressed with Gouzenko’s sincerity … and with the manner in
which he gave his evidence, which we have no hesitation in accepting”.
They expressed their view that “Gouzenko, by what he has done, has rendered
great public service to the people of this country, and thereby has
placed Canada in his debt”.
Not all viewed Gouzenko so favourably. William Irvine, a CCF Member of
Parliament for the Cariboo riding, noted that “the evidence which we have
against some of our own citizens, and which has sent some of them to gaol
and may send others, was based upon the statements of a man who had
been a traitor to his own country and whom we protected, and while protecting
him we were endeavouring to punish people who were alleged to
have committed similar offences in our own country. That is probably permissible
in law, but it is not a very sound basis on which to build a case.”
More generally, certain commentators have questioned the evidentiary
basis—both documents and testimony—for the accusations made.20