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Canada’s dangerous foray into nuclear weapons in the 1960s

SMOL: Remembering Canada’s dangerous foray into nuclear weapons BY ROBERT SMOL Toronto Sun, 13 Jan 19, During the 1960s and ’70s, the prosperous bedroom community north of Montreal where I lived a carefree childhood had a dirty little secret.

One that, thankfully, never came to haunt me.

Fifty-five years ago — on Dec. 31, 1963 — the Liberal government of Lester Pearson formally acquired American-controlled nuclear weapons for use by the Canadian military.

Among the RCAF Squadrons stood up specifically for this purpose was RCAF 447 Surface to Air (SAM) Squadron at LaMacaza near Mont Tremblant, a mere hour and change drive from my childhood home.

This and its sister squadron, 446 SAM at North Bay, Ont., combined housed 56 Canadian BOMARC missiles — each carrying a 10-kiloton nuclear warhead maintained, armed and jealously guarded by in-house American servicemen.

Their mission, in layman terms, was to get the BOMARC warhead to detonate in the air close enough to the incoming Soviet bombers so as to destroy, avert or at least delay their further progress on their targets.

But the Canadian and American officers and NCOs who guarded, serviced and stood by ready to launch these U.S manufactured and nuclear-tipped Canadian BOMARCS were by no means alone. RCAF and Army bases, across Canada and into Europe, served as multi-faceted purveyors of U.S nuclear weapons………..

Though actual delivery systems were to change and consolidate over time, the Canadian Armed Forces continued to use tactical nuclear weapons until 1984, which, ironically, happened to be the same year Pierre Trudeau finally, left office. To put it another way, only when Conservative Brian Mulroney took office did the Canadian Armed Forces officially become “nuke-free” again. ………

January 15, 2019 - Posted by | Canada, weapons and war

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