On a steamy Southern
Ontario summer afternoon, July 20, under a hazy sky,, we bade
farewell to Ron Gostick, who died, after a long battle with cancer, quietly in
his sleep, Saturday morning, two days short of his 87th birthday.
The memorial service in his hometown of Flesherton, Ontario,
was well attended by his large family (second wife Wanda, children,
grandchildren, stepchildren), friends, political associates and his legion
comrades. Branch 333 of the Royal Canadian Legion started the proceedings with
a farewell to their old comrade. Ron had served for five years in the Canadian
Army in World War II.
Ron was a giant in the freedom movement in Canada.
His decades – not mere years – of publishing --59 years of
newspapers, newsletters (Canadian
Intelligence Service, On
Target! and others) – and lecturing carried many messages
and educated many people, including at least one present MP and such well known
people as James Keegstra to political realities.
Born in Wales,
Ron emigrated to Canada
with his parents in 1923. The family homesteaded near Stettler, Alberta.
After nine years, the Gostick family, which now included brother William,
moved to Calgary
in 1932. Alberta
was mired in the Great Depression – “widespread poverty amidst
abundance,” as Ron summed it up in Canada:
Its Glorious Potential – And Things I Didn’t Learn in School
(2002), his last booklet. In Calgary,
Ron met a man who would change his life. From 1933 to 1935, he attended Crescent Height High School.
There his math teacher and principal was William Aberhart, a proponent of
Social Credit, the teachings of Scottish engineer Major C.H Douglas, who
applied practical Christianity to economics.
Should the issue of credit ex nihilo be in the
hands of private banks, Social Credit asked? With the fractional reserve
system, a bank can lend many multiples of the dollars on deposit and, thus,
issue credit and collect interest on the lending of this credit. Why should
there be mass poverty in a land brimming with natural and human resources? What
is physically possible should be made financially possible, Douglas
argued. As Ron stated in the introduction of Canada: Its Glorious Potential :
“Money, and in modern times Credit, in all
their forms and instruments are the life-blood of society and the nation, For
generations, practically all modern industrialized nations have experienced
periods of boom times and inflation, followed by depression, hard times and a
shortage of ‘money’ (purchasing power). And in recent decades,
every country seems plagued with an escalating mountain of debt – and
taxation to pay the interest on the debt.”
For the deeply Christian Mr. Gostick, Social
Credit offered practical application of religion to politics and a blueprint
out of the misery of the Great Depression. His mother thought so too and ran
for and won a seat in the first Aberhart Social Credit government in 1935.
Ron went to college in Calgary
and took further business studies in Chicago.
He joined the Canadian Army in 1941 and served as a court reporter in Ottawa and Toronto.
Immediately after the war, Ron served as the
General Secretary of the Social Credit Party of Canada. Party intrigues soured
him on political parties. Major Douglas had warned against the formation of
Social Credit Party, believing that it would be better to spread the philosophy
of economic reform, hoping that people of good will in many parties would adopt
it. Ron began his publishing activities, at first distributing copies of his
newspaper by motorcycle around Ontario.
A Social Crediter and journalist would seem to have made Ron fairly mainstream
– at least not a subject for law enforcement scrutiny. However, his
voluminous RCMP file, obtained some years ago by lawyer Barbara Kulazska
reveals than his meetings were under Mountie surveillance as early as the late
Ron’s Christian principles led him into
many causes. He was a firm anti-communist at a time when trendy Canadians like
Pierre Trudeau were open admirers of tyrants like Fidel Castro and Mao
tse-Tung. When Rhodesia
declared independence in 1965, he rallied to the cause of the Ian Smith
experiment, grounded in Christianity and a gradual approach to Negro
involvement. Ron strongly opposed the Pearson’s pennant coup
d’etat, the invention of a “new” Canadian flag and the
abandonment of the Red Ensign, as a prelude to the changing of the country the
flag symbolized, through massive Third World
immigration, multiculturalism and the sacrificing of our sovereignty through
internationalism. When Royal Canadian Legion Branch 333 became a hotbed of
pro-Red Ensign sentiment, Dominion command in Ottawa, under political pressure, decreed
that Ron Gostick must be purged as president or the branch would lose its
accreditation. He was.
Assisted by his longtime associate, former RCMP
undercover agent Patrick Walsh, burly Irishman from Quebec City who spoke with a distinctly
French accent, Ron warned repeatedly of communist infiltration and subversion
in Canadian politics.
In 1968, a new comet flashed across the
firmament of Canadian politics. His name was Pierre Trudeau. The press promoted
him as a fresh breath in Canadian politics, a change from the World War I
generation of old war horses like John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson. Trudeau,
Canadians were old, was trendy, irreverent, prone to wearing a cape or posing
holding a rose rakishly in his mouth. Pat Walsh, a veteran as an agent in
communist circles in the Province
of Quebec, recognized
Trudeau and some of his associates. He’d briefly flirted with the NDP.
Trudeau was far more to the left than the press was telling Canadians.
Ron Gostick did an extraordinary thing. While the press
gushed about Trudeau image and antics, he actually read what Trudeau had
written and researched his activities. He found in Trudeau an admirer of Castro
and Mao, a man who had visited Red China in the early 1960s at the depths of
the “Great Leap Forward” famine, and returned gushing with
admiration. Ron Gostcik published his findings and, assisted with the list of
Liberal convention delegates supplied by the disgruntled Paul Martin
Sr’s campaign, he began to circulate his warnings.
Hundreds of thousands of the relevant pamphlets
were distributed. In Toronto,
Tory Senator Wallace McCutcheon funded the reprinting of perhaps 60,000
leaflets derived from Mr. Gostick’s work by the fledgling Edmund Burke
Society of which I was a member. I had first met Mr. Gostick the year before at
a lecture at a downtown hotel. I was immediately impressed by his knowledge and
methodology: quoting important sources and offering an illuminating commentary.
Mr. Gostick’s warning about Pierre Elliott
Trudeau’s affection for communism, his totalitarian streak and his
eagerness to change Canadian society brought him a torrent of abuse. He was denounced
as a “hatemonger.” As has happened in so many instances since, his
opponents didn’t say he was wrong, didn’t argue with his facts.
They simply hollered “hate” and said he shouldn’t have said
Within a few years, it became obvious that Ron
Gostick’s warnings were more than valid. Not until the early ‘70s
did a few right of centre journalists like Lubor Zink and Peter Worthington
dare to say what Ron Gostick had said in 1968.
In the early 1980s, Ron warned of the dangers of
the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Far from granting us rights, it, in fact,
restricts them. Under British Common Law, one had the right to do whatever one
wanted, except what was expressly forbidden by law. Under the Charter the State
grants citizens a seemingly impressive list of rights. Yet, this list can be
and often is severely restricted by the courts – see, the many and
growing limitations on freedom of speech. Other essentials, such as the
ownerhip of property, aren’t even listed as rights at all.
More recently, Ron formed the Third Option for
National Unity Committee. He worried both about Quebec separatism and Western alienation.
There was a third option, he argued, to the extremes of separation of
totalitarian, interfering rule from Ottawa.
That option was to return to the letter of the BNA Act which granted direct
taxation, education, health and many other functions to the provincial
governments. Federal usurpation of these powers was at the heart of the
legitimate grievances of the Quebec
nationalists and the Western separatists.
Ron Gostick was a gentle modest man. He spoke to
admiring audiences in Southern Africa, Australia,
the U.S. and for decades
from coast to coast across Canada.
His approach was one of quiet persuasion.
Teacher, thinking, leader, mentor, Ron Gostick,
you will be sorely missed. – Paul Fromm
[Copies of Canada: Its
Glorious Potential by Ron Gostick are available for $12.
postpaid from C-FAR, Box 332,
M9W 5L3, Canada.