The Queer Career of Homosexual Security Vetting in Cold War Canada

TitleThe Queer Career of Homosexual Security Vetting in Cold War Canada
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsRobinson, Daniel J., and David Kimmel
JournalThe Canadian Historical Review
Date Published09/1994

The Cold War is over but the historical assessment of its impact on postwar Canadian society has scarcely begun. Recent studies suggest that Canada's 'home front' was not entirely spared the ignominy of civil rights abuses commonly associated with Cold War America. Although in Canada no McCarthyesque figure or televised loyalty board hearings captured the public spotlight, there were many groups and individuals - among them Communists, labour leaders, academics, immigrants, and artists - whose varied left-wing political views or affiliations subjected them to state persecution and other organized forms of 'red-baiting.' Jobs were lost, careers ended, and lives ruined, the most notable example being Canadian diplomat Herbert Norman who committed suicide in 1957 when the United States Senate reopened an investigation of his political loyalty. While scholarly work has elucidated Ottawa's handling of political and ideological threats during the Cold War, another important subject has received only passing notice: the federal government's security investigation and subsequent firing of homosexuals during the 1950s and 1960s. This article explores and analyzes the Canadian government's designation of homosexuals as a security risk during the Cold War and the postwar impact of these investigations on Canadian society.

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