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The government of Canada has given a green light to the US Air Force to use Canadian air space and airports to carry out its aggressive war, invasion and occupation of the sovereign country of Iraq.
On Monday, March 17 the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien declared in the House of Commons that "Canada will not participate" in the U.S.-led aggression.
The declaration is a straightforward lie and shameless deception, at a time when 60 per cent of Canadians (and 80 per cent of Quebecers) have said No to the War on Iraq.
Since at least Saturday, March 15 - four days before the official declaration of war by US President Bush and two days before Chretien's declaration, following consultations with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell - dozens of U.S. military flights as well as military cargo and charter passenger jets carrying thousands of U.S. troops have stopped at two isolated airports in Newfoundland.
As well, the U.S. Air Force is scouting a third airport, the former U.S. Air Force base in Stephenville in western Newfoundland, for potential use to more efficiently move troops, arms and equipment to the Middle East.
The same government which justified its diversion of over 100 incoming transatlantic flights to the USA at the time of 9-11 to such remote airports as Gander as the prudent thing to do - as their destruction by any terrorist device on board would be inconsequential to, and an acceptable cost - has now authorized the largest terrorist army in history to use these isolated airports as the best method to facilitate its air transport to the Middle East, as it justifies that the United States has, in Chretien's words, "every right".
Airport officials and Newfoundland CBC radio further confirm the continuous presence of U.S. soldiers dressed in desert fatigues moving rapidly through the Gander International Airport. Rex LeDrew, the president of the St. John's Airport Authority, said that an estimated fifty USAF transport planes had refuelled at that airport during the weekend of March 15-16 alone.
On March 18, the USAF also contacted the Stephenville airport to "put some flights through", in effect, to re-activate the former USAF base now under nominal Canadian control.
Nevertheless, Jack Tilley, a radio weather specialist at Stephenville, said on March 20, "In fact, they (the US Air Force) just called the day before yesterday, and are quite interested in putting some flights through Stephenville.
"And it actually is a refuelling stop, especially when they have a mission on the go."
Tilley says the Stephenville airport is making sure its weather reports are up to date, that runways are clear and that there's lots of fuel available.
The Stephenville airport was begun in January, 1941 as a U.S. base - the Earnest Harmon Air Force Base (completed in August, 1943) - built as part of the Anglo-American Lend Lease Agreement in which Britain handed over extensive rights to its eight colonies in Newfoundland and the West Indies to the United States in exchange for fifty aging US destroyers.
Stephenville, then a small, quiet and isolated village, was the largest area specified in the agreement with 8159 acres. The Air Force Base was built at Stephenville because of its excellent flying conditions as a jump-off over the North Atlantic: while three other U.S. Air Bases at Goose Bay, Gander, and Argentia looked after the processing of both United States and Canadian aircraft, Stephenville's role was movement of personnel and equipment, housing 30,000 U.S. troops at its peak. Up to 132,000 military personnel and 3,000 tonnes of cargo passed through Stephenville annually
During the Cold War, it became a Strategic Air Command refueling base. Large quantities of various fuels, chemical weapons including Agent Orange, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction were covertly stored on the base and ratified by a succession of secret agreements with the Liberal governments of MacKenzie King and Lester Pearson (finalized in 1963 and 1965). The nuclear arms stored at Stephenville (and Goose Bay, Labrador) were air-to-air weapons and antisubmarine nuclear weapons. The Canadian people were never told and, in fact, 'very few members of the government knew of the arrangement (s)". (1)
Stephenville was to become the largest military airport of the United States outside of the continental USA and was protected through Canadian deniability and extra-territorial application of U.S. laws on Canadian soil. For example, the Newfoundland worker was kept under the jurisdiction of U.S. anti-labour laws which prohibited labour organization on U.S. military bases, while being paid according to the Newfoundland minimum wage. By 1958 American men had married and removed around 30,000-40,000 Newfoundland women to the USA. The United States vacated the Stephenville base in December 1966, and the buildings on the base were transferred to the government of Newfoundland. Nevertheless, one hundred and ten underground storage tanks remained active as did an infrastructure of underground fuel lines.(2)
Even today, it remains a key to controlling the North Atlantic.
Stephenville was extensively used by U.S. troops -- especially the 2nd Marine Division from Camp Lejeune, NC, now in central Iraq, spearheaded an amphibious landing assault -- during war exercises along the entire east coast of Canada up to Labrador from 1-18 June, 1998. This war exercise in "peacekeeping" (code-named the MARCOT/Unified Spirit '98 Training exercise), with its command centre in Halifax, was the largest in history. Twelve warships were stationed in Bay St George and 15,000 troops operated at sea ("maritime interdiction"), on the beaches (amphibious landings) and onshore (blocking highways [military check points], "simulated battles" in the woods and mountains behind Stephenville, "search and rescue" missions for downed pilots, the testing of new tactical encrypted cellular communications, etc.). (3)
Even as the Canadian government is posturing an arms-length relationship with the United States - just as Pearson and Trudeau did during the Vietnam War while Canada was the largest arms supplier to the U.S. - the call for "security" of Canadian airports which, as these new facts reveal, includes "security" for the U.S. Air Force, along with "security" for "visiting" U.S. warships in Canadian ports, is reaching a fever pitch as part of a common North American security perimeter.
The persistent refusal of Canada to take a stand against the aims of the U.S. to take over Iraq and instead claim that their disagreement is merely over method does not make the government of Canada a factor for peace, but a factor for war and annexation.
If the government of Canada genuinely stands for peace, it must condemn the imperialist aims behind this illegal war, and close Canada's airspace, ports and territory to the U.S. armed forces and their war preparations.
(1) "Agent Orange waste was dumped near (one building called) the roundhouse. Several people who worked in this building have died of cancer and their families want answers. The American government pays compensation to ex-servicemen and their families, who were exposed to the chemicals and experienced a wide variety of illnesses. Many people say its becoming suspicious why this is the first building to be torn down...
"According to Mayor Stein (of Stephenville), these dumps drain into the water supply catchment areas and it's basically a time bomb ready to go off." This was later confirmed by environmental audit and assessment of the area undertaken by the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation. http://www.heritage.nf.ca/society/stephenville/enviro01.html
(2) As many as 500 or more nuclear weapons were stored or deployed in and through Canada. The covert deployment of nuclear weapons in Canada (and contiguous Greenland, part of Denmark, but without the knowledge of the Danish governments) has been well documented. Various sources, including "United States Secretly Deployed Nuclear Bombs In 27 Countries and Territories During Cold War", October 20, 1999, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 20, http://www.gwu.edu/%7Ensarchiv/news/19991020/index.html. See also Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 1999, http://www.bullatomsci.org/issues/nukenotes/nd99nukenote.html
Documents also show that the Liberal cabinet of the day went to great lengths to keep the deal secret with a deliberate strategy of public deception if word leaked out. "Where they were", Robert S Norris, William M Arkin and William Burr, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December, 1999, pp 26-35; "Nuclear weapons secretly stored in Nfld.: Pearson's cold-war government signed deal with U.S. to store weapons of mass destruction, finally made public", Gary Dimmock, The Telegraph Journal, 15 April 1998.
"The storage of airborne nuclear weapons should remain classified "SECRET" and that, while there should be no public announcement, an appropriate contingency statement should be agreed between the two countries to meet possible leaks [to the press]."
The press statement, the documents show, would present the secret nuclear-arms deal simply as a transfer "of a commitment" from one U.S. military base to another.
"The risks of [press] leaks are real as the existence of the nuclear facilities are likely to become known to civilians working on the base or living nearby," the documents state.
(3) During the exercise a "truce" had to be called, as forest fires broke out. U.S. Marines who had been using pyrotechnic flares, were implicated. (Statement by Maj. Tim Dunne, director of the MARCOT media centre, Dave Kearsey, The Western Star, 18 June, 1998).
In all, there were 10 countries, 45-47 warships and over 100 combat aircraft involved in these preparations for war. Various sources, including 'U.S. Navy ships participating in MARCOT/Unified Spirit '98", U.S. Navy Wire Service (NWSA), 12 June 1998; "Troop invasion a success on west coast", Frank Gale , The Western Star, 16 June 1998; "The rewards of military manoeuvres", The Evening Telegram, St. John's, 16 June 1998; "Marines march in via phone", GCN 28 September 1998, http://www.gcn.com/archives/gcn/1998/September28/53.htm
Tony Seed is editor of shunpiking, Nova Scotia's Discovery Magazine and a former features writer with the Globe and Mail. His most recent work is Dossier on Palestine: A Land, A People. He may be reached at [email protected] Copyright Tony Seed 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .