INTELLECTUALS SLAM SECRECY

Pierre Trudeau was among seven Quebec intellectuals who railed against “despotic secrecy.” (Image by Canadian Forum)

May 13, 1964 – The Canadian Forum and Cité Libre concurrently published a manifesto entitled “An Appeal for Realism in Politics,” with an advanced but abridged version being printed by the Toronto Daily Star.1Albert Breton et al., “7 Quebec Moderates Offer Anti-Separatism Blueprint,” Toronto Daily Star, May 13, 1964 The manifesto was written by a “group of young French Canadian intellectuals,” opposed to “the present state of affairs in Canada generally, and in our province in particular.”2Albert Breton et al., “An Appeal for Realism in Politics,” Canadian Forum, May, 1964.

Among their concerns were political leaders who “fall back on propaganda loaded with emotional slogans” rather than “explaining in plain terms the problem they face or the policies they propose.”3Albert Breton et al., “An Appeal for Realism in Politics,” Canadian Forum, May, 1964. According to the intellectuals, such propaganda was a problem because “democratic progress requires the ready availability of true and complete information. In this way people can objectively evaluate their Government’s policies. To act otherwise is to give way to despotic secrecy.”4Albert Breton et al., “An Appeal for Realism in Politics,” Canadian Forum, May, 1964.

Future prime minister Pierre Trudeau was among the manifesto’s seven authors. However, following the publication of that manifesto, those words would sometimes be solely attributed to Trudeau,5T. Murray Rankin, Freedom of Information in Canada: Will the Doors Stay Shut? A Research Study Prepared for the Canadian Bar Association (Ottawa, ON: Canadian Bar Association, 1977), 1. being used to support freedom of information and oppose his government’s secrecy.6Arthur Blakely, “PC’s Bill Seeks Freedom of Information – And May Have Support in High Places,” Gazette (Montreal), August 22, 1970. In recent years, that quote has also given the impression the late prime minister was perhaps more committed to transparency than he may have actually been.7Beverley McLachlin, “Access to Information and Protection of Privacy in Canadian Democracy” (Address, Ottawa, ON, May 5, 2009).

This post is part of a series of articles documenting major events in the history of freedom of information in Canada. To see the complete version of that developing timeline, click here.

References   [ + ]

1. Albert Breton et al., “7 Quebec Moderates Offer Anti-Separatism Blueprint,” Toronto Daily Star, May 13, 1964
2, 3, 4. Albert Breton et al., “An Appeal for Realism in Politics,” Canadian Forum, May, 1964.
5. T. Murray Rankin, Freedom of Information in Canada: Will the Doors Stay Shut? A Research Study Prepared for the Canadian Bar Association (Ottawa, ON: Canadian Bar Association, 1977), 1.
6. Arthur Blakely, “PC’s Bill Seeks Freedom of Information – And May Have Support in High Places,” Gazette (Montreal), August 22, 1970.
7. Beverley McLachlin, “Access to Information and Protection of Privacy in Canadian Democracy” (Address, Ottawa, ON, May 5, 2009).

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