Canada’s spy service destroyed a Cold War dossier on Pierre Trudeau in 1989 instead of turning it over to the national archives, The Canadian Press has learned.
News of the decision to purge the file, which is coming to light only three decades later, has stunned and disappointed historians.
The Trudeau file was among hundreds of thousands the Mounties inherited in the 1980s after the RCMP Security Service was dissolved following a series of scandals.
In a bid to uncover subversives out to disrupt the established order, RCMP spies eyed a staggering variety of groups and individuals, from academics and unions to environmentalists, peace groups and even politicians.
Rumours of a file on Trudeau, Canada’s third-longest serving prime minister, have circulated for decades.
A 1959 memo in the RCMP’s Levesque file indicates undercover officers duly noted Trudeau’s attendance at a gathering hosted by a Montreal artist.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has long worked closely with the Mounties, kept watch on Trudeau for more than 30 years, charting his path from globetrotting public intellectual who visited the Soviet Union in the early 1950s through his time as a Liberal prime minister.
The bureau’s heavily censored, 151-page dossier was released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act just months after Trudeau’s death in September 2000, in keeping with American disclosure practices.
The Canadian Press recently requested the former prime minister’s RCMP file under the access law from Library and Archives Canada and CSIS prior to the 20th anniversary of his passing next year, given that it can take many months to process such applications.
The archives swiftly replied that it does not have a Trudeau dossier. CSIS said its records indicate the file was destroyed on Jan. 30, 1989.