Vive Le Canada

Trudeau ‘risked sovereignty’
Date: Monday, February 05 2007

Trudeau ‘risked sovereignty’

Cruise missile testing showed how Canada kowtowed to U.S., Alberta author says

In August of 1982, U.S. military officials wanted to test conventionally armed cruise missiles — launched from U.S. naval vessels off the coast of New Brunswick — by bombarding CFB Gagetown’s artillery range. Years later, the Canadian government would actually approve the use of sea-launched cruise missile tests by the U.S. navy in Saint John’s harbour.

By the late 1980s, the U.S. was also planning to deploy 37 Mk-57 nuclear depth bombs on U.S. navy P-3 patrol aircraft to CFB Greenwood in times of heightened tensions.

Having said that, the reader gets a good sense of precisely where Just Dummies is coming from when John Clearwater — author, editor and military consultant — categorizes cruise missile testing in Canada as a textbook case of "how the Canadian government makes unpopular decisions, hides them from the public, makes justifications when secrets leak, and in the end does what needs to be done to keep the United States happy."

As one carefully goes through Just Dummies (a reference to the fact that the missiles would not be carrying actual nuclear warheads), it is striking just how much time and energy — at both the political and bureaucratic levels in Canada — was consumed by the sensitive issue of cruise missile testing. The sheer volume of meetings, memoranda, and diplomatic cables, which Clearwater deftly sprinkles throughout the text, is enough to make this reader wonder how our defence and foreign policy ministries had time for anything else.

Interestingly, the Liberal government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau — he of the late 1970s "suffocation" strategy for nuclear weapons — made sure that the words cruise missile did not appear in any official document. Indeed, the Trudeau Liberals had no intention of telling the Canadian public about the cruise missile testing agreement, dubbed the Canada-U.S. Test and Evaluation Program.

After it was inadvertently leaked by official U.S. sources, the Trudeau government found itself with a full-blown public relations crisis on its hands. Prior to the first test taking place in March of 1984 (and ending in 1994), tens of thousands of Canadians took to the streets, Parliament Hill, and in front of government buildings to call for Ottawa to "Refuse the Cruise." One public opinion poll after another clearly illustrated the unflinching opposition to the agreement — with support for cruise missile testing in Canada never getting above 35 per cent.


This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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