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Ottawa's Complicity in Vietnam (1967)

This pamphlet was published in 1967 by the Student Association to End the War in Vietnam (SAEWV — usually pronounced "Save"), an organization that brought together a students from a wide range of political backgrounds who shared the view that the antiwar movement should call for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, and for an end to Canada's complicity in the war. Members of the Young Socialists/Ligue des Jeunes Socialistes played key roles in organizing and building SAEWV.

The pamphlet was written to educate Canadians about the war and the role of the Canadian government. It was also, implicitly, a polemic against those in the antiwar movement who wanted to call for negotiations, and who opposed raising criticisms of the Canadian government.

In the interests of readability, we have divided some very long paragraphs, and indented long quotations.

See also U.S. Aggression & Canada's Complicity, published in 1969 by the Canada Vietnam Newsletter.

a SAEWV pamphlet


SAEWV was founded on March 12, 1967 at a conference attended by representatives of 15 student Committees to End the War in Vietnam from Vancouver to Montreal, with a total membership of over 1,000.

SAEWV is an association of committees opposed to the war in Vietnam. SAEWV welcomes all student organizations opposed to the war to affiliate with it.

SAEWV was founded on the belief that through meetings, speak-outs, distributions and demonstrations, the majority of the Canadian people can be mobilized to end Canadian Complicity.

SAEWV is part of an international movement against the war in Vietnam, which has the support of a majority of the people of the world. We see our activities as part of a far broader protest, especially in the United States, which CAN END THE WAR.

SAEWV holds annual conferences where the leadership is elected and policy is decided upon. Each committee has delegated representatives to each conference. Between conferences, the working committee based in Toronto carries out SAEWV decisions.

SAEWV calls for an end to Canadian complicity and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Support the Student Association to End The War in Vietnam:
Student Association to End the War in Vietnam
758 Yonge Street, Room 6, Toronto 5

...and the latest word

Complicity was compounded by duplicity when External Affairs Minister Paul Martin recently called for a halt to U.S. bombing of north Vietnam. Notwithstanding the lavish plaudits from some opponents of the war (grown weary of waiting for even the least indication of Canadian government disapproval of U.S. policy) Martin’s proposed halt was neither “unconditional” nor “permanent.” Martin insists his demand is limited “to the present time.” And as he told Parliament October 31 (Toronto Star), the main purpose of a bombing halt at this time would be to create “a new situation,” in which “new pressures could be brought upon north Vietnam”—to negotiate.

But what is north Vietnam to “negotiate”? Its territorial sovereignty? Its terms of surrender to the U.S. bombing terror tactics? The position of the NLF of south Vietnam? For that matter, what right has the U.S.A. to negotiate anything in Vietnam?

Martin has not criticized American intervention. He has not suggested the Americans should prepare to pull out of the main arena of the war, in south Vietnam. Instead, he has re-affirmed the Pearson government’s sympathy for U.S. objectives, and even now is renegotiating the renewal of Canada’s NORAD and NATO nuclear alliance treaties with the U.S. State Department.

The aim of the bombing pause tacticians, as described by Life magazine, which also shares Martin’s position, is to exploit Hanoi’s probable and justifiable refusal to “negotiate” by providing a cover for renewed escalation of the war in both north and south, up to and quite possibly including a direct military confrontation with China, with all that is entailed.

The real opponents of the war against Vietnam are not concerned with providing Johnson with yet another rationale for continuing the war. They know there is only one just and enduring solution—withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Vietnam.

Ottawa's Complicity in the Vietnam War

In a famous speech at Philadelphia over two years ago, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson outlined the Canadian government’s attitude toward the Vietnam war:

“In this tragic conflict the United States intervened to help South Vietnam defend itself against aggression and at the request of the Government of that country that was under attack. Its motives were honorable; neither mean nor imperialistic.”

This explanation of the war has served as the point of departure for the entire policy of the Pearson government with respect to Vietnam. How does it correspond to the facts?

The United States has been involved in Vietnam much longer than is commonly known in North America. The history of its intervention goes back to the early 1950’s, when the Vietnamese were entering the closing stages of their struggle to end French colonial domination of their country. The struggle of the Viet Minh, the mass peasant army, went on for eight years and involved over four hundred thousand French soldiers before it finally ended in the victory of the forces led by Ho Chi Minh. By the time the Viet Minh crushed the French army at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. the Americans were footing no less than 80% of the French military bill! While the French wanted to negotiate, in order to salvage what they could, the Americans wanted to extend the war even then.

As C. I. Sulzberger, New York Times’ diplomatic correspondent, pointed out September 10 of this year, the Pentagon brass were eager to open their nuclear arsenal early in 1954. They not only sought to limit the victory of the Vietnamese but to wage preventive war against the entire Communist bloc. Sulzberger writes:

“Admiral Radford, Eisenhower’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and profoundly influential on Secretary of State Dulles, wanted to intervene with tactical atomic bombs to help France at Dien Bien Phu. But according to men then prominent in American officialdom, his real hope was to get the United States engaged first in Indochina then in China in order to provoke a preventive war against the latter before it became a great power.”

Nor did the United States leave its intentions on the drawing boards. As Pierre Mendès France. leader of the opposition in the French National Assembly, revealed in a public speech on June 10, 1954,

“The United States intervention was to have taken place on the request of France, April 28. The warships carrying atomic aviation material were loaded and en route. President Eisenhower was to have asked Congress April 26 for authorization.”

However, confronted by widespread domestic opposition to intervention in the war, and unable to count on the support of its French and British allies, the United States shelved its plans and attended the 18 power Geneva Conference.

Although, at the time of the Geneva Conference, the Viet Minh controlled virtually the whole of what is today North and South Vietnam, the Geneva Accords, as adopted by the world’s major powers, and supported by the United States government, arbitrarily divided Vietnam at the seventeenth parallel into two sectors, northern and southern. The northern sector was to be governed by the Viet Minh; and the southern sector by the French puppet regime led by the former Japanese appointed emperor, Bao Dai. A referendum on unification was scheduled for 1956.

The agreement also stated that there would be no foreign military bases in Vietnam and no military alliances, explicit or implicit permitted in Vietnam. Also, the Viet Minh were required by the Geneva Accords to withdraw their military units from the south, which they accordingly did, turning the area over to Bao Dai.

The Canadian government pretends to base its policy on observance of these Geneva Accords. But the subsequent history of Vietnam is one of violation of those Accords, article by article, letter by letter.

Even while the world’s statesmen were carving up Vietnam at Geneva, the United States Central Intelligence Agency was maneuvering to replace Bao Dai, the French puppet, with the American puppet Ngo Dinh Diem. (New York Times, August 22, 1963) No sooner had fraudulent elections firmly established Diem as President in 1955, than he “granted” the U.S. the “right” to build military bases and naval stations, in complete violation of the Accords of 1954. (More than 115 of such bases now exist in Vietnam.) Needless to add, the promised elections on reunification never took place.

Moreover, a counter revolution took place on the land, under the aegis and protection of the U.S.-backed regime. Bernard Fall pointed out in U.S. News and World Report (September 28, 1964),

“After the war against the French was over in 1954, the big Vietnamese landlords came out of 'retirement' on the French Riviera or in Paris or in Saigon, and with the help of U.S.-trained and U.S.-equipped soldiers, went back into the countryside and said to the peasants: ‘All right, let’s have our land back, plus eight years of back rent—1946-1954.’”

At the same time, thousands of peasants who had supported the Viet Minh, or were suspected of pro-Communist sympathies, were rounded up and imprisoned without trial.

In the face of these attacks, the peasants resumed the guerilla warfare which the Geneva “settlement” had interrupted. The Vietnam civil war, which had started in the early 1940’s in the struggle against the Japanese occupation regime, resumed. And it began again not because of any “invasion” by north Vietnamese communists, but as an indigenous peasant reaction against the repressive tyranny of the landlord and the U.S. backed landlords’ regime. In 1960, various opposition parties and guerilla groups came together to form the National Liberation Front (NLF), the “viet cong” of American propaganda.

As for “infiltration” by north Vietnamese following the buildup of American forces in the south—a buildup which had stationed over 25 000 “advisors” in that country by 1964—the U.S. State Department’s White Paper of February 27, 1965 reported most of the “infiltrators” were actually southerners who fled north in 1954 to escape the terror in the south and were now returning to aid the struggle in their homeland. It is worth noting that the most prominent northern Vietnamese in south Vietnam is Marshall Cao Ky. In fact, most of the million Catholics who live in predominantly Buddhist south Vietnam including Marshall Ky, are refugees from north Vietnam. The rapacious anti-Buddhist discrimination of the Catholic cliques that rule south Vietnam have provoked massive Buddhist demonstrations in the cities in recent years.

As a matter of fact both the American and Canadian governments are well aware of these facts. Former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower candidly explained why the United States, through dictator Diem, did not allow the referendum on reunification or the elections provided for by the Geneva Accords to take place. “If such elections had been held," Eisenhower admitted in his memoirs, Mandate For Change, “our Intelligence reports indicated that over 80 per cent of the Vietnamese would have voted for the Viet Minh.”

Canadian External Affairs Minister Paul Martin, has admitted the artificial character of the south Vietnam state. In a lecture on foreign policy delivered at Columbia University, New York, April 27, 1967, Martin stated: “North and South Vietnam must be united ultimately because they are one people.” (Globe and Mail, Apr. 28, 1967)

How dishonest, then, to continue to speak of the “infiltration" of “north” Vietnamese into “south” Vietnam, particularly when such “aggression” is claimed to be the cause of the civil war in the south. Until the United States began its military intervention in south Vietnam, there were virtually no north Vietnamese troops in that region, by the very admission of the U.S. State Department. Yet at the same time, the National Liberation Front already controlled two thirds of south Vietnam’s territory, including most of the Mekong Delta south of Saigon)

In fact the Canadian government’s contention is too much even for one of its own members. Privy Council president Walter Gordon was only stating well known facts when he declared in Toronto in mid-May of this year that “the U.S., for its part, has become enmeshed in a bloody civil war in Vietnam which cannot be justified on either moral or strategic grounds.” Gordon continued, “in this war, the strongest nation in the world has taken sides in a savage civil struggle and is using its tremendous power to force the other side to quit.” (emphasis added)

In making these statements, Mr. Gordon was echoing the opinions of many of the world’s leading statesmen and diplomats. Even UN Secretary General U Thant has publicly rejected the view that the war in Vietnam is in fact one against communism.

National independence

In a recent speech at Greensboro, N.C., Thant declared:

“It is nationalism, and not communism, that animates the resistance movement in Vietnam against all foreigners, and now particularly against Americans. The Vietnamese who are fighting Americans are doing so to win their national independence, not to advance the cause of world communism.” (Globe and Mail, July 31, 1967)

For his part, the respected American Under Secretary of the United Nations and former U.S. diplomat, Ralph Bunche made his views clear when ad-dressing a youth rally at Expo 67 on Hiroshima Day, August 6:

“The Vietnam war is a war which threatens world peace at every moment. It is not a war of ideologies, but a war against a people who have been at war, despite themselves, for 25 years, and who are fed up with it.”

According to the report in Montreal’s La Presse (August 7 1967), Bunche was widely applauded when he declared, “imperialism is no longer simply the colonialism of previous days, but any interference of any kind whatsoever, in the internal affairs of another country.”

Liberation struggle

Clearly, the war in south Vietnam is a civil war, a war of national liberation, the latest stage in the long struggle of the Vietnamese people to throw off their colonial rulers—a struggle that has been going on since the French invasion of 1867. The major aim of the struggle of the National Liberation Front is that objective shared by all deep going popular movements for social change throughout the colonial and semi-colonial world—a radical agrarian reform, which will rid the Vietnamese countryside once and for all of the parasitic control of absentee landlords, and allow the peasant to participate in the economic and cultural life of the country to a fuller degree.

The complete inability of the south Vietnamese regime and its American allies to counter the NLF’s agrarian reform is starkly revealed by the flop of the much touted “pacification” program. Despite (or perhaps because of) the expenditure of $400 million by the United States and $135 million by the south Vietnam government in this year alone, reports R. W. Apple of the New York Times (Globe and Mail, August 7, 1967) , “A total of 1,944 hamlets out of 12,537 are controlled by the Government—less than one in six. The rest are contested or, to some degree, controlled by the Viet Cong.”

Apple revealed that,

“competent pacification workers are becoming harder to recruit; the goal of 41,000 by the end of 1967 will not be reached and those already at work are being killed at a rate of 15 a week. The 53 south Vietnamese army battalions supposedly protecting the workers are not doing so. Morale is so bad that 13 of every 100 workers are expected to desert during 1967.”

He continues:

“A senior U.S. official said recently, ‘There is at least a two-to-one chance that we will increase the momentum of pacification over the next 12 or 18 months’. Nothing better than this can be hoped for, in the opinion of many observers, without a thorough overhaul of south Vietnamese society—without a second revolution to counter the revolution, however bogus, that the Viet Cong have promised for more than ten years. The peasants by and large are apolitical. They stand by and watch as they are buffeted by the war. They want security more than anything else, but they can be rallied to an ideal, as the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong have sometimes shown. The ideal is nowhere to be found in Saigon ...

“The best talent in the current generation has long since been lost. Thousands of men who might be leading the south Vietnamese are in the National Liberation Front or in the Viet Cong, heirs to the country’s nationalist revolution against the French. Of all the Government officers serving as lieutenant colonel or higher, only two fought on the side of the Viet Minh in the war against the French. Some potential leaders are languishing in exile as a result of the purges of the past ten years. Countless others have been killed in battle.

“In their place stands a corps of young officers, often incompetent and more often corrupt... Saigon’s army hardly seems a likely force to lead a revolution, and whatever can be said of the army can be said of the Government as well. For the army is the government.”

This is the regime the United States is upholding in Vietnam. The Vietnam war now costs that country close to $30 billion dollars a year, more than a third the total “defense” budget. Over 450,000 troops are in Vietnam, more than the French had at the time of their defeat at Dien Bien Phu, and American deaths have soared to over 12,000. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and Americans have suffered casualties.

The opinion of the vast majority of the world’s people, including U Thant, the Pope, and a significant section of American congressmen, is that the U.S. is carrying on in the manner of a classic imperialist power, in blatant disregard of the Vietnamese people’s right of self determination.

But not so, in the opinion of Lester B. Pearson. In an interview with Alexander Ross in the July 1967 issue of Maclean’s, Pearson had this to say about the war:

“The North never did form a separate state by the will of its people. And it tried to prevent South Vietnam from working out its own arrangements. [!] I’m not arguing that American tactics and policies since that time have always been wise or right. [Pearson has yet to say wherein he disagrees with the Johnson administration’s "tactics.”] But the initial purposes of their intervention seemed to me to be justifiable and not imperialistic.. Indeed, I think that in many ways the Americans are the least imperialistic people in history... They don’t want to spread around the world as the British did, carrying the white man’s burdens and benefits. They want to stay home and drink Coca Cola and go to baseball games. I have never met an American abroad who didn’t want to come home.”

There is indeed ample testimony to suggest the vast majority of American servicemen, especially draftees, presently in Vietnam, would give their eye teeth to take the first boat out of there, if they were given the opportunity. But it is abject hypocrisy on Pearson’s part to equate the sentiments of the average American citizen with those of the Johnson government. The fact is—and recent public opinion polls bear this out—the majority of Americans are opposed to the war.

Faced with ever growing opposition to the war among wide sections of the Canadian public, however, the Canadian government has pretended to take an equivocal position; while supporting the basic premises behind the American presence in Vietnam, Pearson and Martin and other responsible spokesmen take refuge in a policy they term “quiet diplomacy.” What exactly is the meaning of this ambiguous phrase?

First, it means that Canada does not intend to speak out against any aspect of the American policy in Vietnam. The Globe and Mail reported Pearson’s defence of quiet diplomacy in the course of the Throne speech debate last May as follows:

“[Mr. Pearson] said to take sides publicly would serve no purpose and indicated that such a step might result in Washington not listening to the Canadian government’s private representations. It was preferable to work quietly in the international community as a ‘good friend and neighbour’ of the United States without giving up the option of speaking out if the obligation to do so became inescapable ... Mr. Pearson said that as a responsible government a wise course was neither to condemn publicly nor acclaim publicly either side but to work on the International Control Commission to bring about an end to hostilities.”

Does this mean then that Canada’s representatives are working quietly behind the scenes to induce the Americans to withdraw from Vietnam? Well, not exactly, it seems. Government spokesmen have in fact gone out of their way to defend American actions. Consider, for example, the following choice statement by Pearson in the Maclean’s interview. He had just been asked at what point “private consultations” with Washington would cease, and the government would be prepared to speak out against the bombing of north Vietnam. His reply:

“Well it hasn’t yet escalated to the point where they have destroyed North Vietnam. The Americans have been perhaps more careful than any great power in history to avoid the full use of power in the war against an enemy. They have bombed the North, but they have tried to bomb military targets. They have killed civilians in the process but that happens in any kind of bombing, however tragic it may be. Haiphong Harbour, for instance, could have been put out of action in the last year or two, but they haven’t done that. They haven’t dropped saturation bombs on Hanoi City. They haven’t destroyed the country. I wonder what would have happened if a despotic, a totalitarian government, with overwhelming power, had been faced with this kind of military involvement.... The Americans, unfortunately for them, have received no credit for any restraint they may have shown. They have really got themselves into a messy and a tragic situation.”

Here’s one Nobel Peace prize winner who is not going to be stampeded into the “dove” faction. No, sir! Only in the event of the destruction of north Vietnam, says Mr. Pearson, will the government be “prepared” to oppose its further bombing. Meanwhile, the Americans should be “credited” for “their restraint.”

Nor does “quiet diplomacy” mean that Canada refrains from attacking the victim of the American aggression. The difference in the respective approaches to Washington and Hanoi is revealed in an interesting comparison by External Affairs Minister Martin in the course of a recent TV interview: “Quiet diplomacy doesn’t mean that we don’t tell Washington what we think. It doesn’t mean that we don’t complain to Hanoi.” (cited in Globe and Mail, May 23, 1967). Canada talks to Washington; it complains to Hanoi.

“Negotiated solutions”

The Liberal government (and its Tory supporters) claim to support a “negotiated solution” to the war. But this is in all relevant respects identical to the position of President Johnson, who “justifies’ each successive escalation of the war by pointing to the “stubborn” (and courageous) refusal of both Hanoi and the NLF—particularly the former—to capitulate.

Of course, the Pearson government’s support for a “negotiated solution” to the war is perfectly consistent with support for American objectives in Vietnam. By their very nature, demands for negotiations are naturally directed at both sides in the struggle. (If one side refuses to participate, there can be no dialogue.) Since the Johnson administration obviously does not intend to negotiate, but is aiming for total victory over the Vietnamese revolution, and a possible war with China, the appeals of the advocates for “negotiations” are inevitably addressed to the victim of aggression, the NLF and the north Vietnamese.

Thus, when U.N. Secretary General U Thant called for a unilateral ceasefire by the U.S., Pearson condemned his proposal as “unrealistic” because “it did not appear to require any reciprocal let-up in the war by the Viet Cong guerrillas.” (Globe and Mail, April 5, 1967).

Far from condemning the American escalation, Pearson even had the gall to state on June 27 that “even an unconditional cessation of bombing has now been linked by the authorities of North Vietnam in certain of the more recent statements, with the withdrawal of United States forces as well, before negotiations can begin. I hope that we shall not have this escalation in demand on the side of the North.” (Globe and Mail, June 28, 1967).

When Martin states, as he did in a speech to the Association of Survivors of Nazi Oppression, that “We take second place to no country in doing our best to bring the war to an end on honorable terms,” we can be sure that it is not the honor of the Vietnamese people which concerns him.

Strange as it may seem, the Canadian government actually contends that its support of American policy will help bring about an end to the war: The Globe and Mail of February 27, 1967, reports Martin as declaring at East Lansing, Michigan, that,

“Canada’s usefulness as a peace mediator in Vietnam could be destroyed by open criticism of the U.S. conduct of the war... He said that the North Vietnamese government believed Canada might be able to play a useful role in promoting peace under certain circumstances. But Canada’s potential usefulness could be ended if the Government assumed public positions on day to day developments...”

In a subsequent interview, on May 23, Martin made it clear that if Canada had any use whatsoever to Hanoi as a “negotiator”, it was as a spokesman for U.S. interests.

“If we have a channel open to Hanoi... it is because we are thought to have the confidence of Washington. If we should lose that confidence by denunciation of American policy, we should lose our channel to Hanoi also.” (Globe and Mail, May 23, 1967)

The logic of that position is to abandon altogether the prospect of making any “representations” to Washington with a view to decreasing the escalation. If the Johnson administration will ignore the anti-war sentiments of the majority of its own electorate, will it pay any more respect, will it “confide” any more, in a government which does not differ at all with it privately or publicly? Of course, what T.C. Douglas has termed the government’s “supine subservience” is hardly likely to inspire anything more than an indifferent contempt on the part of the Pentagon warhawks.

As a matter of fact, any “representations” that Canada makes are addressed to Hanoi, and not Washington. Interestingly, each major escalation of its intervention by the United States has been preceded by a visit to Hanoi by a Canadian “peace envoy.” In this way, Canada plays a key role in a cynical little ritual that has become an integral part of American tactics in the war; a ritual which has been described by Bruce Macdonald of the Toronto Globe and Mail (September 16, 1967):

“They used to say, ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.’ A more modern version might be, ‘Beware of Americans talking peace—or risks of war.’ Certainly, over the past few years a pattern has developed that is no longer explainable by coincidence, one in which virtually every U.S. step to escalate its military offensive in Vietnam is either immediately preceded or proceeded by Administration talk of a renewed initiative to seek a peaceful settlement of the conflict.”

It used to be Chester Ronning who sallied forth from time to time to Hanoi. Now the main personage has changed, but the ploy remains the same. As we write this, the Toronto Star announces (September 15, 1967) that O.W . Dier, Canadian representative on the International Control Commission for Vietnam, is having talks with a number of leading north Vietnamese officials. As the lead on the story puts it: “Canada’s man in Vietnam has gone to Hanoi to sound out North Vietnamese authorities on their attitude toward peace talks.” At the same time, the Americans are creating new apprehension as they start bombing Haiphong Harbour, and make their first major incursions into Chinese air space.

In fact, Martin is talking through his hat when he defends Canada’s role of cat’s paw for American aggression, as being instead that of honest broker between the two sides. Canada has never pretended to be neutral in Vietnam. Gerald Clark, associate editor of the Montreal Star caused a flurry last May when he revealed that the 64 Canadian servants who serve on the International Control Commission in Vietnam “are functioning as spies when they are supposed to be serving as international civil servants.”

Tim Ralfe, a CBC Ottawa reporter who was formerly in Vietnam, followed up by saying in a broadcast that it was common knowledge that Canadians in Vietnam cooperated with the United States. Canadian members of the ICC, said Ralfe, “see themselves as American spokesmen on the commission.” He said information from Canadians in Hanoi—mostly dealing with civilian morale and the effects of the war on life in the north Vietnam capital, all of it no doubt of considerable use to American strategists whose escalation tactics are designed to destroy that morale—is transmitted to Canadian headquarters in Saigon, where two copies are made. “One is transmitted to Ottawa; the other goes to the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.” (Toronto Star, May 10, 1967)

Canada’s ICC role

The interesting thing about these charges is that they were never denied by the Canadian government. Instead, Paul Martin admitted that information from the Canadian ICC representatives “is properly used in discussions with other countries, including the U.S.” (Toronto Star, May 10 1967)

As Anthony Westell of the Globe and Mail commented on May 11, 1967, “The Canadian Government, for example, has made no secret of the fact that it uses information, gained by its access to Hanoi through membership of the Commission, to attempt to influence U.S. policy.”

A couple of months after the Clark-Ralfe exposures, the north Vietnamese government expelled a Canadian officer serving with the ICC because his activities were “detrimental to the security” of North Vietnam. Months previous to his expulsion, however, the official press of north Vietnam had already explicitly charged Canada with complicity in the war.

“The Canadian government has not lived up to its obligations as a member of the International Control Commission,” declared Nhan Dan, on January 28, 1967. “The Vietnamese people know full well that the Canadian government has all along shielded and connived at the acts of intervention and aggression of the U.S. in both south and north Vietnam.”

The Vietnamese certainly don’t believe Canada is “neutral” in their conflict.

The Canadian government’s professed “neutrality” is a fraud through and through. It certainly does not stop the government from selling arms to the United States for use in Vietnam. In the Star Weekly Magazine (May 27 1967) Walter Stewart reported:

“I followed just one of the hundreds of defence contracts placed in Canada every year, and discovered how TNT made near Montreal wound up in U.S. bombs being dropped on Vietnam...

“This CIL contract is, of course, only a tiny part of the Canadian contribution to U.S. striking power in Vietnam. For instance, Canadian-made de Havilland Caribou aircraft flown by Australians were used on March 15 to drop 880 gallons of gasoline on a suspected guerrilla concentration in the jungles southeast of Saigon. Armed helicopters following the Caribous sprayed the gasoline drums with tracer bullets, setting the surrounding forest ablaze, and presumably, frying anyone who happened to be in it.

“Canadian manufacturers also provide navigational equipment for nearly all U.S. aircraft; small planes like the Caribou and the twin-engine de-Havilland Otter, for ferrying arms and munitions around Vietnam; and propellants for air to ground rockets of the type in most strikes against suspected Viet Cong villages.

“We are able to make these sales, and turn a nice profit on the rising Vietnamese death toll, despite a firm Canadian policy against shipping arms to any war zone, and despite the fact that we are members of the International Control Commission in Vietnam, charged with, among other things, keeping munitions out of the war-torn land.”

But External Affairs Minister Paul Martin told Stewart, “I don’t know of any Canadian arms going to Vietnam. I don’t know one.” And he went on to intone:

“I only know the Americans are sending arms all over the world. They’re going to defend Canada. The important thing is that not any shipments are going directly from Canada to Vietnam. We are not responsible for what is going on in Asia any more than a person who lives in a world with a beast is responsible for bestiality simply because he has done nothing to bring that beast to an end.”

Martin concluded this astonishing exposition of his moral outlook with the pious declaration, “I am a man of peace.” Stewart goes on to comment:

“As a man of peace, Martin sees nothing sinister in the soaring sales of armaments from this country to the U.S. Last year, Canadian defence exports to the Americans totaled $317 million; the year before, the figure was $259 million; the year be-fore that, $166 million. This massive increase, nearly 100 per cent in three years, has meant steady employment for our munitions workers, a boost for Canada’s balance of payments and, of course, more bullets, rockets, mortars and death for the Vietnamese...”

Government spokesmen defend these sales of arms as coming under defence-sharing agreements with the United States. But it is not merely complying with existing treaties. As Stewart points out,

“The government is zealously encouraging munitions sales by private firms as well. Teams of experts from Ottawa’s Defence Production Department scour the U.S. for contracts which are either turned over directly to Canadian firms or processed through the Canadian Commercial Corporation which not only solicits work, but guarantees quality to the American buyer, all at no cost to our manufacturers. Government funds also cover the tab for re-search and development projects, which will pour about $60 million into Canadian companies and universities this year in the unending search for deadlier weapons...”

Arms sales

Pearson claims it would be impossible to seek a revision of the defence production sharing agreement, signed in 1959. (Globe and Mail, April 22, 1967) Not all western countries take the same attitude, however. The Swedish government has placed a complete embargo on all sales of arms and military equipment to the United States for the duration of the Vietnam war.

The Canadian government’s hypocrisy on this issue becomes all the more obvious when it is recalled that External Affairs officials revealed only a few months ago that the government has embargoed arms sales to many parts of the world which it considers “sensitive areas”, including the Eastern bloc countries, Cuba, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, Turkey, Greece and Portugal,(the last three NATO allies of Canada), and many areas of Latin America. (Globe and Mail, April 22, 1967) Apparently, Vietnam is not considered a “sensitive area”.

The irony of Canada’s position has been summed up admirably by NDP leader, T.C. Douglas:

“Martin has been saying all along that our role in the ICC makes us so neutral that we can’t express an opinion on the bombing of north Vietnam; now he says we are so tied up with the U.S. that we have to sell arms to them, no matter what. He can’t have it both ways.”

Mr. Douglas emphasizes that the issue is basically a moral one.

“It is the issue of whether I am prepared to sell a revolver to a man when I suspect he is going to use it to rob some old woman of her life savings. You can always argue that if I don’t sell him the revolver somebody else will, or perhaps he will buy a shotgun, which is more dangerous. But this does not relieve me of my moral responsibility. All you can do is live up to your own moral responsibility and hope it has some effect.”

Blood money

But Canadian arms sales to the U.S. military, important as they are as a concrete manifestation of the Pearson government’s support for the American cause, are only what the Rev. Ray Hord of the United Church of Canada has termed “Blood Money”—the thirty pieces of silver—in return for the vastly more significant political and diplomatic whitewash, and active complicity in, the American aggression.

The Liberal government has consistently carried its craven complicity into the smallest aspects of its foreign policy. Consider, for example, what happened to the External Aid department’s “child aid” program. (If we won’t oppose the American atrocities, perhaps we can at least attenuate public criticism by making a pretense of helping the victims.) After 14 months of stalling, the government finally announced the cancellation of the program, which would have cost only a paltry $500,000 a year, on the grounds that the Saigon regime of Marshall Ky didn’t want the project. (This did not stop the Ky government from accepting other Canadian “aid”—for example, the training of its riot police, for use in the suppression of Buddhist demonstrators.)

But Dr. Gustave Gingras, the Quebec doctor in charge of the project, doesn’t accept the explanations.

“If you want to do something, you do it,” he says. “If you don’t, you sit around thinking up excuses. You know what the holdup is, they say? The Vietnamese won’t pay for the electricity, for Christ’s sake. Here is a house on fire and a man is trying to get his kids out and up comes the milkman and says ‘Hey, you owe me for last Tuesday.’”

As one commentator remarked,

“What is lacking is not the men or money but will. From the start, the Canadian government has had neither the drive to prod the south Vietnamese into accepting the aid they asked for nor the guts to say out loud that Vietnam won't cooperate to help her own dying children.” (Star Weekly Magazine, April 1, 1967)

Or consider what happened to a Toronto doctor who was sent to south Vietnam three years ago to teach orthopedic surgery. As the Star Weekly reports (July 20, 1967):

“In 1964, (Dr. Michael C. Hall) sent the External Aid office a lengthy list of supplies which he insisted he couldn’t carry on without.

“ ‘Three months later,’ he said, they sent me two boxes of plaster.’

“A year later, he repeated the request. This time he didn’t even get any plaster.

“Instead, a note told him that the cost of the project would be too high and the Canadian content too low.

“ ‘Our aid is tied to Canadian goods and services,’ explained a spokesman. That means 100 per cent of the equipment sent abroad by External Aid must be made in Canada. In exceptional cases, this can be trimmed to 80 per cent.

“But even the 80 per cent figure rules out most or all surgical equipment, Hall pointed out. Little or none is Canadian made.”

Medical “aid”

After other similar experiences, Hall wrote Ottawa:

“I am the only foreign surgeon in the country who works with and teaches the Vietnamese in their own hospitals and universities. Yet I am also the only foreign aid surgeon who does not have government support in providing materials necessary for his work.”

The article continues: “...Hall quit and came home. Today, he sees little hope for Canadian medical aid in Vietnam.

“If there’s a possibility of Canada doing something worthwhile there, I’d like to be part of it,” he said. “But unless Canadian policy undergoes some drastic changes, I can’t see it happening.”

Finally, consider what happened in August when the Quakers tried to send a small amount of medical supplies from the United States to Vietnam, via Canada, after the U.S. government had placed an embargo on medical aid to Vietnam under the Trading With the Enemy Act. Canadian customs officials, acting on orders from Ottawa, refused to allow the Quakers to mail the parcels from Canada without authorization from Washington. Despite continued protest, the Canadian government has refused to release the Quakers’ medical supplies. Naturally, no such hesitation is shown when it comes to exporting armaments to Vietnam.

Even the most impartial investigation reveals that the Canadian government has gone much further than mere passive “support”, in its defence of American aggression in Vietnam. Canadians who oppose the war must have no illusions—by all the moral standards of civilized societies, the Pearson government is guilty of active complicity in American policy, even by the moral standards enshrined in its own system of law.

Section 21 of the Canadian Criminal Code states in part that everyone is a party to an offence who “does or omits to do anything for the purpose of aiding any (other) person to commit it,” or who “abets any person in committing it.” The Code also provides that anyone who “forms an intention in common” with another to “carry out an unlawful purpose and to assist each other therein”, is equally guilty with that other person for any and all crimes committed by the latter if he knew that those crimes were “a probable consequence of carrying out the common purpose.”

By this provision of the Code, the State puts an end to nice distinctions between accessories before the fact and principals in the second degree. Does complicity in a crime become morally defensible simply because it is committed by a government? According to the Standards of the Criminal Code, even failure to protest (“omits to do anything...”) American policy renders the Canadian government guilty as an accomplice. But Canada is guilty, by commission, not merely omission.

Conscious complicity

The defendants at Nuremberg pleaded that they were only obeying orders, that if they had failed to comply, they would have been subjected to brutal punishments, and that in any case their abdication would have brought forth others to do the same things. The government of Lester Pearson and Paul Martin can plead none of these “mitigating” circumstances. They are conscious agents, fully responsible in their own eyes as well as in fact. They are, indeed, conscious accomplices in the American genocide of the Vietnamese people.

The Pearson government has consistently misrepresented the nature of the struggle in Vietnam, concealing the ICC reports of their own representatives, which show clearly that the south Vietnam regime of Ngo Dinh Diem committed far more violations of the Geneva Agreement than did the government of Ho Chi Minh. The government has praised American “restraint” while it condemns Hanoi’s “aggression.” It has hypocritically invoked North American defence treaties to condone its own merchandising of death, actively soliciting arms contracts for use in Vietnam. Even paltry “aid” programs have been postponed indefinitely and cancelled, where they might embarrass the U.S. government by revealing the extent of the ravage it is inflicting on the Vietnamese.

T.C. Douglas has aptly characterized the south Vietnam regime of Hitler-loving Marshall Ky:

“From the very beginning it has been a puppet government supported militarily and financially by the United States, and to say that the United States was invited in by South Vietnam is like saying that Edgar Bergen was invited to dinner by Charlie McCarthy. The fact of course is that the reason the United States had to intervene is because the puppet government it had set up did not have the support of its own people, and that today two thirds of south Vietnam is occupied by the National Liberation Front who collect the taxes, who run the villages, and who operate the greater part of part of the country. The government has never been able to hold on to anything but the cities, and this with a succession of governments because it does not enjoy the support of the people.” (House of Commons, May 28, 1965)

If it was wrong to intervene in the beginning, it is no less wrong to continue that intervention today. Dr. Alje Vennema, the chief of Canada’s medical mission in south Vietnam, and one who knows the situation in that land, has told Robert Reguly of the Toronto Star:

“The Americans can’t win. If I had my way, the Americans would pull out by 8 o’clock tomorrow morning. No, they should leave right away.” (July 18, 1967)

Vennema’s views are shared by many Americans, too, half a million of whom demonstrated last April 15 in New York and San Francisco for the immediate withdrawal of their country’s troops from Vietnam. Whole sectors of American public opinion who have never demonstrated or joined a peace movement before are adding their voices to the call: “Support Our Boys: Bring Them Home Now’. “

One of the latest recruits to their cause has been Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, who responded to the president’s request to the churches to “pray for racial harmony” with a scathing indictment of Johnson’s Vietnam policy which, he declared, had placed the United States in the position of “the biggest power in the world, fighting an infinitesimal power.” (Toronto Star August 5, 1967) Urging the President to “withdraw the troops immediately for the sake of reconciliation,” Bishop Sheen said: “What is primary is that the greatest power in the world has to move out.”

Our responsibility

It is becoming obvious to more and more citizens of Canada too, that this is the only solution to the Vietnam carnage—the immediate withdrawal of American troops. That is the demand of the growing anti-war movement in this country. It is not enough to demand “negotiations” to end the war. The Western powers have nothing to negotiate, no right to be in Vietnam.

Most important of all—we must demand an end to our government’s abject collaboration in the war. Each day this war continues, the closer we approach a conflict with China, and the more menacing becomes the threat of nuclear annihilation of everything we cherish. No one can afford to remain silent before this spectacle.

“To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men.” As the Canadian author, Farley Mowat, has said: “If we are a people who place any value on ethics or morality, then we must take an unequivocal stand against the actions of the United States. We must declare publicly and privately ... that the United States is guilty of a great crime against mankind.”

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