Canada. Royal Commission of Inquiry into Matters Relating to One Gerta Munsinger : The Commission to Inquire into the Case Involving One Gerta Munsinger was established under Order in Council, P.C. 482, 14 March 1966, under Part I of the Inquiries Act. (R.S.C., 1952, c.154) and on the recommendation of the prime minister. The Commission was mandated to inquire into and report upon a statement by the Minister of Justice in a letter dated 11 March 1966, to the Prime Minister, with reference to a case involving one Gerta Munsinger, which was read in the House of Commons on 11 March 1966; into all statements concerning the case in the House of Commons on 4 and 7 March 1966; and into all statements by the Minister of Justice in a press conference on 10 March 1966, which, among other things, included statements about involvement with the said Gerta Munsinger, about failure to seek the advice of the Law Officers of the Department of Justice, that there were circumstances that may have constituted a risk to the security of Canada and that the case was not properly handled; and to enquire whether the case was handled in accordance with the rules and principles normally applicable to persons having access to classified information and into all the relevant circumstances connected therewith, and in particular to consider fully all reports submitted to the government or any member of the government and any evidence laid before them in connection therewith and any further evidence elicited by or laid before the Commissioner. The commissioner was Wishart Flett Spence. The secretary was J.J. Pierre Benoit.
On 28 June 1960, Gerta Munsinger applied for Canadian citizenship. According to procedures, her application was referred to the RCMP for security clearance. Upon investigation, the RCMP discovered that a Gerta Heseler (also known as Gerta Munsinger) was refused a visa for immigration to Canada in 1952 because she had been a spy. She also had been convicted of prostitution, theft and smuggling. In 1955, however, she obtained a visa and entered Canada under her married name, Gerta Munsinger.
In November 1960, the RCMP interviewed Munsinger and kept her under surveillance until she left Canada for Germany on 5 February 1961. From their investigation, the RCMP determined that Munsinger had worked in various night clubs in Montreal which were run by racketeers, and persons who had associations with narcotics dealers. They also learned that she was a prostitute and were convinced that she was having illicit sexual relations with Pierre Sévigny, the Associate Minister of National Defence, and that she knew other federal Cabinet Ministers.
Besides, it was determined that in 1960 Sévigny, had asked his executive assistant, Gaston Lévesque, to make representations to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration in relation to Munsinger's application for Canadian Citizenship.
Beyond that, the RCMP discovered that the office of a company which did business with Soviet Bloc countries was located in the building in Montreal where Munsinger lived and that she had access to all areas of the building.
The RCMP concluded that Munsinger represented a danger to national security for the following reasons: that she might have been sent to Canada by Soviet intelligence agents to carry on espionage work; that her past association with Soviet espionage made her a likely subject for re-recruitment by them; and that those who associated with her, especially in Montreal, were vulnerable to blackmail by underworld figures.
On 7 December 1960, the RCMP briefed the Minister of Justice, E. Davie Fulton, about the Munsinger case. On 12 December Fulton informed Prime Minister Diefenbaker about it. After reading the RCMP report on Munsinger, Diefenbaker demanded that Sévigny end his liaison with Munsinger.
The Prime Minister, satisfied that no breach of security had occurred, allowed Sévigny to remain in the Cabinet but took no further action.
In November 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson requested information from the RCMP about any investigations involving the conduct of Members of Parliament or Cabinet Ministers in the discharge of their official duties over the past ten years. At that time, the RCMP gave the Prime Minister a copy of their report on Munsinger. No more was heard about the issue until early in 1966.
In a debate in the House of Commons over the government's handling of the security case involving George Victor Spencer, the Minister of Justice, Lucien Cardin, raised what he mistakenly called the "Monseignor Case" on 4 March 1966. Then, and in subsequent debates in the Commons, and in a press conference of 10 March, Cardin charged that Diefenbaker, when he was Prime Minister, had failed to refer the RCMP report in the Munsinger affair to the Department of Justice for advice. Moreover, Cardin claimed that the Diefenbaker government mishandled a case in which national security probably was involved. Cardin wanted these, and other allegations about the involvement of former Cabinet Ministers of the Diefenbaker administration with Munsinger investigated by a judicial inquiry. Consequently, on 14 March 1966, the Government of Canada appointed a royal commission to inquire into and report on the Munsinger case. (See Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Matters Relating to One Gerta Munsinger, Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1966; House of Commons, Debates 4, 7 and 11 March 1966, pp. 2211, 2299, 2542 and 2545 and Press Conference held by Lucien Cardin on 10 March 1966 about the Munsinger affair).
Public and in-camera hearings of the commission were held in Ottawa from 6 April to 24 May 1966. The commission filed 31 exhibits. RG33-96 General Inventory