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Calvin MacDonald, undercover RCMP officer

The Story


He says his life has been ruined. After spending years as an undercover RCMP officer posing as a communist, Calvin MacDonald claims the damage done to his family and personal life is almost irreparable. In this 1963 CBC Radio interview, MacDonald gives the candid details of his life as an RCMP spy and the difficulties it has caused for his relationships with family and friends.

Medium: Radio
Program: Assignment
Broadcast Date: Aug. 23, 1963
Guest: Calvin MacDonald
Reporter: Al Forrest
Duration: 17:14

Did You know?


• This interview was originally aired in four shorter segments on four separate episodes, but all four parts have been edited together for the purposes of this website. You can hear a two- or three-second gap between each segment as you listen to this interview.

• Calvin MacDonald claimed that after he was discovered to be a spy by the Communist party, the RCMP disowned him and refused to acknowledge that he ever did any work for them. He said he couldn't get a job anywhere because he was listed as a member of the Communist party, and the RCMP wouldn't take his name off the list.

• MacDonald's case was well-documented in the Globe and Mail in 1964. The Globe reported an incident in August 1964 where a man named David Cowlishaw, who was involved with a group called Operation Underdog, hurled a carton of beef blood onto the carpet of the House of Commons during the flag debate in an effort to draw attention to MacDonald's plight.

• Several days after the cow blood incident, the Globe reported that MacDonald told a group of reporters that he planned to travel across Canada spilling government secrets until the RCMP agreed to clear his name. He said that being a listed as communist not only prevented him from getting a job, but the whole scenario had also broken up his marriage and distanced him from his eight children.

• MacDonald quickly began spilling a number of secrets. One particularly salacious story appeared in a September 1964 issue of the Globe and Mail, involving a homosexual page boy whose "sugar daddy" was an MP in the House of Commons. As proof of this homosexual relationship, MacDonald told a story of a party he attended hosted by the page, a slim young man wearing "a beige shirt, fawn cashmere sweater and fawn slacks." MacDonald said the page told him his "sugar-daddy MP" paid the rent on his apartment, which "was decorated in Japanese décor and thickly carpeted." According to MacDonald, "the host danced a strip tease at the party and showed him instruments used by masochists."

• The name of the MP involved was never mentioned in the newspaper, but the Globe did feature a major story stating that all allegations made by MacDonald over the past several days were being vehemently denied by the MPs and government members involved. The article also said the government denied that MacDonald was on any sort of communist list, and said there was no such list in existence.

• A week later, on Sept. 9, 1964, the Globe reported that MacDonald was now alleging that there were three communist cells operating within the Toronto offices of the CBC: "These CBC party members are peddling the communist line on the network, Mr. Macdonald declared."

• After the flurry of media activity about MacDonald in August and September of 1964, there were a only few mentions of MacDonald in the newspaper over the next several years, and very little can be found on MacDonald after the 1960s.


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