Tinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy … Jeffrey Delisle and the real betrayal of Canada

Tinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy … Below: H.A.R. “Kim” Philby; Philby honored on a Soviet stamp; Sub-Lieut. Jeffrey Delisle.

Nowadays, Harold Adrian Russell “Kim” Philby’s betrayal of British and American military secrets to the beavering Bolsheviks of the Soviet security apparatus seems almost quaint.

But that’s only because even with their nuclear arsenal the Soviets’ Russian successors aren’t much of a threat any more – which they certainly were through the post-war 40s and 50s as Philby, an apparent upper class twit burrowed deep in the heart of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, forwarded Western secrets by the boatload to Moscow.

When Philby finally vanished into the Soviet Union in 1963, later to be trotted out as an honoured if not trusted Soviet citizen, a mighty brouhaha erupted. He was, after all, most likely the “Third Man” in the now-infamous Cambridge spy ring, even if he wasn’t a colonel of the KGB as he had imagined.

And he did it all for England, he later implied in his KGB-approved biography, My Silent War.

“My decision to play an active part in the struggle against reaction was not the result of a sudden conversion,” he wrote from Moscow of his university years. Nevertheless, “I left university with a degree and with the conviction that my life must be devoted to Communism.”

The Soviet Union wasn’t perfect, he conceded in 1968, and likely wouldn’t be for a spell yet, but he was building up “the inner fortress of the world movement” – thereby making ideology the 20th Century excuse for English treason, as religion was in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Today, Philby is long dead and no matter what you may hear from the retired colonels who appear as “analysts” on Canadian TV news channels, the leakage of military secrets to Capitalist Russia is unlikely to risk the defeat of the West. Au contraire, about all that’s in danger today is Canada’s place at the third table of the Espionage Club.

To arouse a similar rumpus in 2013, someone like Philby would have had to decamp in the night to Mecca, there to produce a tome called My Secret Jihad – something that his father St John, the renowned Arabist and convert to Islam, might have contemplated had he lived today.

Meanwhile, Canadian Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle, who is expected to be sentenced in Halifax on Friday after pleading guilty to selling naval secrets to the Russians, is a pathetic piker by comparison.

Sub-Lieut. Delisle did it for the money, and not very much at that – which, as has been suggested in this space before, may have been his downfall.

Indeed, to have wrapped himself in the raiment of ideology, as Philby did and others will, Sub-Lieut. Delisle would have had to sell his country out for billions, not a few thousand and a dramatic end to an unhappy marriage.

The half-hearted attitude of the Russians – and the pittance the GRU was willing to pay – probably tells those of us who are not privy to the esoteric world of state security all we really need to know about the true value of the secrets at HMCS Trinity, notwithstanding puffed-up claims in the media this was “one of the biggest spying debacles possibly in decades.”

Rather than waste time on such piffle, let me remind readers of the wisdom of Sir John Harington, the first Queen Elizabeth’s “saucy godson” and inventor of the flush toilet, who famously observed: “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

Real treason is afoot in Canada – the sale of our country’s sovereignty, not its picayune military secrets, to foreign powers who would dominate us forever.

But the people who are busy today selling out Canada do it from better addresses in the nation’s capital, and they do it in the names of globalization, the perfection of the market, and the notions of Freidrich Hayek and Ayn Rand.

In other words, they do it for ideology – an ideology not so far removed in time or nature from that of H.A.R. Philby – and in the service of literally billions of dollars.

So, if you look hard enough for the Canadian Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Men, and a good many more after that, you’ll likely find them, possibly in a comfortable retirement, but not in a murky corner of the naval dockyard in Halifax.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

9 Comments on "Tinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy … Jeffrey Delisle and the real betrayal of Canada"

  1. Sam Gunsch says:

    re: ” to foreign powers who would dominate us forever.”

    found in: “Real treason is afoot in Canada – the sale of our country’s sovereignty, not its picayune military secrets, to foreign powers who would dominate us forever.”


    What’s with this ‘forever’ whining b.s.?

    China’s FIPA-hosed-the-hosers deal is only going to run 30 years or so… hello!..what’s the hurry?

    … good grief… a tarsands project will barely be able to walk away from its tailings pond by then… enough with the hyperbole already…sheesh.

    look: If China-First FIPA turns out bad…we can always renegotiate in 2042…big whoop, so we lose 30 years of democratic control by the citizenry… why do you have to always be so negative and impatient with the corporate class advice… they’ve only had 30 years or so of ReaganthatcherHayekism and food stamps re ketchup is a nutritional vegetable.

    You know corporate trickle down nirvana could still happen. Plutocracy wasn’t built in a day, you know.

    No one promised you that petro-corporatism utopia could be built in one generation… like, you know, Norway’s hundreds of billions in the bank from petro-royalties are just somebody’s communist-liberal fiction man. Taft b.s. again. you know.

    I swear, Norway doesn’t exist, because I read it, it’s on the internet in an ethical wildrose country sunny newspaper American property party site.

    Yours in market fundamentalism love,

    George U. S. A. Suncor-Syncrudemocracy

    (ok. so that was lame, but 2, now going on 3 decades of corporatist petro-tyranny sucks too, y’know.)

  2. John B. says:

    Sergio Marchi, Maurice Strong, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, David Emerson, Stockwell Day and you guess who else may have already joined the team or is now making his personal preparations to crack the lineup – all hiding in plain sight.

  3. Danielle says:

    I’m still stuck trying to figure out what a Canadian second is… is that like a “New York Minute” only metric?

  4. rangerkim says:

    let’s not stop at the selling out of sovereignty; it seems that for a few pieces of silver and some shiny new trinkets we, the people, are willing to sell out the very air we breathe and the water we drink and the habitat we live in.
    This knee-jerk belief in all things profitable, as long as the profit accrues to me and thee, or at least does not accrue to the filthy foreigners, will be the death of us all. Quite literally.

  5. Filostrato says:

    I doubt that Geoffrey Delisle told the Russians anything they didn’t know already. For the princely sum of $72,000, it can’t have been much except a double-check, could it? Locking him up for decades will do nothing except stoke the fires of the “vengeance is mine” types, and we know we have quite a few of those around.

    But selling the control of resources for thirty years, making deals where the profits of foreign companies would override national laws on safety, health and environment, making back room, under the table agreements with who knows whom – that’s all just fine, isn’t it? As long as the money is behind them, they’ll keep on getting elected. As good old G. B. Shaw said in 1944, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

    The two-thirds or more of us who didn’t sign on to this deal are being robbed. They’re not locking up the right crooks. They go after poor pitiful losers like Geoffrey Delisle. It’s easier.

  6. Joe Albertan says:

    Globalization, Hayek, and Rand are the primary reason for Canada’s success!

    • Sam Gunsch says:

      re that success…Today, Kelly Ernst posts a relevant essay including this:

      excerpt: “… “93 per cent of results of economic growth in the U.S. since 2010 has gone to the top 1 per cent of society. The median income of the worker in the country is lower by one-third when compared to levels prevailing in 1968.”

      There is little compelling evidence to suggest these figures are substantially different in other developed nations, such as Canada.”


      Canada’s inequality is increasing faster than most of the West… until the 1970′s oil shock provide the opening to discredit government intervention via Keynesian response to business cycles… late 40′s – 1960 prosperity growth rapid for all, with high progressive tax rates at the same time.

      Since then, prosperity for the executive class that captured governments has been the agenda and the result.

      Data i.e. actual results contradict the claims justifying the whole agenda: marketisation, downsize the public’s only mechanism of power i.e. government… the agenda: sink or swim on your own Economic Darwinism ideology vs it’s reality of catering to corporate avarice re: self-serving intellectual grandeur of Hayek, Freidman, Rand, monetarism, neoliberals, de-regulation market fundamentalism, presto’s false populism, cowboy/entrepeneur myths, public subsidies for all corporate sectors, e.g. Billions for corporate powerlines to USA for coal electricity export.

      And global warming, endangered species, and overuse of water systems, etc.
      Oh yeah, success. Market fundamentalist Utopia is just around the corner.

      Sam Gunsch

    • Sam Gunsch says:

      Love that Randian free-market offloading costs on to Canadian taxpayers…Success!!!!

      excerpt: He pointed to Canada’s lack of preparedness for a major offshore oil spill on its east coast and warned of a potential 300 per cent jump in tanker traffic on the west coast.

      He reminded us the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil and the clean-up and other costs of civil damages has hit $40 billion.

      In Canada, the corporate liability for such spills is $30 million on the east coast, and the liability for the nuclear industry is $75 million and has not been updated in more than 35 years, something Vaughan called “pretty shocking.” The liability limit in the U.S. for a nuclear accident is $12 billion.


      Environment commissioner’s farewell audit screams the obvious: Tim Harper

      Market lovers.

    • Sam Gunsch says:

      Hey Joe,
      I should have said something like this:
      …claims/assertions/arguments defending markets as a way to run society now have so much evidence stacked against these arguments, shooting these arguments down with lists of market failures and evidence is like shooting fish in a barrel.

      I totally apologize for the personalized implication my thoughtless phrasing created re market lovers.

      Totally uncivil on my part. Crossed the line.


      Sam Gunsch


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