Canada’s use of gas weapons

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

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

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