Why I Hate Stephen Harper: Agent Orange in Canada
On January 11 2006 in Woodstock NB, Stephen Harper said: "A Conservative government will stand up for full and fair compensation to persons exposed to defoliant spraying during the period from 1956 to 1984."
"We will disclose all information concerning the spraying to veterans and civilians, and will provide medical testing to any person who may have been exposed."
He was speaking about the spraying of chemical weapons like Agent Orange in Canadian Forces Base Gagetown New Brunswick and these election promises were complete lies. Although my family had lived in CFB Gagetown since my first birthday in 1958 until 1964, I didn't learn about the spraying until December of 2005. It was Ottawa's best-kept secret. I'm now in my fifth year of researching what happened. Here are some of my findings:
- Chemical weapon testing began in CFB Gagetown in 1956 as part of a tripartite (U.S., UK & Canada) effort to win a future war against the USSR. New Brunswick has a similar climate to Eastern Europe and Russia, and crop destruction was seen as an effective munition. 15,584 acres of the base were sprayed with 26,565 pounds of Agent Orange and Agent Purple 1956-1958. Agent Purple debuted in Vietnam in 1961.
- By 1960, U.S. interests had turned to Southeast Asia. That year, the NBCW area of CFB Gagetown was sprayed with straight 2,4,5-T (the recipe for Agent Orange is 50% 2,4-D & 50% 2,4,5-T). I think that whatever is sprayed on a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare area earns the right to be called a Chemical Warfare weapon. This weapon, now called Agent Green, debuted in Vietnam in 1961.
- Between 1959 and 1964 a further 33,078 acres of the base were sprayed with 171,875 U.S. gallons of Agent Orange. Agent Orange debuts in Vietnam in 1965.
- In 1961 Robert McNamara called for the creation of a book on defoliation. Information Manual for Vegetation Control in Southeast Asia was the result and chemical agent testing in New Brunswick is mentioned on page 42. This manual also reveals that the first airplane to spray Vietnam was specially ordered from de Havilland Canada. It's sitting in a place of honour in Fort Rucker Alabama right now.
- In May 1963 a Colonel in the U.S. Chemical Corps was coordinating crop destruction missions in Vietnam. In December of that year, now promoted to head of Fort Detrick's chemical warfare division, he was in CFB Gagetown coordinating the 1964 spray program. 1964 saw perhaps the world's largest "spray application accident" where farms and market gardens over 20 km away from CFB Gagetown were wiped out. The Crown pays $250,000 in damages. The formulation used was Agent Orange.
- In June and July of 1965 CFB Gagetown began spraying Tordon 101 which, when the U.S. started spraying it the following year in Vietnam, was called Agent White. In every single case the chemical weapons sprayed on Vietnam were first sprayed on CFB Gagetown. We were the guinea pigs in the largest chemical warfare experiment in history.
- Agent Orange contained the most toxic substance known to man, the dioxin known as TCDD. Agent White contained the substance hexachlorobenzene (HCB). Both of these substances are on the list called the Dirty Dozen slated for worldwide elimination.
- An Access to Information Act request turned up a document showing that Ottawa had allowed hundreds of thousands of gallons and millions of pounds of Agents to be sprayed on CFB Gagetown. Comparisons show that CFB Gagetown was hosed with at least three times as much chemical weapons as Vietnam per acre. Estimates of the number of people on the ground under this assault approach 1,000,000.
As soon as Stephen Harper became Prime Minister an intergovernmental panel was convened to deal with the Agent Orange issue. This outfit hired a company that had pronounced the Sydney Tar Ponds safe (many other examples) to produce a mountain of "science" showing that Agent Orange just goes poof after being sprayed and nobody suffered any negative health effects. A spokeswoman of this panel declared that dioxin disappears when subjected to sunlight. Experts say it persists in soil for over 100 years. Ottawa zeroed in on two years; 1966 and 1967. These were the two years that Canada couldn't deny it had invited the USA to spray Agent Orange on the base. The 26 other years of spraying were ignored. Interestingly, in 1966, while the USA was spraying their couple of barrels of Agents, Ottawa had allowed the routine spraying of 8,437 acres of the base with 101,240 U.S. gallons of Agent White. In 1967 10,444 acres were sprayed with 125,309 U.S gallons of Agent White. But this inundation was all okay because Canada did it, the carcinogenic materials had been properly registered and were applied by licensed operators, Ottawa said.
In 1967 all of Canada's 2,4,5-T was expropriated by order of President Johnson for Vietnam under the Defense Production Act. Estimates show that about one sixth of the Agent Orange sprayed on Vietnam that year originated in Canada. It's clear that Canada and the USA have some startling treaties when it comes to war. I think Stephen Harper has covered up the largest poisoning of Canadians in history in order to protect the USA. That makes his actions treason, in my opinion.
When we launched a class action in 2005 about our contamination in CFB Gagetown, Ottawa's reaction was to make Dow and Monsanto (now calling itself Pharmacia) its co-defendants. We've been fighting this combined army of lawyers ever since. Canada's Statement of Defence in this court case denies all wrongdoing or that a cover-up has taken place. We Canadians are in the same position with Ottawa as the Vietnamese are in with the U.S. government.
Late last year the Liberal Party tabled a private member's bill calling for an inquiry into the CFB Gagetown/Agent Orange issue. Then Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament.
February 2, 2010
Kelly Porter Franklin