Military historian John Clearwater, a former editor-in-chief of the Arms Control Reporter, has examined the extent to which Canada has consistently failed-ever since cruise missile testing was introduced to the high Arctic in 1978-to fully disclose details of military operations within Canadian territory by United States personnel in Just Dummies: Cruise Missile Testing in Canada (University of Calgary Press $34.95).

Using recently de-classified documents, Clearwater recalls 1970s' testing of the U.S. artillery shell that was designed to carry the neutron bomb, as well as military exercises involving the B-2 stealth bomber. Of particular interest to British Columbians, he examines the kowtowing of federal Liberals to American interests in the wake of B.C. Premier Glen Clark's efforts to prevent U.S. nuclear submarines from using the waters of Nanoose Bay, north of Nanaimo.

Premier Clark's principled stance was partially in response to the Americans' refusal to negotiate salmon fishing quotas at the time. The stakes were high. If Clark succeeded in cancelling the U.S. Navy's Nanoose Bay lease, the Chretien government feared the White House would enact penalties on Canada similar to those that crippled New Zealand's economy after New Zealand's decision to prevent U.S. nuclear vessels from having access to its harbours in the 1980s.

Clearwater recalls how and why the Defence and Foreign Affairs Departments of Canada convinced Chretien to expropriate the Nanoose Bay waters for federal jurisdiction. In response, Clark made international headlines by describing the actions of the federal government as treasonous.

Having dared to confront the military might of the world's most powerful country, B.C.'s daredevil leader was-in retrospect, not surprisingly-submarined by a smear campaign that began with a BCTV camera crew accompanying an RCMP raid on his home. His political career was scuttled by allegations that he had favoured a gambling casino bid in exchange for a beneficial construction rate for his back porch.

"We never say No to any testing,"; Clearwater has concluded, "Sometimes we try to hold it off for as long as we can. I think the trend here is, no matter what the U.S. asks for, eventually we say Yes.";

John Clearwater lives in Ottawa. He earned his Ph.D from Kings College, University of London, and has been a guest lecturer in the Security Studies Department at MIT in Boston.


Just Dummies: Cruise Missile Testing in Canada (University of Calgary Press, 2006) $34.95 sc ISBN 1-55238-211-7; EAN 978-1-55238-211-0 270 pp.

[BCBW 2006] "Politics"