Bill C-150 – Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69

“There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” ~ Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

bill c-150 pierre trudeauThe Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69 (S.C. 1968-69, c. 38) was an omnibus bill that introduced major changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. It was introduced as Bill C-150 by then Minister of Justice Pierre Trudeau in the second session of the 27th Canadian Parliament on December 21, 1967. On May 14, 1969, after heated debates, Omnibus Bill C-150 passed third reading in the House of Commons by a vote of 149 (119 Liberals, 18 New Democrats, 12 Progressive Conservatives) to 55 (43 Progressive Conservatives, 11 Créditistes, 1 Liberal). The bill was a massive 126-page, 120-clause amendment to the criminal law of Canada.

It proposed, among other things, to decriminalize homosexuality, allow abortion and contraception, and regulate lotteries, gun possession, drinking and driving offences, harassing phone calls, misleading advertising and cruelty to animals. The bill was described by John Turner, Trudeau’s successor as Minister of Justice, as “the most important and all-embracing reform of the criminal and penal law ever attempted at one time in this country”. Trudeau famously defended the bill by telling reporters that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”, adding that “what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code”.[4] The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69 is known in French under the title Loi de 1968-69 modifiant le droit pénal.


The climate for legislative change in Canada with regard to homosexuality was influenced in the late 1960s by the British Parliament’s adoption of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalized homosexual acts in England and Wales. Another important factor was the prosecution of George Klippert and the dismissal of his appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. This led to intense media and political interest, which influenced Trudeau’s decision to include amendments to the Criminal Code concerning homosexuality in Bill C-150. Although the bill contained many other controversial proposals, it was the decriminalization of homosexuality that raised the most objections from Members of Parliament.

Opposition to homosexuality was so intense that the Catholic Créditistes of Quebec held up debate for three weeks. The Créditistes suggested that communism, socialism and atheism were behind the proposed changes relating to homosexuality and abortion [sound familiar?]; they demanded that a public referendum be held on these issues and staged a filibuster of Parliament over the amendments concerning abortion. An anti-gay smear campaign was directed against Pierre Trudeau (who was labelled a “beast of Sodom”) and the Liberal Party in the weeks leading up to the Canadian federal election of 1968.

The bill was a massive 126-page document, and was considered the largest omnibus bill every passed in Commons history. However, it is interesting to note that the budget bill just introduced by the Harper government is 300 pages in length.

[Source: Wikipedia:,_1968-69]

farmer sewing seed

My list of of interesting books about Canada (to date).


Gerda Munsinger

“The Mata Hari of the Cold War”

GERDA MUNSINGERGerda Munsinger (born Gerda Hesler or Heseler or Hessler, also known as Olga Schmidt and Gerda Merkt; September 10, 1929 – November 24, 1998) was an East German prostitute and alleged Soviet spy (although these allegations were ultimately unproven). She emigrated to Canada in 1955. Munsinger was the central protagonist of the Munsinger Affair, the first national political sex scandal in Canada, and was dubbed “the Mata Hari of the Cold War” because of her involvement with several Canadian politicians

Munsinger became involved in relationships with a number of high-ranking Canadian government officials, most notably cabinet ministers George Hees and Pierre Sévigny. She later commented negatively about Hees, suggesting he was “an ex-football star and that’s it” who was “too sure of himself as a man”; Sévigny, in contrast, she pitied, saying that newspaper reports about him and his family were “nothing but lies” and that “he was the most innocent person in the whole affair”. Sévigny and Hees co-sponsored her application for Canadian citizenship in 1960.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), after learning that the Central Intelligence Agency considered Munsinger to be a “definite security risk”, interrogated her in 1960 and conducted surveillance on her telephone conversations. However, they found no evidence that she had engaged in spying in Canada. She was briefly hospitalized in 1960 and was believed to have leukemia. Munsinger was arrested for trying to cash a bad cheque in 1961 but the charges were dropped; she left shortly thereafter to return to Germany.

Under pressure from Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who had been informed of the situation by the RCMP, Sévigny ended his affair with Munsinger. He resigned quietly from cabinet in 1963 during an election campaign.

The affair became public in March 1966 when Minister of Justice Lucien Cardin mentioned Munsinger’s name during a debate in Parliament, in response to comments from the Conservatives about security problems in the Liberal government of Lester B. Pearson. The Liberals had been made aware of the affair two years earlier during a review of security cases involving senior government officials; Pearson had opted to not publicize it, and had instructed his cabinet ministers not to discuss it. The media heard about Cardin’s comments in the House of Commons and began circulating rumours that “Monsignor” was a Québécois priest/mobster. Despite being told by Pearson not to say anything further, Cardin disclosed during a press conference that “Olga” Munsinger had been involved with Conservative politicians; he compared the incident to the affair between John Profumo and Christine Keeler in the UK. One news report later concluded that “a blond playgirl… has thrust Parliament into a state of suspended degradation”.

gerda munsigner - Pierre SévignyWhen the issue was first raised, the government said that Gerda Munsinger had died of leukemia several years earlier. However, this turned out not to be the case. A Canadian reporter with the Toronto Star, Robert Reguly, found her alive and well in Munich, West Germany, after locating her phone number in a local phonebook. At that time, she was engaged to German businessman Ernst Wagner. She confirmed her sexual involvement with the Conservative cabinet ministers but denied participating in espionage. Reguly’s actions in finding and interviewing Munsinger resulted in the first of his three National Newspaper Awards. After the story broke, the police were sent by the German government to guard Munsinger’s apartment and prevent unauthorized access, as a crowd of reporters camped outside for several days. One German reporter posed as a waiter and paid the owner of the restaurant in Munsinger’s building to allow him access to her room. Several days later, she gave her first television interview, to CBC’s Norman DePoe.[8]

A judicial inquiry regarding the politicians’ dalliances with Munsinger found that there had been no security leak resulting from the affair. Munsinger received “over a hundred” letters from Canadians expressing sympathy for the affair.

Munsinger eventually married for a third time. She spent the rest of her life in relative obscurity under the name Gerda Merkt until she died on November 24, 1998, in Munich.

Source: Wikipedia:

Today’s history curriculum is “bound for boredom” ~ Bill Bigelow

[This is a departure from my usual Canadian history, per se, but Bill Bigelow’s take on today’s history textbooks so parallels mine that I had to draw your attention to the article captioned below. i.e.

“Today’s textbooks contain no stories of actual people. We meet no one, learn nothing of anyone’s life, encounter no injustice, no resistance. This is a curriculum bound for boredom. As someone who spent almost 30 years teaching high school social studies, I can testify that students will be unlikely to seek to learn more about events so emptied of drama, emotion, and humanity.” ~ Bill Bigelow.]


Published on Sunday, March 16, 2014 by Zinn Education Project

The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools

by Bill Bigelow

irish expulsion“Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or get pinched.” That pretty much sums up the Irish-American “curriculum” that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.To support the famine relief effort, British tax policy required landlords to pay the local taxes of their poorest tenant farmers, leading many landlords to forcibly evict struggling farmers and destroy their cottages in order to save money. From Hunger on Trial Teaching Activity.

Sadly, today’s high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

Yet there is no shortage of material that can bring these dramatic events to life in the classroom. In my own high school social studies classes, I begin with Sinead O’Connor’s haunting rendition of “Skibbereen,” which includes the verse:

… Oh it’s well I do remember, that bleak
December day,
The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive
Us all away
They set my roof on fire, with their cursed
English spleen
And that’s another reason why I left old

By contrast, Holt McDougal’s U.S. history textbook The Americans, devotes a flat two sentences to “The Great Potato Famine.” Prentice Hall’s America: Pathways to the Present fails to offer a single quote from the time. The text calls the famine a “horrible disaster,” as if it were a natural calamity like an earthquake. And in an awful single paragraph, Houghton Mifflin’s The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People blames the “ravages of famine” simply on “a blight,” and the only contemporaneous quote comes, inappropriately, from a landlord, who describes the surviving tenants as “famished and ghastly skeletons.” Uniformly, social studies textbooks fail to allow the Irish to speak for themselves, to narrate their own horror…  more


Bill Bigelow taught high school social studies in Portland, Ore. for almost 30 years. He is the curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools and the co-director of the Zinn Education Project. This project offers free materials to teach people’s history and an “If We Knew Our History” article series. Bigelow is author or co-editor of numerous books, including A People’s History for the Classroom and The Line Between Us: Teaching About the Border and Mexican Immigration.


two irish lads st copy

Robert Baldwin

“Father of Municipal Government.”

Yesterday (March 11th, 2014) marked the 166th anniversary of responsible government in Canada. It followed decades of struggle against British rule, the rebellions of 1837 and 1838 being foremost examples. Power passed from colonial elites to citizens when a Reform government headed by Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine was sworn in that day by governor-general Lord Elgin. The Reformers had won an election over conservative forces aligned to the monarchy

RobertbaldwinRobert Baldwin (May 12, 1804 – December 9, 1858) was a Canadian lawyer and politician who, with his political partner Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, led the first responsible ministry in Canada. “Responsible Government” marked the country’s democratic independence, without a revolution, although not without violence. This achievement also included the introduction of municipal government, the introduction of a modern legal system and the Canadian Jury system, and the abolishing of imprisonment for debt. Baldwin is also noted for resisting a decades-long tradition of Orange Order terrorism of political reform in the colony, that went so far as to burn the Parliament buildings in Montreal in 1849.

Robert Baldwin’s grandfather, also Robert Baldwin (“Robert the emigrant”) moved to Upper Canada from Ireland in 1799. His father William Warren Baldwin (April 25, 1775 – January 8, 1844), though wealthy and a devoted member of the Church of England, opposed the religious and political oligarchy known as the Family Compact, and brought up his son in the same principles.

The Baldwin family was a prominent one. Robert Baldwin counted among his cousins such influential Upper Canadians as the Anglican bishop Maurice Scollard Baldwin, Toronto mayor Robert Baldwin Sullivan and the Irish-Catholic leader Connell James Baldwin. The Russell-Willcocks-Baldwin family formed an elite “compact” much like the infamous “Family Compact” led by John Beverley Robinson against whom they fought.

Robert Baldwin, Esquire, Barrister, of York (now Toronto) married his cousin Augusta Elizabeth Sullivan, daughter of Daniel Sullivan, on May 3, 1827. The couple had four children, two sons and two daughters. Augusta Elizabeth died January 11, 1836. Robert Baldwin died December 9, 1858.

Robert Baldwin is the grandfather of Frederick Walker Baldwin, a Canadian aviation pioneer and partner of the famous inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Robert Baldwin is also the grandfather of Robert Baldwin Ross, a French born journalist and art critic probably best known for being a cherished friend to Oscar Wilde.

Political principles

Balwin’s principles embodied a civic humanism that drew on ancient Greek and Roman conceptions of citizenship, and the value of selfless political participation for the public good; those selfish few who placed their personal private interests before the public good threatened the moral commitment of all citizens to political participation. The civic humanism of the Country party (Baldwin’s affiliation) rejected the commercial ideology of the royal “Court” party. The Country party had a (small-R) republican emphasis that sought to preserve the power of a democratic parliament from the encroachments of the crown during the vast expansion of state administration, public credit, and the financial and commercial revolutions in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth centuries. It was similar to American conceptions of “civic republicanism” as they developed after the revolution among Jacksonian Democrats, as well as in the Chartist movement in Britain in the late 1830s.

Municipal government

Prior to 1849, local government was in the hands of a largely appointed District Council; which itself was under the control governor and his executive council (the so-called “cabinet” of today). Baldwin opposed this, and in 1849 he passed his own Municipal Act that is largely in effect to this day. It provided for citizen-elected councils, and indirectly elected county councils, as well as Cities, counties and townships and villages. It is probably the greatest contribution to grass-roots democracy since the Greek polis.

celtic bar


(click to purchase)

Gerald William “Ged” Baldwin

“Father of Freedom on Information”

william ged baldwin - piicFor many this will be an unfamiliar name from Canada’s past, but when it comes to the important revelations exposed by the ‘Freedom of Information’ (commonly referred to as “FOI”), his accomplishment lives on nearly every day.

BALDWIN, Gerald William, O.C., Q.C., LL.D., lawyer and politician, commonly known as “Ged” (b at Palmerston, New Zealand 18 January, 1907; d at Ottawa 16 December 1991). Recognized as the father of FREEDOM OF INFORMATION for the Canadian government, Gerald Baldwin came to Canada with his parents in 1912 and settled in VEGREVILLE, Alta where his father practiced law. Baldwin graduated from the UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA and in 1927 began practicing criminal law. In 1929 he set up practice in Berwyn, Alta, and in 1930 moved to PEACE RIVER. He gravitated to politics and in the Alberta provincial election of 1935 was the unsuccessful Conservative candidate for Peace River.

Ged Baldwin ran as a Progressive Conservative for Peace River in the federal election of 1957 and lost, but won in 1958 and in each subsequent federal election until retiring in 1980. During 1959-61 he lobbied successfully to have the Great Slave Lake Railway pass through his riding. During 1962-63 he was parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister DIEFENBAKER, and from 1968 to 1974 was official opposition house leader. In the mid-1970s he began a campaign for freedom of information in the Canadian government, periodically introducing a private member’s bill. When Canada’s ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT was passed in 1982, Prime Minister TRUDEAU publicly acknowledged Baldwin’s contribution. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1985.

Source, The Canadian Encyclopedia,

 farmer sewing seed

My list of of interesting books about Canada (to date).

Foster Hewitt, Hockey Night in Canada

“He shoots, he scores!”


Foster William Hewitt, OC (November 21, 1902 – April 21, 1985) was a Canadian radio broadcaster most famous for his play-by-play calls for Hockey Night in Canada.

foster hewitt -ckfhThe voice of Foster Hewitt was intertwined with most of the major hockey events of the 20th century. His pioneering work on the radio and, later, television brought hockey to homes across North America. Hewitt’s insightful and enthusiastic play-by-play was one of the greatest promotional tools at the disposal of the NHL.

The son of respected journalist William Hewitt, Foster was born in Toronto. While attending the University of Toronto, he was the intercollegiate boxing champion and passionate fan of hockey. After graduating, he pursued his career in sports broadcasting and went on to become internationally famous.

His career began in the old Mutual Street Arena in Toronto on February 16, 1923 when he broadcast a game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Kitchener Greenshirts. Through the Depression and World War II the familiar voice of Hewitt linked Canada from coast-to-coast.

The famous gondola at Maple Leaf Gardens where Hewitt broadcast 'Saturday Night in Canada' for nearly 50 years
The famous gondola at Maple Leaf Gardens where Hewitt broadcast ‘Saturday Night in Canada’ for nearly 50 years

When the Toronto Maple Leafs were born in 1927, Hewitt became their radio announcer. He later served as the master of ceremonies when Maple Leaf Gardens opened on November 12, 1931. His voice became as integral a part of Maple Leafs folklore as the “Kid Line,” Syl Apps, Turk Broda, and Teeder Kennedy.

On November 1, 1952, Hewitt broadcast the first televised hockey game in Canada between the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs. For most fans this was their first look at the voice that had become such an important part of their lives. Five years later he turned the microphone over to his son Bill, while he picked the three stars and handled the post-game wrap up.

Hewitt retired in 1963 to devote all of his time to his radio station CKFH in Toronto. In 1972 he came out of retirement at the encouragement of CTV’s Johnny Esaw to broadcast the historic Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. His description of the winning goal by Paul Henderson became as famous as the original “Hello Hockey Fans” introduction on the radio broadcasts in his heyday. Hewitt was elected to the Canada Sports Hall of Fame, and presented the Order of Canada. In addition to his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Hewitt was honoured when a media award in his name was introduced by the Hall to worthy broadcast recipients. He was himself inducted into the Hall in 1965.

Hockey Hall of Fame: