Canada’s use of gas weapons
The Editor, At last a second person in Glengarry finds nuclear disarmament important enough to write a letter to the editor of The Glengarry News. Thank you, Marie Langevin for your letter of July 26. (‘The frightening disarmament scenario.’)
You say that our PM Justin Trudeau considered the UN “as God himself.” We’ll see then if the PM will attend the 2018 UN High Level Conference as the Abolition 2000 Working Group is urging the leaders of all governments to do. Our PM didn’t send anyone to the UN conference March 27-31 and June 15 to July 7 which ended with 63 per cent of the member nations of the UN, 122 of the, voting for the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. Only The Netherlands voted against because of NATO.
Canada once tried to get NATO to change its nuclear weapons policies.
You also, Marie Langevin, list together countries that already have nuclear weapons, China, Russia, Pakistan and North Korea (and five others you did not list) with Iran and Saudi Arabia.
You says these nations “do as
they please.” But so did Canada, in the first significant use of weapons of mass destruction, gas weapons. Doug Saunders, in the Focus section of The Globe and Mail on July 22, gives us the following details.
The Hague Convention of 1899 and 1907 outlawed gas warfare. But in 1917 at Vimy Ridge, Canada made heavy use of gas, weeks after it has killed or badly injured 700 people, mostly Canadian soldiers, with chlorine and Phosgene gas in a botched attack. Canada enthusiastically embraced those weapons in the years before and during the Second World War and turned itself into a nexus for the production and testing of mustard gas, says University of Alberta historian Susan Smith in her new book “Toxic Exposures.” Experiments in Alberta exposed 2,500 Canadians to the ghastly chemicals.
Military historian Tim Cook writes that after Germans unleashed chlorine in April, 1915 “soldiers (in the Canadian corps) from the lowest private to the highest field marshall were vehemently opposed to the use of chemicals to suffocate men who had no chance of defending themselves.”
The 1917 decision to turn Canada into a gas warfare country was opposed by many officers, Dr. Cook says.
Canada manufactured largescale, gas warfare agents during the Second World War and conducted a series of experiments in the 1940s with the United States exploding more than 30,000 gas shells on the Panamanian Island of San José. 3,000 unexploded Canadian- made mustard gas shells still litter the island, occasionally causing burns to workers who dislodge them.
The week of July 16-22 the USA announced it would clean up the shells on San José.
The Ottawa Citizen writer David Pugliese, using Access to Information, found out that in 2001, the Canadian government has refused Panama’s request to clean up its mustard gas sites. “At present we see considerable risk of a public affairs failure if we proceed,” one diplomat wrote.
Imagine how much litter there will be left to clean up after a war today. Gwynne Dyre, who published in 45 countries, wrote in the Aug. 1 Cornwall Standard Freeholder that with Trump’s administration falling apart, he could face impeachment. To fight back, Trump could try the diversion of a war with North Korea.
In the USA House of Representatives, 64 members of Congress in late May reminded Trump that military strikes without Congressional approval would violate the Constitution. They urged him to follow a diplomatic approach, reports the Parliamentarians For Nuclear Non- Proliferation and Disarmament.
Each of us can sign an online petition calling for a nuclear-free world, the ATOM project, led by victims of nuclear testing. Three hundred thousand people have signed on so far.
Gerard Daechsel, Alexandria