Hiroshima and Halifax

Painting of the Halifax Explosion

By Tony Seed

The 75th Anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on the Sixth of August 1945 is a historic universal event with profound immediate significance to present international relations, the danger of war and even nuclear war. For Haligonians, the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has a special meaning ,which is even more poignant in the wake of the hugely destructive explosion in  Beirut, Lebanon on August 4.

On the Sixth of December 1917 the largest man-made explosion prior to Hiroshima took place here, when the munitions ship Mont Blanc loaded with 2,652 tons of chemical explosives and the Belgian relief ship Imo collided in the narrows of the harbour, adjacent to densely populated civilian quarters. Some 1,963 innocent men, women and children were massacred, another 9,000 injured and 199 blinded, comprising more than one fifth of the total population of less than 50,000. One square mile of the working class quarter of the North End facing the Halifax Narrows was totally destroyed. Six thousand people lost their homes altogether and between 20,000 and 25,000 Haligonians were left homeless and destitute, including ten thousand children. More than 1,600 buildings were destroyed, and 12,000 more were damaged. Whole groups of people such as African Nova Scotians and the Mi’kmaw were denied compensation by official authorities. [1]

It was the largest man-made explosion before Hiroshima. Its force was so great that people in Truro, over 100 kilometres away, felt the tremor. The anchor from one of the ships, the Mont Blanc, blew over the peninsula to land on the southerly side of the North West Arm where fragments remain to this day. Aside from the absolute force of the explosion and the devastation, the Halifax Explosion is distinguished by the lack of nuclear fall out, contamination and lesser loss of life.

Not to be forgotten is that just 18 days before Hiroshima, a second explosion,(pictured) on July 18, 1945, was initiated when an ammunition barge blew up at the naval magazine jetty on the inner Bedford Basin of the Halifax harbour. Naval vessels were being refit for new duties in the Pacific. As part of the process, all ammunition was being removed from ships in port. “By July 18th, the Bedford Basin magazine held enough shells, bombs, mines, torpedoes, depth charges, and a quantity of the new secret explosive RDX to blow Halifax off the face of the earth,” wrote Thomas Raddall in Halifax: Warden of the North in 1948. [2]

Bedford Magazine Explosion

As different as the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki may be from the earlier Halifax explosion, they share some things in common.

The Halifax Explosion occurred during an imperialist world war for the redivision of the globe in the context of unbridled drive for war profiteering, in which all safety precautions were thrown to the wind. Far from being an exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime “accident” or “an act of God” or manslaughter caused by the negligence of an individual ship’s captain or pilot or even sabotage by socialists, this tragedy was entirely preventable. The federal cabinet of Sir Robert Borden, the U.S. authorities who consciously diverted the badly-loaded Mont Blanc with its 2,652 tonnes of munitions from New York to Halifax, and the Royal Navy and Halifax port authorities, were all aware of the threat. All the official parties abdicated their social responsibility. It was a war crime.

Nothing about how the Halifax Explosion and Hiroshima and Nagasaki came to pass – the characters, ships and places, the scale of ambition, the ethical dilemmas evoked, its impact on our history – can be diminished. Scores of books have tried to elide its moral complexities, sculpt cause-and-effect around its every turn, answer every question. The books are best left on the shelf.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred as the anti-fascist world war against Hitlerite Nazi Germany, Mussolini Italy and Japanese Militarism was at an end. It was an unjustified and naked demonstration of the might of the United States empire. To this day, the U.S. and its apologists argue that the Japanese cities were legitimate military targets and that their apocalyptic  destruction was righteous, moral and proper. Eisenhower, MacArthur and five other U.S. generals disagreed. They were opposed to using the bomb. With all the other evidence put forth since then, including primary documents, there is no longer any debate on this issue. [3] The view of the apologists ignores the reality of the wholesale slaughter of the innocent civilian population, an act in violation of international law. The bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima was made of uranium and instantly killed about 140,000 people in the initial blast of its estimated population of 350,000 and ultimately more than 237,000 in total. Of the 78,000 buildings standing in the city that August morning, nearly 50,000 were totally incinerated.

The bomb it dropped on Nagasaki was made of plutonium and killed 85,000 people in the initial blast and eventually resulted in the deaths of more than 70,000 additional people due to exposure to radiation and injuries. Thousands suffered their entire lives, as have the generations that followed, from the crimes committed on those days. This was a war crime.

Prior to this, using the experience of the firebombing of Dresden and other German cities, 334 United States B-29 bombers firebombed Tokyo on March 9, 1945 with napalm in an operation called Meetinghouse. They killed more than 100,000 people that day and many more were injured. The U.S. firebombed and largely destroyed more than 100 Japanese cities, leaving millions homeless. The “conventional” bombing was specifically designed to target civilians and infrastructure.

These were unprecedented and premeditated war crimes of mass murder which had nothing to do with the fight against Japanese militarism. Japan was suffering defeats everywhere and its surrender was imminent. But irrespective of that, such war crimes and mass murder are impermissible no matter the excuse.

This mass murder of civilian populations in Tokyo and then Hiroshima and Nagasaki served as a threat to the peoples of the world, especially the Soviet Union, that the U.S. had the monopoly on the use of force. Following the Korean War in 1950, the U.S. engaged the world in “nuclear politics” to blackmail the peoples into doing what the U.S. wanted.

The U.S. considered the use of nuclear weapons to settle the Korean War, Vietnam and wipe out China, but instead declared their use “unthinkable” and ”taboo.” In this way, the U.S. claimed such weapons were nonetheless necessary to act as a deterrent and that this was the main factor for peace in the world.

The sorcerer’s apprentice

There are two other little-known relationships between Halifax and Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The 1992 Ground Zero conference, organized by Alan Ruffman, an independent marine geophysicist, and historian Colin Howell of the Gorsebrook Institute, for the first time, publicly involved science in analyzing the Halifax Explosion. They set to rest the mythology of the precise time of the explosion which had been left in the shade.

The researchers also discovered a darker, more disturbing relationship, which had been kept secret by the government for 49 years. Scientific analysis of the Halifax Explosion was carried out by Oppenheimer’s group in the Manhattan Project in 1942 for the atomic bomb, to be targeted at highly populated, urban centres.

Writing of this little-known, universal dimension, Dr Ruffman noted: “…it is clear that the Halifax experience (helped scientists to) gauge the range of air blast effects and to estimate any possible tsunami created by a blast in a populated harbour city.” He concluded that the Halifax Explosion helped the American scientists in their decision to detonate bombs in mid-air at urban Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, to produce a greater range of devastation: “Their research into what had gone before – including the Halifax Explosion – gave them insight into the potential of a nuclear bomb.” One war crime was the laboratory for and handmaiden of the other. [4]

The genocidaire

In 1913 a young American was recruited to join the faculty at Dalhousie University to teach engineering. During World War II as federal minister of Supply and Munitions possessing vast powers in the MacKenzie King government, C.D. Howe organized the supply of uranium from Canada for the U.S. atom bomb from Port Radium in the land of the Sahtugot’ine (Dene First Nation of Sahtú, Great Bear Lake). Declassified documents reveal that the danger from uranium was known during the mining operation. Neither the Canadian nor U.S. governments saw fit to make known the health dangers. Unaware of the radiation’s effects, the Sahtú Dene used “cloth sacks” to transport the ore. Their only protective clothing was gloves. In the early 1960s, the danger became apparent. The Sahtugot’ine workers started to die from lung, colon, and kidney cancers – diseases previously unknown to them. The Sahtugot’ine were sacrificed for an effort that ultimately slaughtered hundreds of thousands. [5]

Canadian universities and hundreds of Canadian scientists collaborated with U.S. and British scientists on the atomic bomb program, for which Canada supplied uranium and heavy water. Canada also had representation on the Combined Policy Committee, headquartered in Washington, that administered the atomic bomb program. Canada’s Howe was among its members who approved the use of the bomb on Japan. Howe declared in a public statement on August 6, 1945 that it was his particular “pleasure” to announce that Canada’s role “guarantees us a front line position in the scientific position that lies ahead” – a seat at the table with the Anglo-American powers. Liberal Prime Minister MacKenzie King recorded in his Diaries on August 6 that, “It is fortunate that the use of the bomb should have been upon the Japanese rather than upon the white races of Europe. I am a little concerned about how Russia may feel, not having been told anything of this invention or of what the British and the U.S. were doing in the way of exploring and perfecting the process.” [6]] Three days later, on August 9, Nagasaki was bombed. In 1957, C.D. Howe was rewarded with an appointment at the behest of big capital to be the first chancellor of Dalhousie University: his remit was to develop atmospheric sciences as part of the Cold War, as epitomized in the race for space and scientific power then underway. and the International Geophysical Year from July 1957 to December 1958. [7]  Today the university with its research institutes is one of the most militarized in the country.

That same year the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was created in February and the first Pugwash Conference was held in Nova Scotia based on the Russell–Einstein Manifesto of 1955 and the slogan to “Ban the Bomb.” Under this slogan, crucial work to establish the conditions required to preserve the peace was abandoned in the pursuit of nuclear politics. Post-war demands for denazification and to develop a peace economy were lost within the clamour to “Ban the Bomb!”

The Soviet Union developed nuclear weapons initially to hold the U.S. in check. However, by the 1960s, instead of the peoples’ cause for peace being made the centre of the foreign policy of the big powers, an arms race replaced the striving of the peoples of the world for peace. Expenditures on weapons soared. All five members of the UN Security Council also developed nuclear weapons and gave the green light for some of their allies to do the same.

Canada and weapons of mass destruction

When the people of Halifax commemorate the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this week, we keep these similarities in mind. On the national level, successive Canadian governments betrayed the call of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again! by continuing to collaborate with the United States in the realm of weapons of mass destruction. As a founding member of NATO, Canada avidly supports that military bloc’s policy of “first-use” of nuclear weapons and is bound to it through secret agreements and covenants characteristic of such imperialist blocs. The total hypocrisy is to the extent that it also claims to be the greatest upholder of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty under the pretext of “security” when it comes time to attacking independent states such as Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who are not kowtowing to the dictate of the United States while silent on the arsenal of nuclear weapons possessed by Israel.

Beginning at the end of World War II, the U.S. Armed Forces, the Canadian Department of National Defence and Imperial Chemicals dumped vast amounts of deadly chemical and biological warfare agents such as mustard gas were off the Atlantic Coast of Canada despite protests of fishermen. The stages of decomposition are to date unknown.[8]

Under a succession of secret agreements which originated at the time of the formation of NATO in 1949, successive Canadian governments allowed the United States not only to establish bases on Canadian soil but also to base and store part of its nuclear as well as chemical warfare arsenal in Canada. The sole government which disagreed, that of Conservative prime minister John Diefenbaker, was removed in 1963, in a covert operation of the John F. Kennedy administration headquartered in the basement of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, which was organized to install the Lester B. Pearson Liberals.

Then on August 17, 1963 the new Pearson Liberal government agreed to station 500 or more U.S. nuclear warheads in Canada but unknown to the most of the cabinet as well as Canadians. Only Pearson, the defence minister and a few senior military planners knew how extensive Canada’s program was: “Virtually all of the cabinet was in the dark.” There were cases in which the Prime Minister was not expected to be consulted, and Pearson gave a form letter providing prior authorization to the U.S. Ambassador for Presidential use.

In terms of the U.S. navy, nuclear depth charges became the nuclear weapons most frequently carried into Canada.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1999

By 1965, there were over 100 U.S. bases and installations located throughout Canada. [9]

During the war of aggression against Vietnam, Canada secretly facilitated the testing of the chemical warfare Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick, one of the most shameful and criminal legacies of the Pearson government.

A substantial portion of the depleted uranium in the DU weapons used by the U.S. in Afghanistan came from Canadian uranium exported to the U.S. and processed in U.S. enrichment plants into depleted uranium and subsequently manufactured into DU weapons. DU shells were used by the Canadian navy at Vieques Island (Isla de Vieques) in Puerto Rico and potentially radioactive shell casings dumped in the sea near Halifax. DU weapons are deemed weapons of mass destruction under international law. [10]

Under the Harper and Trudeau governments this trend of abject collaboration reached a climax with new permanent arrangements that put U.S. security forces on Canadian soil and place all of Canadian land, sea and waterways shared with the U.S., such as the Great Lakes, under U.S. military command, along with aerospace.

This collaboration includes allowing testing of nuclear weapons delivery systems and permitting vessels and aircraft carrying nuclear weapons inside Canadian ports and territory.  The nuclear armaments on the warships which “visit” Canadian ports include tactical, intermediate, and strategic weapons. In the same breath Canadian governments claim that it is not possible for it to know whether U.S. warships are carrying nuclear weapons because of the U.S. “neither confirm nor deny” policy and “operational security”. If it is not possible to know, then why has it established Nuclear Emergency Response Teams and conducts “mock disaster drills” in ports such as Halifax? [16]

Protest against warships in Halifax harbour, CFB Stadacona, May 29, 2012.

An attack submarine, an aircraft carrier strike group such as the USS Eisenhower – invited by the Trudeau government as part of the 2017 celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the confederation of 1867 [17] – and entire US-NATO fleets such as the September, 2019 Cutlass Fury exercise by their very name imply the threat of force and are a projection of U.S. military power. They are officially welcomed with open arms: no questions asked. Why should Canada receive such guests, who come to Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver or anywhere else festooned with all manner of arms, who claim to be here for friendly purposes? The U.S. is not an “ally.” Why should Canada’s own navy and military be similarly armed and have as one of its main objectives “interoperability” and “relative military autonomy” with the U.S. military? It means that, in the absence of any genuine democracy, the public right of the people of our country to live in peace and safety cannot be secured by these war governments. Even Parliament does not have a say over matters of war and peace, which are matters of executive privilege or the Royal Prereogative. Any discussion on this is taboo. In other words, the lack of empowerment and the existence of the Royal Prerogative and its political use to enforce what cannot be justified is a greater problem than weapons of mass destruction.

From top to bottom, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the USS Winston S. Churchill and the HMCS Moncton conduct what the U.S. Navy terms a photo exercise, on the way to Halifax, June 27, 2017.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again! 

Demonstration on Sparks Street in Ottawa, circa 1963, opposes the Pearson Liberal government’s agreement to allow U.S. nuclear missiles on Canadian soil.

Canadians developed a movement against nuclear weapons from the 1960s on but it was not until the 1980s that a vigorous anti-war mass movement broke out in Halifax. Over the years thousands of Haligonians participated to oppose the all-sided preparations for war. The essence and thrust was to take up the question in their own hands rather than rely on or appeal to a war government.

The concrete focus was the harbour around the popular slogan “No U.S. or Soviet warships in Canadian ports.” Hardial Bains, leader of the CPC(M-L), explained the need to put forward concrete political demands so that Canadians could assert their sovereign rights and make sure our ports and country are zones of opposition to war. Through such political slogans, people could  see who poses the main danger of war at the time, the role of the ports, sea lanes and naval fleets of the superpowers. He emphasized that unity is not based on simply agreeing with a document in words but requires a program which involves people so that they can acquire their own experience in how to build the organization which can achieve it. An important ideological battle was waged against the militarization of culture and public space. Spectacles such as the Nova Scotia Tattoo (from 1979), Shearwater Air Show, freedom of the city ceremonies, open houses onboard visiting warships, tall ships, fleet reviews, “Dial-a-sailor” program [15]) aimed to justify the “visits” of warships and the militarization of the economy, the university and culture. In parallel, fearmongering with comic book shock and awe scenarios of Quinpool and Robie being in the cross hairs of a nuclear first strike from Russia or later following 9/11 ludicrous fantasies of terror strikes by jihadis sailing Arab dhows into the harbour were unleashed to force Haligonians to accept the unacceptable. This necessarily demanded systematic opposition to disinformation, right in people’s everyday lives, distorting how to make sense of the present while providing protective cover with the most reactionary rendering of the city and humanity’s past. The criminal propaganda and the falsification of history by the magnates of Halifax, the media and some reactionary cultural and literary figures aimed to create the psychology of war by implanting in the minds of the people the psychosis of the “military tradition” of Halifax. Activists fought this offensive tooth and nail. In parallel, important theoretical work on the nature and character of imperialist war in the contemporary period was elaborated.

A new narrative developed based on continuous study and investigation second to none which was popularized through forums, meetings, pickets, newsletters and such films as the acclaimed “No Harbour for War” documentary shown nationally on Vision TV during the first Gulf War.

Further, annual commemorations of Hiroshima and Nagaskai began to take place although the demand to the city to declare a nuclear-free zone was unsuccessful. A similar movement, one can say a sister movement, emerged in the port of Vancouver and on Vancouver Island where the U.S. maintains a nuclear base at Nanoose, as well as in the ports in Quebec.

Its advancement necessitated a break with nuclear politics and the attempt to marginalize the peace movement into a lobby group.

The focus of debate: what was our aim? The achievement of a nuclear condominium and modus vivendi of the arms race between the big powers? This was advertised as the yellow brick road to peace, the be all and end all of protest. Or to build independent political organization which could deal with the stark reality facing people in the eye in the harbour itself? Could people forget about the interference by conventional arms and troops in the sovereign affairs of the peoples of the world; accept the use of force to settle conflicts between peoples; and forget that the building of arms to destroy the homes and lives of other working people along with the destruction of the environment is an unacceptable and illegitimate way to create jobs and industry? They could not. “No harbour for war” based on unity in action emerged as the path forward. Despite the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, the iconic slogan against the “visits” of US and NATO warships to Halifax still reverberates. Concrete slogans and programs of action based on analysis are as necessary today at the time we raise the demand for an anti-war government and to make Canada a zone for peace, as they were in the past.

Halifax protest against the first Gulf War and Canada’s participation in it under the Mulroney Conservative government, 1991.

On the occasion of this solemn anniversary, the Trudeau Liberal government is pushing for further integration into the U.S. war machine precisely at a time when Trump and the U.S. ruling elite are organizing to launch further aggression against the world’s people. On January 30, 2020 the Federation of American Scientists revealed the U.S. has for the first time deployed a “low-yield” nuclear warhead (the W76-2) on a submarine that is currently patrolling the Atlantic Ocean, the USS Tennessee. The low-yield Trident nuclear warhead was commissioned in 2018 by Trump. [18]

The USS Tennessee (SSBN-734) at sea, the first SSBN to deploy with new low-yield W76-2 warhead | U.S. Navy

Repudiation of the crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki contributes to the profound sentiment of Canadians to Make Canada a Zone for Peace and of Haligonians to Make Halifax a No Harbour for War. Let us march on, unite in action with others and build the anti-war movement. Let us make the slogan Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again! a reality to build the organizations required to establish an anti-war government that makes Canada a Zone for Peace!

This article is informed by the TML Weekly article 75th anniversary of the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Originally published by The Nova Scotia Advocate


Background Report

Halifax brought to the fore all over again – A timeline

Draft work of a historical review in progress

The World Ocean is the interconnected system of Earth’oceanic waters, and comprises the bulk of the hydrosphere, covering 70.8 per cent of the surface of the Earth – 361,132,000 square kilometres or 139,434,000 square miles. Canada is bordered on three sides by oceans, the Atlantic on its east coast which opens into the Arctic Ocean, which is connected to the Pacific by the Bering Strait, forming a continuous expanse of water. Canada’s oceans represent almost two thirds of its territorial land mass. The St. Lawrence River system and five Great Lakes form a natural border between Canada and the United States. It is claimed that the majority of Canadians live within 150 km of the Canada-U.S. border however the fact is the majority of Canadians live adjacent to water. Although Canada was founded as a state in 1867 its territory is still disputed by one country – the United States. All the U.S. claims deal with the sea.

The sea has become a crucial terrain of the violent struggle for world domination by the international financial oligarchs and their client states. The USA annexes entire regions of the world and strategic islands through its control of sea-lanes and straits connecting different regions of the Earth. Its doctrine of the “freedom of navigation” and “innocent passage” which originate from the rise of the European colonial empires are vital elements of U.S. naval strategy. To this end, the USA demands the integration of all naval forces and adherence to U.S. military doctrine through “inter-operability.” It has in its service the largest naval fleet in  the world which includes 11 aircraft carriers, all armed with nuclear weapons. Its most recent, the Gerald Ford:

“The modular built, nuclear aircraft carrier – also dubbed the ‘deadliest’ ever built – is a lethal, offensive creation. Capable of long deployments thousands of miles from the American continent, the supercarrier constitutes a virtual seaborne military base – the flight deck is five acres – that can lie like a fortified island just outside the territorial sea of the target country, the twenty-first century equivalent of twentieth-century nuclear blackmail and nineteenth-century gunboat policy.”

According to covenants of the NATO bloc, formed under its tutelage in 1949, the head of its naval forces must be an American admiral just as an American general commands the ground forces. Today huge naval-military exercises are being staged all over again to move troops and war materiel to Europe as well as anti-submarine exercises around Iceland. It is not for nothing that Icelanders refer to their island as a “U.S. aircraft carrier.” The renewed battle for supremacy over the Atlantic sea lanes to Europe as well in the Caribbean in recent years has brought the historical role of Halifax, Canadian ports and of the navy in the service of U.S. imperialism and its nuclear fleets to the fore all over again. But what political and social force will come to the fore? Who will decide?

Halifax is the headquarters of Maritime Command which operates two main naval bases, the other being at Esquimalt on Vancouver Island on the Pacific Ocean. It is the home to most of the most important centres for the study of the physical and biological aspects of the ocean, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, established in 1962.

The Port of Halifax is one of the three most important in Canada, after the Port of Montreal of the St. Lawrence River and the Port of Vancouver on the Pacific Ocean, the largest port. These ports are diversified transshipment centres and interconnect with water and land-based transportation routes or corridors into the United States, the most important of which is the St. Lawrence Seaway. They handle all kinds of goods, containerized and non-containerized cargo, liquid bulk and dry bulk.

Important demands raised by Canadian ports workers for the past 18 years since 9/11 against the criminalization of longshoremen in the ports under the pretext of “security” and by maritime workers in the 2015 election to defend their working conditions against cabotage, the privatization of ports and Bill C-55 and for the well-being of the Canadian economy in the shipping sector went unmet.

It has become a truism to state that Halifax, established by the British Empire in 1749 as its “Warden of the Atlantic,” is the most militarized city in Canada. CFB Halifax possesses large naval and air bases (CFB Shearwater) and dockyards, all situated amidst densely populated residential neighbourhoods, comprising one third of the population of Nova Scotia. In two world wars it served as the major transit base to Europe. It has the only natural, ice-free harbour on the Atlantic coast of North America. The well-being of thousands of longshoremen, railway workers, seamen, shipbuilding, refinery and service workers depend on this modern port.

To the magnates of Halifax, the organization of the city as a war port is the ‘business’ best adapted for the extraction of maximum profits. Their private interest is codified ideologically in the mantra of the Board of Trade: “Halifax prospers in war, declines in peace.” This slogan shows that predatory intervention, conquest and war is an instrument of private ecoomic interest; imperialist war is the biggest business of them all. In Nova Scotia, the suggestion always hangs in the air that the militarization of the economy and the $20 billion war budget are the solution to the economic crisis and regional disparities of the capitalist system, and it is a matter of “buy Canadian” or “buy Nova Scotian” versus outsourcing, either abroad or to another region such as Quebec which is the key to prosperity. Such slogans are thus aimed at dividing the unity of Canadian workers. Historical facts show otherwise. Instead of developing the harbour, the economy, science and marine resources on the basis of a self-reliant economy and humanizing the environment so that it is only used for peaceful purposes – economic trade, shipbuilding and tourism – successive governments and big capital have used this strategic asset of the nation for empire-building, conquest and war, endangering all Canadians and the peoples of other lands. .

The deep sea, the largest ecosystem on Earth and one of the least studied, harbours high biodiversity and provides a wealth of resources whose harvesting could contribute to the material well being of the people. Yet the fisheries has been cannibalized by a paramilitary regime and tens of thousands of fishermen dispersed as cheap labour throughout the land and the Indigenous peoples attacked at the expense of their rights to a livelihood, hereditary rights and the food sovereignty of the nation. It is little wonder that fishermen say they were cleared to prepare for the free operation of the oil trusts and foreign fishing and naval fleets.

“Halifax prospers in war, declines in peace” also aims to deflect attention from the actual dangers posed to the security of all by hazardous substances right here in Canada, for which the Canadian government bears direct responsibility. Vast quantities of chemical munitions were dumped by Canada and the U.S. off the coast of Atlantic Canada at the end of World War II and another six tonnes of depleted uranium shells approximately 20 years ago.

The peoples of the world saw the horror of the U.S.-owned and operated Ocean Ranger, the so-called “mightiest oil rig in the world,” which sank on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland in Canadian waters on February 15, 1982 in which all 84 crew members were killed. It has been amply proven that decades of deregulation by successive Canadian governments prepared the conditions for this tragedy and other major marine disasters including oil spills such as the Liberian tanker Arrow in February 1970 and helicopter crashes which have taken place. Many of these disasters did not cause a large loss of human life simply because they occurred away from populated areas. To this day, ships carrying plutonium, sulphuric acid and propane gas, which are even more hazardous than crude oil, continue to be ply these waters. The same situation exists in the Arctic and the Pacific. The war economy further poses new threats of environmental degradation of the harbour, coastline, marine ecosystem and the atmosphere, and accelerated economic and social decay of coastal communities throughout Atlantic Canada.

As a reminder:

1945 to 1958 period is forthcoming, and the ensuing periods are being developed.

  • On May 12, 1958 the North American Aerospace Defence Agreement (NORAD) is created, the arrangement through which, along with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) , the Canadian armed forces are integrated into those of the U.S. and put under U.S. command with headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Although there was no agreement or treaty, NORAD had actually “stood-up’ on 12 September 1957. It is the arrangement through which, along with NATO founded on April 4, 1949, the Canadian armed forces are integrated into those of the U.S. and put under U.S. command with headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At the same time, it opened up new space for the operation of US armed forces in Canada.The history of Canada’s involvement in NORAD shows that all the changes that place in the following decades years are directed at establishing more complete control by the U.S. over the Canadian armed forces, placing U.S. weapons of mass destruction on Canadian soil, implicating Canada in U.S. wars of aggression against the wishes of Canadians and the repeated insistence that Canada place and test U.S. missiles, including nuclear-armed missiles, on Canadian soil and, more recently, positioning U.S. special forces in Canadian territory including ports and militarizing culture to distort the aims of war and what comprises the national interest.

Until 2006, the agreement is renewed every five years. During Ronald Reagan’s visit to Ottawa in 1981 the name was changed from the North American “Air” to “Aerospace” Defence Command, reflecting, in the words of the military, the “expanded surveillance and missile-warning responsibilities” of the alliance. When the agreement is renewed in 2006 in the Harper era, it is made permanent, subject to review every four years or “at the request of either country.” NORAD’s mission was also expanded to include maritime warnings, although it is claimed that the naval forces of the two countries retain separate commands.

In 1961, the CIA had written an intelligence estimate titled “Trends in Canadian Foreign Policy.” It suggested that the Diefenbaker government “might take Canada in a divergent direction” and seek “a more independent foreign policy,” and suggested that a return of the Liberal Party might “soften the Canadian resistance to the storage of nuclear weapons on Canadian soil.”

  • The U.S. erects advanced radar bases (1961–) in Barrington and Sydney, NS during the Cold War to monitor the sea lanes.
  • In October 1962, when the U.S. illegally blockaded Cuba, U.S. president John F. Kennedy demands that Canadian forces be put on high alert. Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker insisted on consulting cabinet, but Canadian NORAD personnel were put on high alert before Cabinet authorization had been given. [11]

At the direction of Washington, Admiral Kenneth Dyer of Maritime Command unilaterally deployed 22 destroyers and aircraft carriers with 28 planes, two subs, 12 shore-based anti-submarine planes and 22 patrol planes to participate in the naval blockade without cabinet approval, let alone from Vice-Adm. Harry Rayner, the chief of the naval staff. “The United States navy, trying to tighten its blockade around Cuba, let the Canadians cover a big segment of the North Atlantic with patrols seeking Russian subs.”

The deployment was in violation of the Constitution Act of 1867 which affirms that the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces continues to be the country’s sovereign, who, since 1904, has authorized his or her viceroy, the governor general, to exercise the duties ascribed to the post of Commander-in-Chief and to hold the associated title since 1905. All troop deployment and disposition orders, including declarations of war, fall within the royal prerogative and are issued as Orders in Council, which must be signed by either the monarch or governor general. In any sovereign country, Dyer’s action would be considered treason: “In Canada, politicians and the military decided to agree that nothing much had happened.” Dyer was soon promoted to Vice-Admiral [12].

The Lester B. Pearson government

One of the first decisions to arise from the NORAD agreement was the installation of the Bomarc anti-aircraft missiles at bases in North Bay, Ontario and La Macaza, Quebec, under the ultimate control of the the U.S. commander in chief. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker made the agreement under U.S. pressure, but he was opposed to arming the missiles with nuclear weapons as this was not consistent with Canada’s stated policy of not directly joining the nuclear arms race. The U.S. exerted great pressure on Canada, saying that nuclear-armed Bomarc missiles were essential in the North American “defence” system. There was broad opposition amongst Canadians to nuclear weapons on Canadian soil, with rallies and other actions across the country. Opposition leader Lester B. Pearson reversed himself on January 12, 1963 and declared that he now favoured the placement of nuclear weapons in Canada.

19640909-LaMaCaza-BomarkMissileProtest-MontrealStar-01crop

Protestors hold sit-in at the entrance to the Bomarc missile base in La Macaza, Quebec, September 9, 1964.

The John F. Kennedy administration then began to openly work to influence the election and bring about Diefenbaker’s defeat. In January 1963, the retiring NATO supreme commander Lauris Norstad, a U.S. airforce general, gave a press conference in Ottawa where he accused Canada of not keeping its commitments to NORAD. The U.S. State Department issued a press release saying that the Canadian government “has not yet proposed any arrangement sufficiently practical to contribute effectively to North American defence.” U.S. Ambassador William Butterworth gave briefings to the press, and Kennedy sent advisors (such as his personal friend Lou Harris, the leading U.S. pollster) to help Pearson, whose Liberals succeeded in winning the election. They formed a minority government, and quickly moved to install nuclear warheads. The warheads were deployed in Canada on New Year’s Eve, 1963.

  • Meanwhile, on August 17, 1963 the new Pearson government privately agreed to station 500 or more U.S. nuclear warheads in Canada but this was unknown to the most of his cabinet as well as Canadians.

Only a handful of top political and military leaders were ever informed of this ongoing secret, semi-formal co-ordination with USA/NATO — although suspicions were aired from time to time, and categorically denied by the government. Some details began to emerge toward the end of the Cold War, leading to accusations that a succession of governments had betrayed the official policy of peace and sovereignty by secretly entering into secret agreements with USA/NATO. This was a serious accusation at the time. Only Pearson, the defence minister and a few senior military planners knew how extensive Canada’s program was: “Virtually all of the cabinet was in the dark.” There were cases in which the Prime Minister was not expected to be consulted, and Pearson gave a form letter providing prior authorization to the U.S. Ambassador for Presidential use.

“In the mid-1960s our military put more money and resources into nuclear programs than into anything else,” says John Clearwater,  “but you couldn’t talk about it.” Only Prime Minister Lester Pearson, the defence minister and a few senior military planners, he adds, knew how extensive Canada’s program was: “Virtually all of the cabinet was in the dark.” He also shows that there were cases in which the Prime Minister was not expected to be consulted, and it is shown that Pearson gave a form letter providing prior authorization to the U.S. Ambassador for Presidential use. (John Clearwater, Canadian Nuclear Weapons: The Untold Story of Canadas Cold War Arsenal, Toronto: Dundurn Press, p. 104.)The biggest cover story, however, was the disinformation of Canada as a “peacekeeper,” which the Trudeau Liberals and Cynthia Freeland are desperately trying to revive with the “rules-based international order” they claim to uphold.

“In the Trudeau era, we generated this myth that Canada was quasi-neutral, a nation of peacekeepers,” Sean Maloney, who taught national security at The Royal Military College in Kingston, ON, told MacLean’s. “We’ve created this image that Canada is more moral than the Americans, and nukes don’t fit into that.” Maloney said his research shows that Ottawa was prepared to develop its own weapons if Washington did not give it access to nuclear arms. In 1955, he says, the government of Louis Saint-Laurent commissioned a study on whether Canada could build its own bomb. “The answer was, ‘Sure we could,’ but we never had to make our own,” says Maloney. “It was cheaper to get them from the Americans.”

In terms of the U.S. navy, nuclear depth charges became the nuclear weapons most frequently carried into Canada. The United States bases nuclear weapons at CFB Greenwood (see charts above), never mind that it is not part of U.S. territory [13].

  • In the Caribbean, Canada sends warships as part of a U.S. fleet off the coast of Haiti during the 1963 uprising and the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic in April 1965; begins to participate in commissions of the Conference of American Naval Chiefs (1965- ) and the biannual Conference of the Armies of the Americas (with observer status); begins deploying warships to the Caribbean as part of the NATO Fleet formed in 1968; sends arms to Trinidad to crush a popular upsurge in 1970; sends troops to conduct intensive training in “jungle warfare” in Jamaica between 1969 and 1972 and helps destabilize the Manley government; sends RCMP forces following the overthrow of the Grenada government in 1983 while participating in the rehearsal Ocean Ventures exercise earlier; participated in the illegal blockade and mining of the harbours of Nicaragua in 1984 and supplies ammunition to the Contra forces; and sends troops from CFB Gagetown and RCMP forces to overthrow the Haitian government in 2004. It annually deploys warships and/or observers to participate in sabre-rattling U.S. Southcom exercises (e.g., UNITAS, Panamax, Tradewinds, Op Caribbe) along with NATO bloc members France, Netherlands and Britain, and NATO fleet exercises in the Caribbean, all of which are now aimed at Venezuela and its allies such as Cuba and Nicaragua.
  • In 1964 Halifax County Council votes to expropriate the historic community of Africville on the harbour’s waterfront under the liberal banner of “urban renewal.” The land is deemed crucial for the commercial, military and strategic expansion of the port. Instead of taking up their responsibilities and putting the well-being of the people in command of their decisions, successive governments blamed and demonized the community for the chronic negligence and poverty – a condition based on the model imposed on them by the regime of slavery and segregation from the 1800s in the first place. The community begins a four decades and more struggle for reparations.
  • In January, 1968 NATO sets up its permanent naval force in the Atlantic, the Standing Naval Force Atlantic [STANAVFORLANT], consisting of U.S., British, Canadian, Dutch and Danish warships. A naval command is also instituted with headquarters at Naples, Italy allegedly to monitor the movement of Soviet ships in the Mediterranean. This “sword” of aggression is entirely under Washington’s control, which zealously safeguards its right to take decisions within NATO on the key issues of war and peace without any real consultations with its partners. The highest naval office in NATO, Marcom and the NATO Strike Fleet, is always reserved for U.S. Admirals based at the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, who is the U.S. Commander, Second Fleet Atlantic (C2F). The fleet begins operating in the South Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea – well beyond the geographical boundaries defined by the 1949 NATO Treaty – in which the European colonial powers continue to maintain military bases on strategic islands as well as significant economic investments.

On February 1, 1968 the Pearson government and its defence minister Paul Hellyer controversially integrates the navy with the other branches of the military in the mid-1960s in order to standardize weapon platforms and technology at the expense of European arms monopolies. The Canadian Forces Reorganization Bill abolishes the RCN, the Canadian Army and the RCAF, and creates a single service, the Canadian Armed Forces, with regular and reserve components and the potential for a special force to meet NATO, United Nations or other external commitments. Unified military doctrine, training, and tactics and “interoperability” with the U.S. armed forces becomes the order of the day.

Among other things, thousands of Canadian military personnel have participated in training programmes, joint military exercises and other activities in the United States and elsewhere. Inevitably, USA/NATO has thus been provided with numerous contacts and channels through which it can spy on, infiltrate and exert influence upon Canadian military, political and business structures.

  • In 1966 President Charles De Gaulle withdrew France from Nato’s integrated military structure. Spain joined Nato in 1982 and in 1993 France rejoined the military command.
  • 1964-1968: Nerve and chemical agents are sprayed on US and Canadian naval ship crews, without their consent: The U.S. Department of Defense conducts a series of chemical and biological warfare vulnerability tests on naval ships known collectively as Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD). According to the DoD, “The SHAD program was planned and conducted by the Army’s Deseret Test Center. However, the tests were done on Navy ships.”It was part of a larger effort called Project 112, which was conducted during the 1960s.As part of SHAD, the US army sprays nerve or chemical agents “on a variety of ships and their crews to gauge how quickly the poisons can be detected and how rapidly they would disperse, as well as to test the effectiveness of protective gear and decontamination procedures….” According to documents released in 2002, there is no evidence that the servicemen had given the military consent to be part of the experiment. (New York Times, May 24, 2002)

The U.S. military later claims the experiments were conducted “out of concern for [the United States’] ability to protect and defend against these potential threats.” (Reuters, October 10, 2002; US Department of Defense, October 31, 2002) “Exposures of uninformed and unwilling humans during the testing to the test substances, particularly the exposure to U.S. military personnel then in service, has added controversy to recent revelations of the project.” … No effort was made to ensure the informed consent of the military personnel. Until 1998, the Department of Defense stated officially that Project SHAD did not exist. Because the DoD refused to acknowledge the program, surviving test subjects have been unable to obtain disability payments for health issues related to the project. 134 tests were planned initially, but reportedly, only 46 tests were actually completed. In these tests, chemical and biological agents were introduced to military personnel, who were at the time ignorant that they were involved in such an experiment. Nerve agents and chemicals include, but are not limited to, VX nerve gas, Tabun gas, Sarin, Soman, and the marker chemicals zinc cadmium sulfide, and QNB. Biologics include Bacillus globigii, Coxiella burnetti (which causes Q fever), and Francisella tularensis (which causes tularemia or ‘rabbit fever’). The Deseret Test Center in Dugway, Utah, which was built entirely for Project SHAD was closed after the project was finished in 1973. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_112; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_SHAD)

Pierre Trudeau government, 1968-1979

In 1969 Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s Liberal government announced that Canada would withdraw its armed forces from their nuclear roles, and the now obsolete Bomarcs were phased out of service by 1971. His Royal Commission on Security (1969) decreed that Canadian security meant the defence of the United States. In parallel, Canadian universities increasingly play a critical and leading role in the formulation, elaboration and promotion of unacceptable foreign policy doctrine, doctrine that theorize justifications for imperialist intervention, aggression and war.

In 1971, the U.S. Donner Foundation, the third largest foundation in Canada, co-finances with DND the formation of the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies (CFPS) at Dalhousie University. It was the first of a series of strategic study centres established in universities across Canada following the deployment of the armed forces under the War Measures Act in the “October Crisis” of 1970 to develop imperialist doctrine on different questions such as “aid to the civil power,” “responsibility to protect,” and “sustainable development” and win student youth to the war aims of the government. Dalhousie was Canada’s premier institution focusing on seapower and given the task to elaborate a bluewater naval doctrine for the Canadian navy and Maritime Command (the Leadmark study) as part of NATO based on the nexus of “interoperability” with the U.S. Navy.

In its first 13 years (1970-1983), the CFPS received DND grants totalling $480,000. This included a grant of $300,000, while in 1976 another grant of $180,000 from the Donner Canadian Foundation, a principal American funder of strategic and foreign policy studies centres in Canadian universities, for its programs. The Donner Foundation generated a controversy through its links with the MacDonald Royal Commission on the wrong-doings of the RCMP and other sundry scandals. It bears the name of William H. Donner (1864-195), a partner of two of the most infamous and criminal figures of American monopoly capital, Henry G Frick and Andrew W Mellon of U.S. Steel of Pittsburgh, who enriched himself from the plunder of iron ore from Québec for the Pittsburg steel mills during the 1930s. Mellon’s stake in Canada grew to include Alcoa and Gulf Oil. Elliott Roosevelt, Donner’s son-in-law, was a commander in the OSS. Another Donner in-law, Kermit (“Kim”) Roosevelt Jr, is notorious for organizing the CIA-British coup d’état in Iran in 1953. Gulf – along with Standard Oil of New Jersey and California, Socony-Mobil and the Texas Company – got 40 per cent of the plunder of all Iranian oil and the oil of the Iranian people provided 30 per cent of all the oil needs of the USA which considered Iran as their own estate. Other offspring were fanatic imperialists. His grandson, Curtin Winsor Jr, a West Virginia coal mine owner, former Manager for International Affairs at Chase Manhattan Bank’s Washington office, member of Reagan’s transtitional team and Reagan’s hardline ambassador to Costa Rica (1983-85) during the Contra affair, and his great-grandson, Curtin Winsor III, a Georgetown banker. They used the foundation to finance subversive causes including the Manhattan Institute; the anti-environment Wise Use Movement (a brainchild of the timber industry, in the mid-west and western United States featuring the creation of pseudo citizen front groups, also called astroturf, its agenda, called for “all public lands including wilderness and public parks” to be opened for mining and timber extraction by private capital); the Fraser Institute (1974) in Vancouver and the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies (1994) in Halifax; along with books (the Donner Prize) promoting a definite political and ideological agenda, a wonderful fruit that Hilary Clinton deemed “a vast right wing conspiracy.” (Tony Seed, “The Donner Story”, unpublished essay, 2008)

As its founding director, the CFPS appointed Dr. Denis Stairs, a scion of the Anglo-Canadian colonialist Stairs family of the ruling elite; the family was represented on the board of directors of the Royal Bank of Canada through six generations. Stairs had a series of successive promotions at Dalhousie (Vice-President, Academic & Research from 1988 to 1993) and military appointments such as chair of the Canadian Forces College (2006-2009). He was succeeded by Dr Gilbert R. Winham (1975-1982), a former U.S. naval officer who specialized in “free trade” and worked for NAFTA and the WTO. Danford Middlemiss, director from 1987 to 1993, and again from 2005 to 2008, was a member of the warmongering Atlantic Council of NATO, established the Canadian Naval Review, published by the CFPS (now based at the Mulroney Centre, St Francis Xavier University), and also lectured at the National Defence College, the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre, and at the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College.

Notably, CFPS recruited in 1971 as professor of strategic studies Commander Michael MccGwire, former assistant naval attaché at the British Embassy in Moscow, director of Soviet Naval Intelligence in the Ministry of Defence and a NATO war planner on the staff of SACLANT. MacGwire’s was the first position funded by the DND in a new program to establish a network of security study positions in Canadian universities. During his tenure, the CFPS convened secret invitation-only conferences of naval commanders from NATO and the U.S. and Canadian navies on Soviet naval developments, which were held at Saraguay House of the carefully secluded Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron on 376 Purcell’s Cove Road. In 1979 he was promoted to the Brookings Institution in Washington. In the mid-1980s the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists called the commodore “perhaps the West’s best analyst on Soviet naval developments” and nuclear deterrence.

Before and after the establishment of the CFPS, Dalhousie collaborated with Naval Research Establishment, Defence Research Establishment Atlantic (DREA) and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. The CFPS was followed by the creation of a number of institutes and centres specializing in different spheres of sea power, the naval powers and deployments, law of the sea (International Ocean Institute), oceanography, offshore oil, etc. For example, the Russian Micro-Project (David Jones, a graduate of Duke and Oxford universities) based at Dalhousie, specialized in Soviet naval studies and published two serial encyclopedias, “Military-Naval Encyclopaedia of Russia and the Soviet Union” and “Soviet Armed Forces Review Annual” by a press based in Pensacola, Florida, an important U.S. naval-air base. He was an associate of the Harvard Russian Research Center (a creature of the Cold War established in February 1948 by the CIA., U.S. State Dept. with funding from Carnegie), and a member of the advisory editorial board of Conflict Quarterly from the DND-funded and CIA-linked Centre for Conflict Studies in Fredericton and the American Journal of Slavic Studies. His centre energetically gathered a vast collection of microfiche of Soviet and Tsarist Russian naval writings and science – meaning that the Dalhousie studies proceeded from source material overlooked by the U.S. Navy until the 1980s. The affiliated Russian Research Centre in Cambridge, NS, possessed the third largest library on Russia in Canada. Interestingly Dr Jones never visited the Soviet Union. By the 1980s Dalhousie was the most heavily militarized university of the Maritimes.

In 2015 the CFPS rebranded itself as the Centre for the Study of Security and Development (CSSD) and “works closely with other organizations on campus, including the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence , the MacEachen Institute, and The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.” It was recently selected as “a core component in a new network-building initiative, the Defence and Security Foresight Group (DSF Group), with CSSD fellows taking on leading roles” established by DND. “DSF Group brings together leading academic experts from across Canada, to identify and assess emerging defence and security challenges facing Canada, and to develop strategies by which Canadian policy-makers can quickly adapt to uncertainty. Drawing on recent academic research, and building on close engagement with relevant DND officials and CAF officers, DSF Group members will develop a common template for foresight and analysis, and apply it to emerging security challenges in different regional contexts.” Since 2009, the CSSD has worked closely with the Halifax War Conference (Halifax International Security Form) to recruit student youth to serve as “volunteers”.

• On February 4, 1970 the Liberian-flagged tanker SS Arrowruns aground on Cerberus Rock in Chedabucto Bay, Nova Scotia and spills its load of oil into Chedabucto Bay. It remains the most significant oil spill off the Atlantic Coast (with some 10,000 tonnes or about 25 per cent of the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska in 1989.) Only the MV Kurdistan comes close when that vessel spilled about 6,000 tons of oil after breaking apart just south of Cabot Strait on March 15, 1979. Chartered by Imperial Oil, the Arrow was heading from Aruba for Point Tupper, Cape Breton with 108,000 barrels of oil for the Swedish-owned Stora pulp and paper mill. Pounded by wind and wave action it broke in two on February 8, 1970 spilling about two-thirds of her cargo. The cargo of Bunker C residual oil began to escape from the damaged ship, and by February 12, approximately 2.5 million gallons of the viscous black oil had escaped to pollute the waters of the Bay and the surrounding shoreline. The captain had no charts, the depth sounder had not been operational for two months, her autogyro compass showed a permanent error of three degrees west and her radar failed about an hour before she ran aground, and he wound up steering the ship on top of a submerged rock. The spill contaminated 300 kilometres of Nova Scotia coastline. It was the biggest such disaster in Canada at the time. Much of the oil was left to wash away, but instead clung to beaches, plants and wildlife. Heavy equipment used to clean the beaches ended up damaging them.

Painting of the Halifax Explosion

By Tony Seed

The 75th Anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on the Sixth of August 1945 is a historic universal event with profound immediate significance to present international relations, the danger of war and even nuclear war. For Haligonians, the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has a special meaning ,which is even more poignant in the wake of the hugely destructive explosion in  Beirut, Lebanon on August 4.

On the Sixth of December 1917 the largest man-made explosion prior to Hiroshima took place here, when the munitions ship Mont Blanc loaded with 2,652 tons of chemical explosives and the Belgian relief ship Imo collided in the narrows of the harbour, adjacent to densely populated civilian quarters. Some 1,963 innocent men, women and children were massacred, another 9,000 injured and 199 blinded, comprising more than one fifth of the total population of less than 50,000. One square mile of the working class quarter of the North End facing the Halifax Narrows was totally destroyed. Six thousand people lost their homes altogether and between 20,000 and 25,000 Haligonians were left homeless and destitute, including ten thousand children. More than 1,600 buildings were destroyed, and 12,000 more were damaged. Whole groups of people such as African Nova Scotians and the Mi’kmaw were denied compensation by official authorities. [1]

It was the largest man-made explosion before Hiroshima. Its force was so great that people in Truro, over 100 kilometres away, felt the tremor. The anchor from one of the ships, the Mont Blanc, blew over the peninsula to land on the southerly side of the North West Arm where fragments remain to this day. Aside from the absolute force of the explosion and the devastation, the Halifax Explosion is distinguished by the lack of nuclear fall out, contamination and lesser loss of life.

Not to be forgotten is that just 18 days before Hiroshima, a second explosion,(pictured) on July 18, 1945, was initiated when an ammunition barge blew up at the naval magazine jetty on the inner Bedford Basin of the Halifax harbour. Naval vessels were being refit for new duties in the Pacific. As part of the process, all ammunition was being removed from ships in port. “By July 18th, the Bedford Basin magazine held enough shells, bombs, mines, torpedoes, depth charges, and a quantity of the new secret explosive RDX to blow Halifax off the face of the earth,” wrote Thomas Raddall in Halifax: Warden of the North in 1948. [2]

Bedford Magazine Explosion

As different as the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki may be from the earlier Halifax explosion, they share some things in common.

The Halifax Explosion occurred during an imperialist world war for the redivision of the globe in the context of unbridled drive for war profiteering, in which all safety precautions were thrown to the wind. Far from being an exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime “accident” or “an act of God” or manslaughter caused by the negligence of an individual ship’s captain or pilot or even sabotage by socialists, this tragedy was entirely preventable. The federal cabinet of Sir Robert Borden, the U.S. authorities who consciously diverted the badly-loaded Mont Blanc with its 2,652 tonnes of munitions from New York to Halifax, and the Royal Navy and Halifax port authorities, were all aware of the threat. All the official parties abdicated their social responsibility. It was a war crime.

Nothing about how the Halifax Explosion and Hiroshima and Nagasaki came to pass – the characters, ships and places, the scale of ambition, the ethical dilemmas evoked, its impact on our history – can be diminished. Scores of books have tried to elide its moral complexities, sculpt cause-and-effect around its every turn, answer every question. The books are best left on the shelf.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred as the anti-fascist world war against Hitlerite Nazi Germany, Mussolini Italy and Japanese Militarism was at an end. It was an unjustified and naked demonstration of the might of the United States empire. To this day, the U.S. and its apologists argue that the Japanese cities were legitimate military targets and that their apocalyptic  destruction was righteous, moral and proper. Eisenhower, MacArthur and five other U.S. generals disagreed. They were opposed to using the bomb. With all the other evidence put forth since then, including primary documents, there is no longer any debate on this issue. [3] The view of the apologists ignores the reality of the wholesale slaughter of the innocent civilian population, an act in violation of international law. The bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima was made of uranium and instantly killed about 140,000 people in the initial blast of its estimated population of 350,000 and ultimately more than 237,000 in total. Of the 78,000 buildings standing in the city that August morning, nearly 50,000 were totally incinerated.

The bomb it dropped on Nagasaki was made of plutonium and killed 85,000 people in the initial blast and eventually resulted in the deaths of more than 70,000 additional people due to exposure to radiation and injuries. Thousands suffered their entire lives, as have the generations that followed, from the crimes committed on those days. This was a war crime.

Prior to this, using the experience of the firebombing of Dresden and other German cities, 334 United States B-29 bombers firebombed Tokyo on March 9, 1945 with napalm in an operation called Meetinghouse. They killed more than 100,000 people that day and many more were injured. The U.S. firebombed and largely destroyed more than 100 Japanese cities, leaving millions homeless. The “conventional” bombing was specifically designed to target civilians and infrastructure.

These were unprecedented and premeditated war crimes of mass murder which had nothing to do with the fight against Japanese militarism. Japan was suffering defeats everywhere and its surrender was imminent. But irrespective of that, such war crimes and mass murder are impermissible no matter the excuse.

This mass murder of civilian populations in Tokyo and then Hiroshima and Nagasaki served as a threat to the peoples of the world, especially the Soviet Union, that the U.S. had the monopoly on the use of force. Following the Korean War in 1950, the U.S. engaged the world in “nuclear politics” to blackmail the peoples into doing what the U.S. wanted.

The U.S. considered the use of nuclear weapons to settle the Korean War, Vietnam and wipe out China, but instead declared their use “unthinkable” and ”taboo.” In this way, the U.S. claimed such weapons were nonetheless necessary to act as a deterrent and that this was the main factor for peace in the world.

The sorcerer’s apprentice

There are two other little-known relationships between Halifax and Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The 1992 Ground Zero conference, organized by Alan Ruffman, an independent marine geophysicist, and historian Colin Howell of the Gorsebrook Institute, for the first time, publicly involved science in analyzing the Halifax Explosion. They set to rest the mythology of the precise time of the explosion which had been left in the shade.

The researchers also discovered a darker, more disturbing relationship, which had been kept secret by the government for 49 years. Scientific analysis of the Halifax Explosion was carried out by Oppenheimer’s group in the Manhattan Project in 1942 for the atomic bomb, to be targeted at highly populated, urban centres.

Writing of this little-known, universal dimension, Dr Ruffman noted: “…it is clear that the Halifax experience (helped scientists to) gauge the range of air blast effects and to estimate any possible tsunami created by a blast in a populated harbour city.” He concluded that the Halifax Explosion helped the American scientists in their decision to detonate bombs in mid-air at urban Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, to produce a greater range of devastation: “Their research into what had gone before – including the Halifax Explosion – gave them insight into the potential of a nuclear bomb.” One war crime was the laboratory for and handmaiden of the other. [4]

The genocidaire

In 1913 a young American was recruited to join the faculty at Dalhousie University to teach engineering. During World War II as federal minister of Supply and Munitions possessing vast powers in the MacKenzie King government, C.D. Howe organized the supply of uranium from Canada for the U.S. atom bomb from Port Radium in the land of the Sahtugot’ine (Dene First Nation of Sahtú, Great Bear Lake). Declassified documents reveal that the danger from uranium was known during the mining operation. Neither the Canadian nor U.S. governments saw fit to make known the health dangers. Unaware of the radiation’s effects, the Sahtú Dene used “cloth sacks” to transport the ore. Their only protective clothing was gloves. In the early 1960s, the danger became apparent. The Sahtugot’ine workers started to die from lung, colon, and kidney cancers – diseases previously unknown to them. The Sahtugot’ine were sacrificed for an effort that ultimately slaughtered hundreds of thousands. [5]

Canadian universities and hundreds of Canadian scientists collaborated with U.S. and British scientists on the atomic bomb program, for which Canada supplied uranium and heavy water. Canada also had representation on the Combined Policy Committee, headquartered in Washington, that administered the atomic bomb program. Canada’s Howe was among its members who approved the use of the bomb on Japan. Howe declared in a public statement on August 6, 1945 that it was his particular “pleasure” to announce that Canada’s role “guarantees us a front line position in the scientific position that lies ahead” – a seat at the table with the Anglo-American powers. Liberal Prime Minister MacKenzie King recorded in his Diaries on August 6 that, “It is fortunate that the use of the bomb should have been upon the Japanese rather than upon the white races of Europe. I am a little concerned about how Russia may feel, not having been told anything of this invention or of what the British and the U.S. were doing in the way of exploring and perfecting the process.” [6]] Three days later, on August 9, Nagasaki was bombed. In 1957, C.D. Howe was rewarded with an appointment at the behest of big capital to be the first chancellor of Dalhousie University: his remit was to develop atmospheric sciences as part of the Cold War, as epitomized in the race for space and scientific power then underway. and the International Geophysical Year from July 1957 to December 1958. [7]  Today the university with its research institutes is one of the most militarized in the country.

That same year the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was created in February and the first Pugwash Conference was held in Nova Scotia based on the Russell–Einstein Manifesto of 1955 and the slogan to “Ban the Bomb.” Under this slogan, crucial work to establish the conditions required to preserve the peace was abandoned in the pursuit of nuclear politics. Post-war demands for denazification and to develop a peace economy were lost within the clamour to “Ban the Bomb!”

The Soviet Union developed nuclear weapons initially to hold the U.S. in check. However, by the 1960s, instead of the peoples’ cause for peace being made the centre of the foreign policy of the big powers, an arms race replaced the striving of the peoples of the world for peace. Expenditures on weapons soared. All five members of the UN Security Council also developed nuclear weapons and gave the green light for some of their allies to do the same.

Canada and weapons of mass destruction

When the people of Halifax commemorate the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this week, we keep these similarities in mind. On the national level, successive Canadian governments betrayed the call of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again! by continuing to collaborate with the United States in the realm of weapons of mass destruction. As a founding member of NATO, Canada avidly supports that military bloc’s policy of “first-use” of nuclear weapons and is bound to it through secret agreements and covenants characteristic of such imperialist blocs. The total hypocrisy is to the extent that it also claims to be the greatest upholder of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty under the pretext of “security” when it comes time to attacking independent states such as Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who are not kowtowing to the dictate of the United States while silent on the arsenal of nuclear weapons possessed by Israel.

Beginning at the end of World War II, the U.S. Armed Forces, the Canadian Department of National Defence and Imperial Chemicals dumped vast amounts of deadly chemical and biological warfare agents such as mustard gas were off the Atlantic Coast of Canada despite protests of fishermen. The stages of decomposition are to date unknown.[8]

Under a succession of secret agreements which originated at the time of the formation of NATO in 1949, successive Canadian governments allowed the United States not only to establish bases on Canadian soil but also to base and store part of its nuclear as well as chemical warfare arsenal in Canada. The sole government which disagreed, that of Conservative prime minister John Diefenbaker, was removed in 1963, in a covert operation of the John F. Kennedy administration headquartered in the basement of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, which was organized to install the Lester B. Pearson Liberals.

Then on August 17, 1963 the new Pearson Liberal government agreed to station 500 or more U.S. nuclear warheads in Canada but unknown to the most of the cabinet as well as Canadians. Only Pearson, the defence minister and a few senior military planners knew how extensive Canada’s program was: “Virtually all of the cabinet was in the dark.” There were cases in which the Prime Minister was not expected to be consulted, and Pearson gave a form letter providing prior authorization to the U.S. Ambassador for Presidential use.

In terms of the U.S. navy, nuclear depth charges became the nuclear weapons most frequently carried into Canada.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1999

By 1965, there were over 100 U.S. bases and installations located throughout Canada. [9]

During the war of aggression against Vietnam, Canada secretly facilitated the testing of the chemical warfare Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick, one of the most shameful and criminal legacies of the Pearson government.

A substantial portion of the depleted uranium in the DU weapons used by the U.S. in Afghanistan came from Canadian uranium exported to the U.S. and processed in U.S. enrichment plants into depleted uranium and subsequently manufactured into DU weapons. DU shells were used by the Canadian navy at Vieques Island (Isla de Vieques) in Puerto Rico and potentially radioactive shell casings dumped in the sea near Halifax. DU weapons are deemed weapons of mass destruction under international law. [10]

Under the Harper and Trudeau governments this trend of abject collaboration reached a climax with new permanent arrangements that put U.S. security forces on Canadian soil and place all of Canadian land, sea and waterways shared with the U.S., such as the Great Lakes, under U.S. military command, along with aerospace.

This collaboration includes allowing testing of nuclear weapons delivery systems and permitting vessels and aircraft carrying nuclear weapons inside Canadian ports and territory.  The nuclear armaments on the warships which “visit” Canadian ports include tactical, intermediate, and strategic weapons. In the same breath Canadian governments claim that it is not possible for it to know whether U.S. warships are carrying nuclear weapons because of the U.S. “neither confirm nor deny” policy and “operational security”. If it is not possible to know, then why has it established Nuclear Emergency Response Teams and conducts “mock disaster drills” in ports such as Halifax? [16]

Protest against warships in Halifax harbour, CFB Stadacona, May 29, 2012.

An attack submarine, an aircraft carrier strike group such as the USS Eisenhower – invited by the Trudeau government as part of the 2017 celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the confederation of 1867 [17] – and entire US-NATO fleets such as the September, 2019 Cutlass Fury exercise by their very name imply the threat of force and are a projection of U.S. military power. They are officially welcomed with open arms: no questions asked. Why should Canada receive such guests, who come to Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver or anywhere else festooned with all manner of arms, who claim to be here for friendly purposes? The U.S. is not an “ally.” Why should Canada’s own navy and military be similarly armed and have as one of its main objectives “interoperability” and “relative military autonomy” with the U.S. military? It means that, in the absence of any genuine democracy, the public right of the people of our country to live in peace and safety cannot be secured by these war governments. Even Parliament does not have a say over matters of war and peace, which are matters of executive privilege or the Royal Prereogative. Any discussion on this is taboo. In other words, the lack of empowerment and the existence of the Royal Prerogative and its political use to enforce what cannot be justified is a greater problem than weapons of mass destruction.

From top to bottom, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the USS Winston S. Churchill and the HMCS Moncton conduct what the U.S. Navy terms a photo exercise, on the way to Halifax, June 27, 2017.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again! 

Demonstration on Sparks Street in Ottawa, circa 1963, opposes the Pearson Liberal government’s agreement to allow U.S. nuclear missiles on Canadian soil.

Canadians developed a movement against nuclear weapons from the 1960s on but it was not until the 1980s that a vigorous anti-war mass movement broke out in Halifax. Over the years thousands of Haligonians participated to oppose the all-sided preparations for war. The essence and thrust was to take up the question in their own hands rather than rely on or appeal to a war government.

The concrete focus was the harbour around the popular slogan “No U.S. or Soviet warships in Canadian ports.” Hardial Bains, leader of the CPC(M-L), explained the need to put forward concrete political demands so that Canadians could assert their sovereign rights and make sure our ports and country are zones of opposition to war. Through such political slogans, people could  see who poses the main danger of war at the time, the role of the ports, sea lanes and naval fleets of the superpowers. He emphasized that unity is not based on simply agreeing with a document in words but requires a program which involves people so that they can acquire their own experience in how to build the organization which can achieve it. An important ideological battle was waged against the militarization of culture and public space. Spectacles such as the Nova Scotia Tattoo (from 1979), Shearwater Air Show, freedom of the city ceremonies, open houses onboard visiting warships, tall ships, fleet reviews, “Dial-a-sailor” program [15]) aimed to justify the “visits” of warships and the militarization of the economy, the university and culture. In parallel, fearmongering with comic book shock and awe scenarios of Quinpool and Robie being in the cross hairs of a nuclear first strike from Russia or later following 9/11 ludicrous fantasies of terror strikes by jihadis sailing Arab dhows into the harbour were unleashed to force Haligonians to accept the unacceptable. This necessarily demanded systematic opposition to disinformation, right in people’s everyday lives, distorting how to make sense of the present while providing protective cover with the most reactionary rendering of the city and humanity’s past. The criminal propaganda and the falsification of history by the magnates of Halifax, the media and some reactionary cultural and literary figures aimed to create the psychology of war by implanting in the minds of the people the psychosis of the “military tradition” of Halifax. Activists fought this offensive tooth and nail. In parallel, important theoretical work on the nature and character of imperialist war in the contemporary period was elaborated.

A new narrative developed based on continuous study and investigation second to none which was popularized through forums, meetings, pickets, newsletters and such films as the acclaimed “No Harbour for War” documentary shown nationally on Vision TV during the first Gulf War.

Further, annual commemorations of Hiroshima and Nagaskai began to take place although the demand to the city to declare a nuclear-free zone was unsuccessful. A similar movement, one can say a sister movement, emerged in the port of Vancouver and on Vancouver Island where the U.S. maintains a nuclear base at Nanoose, as well as in the ports in Quebec.

Its advancement necessitated a break with nuclear politics and the attempt to marginalize the peace movement into a lobby group.

The focus of debate: what was our aim? The achievement of a nuclear condominium and modus vivendi of the arms race between the big powers? This was advertised as the yellow brick road to peace, the be all and end all of protest. Or to build independent political organization which could deal with the stark reality facing people in the eye in the harbour itself? Could people forget about the interference by conventional arms and troops in the sovereign affairs of the peoples of the world; accept the use of force to settle conflicts between peoples; and forget that the building of arms to destroy the homes and lives of other working people along with the destruction of the environment is an unacceptable and illegitimate way to create jobs and industry? They could not. “No harbour for war” based on unity in action emerged as the path forward. Despite the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, the iconic slogan against the “visits” of US and NATO warships to Halifax still reverberates. Concrete slogans and programs of action based on analysis are as necessary today at the time we raise the demand for an anti-war government and to make Canada a zone for peace, as they were in the past.

Halifax protest against the first Gulf War and Canada’s participation in it under the Mulroney Conservative government, 1991.

On the occasion of this solemn anniversary, the Trudeau Liberal government is pushing for further integration into the U.S. war machine precisely at a time when Trump and the U.S. ruling elite are organizing to launch further aggression against the world’s people. On January 30, 2020 the Federation of American Scientists revealed the U.S. has for the first time deployed a “low-yield” nuclear warhead (the W76-2) on a submarine that is currently patrolling the Atlantic Ocean, the USS Tennessee. The low-yield Trident nuclear warhead was commissioned in 2018 by Trump. [18]

The USS Tennessee (SSBN-734) at sea, the first SSBN to deploy with new low-yield W76-2 warhead | U.S. Navy

Repudiation of the crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki contributes to the profound sentiment of Canadians to Make Canada a Zone for Peace and of Haligonians to Make Halifax a No Harbour for War. Let us march on, unite in action with others and build the anti-war movement. Let us make the slogan Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again! a reality to build the organizations required to establish an anti-war government that makes Canada a Zone for Peace!

This article is informed by the TML Weekly article 75th anniversary of the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Originally published by The Nova Scotia Advocate

Endnotes

[1]102nd Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion,” Tony Seed, December 6, 2019

[2] Fire spread quickly to adjacent piles of ammunition, which had been stored outside because of overcrowding in the main compound. A chain reaction of fire, explosion and concussion rocked Halifax for a day. By late July 18, much of Halifax’s northern half had been evacuated. None of the explosions approached the force of the 1917 Halifax Explosion, but shattered windows, cracked plaster, occasional minor injuries and one death were reported. But for the heroic efforts of firefighters and naval personnel, there was no repeat of 1917. It could have been worse, as some 50,000 depth charges were reportedly saved from the fire. “As if their dangers were not enough, the parched woods all about the magazine on the Burnside slope caught fire and burned for two days,” Raddall informs.

Nevertheless, this explosion posed a real danger to families. One survivor of the explosion, Ruth Zatzman, whose husband was serving in the air force at Halifax, vividly remembers the day. They were living in Dartmouth. She told her son, “I was doing some ironing when I reached down to pick up some more clothes. At that very moment, I heard an explosion and the doorknob flew right above me, right where I had been standing.

“Until then throughout the war all the military families were being constantly reassured that the Halifax Explosion was a thing of the past, a once-in-a-lifetime ‘accident’.”

[3] “ATOMIC BOMBINGS AT 75: Truman’s ‘Human Sacrifice’ to Subdue Moscow,” Peter Kuznick, Consortiumnews, August 3, 2020.

[4] Ground Zero: A Reassessment of the 1917 Explosion in Halifax Harbour, Nimbus & Gorsebrook Institute; 1993

[5]From Sahtú (Great Bear Lake) to Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Canada and the atom bomb,” Kim Petersen, April, 2005.

[6] The infamous statement was later expunged from The MacKenzie King Record, the 1968 biographical project of his literary executors, though his Diary was kept as a record to recount and explain the conduct of public affairs and is described in the official Canadian military history as “the most important single document in twentieth-century Canadian history.” The same liberal statesman also urged in 1944 that all “disloyal” Japanese-Canadians be deported as “soon as physically possible,” while those adjudged “loyal” should be physically dispersed.

[7] Lady Dunn, the wife of the financier Sir James Dunn of Algoma Steel, who made a fortune during World War II, was responsible for his appointment. Lady Dunn’s and Howe’s priority was science and “she offered substantial money”, the whole cost of a new building in fact. “The public announcement was made within forty-eight hours of Howe’s acceptance of the offer of chancellor. Thus Howe, Lady Dunn, and the Physics building – now to be called the Sir James Dunn Science Building – all came to Dalhousie at the same time.” The university also named the law building in his honour. Howe was executor of his estate and the two had neighbouring manors in posh St Andrews by the Sea in New Brunswick. He was chancellor until his death in 1960.

In the Fast Lane: C.D. Howe, Lady Dunn, and Others, 1957-1963” in The Lives of Dalhousie University, Volume Two (1925-1980),

Shortly after the launch of sputnik, NATO established a Science Committee to address the perceived imbalances in scientific power between the West and the Soviet bloc. Through NATO, scientists hoped to achieve a broad base of cooperation that would reap the benefits of international cooperation in fields that could have unabashedly strategic value. As historian John Krig described it, the NATO Science Committee was “intended to create an ‘international’ elite, held together by ties of professional respect and friendship and by a political and ideological consensus, whose members could be counted on to promote the values of the Atlantic community.’ At the same time, the Science Committee strove to promote itself as an organization with predominantly scientific goals unconnected to economic development, and not even necessarily connected to military development.” (p. 230)

[8] Canada was a world leader in the development, testing and production of chemical weapons including mustard gas from 1939 to 1945. Trainloads of chemical munitions were dumped in the waters off Sable Island, Cape Breton Island, Bras d’Or Lakes and within the Gulf of St. Lawrence off the coast of Magdellan Islands.

See “Seismic tests, chemical munitions and the fishermen,” Myles Kehoe, Shunpiking Online, January 1, 2004; and “Mustard gas in the Bras d’Or Lakes,” Barry Barnard, Mi’kmaq-Maliseet Nations News, Shunpiking Online, October 2002

[9] U.S. bases in Canada are itemized by John Clearwater, Canadian Nuclear Weapons: The Untold Story of Canadas Cold War Arsenal, Toronto: Dundurn Press, pp. 254-261.

[10] For in-depth information, see Dossier on Depleted Uranium, Shunpiking Online.

[11] For a historical overview, see  “60th Anniversary of NORAD: The Demand to Dismantle NORAD Is More Urgent Than Ever,” TML Weekly, June 2, 2018 – No. 21.

[12] John Ward, “Admiral unilaterally sent Canadian warships as part of US maritime blockade of Cuba,” Vancouver Sun, October 10, 2000 reproduced on Shunpiking Online. Ward’s account draws upon Tony German, a retired naval commander, who gives a detailed account in The Sea is at Our Gates: A History of the Canadian Navy, Toronto: McLelland & Stewart, 1991.

[13] Robert S. Norris, William Arkin, and William Burr, “Where They Were,” and “How Much Did Japan Know?,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November-December 1999 and January-February 2000 respectively (may be available to subscribers only).

[14]  An unequal agreement pushed through in December 2002 amidst the hysteria following 9/11 allows U.S. troops to enter Canada in response to a “threat, attack or civil emergency” concerning critical infrastructure or to protect “potential targets” such as critical infrastructure, nuclear power plants or oil and gas pipelines. Further, agreements under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the Visiting Warships Act grant immunity to American and foreign military personnel from prosecution in Canada.

[15] See “‘Liberty visits’ (I): Return of the ‘Dial-a-sailor’ program?” and “‘Liberty visits’ (II): Who will pay the bill?, Tony Seed, June 22, 2007.

[16]‘Mock disaster’ aboard visiting US nuclear sub, and the disinformation of the Chronically Horrid,” Tony Seed, Shunpiking Online, October 15, 2006; Chris Lambie, “Planning for disaster: ‘Terrorist’ attack focus of exercise,” Halifax Chronicle-Herald, October 12, 2006.

[17] “On board the Eisenhower,” El Jones, Halifax Examiner, July 7, 2017

[18] “US Deploys New Low-Yield Nuclear Submarine Warhead,” Federation of American Scientists Security Blog, William M. Arkin and Hans M. Kristensen, January 29, 2020.

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75th anniversary of the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

3 Comments

Filed under Asia, Canada, Canadian Forces, United States

3 responses to “Hiroshima and Halifax

  1. Pingback: Hiroshima and Halifax - Nova Scotia Advocate

  2. LM

    Incredible research here. You should develop it as a book. Based on this, could not the 1917 explosion been intended? All my life I was told it was just a mistake-that was the main theme for sure in school. Its the dominant theme even now. But your saying that there are no mistakes and that war preparations and engagement makes regular people at risk for “mistakes”. But based on the materials above, it points to the possibility of the whole thing being planned/intended, maybe a test to assess what takes place. My great grandmother born in 1901 was visiting her her relatives in “Truro” (Milbrook) when the explosion happened and she told me when I was younger than a teenager that the dishes rumbled during it. Soon after she had to travel to Halifax to gather her aunts remains from a shoebox. Thanks for this article.

    Like

    • Thank you for your comment. The timeline is a draft and may be removed until completion. The attempt is to bring together many inter-connecting threads, such as the fisheries. Since 1945, the Royal Canadian Navy seems to have sunk more fishing boats that “enemy” warships! There is no evidence that the 1917 Explosion was consciously premeditated. The causality of events is rather like the legal distinction between murder and voluntary manslaughter, this it is a crime, a war crime.

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