Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Fred Rose (politician)
Fred Rose (born Fred Rosenberg) (December 7 1907 - March 16 1983) was a Communist politician and trade union organiser in Canada. He was born in Lublin in what is now Poland and emigrated to Canada as a child in 1920. He became involved with the Young Communist League and then joined the Communist Party of Canada while working in a factory. However, he is best known as the only Member of the Canadian Parliament ever convicted of spying for a foreign country.
Rose was jailed during the 1930's for his work organizing the unemployed in the 1930's, and won the undying hatred of Quebec premier Maurice Duplessis for writing about the close connections between the Duplessis government and the fascist governments of Hitler and Mussolini. He was a close associate of Dr. Norman Bethune who served first in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and later in China. Later in Parliament Rose proposed the first medicare legislation and the first anti-hate legislation. He was a candidate for the Communist Party of Canada in the working class Montreal area riding of Cartier in the 1935 Canadian election coming in second with 16% of the vote.
Early in World War II the Communist Party in Canada was formally banned then reorganised as the Labour Progressive Party. Rose won election to the House of Commons as a LPP candidate from Cartier in a 1943 by-election. He won with 30% of the vote in a tight four way race, beating among others, David Lewis of the CCF. Rose was re-elected in the 1945 Canadian election with 40% of the vote.
Fred Rose was caught up in the world political sea change following WWII. Overnight the Soviet Union, the victors of Stalingrad, went from ally to enemy. In July 1945, Igor Gouzenko, a young cipher clerk in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa was recalled to his devastated homeland. Rather than return home, Gouzenko defected with documents he showed evidence of a massive Soviet spy ring operating in Canada. Few took his accusations and evidence seriously at first. Later, as the Cold war began to heat up, a Royal Commission on espionage was established headed by two Supreme Court justices. Scores of people were rounded up under the War Measures Act (even though Canada was at peace), held incommunicado for weeks on end, without legal counsel and bared from all contact with the outside world. Meanwhile, the Royal Commission issued a stream of press releases about the 'Red menace '. Prisoners were forcefully told to incriminate themselves and others under the penalty of contempt of court.
Fred Rose was the ultimate target, although the charges against him were non-specific, making his defence difficult. At one point he was defending himself against conspiracy, and at another against violating the [Official Secrets Act]]. Into this charged atmosphere, Igor Gouzenko was introduced to the Canadian public via national television, intereviewed with a paper bag over his head. Rose refused to testify at his trial which was designed as were the McCarthy trials in the USA to, as he said "smear honest and patriotic Canadians." Rose denied his guilt to his death. Nevertheless he was sentenced to prison for a term just one day longer than was required to deprive him of his elected seat in the House of Commons.
Rose wrote to the Speaker of the House, Gaspard Fauteux, on January 24, 1947: Mr. Speaker: If the will of the people is to prevail, if justice is to be done, there can be no question of my expulsion from the house. To the contrary, I should be in my seat in the House of Commons and not in the penitentiary. Parliament is the highest of Courts. Through its actions in my case it will decide whether hysteria is to continue or whether reason and justice are to prevail. Respectfully, Fred Rose, M.P. His letter was returned to him at St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary and his fellow MPs never read this appeal. On January 30, 1947 he was expelled from Parliament.
Rose was released from prison after four and a half years with his health broken. Attempting to find work in Montreal, he was tailed from jobsite to jobsite by the RCMP who pointed out to employers and workmates that Fred Rose was a convicted spy. He finally went to Poland to attempt to set up an import-export business and to obtain health treatment he couldn't afford in Canada. While living in Poland, his Canadian citizenship was revoked in 1957 and he was unable to return to Canada to lead the fight to clear his name and expunge a black mark in Canadian legal history. His appeal against revoking his citizenship was denied, although years later Ellen Fairclough did amend the Citizenship Act with the Fred Rose amendment so that such a removal of Canadian citizenship could never happen again.
Years later, former federal cabinet minister Allan MacEachen acknowledged the pages of Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King's diary dealing with Rose had gone missing, as had most of the other records dealing with his case.
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