Too much fresh air at Whelan's
Farm by Stan Brin, Eric Oppen &
says: what if the "walk that changed the world" had been bugged by the
KGB? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily
reflect the views of the author(s).
May 19th 1983, an expression
of deviationalist thought ruined the political career of Mikhail Gorbachev
after he unwisely conducted an impromptu one-to-one meeting on this day with
a radical free thinker, the so-called "godfather of glasnost" Alexander
"And so the rising star of the Politburo and the
Soviet ambassador to Ottawa, both in three-piece suits and fedoras, kicked
through fresh-cut grass, walked among saplings and then past fields of
corn, soy and wheat. As they strolled, they talked - of the perils facing
their Soviet motherland".
Gorbachev had flown to Ottawa ostensibly
in his role as the Minister of Agriculture for bilateral discussions with
his Canadian counterpart Eugene Whelan. But as a rising star in the
politburo, Gorbachev had conducted a rather more high profile meeting with
the Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Also present was Yakolev; formerly the
Soviet Propaganda Minister he had been sidelined into his current role as
the Ambassador to Ottawa.
"Yakovlev accompanied Gorbachev across Canada
but it wasn't until the walk through Whelan's fields that the two men
found themselves free to discuss politics away from spying eyes on both
sides of the Cold War. Or so they thought..". Matters of protocol
became somewhat confused after an invitation to Whelan's family farm
overlooking the Detroit River in Amherstburg, Southern Ontario. Whelan was
running very late, leaving the Soviet delegation alone with his wife
To the great displeasure of both the KGB and RCMP, Gorbachev and Yakolev
chose to go for a three hour walk. The fresh air encouraged them to
conduct a brutally frank discussion about the parlous state of the Soviet
Union. They also reached some rather startling conclusions on the main
points of a plan to change the face of Euope.
But due to KGB eavesdropping, those plans came to nought. And on his
return to Moscow, Gorbachev would be discretly advised that he had
received a new appointment as the Soviet Ambassador to Finland. His seat
in the politburo would be occupied by another rising star in the Communist
Party known as Boris Yeltsin.
says the source article "Tipping Points, How Glasnost grew in Ontario"
by Brett Popplewell was published in the
Toronto Star, March 28th 2010
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Stan Brin, Eric Oppen and Steve Payne
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