Government watched former primate

Published November 1, 1998

The APEC summit wasn’t the first time members of the Anglican Church were monitored by security officials.

Former primate Ted Scott said he was watched by government officials in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

There was even talk his telephone was bugged, although he said “there was no clear evidence that was the case.”

Government officials, likely from the RCMP or CSIS, were watching him, he believes, because he spoke out on controversial political issues, such as apartheid in South Africa and the civil war in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

He called his criticism “very public; there was no hiding behind the bush.”

For example, he spoke out against the Royal Bank’s investments in South Africa at a shareholders’ meeting.

Archbishop Scott said he was never followed by suspicious men in trench coats, but he knew officials from CSIS were probably watching him because of the “general attitude by people in authority.”

Joy Kennedy, co-ordinator of the church’s EcoJustice Committee says she was also watched in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. She was involved in the movement to boycott California grapes to protest labour practices.

“We confronted store managers,” said Ms. Kennedy, “That’s why the police were more conscious of tracking what was going on.”

At one point, she suspected her home telephone was tapped.

As far as Primate Michael Peers knows, he’s never been the target of an investigation “and I’ve never particularly cared.”

Archbishop Peers said he remembers an incident in the 1960s when government officials were definitely keeping tabs on an Anglican priest who travelled to Cuba. “Whenever you get into this kind of thing the government always gets concerned … Governments always monitor anything that affects their interests.”

Although Archbishop Peers said government scrutiny can be expected in some cases, “expecting it doesn’t mean accepting it.”


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