CBC Digital Archives

Supplying the war machine

Vietnam may have been America's war but Canada was heavily involved — for and against. Canada harboured American draft dodgers and helped supervise ceasefires. But at the same time, about 30,000 Canadians volunteered to fight in southeast Asia. And there was Canada's involvement in secret missions, weapons testing and arms production. CBC Archives looks at Canada's role in the Vietnam War.

Canada's official position is that it's not in the business of sending arms to dangerous areas. But the truth is, Canadian manufacturers and the Canadian government are involved in filling American defence contracts for shipment to Vietnam. Sam Noumoff of Project Antiwar says that Canadian manufacturers often play dumb about the final destination of certain materials, but in many cases they are well aware of where products are being sent. The CBC's As It Happens talks to Mr. Noumoff about the situation. 
• Some of the many Canadian-manufactured products destined for Vietnam included: ammunition, aircraft engines, gun sights, grenades, boots, green berets, napalm, TNT, rye whiskey, Agent Orange, generators and passenger vehicles, to name just a few.
• While the sale of these items is by no means illegal, many believed it was morally wrong to profit from sales of war materials. NDP leader Tommy Douglas called it "blood money."

• In 1958 Canada and the United States signed a Defence Production Sharing Agreement. Between 1965 and 1973, industry in Canada supplied $2.47 billion worth of war material to the United States.
• The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) that is mentioned in this clip is a crown corporation that acts as an intermediary for Canadian businesses trying to secure contracts with the U.S. Department of Defence. In an agreement with the U.S. military, all export sales over $100,000 US from Canadian companies are contracted exclusively through CCC.
Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Jan. 27, 1975
Guest(s): Sam Noumoff
Host: Barbara Frum, Alan Maitland
Duration: 9:30

Last updated: June 7, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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