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Igor Gouzenko

Igor Sergeievitch Gouzenko, Soviet intelligence officer, author (born 26 January 1919 in Rogachev, Russia; died 25 June 1982 in Mississauga, ON). Igor Gouzenko was a Soviet cipher clerk stationed at the Soviet Union’s Ottawa embassy during the Second World War. Just weeks after the end of the war, Gouzenko defected to the Canadian government with proof that his country had been spying on its wartime allies: Canada, Britain and the United States. This prompted what is known as the Gouzenko Affair. Gouzenko sought asylum for himself and his family in Canada. His defection caused a potentially dangerous international crisis. Many historians consider it the beginning of the Cold War.


Israel Halperin

Israel Halperin, CM, mathematician, human rights activist (born 5 January 1911 in Montreal, QC; died 8 March 2007 in Toronto, ON). Halperin advanced mathematical knowledge in the fields of operator algebras and operator theory. (See also Mathematics.) He became embroiled in the Gouzenko Affair in 1946 when he was accused of being an informant for the Soviet Union. After this ordeal, Halperin returned to his post as a professor at Queen’s University, later also teaching at the University of Toronto. Beginning in the 1970s, he created letter-writing campaigns that aimed to end human rights abuses and free political prisoners.

timeline event

Michael Spavor Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison in China

Michael Spavor, who had been detained in China on espionage charges since December 2018 following Canada’s detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Chinese court. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement calling the verdict “absolutely unacceptable and unjust… For Mr. Spavor, as well as for Michael Kovrig who has also been arbitrarily detained, our top priority remains securing their immediate release. We will continue working around the clock to bring them home as soon as possible.”


Editorial: Igor Gouzenko Defects to Canada

The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated.

A knock on the apartment door froze him in his steps. Another knock, louder, more insistent. The knocking turned to pounding. A voice called his name several times. Finally, the pounding stopped, and he heard footsteps going down the stairs. He knew he needed help.

timeline event

The “Two Michaels” Are Released from China

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians who were detained in China on espionage charges on 10 December 2018 in retaliation for the detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver earlier that month, were released by Chinese authorities. They returned to Canada on 25 September. Their release came one day after a court in BC dropped the case seeking to extradite Meng to the US over wire fraud and conspiracy charges. The two Michaels had spent more than 1,020 days imprisoned in China.