Ruling on sale of Radarsat-2, Canadarm to U.S. arms maker delayed
There’s a history behind this deal; one that was made very evident on yesterday’s edition of Politics on CBC Newsworld. In the 1960s Canada, under then Prime Minister Diefenbaker, opted to scrap its cutting-edge jet fighter technology – the Avro Arrow – in favour of adopting a battery or two of Bowmarc missiles. The argument the Americans made was that the Avro was too expensive and the defense of the north (i.e. from the Soviets) would be better served with the missiles instead of the Canadian aircraft. Diefenbaker, leader of the Conservative party, behaved very typically for Conservative party leaders: he deferred to the Americans’ demands, mouthing platitudes of Canada-US alliance and friendship. It would eventually turn out that the Americans were really more interested in sabotaging Canada’s fighter jet programme so that American companies would be facing less competition for their F-series aircraft. And Diefenbaker, after a string of incompetent decisions, would eventually leave politics one of the most hated politicians in Canadian history – albeit not for his questionable leadership skills so much as his fundamental betrayal of his nation’s interests and future. But before leaving, he made certain that all blueprints, plans and technical data concerning the construction of the aircraft were destroyed; a pathetic attempt to erase his mistake from history. All it did was exacerbate the damage to Canada’s fledgling military industrial complex and destroy any hope Canada would ever again compete with their friends to the south in the area of avionics technology.
Now, half a century later, Canada again faces an American company offering assurances that Canada doesn’t need to worry; that we’re better off adopting an American alternative to keeping a uniquely Canadian technology in Canada. Again we’re seeing a Conservative government, led by a man known for his intolerance of dissent, considering deferring to his American friends on their amicable and sincere suggestions about what’s best for Canada’s unique technology.
And I for one worry that history is about to repeat itself.