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October 12 Montréal John Watkins […]




October 12 Montréal John Watkins, Canada's ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1954 to 1956, died of a sudden heart attack during a month-long RCMP interrogation regarding his sexual activities and contacts while employed as a civil servant. This was but one incident (revealed only years later) relating to a massive hunt to identify male homosexuals in the Canadian civil service, and to eliminate them as security risks, conducted by the RCMP Security Service under Cabinet authority between 1959 and 1968.

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Russia; Soviet UnionMontreal

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John Watkins

All Organizations

Dominion Police, North-West Mounted Police, Royal Northwest Mounted Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police RCMP

All Citations

John Watkins, Moscow Dispatches, ed. and introd. Dean Beeby and William Kaplan (Toronto: James Lorimer, 1987), pp. xiii- xxxii.John Sawatsky, "Ottawa Discouraged RCMP'S Spy Probe: The Death of an Ambassador," Toronto Star, four star ed., 12 June 1981, pp. A1, A16;John Sawatsky, "Homosexual Envoy Easy Prey for KGB: The Death of an Ambassador," Toronto Star, four star ed., 11 June 1981, pp. A1, A18;Daniel J. Robinson and David Kimmel, "The Queer Career of Homosexual Security Vetting in Cold War Canada," Canadian Historical Review 75 (September 1994): 319-45;"Operation Rock Bottom," in John Sawatsky, For Services Rendered: Leslie James Bennett and the RCMP Security Service (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1982), pp. 171-86;Bill Loos, "Opening the Mounties' Closet: The McDonald Commission Pinpoints an RCMP Security Obsession: Homosexuals," Body Politic, no. 77 (1981), p. 9;Bill Loos, "Mounties Cleared in Watkins Inquest," Body Politic, no. 86 (1982), p. 12;B.L. (Bill Loos), "Cause of Death Due to 'Sudden': The Unexplained Demise of Diplomat John Watkins," Body Politic, no. 77 (1981), p. 9;Gary Kinsman, The Regulation of Desire: Sexuality in Canada (Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1987), pp. 120-23;Gary Kinsman, "Pages from the Past: The Ottawa Purge Campaigns," Centre/Fold: Newsletter of the Toronto Centre for Lesbian and Gay Studies, no. 4 (1993): 11-13;Gary Kinsman, "'Character Weaknesses' and 'Fruit Machines': Towards an Analysis of the Anti-homo- sexual Security Campaign in the Canadian Civil Service," Labour/Le travail, no. 35 (1995). PP- 133-61;"John Watkins: Dead at 'Rockbottom,' " Body Politic, no. 81 (1982), p. 14;"The Homosexual Witch Hunt" and "The Fruit Machine" in John Sawatsky, Men in the Shadows: The RCMP Security Service (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1980), pp. 124-32, 133-37 ("The Homosexual Witch Hunt" reprinted in abridged form as"Security Paranoia & the Fruit Machine"in theBody Politic, no. 63 (1980),pp. 21-Z3);Philip Hannan, "McCarthyism Ottawa-Style: The Feds and the Fruit Machine," Capital Xtra!, no. 7 (1994), p. 11;Philip Girard, "From Subversion to Liberation: Homosexuals and the Immigration Act 1952-1977," Canadian Journal of Law and Society 2 (1987): 1-27;Joe Clark, "Cold War Witch-Hunts Come to Light in Canada: Government Documents Expose a Wide-ranging Purge with Bizarre Twists," Advocate (Los Angeles), no, 604 (1992), pp. 44-45;Dean Beeby, "RCMP Was Ordered to Identify Gays: Only Carrying Out Cabinet Policy, Former Head of Mountie Security Says," Globe and Mail, metro ed., 25 April 1992, p. A5;Dean Beeby, "Mounties Staged Massive Hunt for Gay Males in Civil Service: Police Kept Files on 8,200 during Diefenbaker-Pearson Era," Globe and Mail, metro ed., 24 April 1992, pp. A1, A2;