When Canada Learned It Had Spies

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Published on Vice.com

In 1972, a senior analyst at the National Security Agency (NSA) reached out to the editors of the radical left-wing magazine Ramparts and volunteered to give a wide-ranging interview under the pseudonym of Winslow Peck. Though even he didn’t know it at the time, what Peck would tell the editors of Ramparts over several days in a San Francisco hotel room would come to change the course of Canadian history forever.

In that interview, Peck spoke widely about the NSA’s activities around the world, and made two references to Canada—specifically, a major Canadian agency called the CBNRC. According to him, this rather opaque acronym represented the Canadian equivalent to America’s NSA, and the UK’s shadowy GCHQ.

There was just one problem: the Canadian public had never heard of anything called the CBNRC.