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Paying a price

Posted on October 17, 2017 by Maple Creek

Wayne Litke

October began with my wife and her three sisters hanging out in the big city of New York. I was a little put out because Angela did not ask if I wanted to go. Of course there is no way I would go for a couple of good reasons. Firstly, I could not handle a seven-day estrogen fest and secondly, I have absolutely no desire to visit a metropolis that is home to 8.5 million people. The only things that could make such a holiday less appealing is if the city was in a third-world country and the inhabitants spoke a foreign language.
I have to admit living in Canada has spoiled me. Growing up in rural British Columbia I developed a real appreciation and respect of nature. It is both beautiful and also brutal, and I find that fascinating. Wide-open spaces, wilderness and the great outdoors were a part of my life from the time I began walking. Some of my earliest memories are of farm life (dropping eggs on the kitchen floor and playing in mud puddles) and living in a sawmill bunkhouse with my father, uncles and grandparents in the winter. I spent a lot of time snuggled beside my dad as the warmth from the engine of his bulldozer kept us warm in -20 C temperatures. Then came experience on a trapline and learning how to shoot a .22-calibre rifle before I went to school.
Sorry – I really went off on a self-indulgent tangent. Getting back to my spouse and her travels to the Big Apple, it was a quiet time for me in which I did the garden work my wife left behind. The way I see it she had a perfect plan code named “Procrastination” and she executed it perfectly. Angela made sure she had no time to dig the carrots or beets and pick the last of the garden produce, so someone else had to do it in her absence. Then came the big snow – the incredible wet, heavy snow that had more moisture than we have seen all year. It is amazing how it has disappeared at the lower levels leaving agricultural producers thankful and wanting more.
Getting back to my wife and her trip, I was truly shocked to learn she and her sisters attended a New York Knicks professional basketball game, went to the Rangers NHL season-opening game and toured Madison Square Garden. Those are activities guys would enjoy and instead I was left behind to tend to the remnants of her garden. I think the women took in the sporting events just to make their husbands envious (and it was very effective).
Angela confided that the traffic, car horns and crush of people everywhere was a little beyond her expectation. They often took taxis, but also did a lot of walking to their destinations. A typical day involved walking 10 miles.
While my wife was away, I read a very interesting newspaper story by Victor Ferreira. It caught my attention because the headline stated, “U.S. radioactive tests held in Canadian cities.” For decades I have been irritated by the way the States abandoned military bases on Canadian soil and left some nasty messes in their wake. Furthermore, they flew nuclear bombs over our land and even jettisoned one, presumably off the coast of British Columbia somewhere, when a bomber developed engine problems. The U.S. government thought it could operate with impunity anywhere (including Canada), but that is not the case.
Getting back to the Leader-Post newspaper story, it explained how the U.S. army lied to the Canadian government in order to get approval to spray an airborne carcinogen (a cancer-causing agent) on residents of Winnipeg in the summer of 1953. A total of six kilograms of zinc cadmium sulfide was sprayed on residents of the Manitoba capital from army planes. The Pentagon said it was a defensive study using a “chemical fog” that could protect people if Russia attacked. However, the test was actually for offensive purposes and involved combining biological, chemical and radiological components.
Eleven years later, the U.S. military returned to Canada and repeated the experiment at Suffield and Medicine Hat. Canadian governments at all levels were not informed of the dangers and had no idea our neighbours to the south were dropping a known carcinogen on residents. The chemical was odourless, colourless and tasteless and could not be seen without magnification. It acted as a fluorescent tracer that helped the U.S. determine how radioactive fallout from the Soviet Union would travel through the air.
At Suffield, the U.S. army wanted to include radioactive phosphorus and the nerve agent VX in its tests. VX was recently used to assassinate the brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It was very effective. Back in 1964 there were plans to ship 100 pounds of it to Suffield as the U.S. worked to develop a radioactive nerve agent.
Across the border, tests on U.S. residents were even more severe. They and the Canadian Cold War guinea pigs should find an enterprising lawyer who can figure out a way to launch a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all test subjects. Legal action against the U.S. by all the residents of Winnipeg, Suffield and Medicine Hat would be a good starting point.
However, I don’t believe the U.S. government would get the point that it cannot take advantage of other countries without one day paying a price. I think the 9-11 terrorist attacks proved that.

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