Just Above Sunset
August 21, 2005 - Angry Canadians

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It seems the Canadians are an ungrateful lot - they're ticked off about this, of all things - the US military sprayed Agent Orange over a manned Canadian military base in New Brunswick in the mid-60's - but did they expect we'd test this stuff south of the border?  Up there?  A bunch of Migmag, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), Acadian, Brayon - and Scottish, Irish and other Loyalist Tories.  And it was a long time ago.  And it helped us win in Vietnam.

As noted in Harry Shearer's "Eat the Press" column there is this from Wednesday, August 17, 2005 - Page A6 of the Globe and Mail up there in Canada –


FREDERICTON - Federal officials say they're launching a fact-finding mission to uncover the truth about the use of toxic defoliants at a New Brunswick military base in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Fredericton MP Andy Scott, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, announced a process yesterday to gather as much scientific and anecdotal evidence as possible concerning the spraying of such herbicides as Agent Orange and Agent Purple at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in southern New Brunswick.

"I hope that people find the truth, whatever it is, and that the government, faced with that truth, will do the right thing, whatever it is," Mr. Scott told a news conference in Fredericton. …


This has been percolating for a few months.

Canada reviews Agent Orange cases
Lee Carter - BBC News, Toronto - Published: 2005/06/24 03:49:29 GMT

In short, the Canadian government says the testing was on a small scale and unlikely to harm local civilians - but they will start the processing compensation claims.  They now admit US military sprayed Agent Orange - in 1966 and 1967 - over a Canadian forces base in New Brunswick.  This BBC item covers the public meeting with the angry folks there.


One man at the meeting said that people who were in the area at the time changed colour because of the spraying.

"We didn't know what it was, we weren't told what it was, it won't hurt you," he said.

"Now we find out this stuff here is killing us. No wonder all my buddies are all dead."

Speaker after speaker berated the officials with their stories about health problems they associate with the dioxin and the defoliants including cancer, premature death, ulcers and lung disease.


Yes, up there they change colour, while down here we change color.

Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, born in Canada, who holds his weekly Café Metropole Club meeting each Thursday on the Right Bank:


I'm sending this post to a club member living in this Fredericton. If he's still alive.

Serves us right. There we were, smug and warm in a Safeway bakery on the midnight shirt, tossing cotton bread from the oven to a conveyor belt. And there was this guy, picking up a bit of easy bread, between being in the Canadian army stationed with an UN peacekeeping unit on the DMZ in Vietnam and going to Hollywood, to get in the movies.

He said, "The army wouldn't let me stay on the DMZ. Two tours and I gotta rotate, but there's no other wars, so I quit. Was in 20 years anyway, get my pension; maybe get a job as a tech advisor for war movies." He didn't want to even stay around for the free bread. It was winter and as usual, it was horrible, raining all the time.

You know, a guy who was in Vietnam as a volunteer. Watching the B-52s flying north, powerless to prevent them breaking the peace, bombing Uncle Ho. So maybe he was volunteering to be sprayed with Agent Orange too, not like those hapless jerks sitting around in New Brunswick, about as far as it's possible to get from Indochina.

Let you know if my guy in Fredericton says anything.


And here's the inside story.

Exclusive report via email to Just Above Sunset from Dr. B. Poole, Canadian medical expert and Café Metropole Club member since June, 2004:


FREDRICTON, Saturday, August 20: - This Agent Orange isuue in New Brunswick has flared up from time to time for over 20 years. The military chemical testing went on back in the Vietnam war era. Obviously precautions were a lot more lax with chemical exposure back then and I have little doubt there was inappropriate exposure.

On the other hand, any number of health complaints in the exposed individuals is being blamed on the chemicals. Remember those exposed are now 35-40 years older and susceptible to other health problems just like the aging population at large. Also many of the complaints are quite vague in nature - headaches, poor concentration, memory loss, anxiety as well as cancers, respiratory/cardiovascular disorders etc. - in a group that were usually heavy smokers.

In short it is difficult to sort out illness due to other causes versus chemical exposure. Of course those who feel they have been wronged are looking for financial compensation. This often confounds the objective evaluation of the situation. Also, detailed records of spraying activities and old health records are often lacking or poorly detailed.

I'm not intimately involved in evaluating these patients but was asked to do neurological testing on a study of these individuals 15-20 years ago - but I don't think the study ever got off the ground.

I don't know how accurate this analysis is but that's the way I see it.


Exclusive comment via email to Just Above Sunset from Radio Ric, inexpert Canadian and Café Metropole Club secretary since October, 1999:


PARIS, Saturday, August 20, 2005 - This does not answer the essential question of why the Canadian government permitted this spraying, when its only involvement in the Vietnam conflict was as a member nation on the UN's peacekeeping mission. Did the government have a dirty secret agenda?

Was the Canadian government secretly plotting with the US Selective Service, to spray American draft dodgers, deserters and defectors, hiding out north of the border in the dense Canadian forests? New Brunswick seems to be an ideal hideout area; its main attraction is its location not near anywhere. Both governments probably thought they were only spraying bears, perhaps ones that had drifted north from Maine.


Ah, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

This may be (relatively) ancient history.  But it doesn't help matters with our neighbors to the north.  There was that business with Maher Arar.  And, as you might recall, in an April 27th 2004 radio debate with a Canadian journalist, Bill O'Reilly threatened to lead a boycott of Canadian goods if Canada didn't deport two American military deserters in the current war, saying that his previous boycott of French goods - the one he thought-up and championed - cost France billions of dollars in lost export business.  (See this - it didn't.)  And although they sent troops to fight beside us in Afghanistan, Canada took a pass on Iraq.  Seems they weren't impressed with the WMD argument, or felt the pressing need for an immediate war.  And those Canadian folks have approved gay marriage and made it all legal.  And now, echoes of Vietnam weapons…

What next?




Late notes from Ric Erickson in Paris:


Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide?  Not true. This inexpert Canadian is hiding in Paris, not New Brunswick.


Regarding that Canadian guy, Maher Arar (above):


That Arar guy knows hiding in Syria is no fun I bet.  Silly jerk thinking he could change planes at JFK, letting himself get kidnapped by the FBI like that.


Is there, are there, any cases of US citizens going about their business and getting kidnapped by foreign government agencies, tortured in foul dungeons and starved, had their toenails torn out?  I mean, what would Uncle Sam say about that?


For example, did you see that story about Uncle cutting off aid to South American countries that are thinking of signing a UN convention, International Court thing, about war crimes?  That's pretty sleazy.  Odd way to promote democracy worldwide.  [Editor's Note: See this law site for a discussion of that matter.]


Is the United States maybe morally inept?  Clueless?  Just a little?


As for Bill O'Reilly threatening to lead a boycott of Canadian goods -


Let the sucker do it.  Boycott Canadian goods!  No more beaver pelts for Park Avenue hussies.  No more fresh fish for Fridays.  No more wood to build your bungalows.  No more wheat for your Wonder Bread.  No more Fords for your cops.  [Editor's Note: See this - every Ford Crown Victoria - the US police car - is produced down in Saint Thomas, just south of London, Ontario.] 


Come on, O'Reilly - boycott Canada!  No more CC or VO!  Send Neil Diamond back!  If Canadians boycotted American stuff, the Mexicans could go home.  Yanks would have to cut their own grass, haul their own garbage, eat BLTs instead of tacos.


Then, while Americans huddle around campfires - made of little sticks from Alabama - drinking light yellow beer, watching the cops driving Chinese Fords, the French could just decide to withhold the good stuff from here.  No more good stuff!  Make do with what you've got.  Empty malls is what it would be.  Where would people go, what would people do?


Regarding Canada sending troops to fight beside the United States in Afghanistan but taking a pass on the Iraq war -


Odd that, but I seem to remember the French went in on the Afghan deal too.  Arte-TV showed some of them helping peasants grow something besides poppies, possibly bananas.  Regular TV-news has forgotten they're there.  The world is a troubled place.


Indeed it is.


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