Ottawa Are You listening ? Do You Care?
Editor's Note: The Canadian Government breached the Geneva Protocol it signed in 1930, when they used Chemical Warfare chemicals, Agent Orange, Agent Purple and White in 1966 and 1967 on their own troops, as well as facilitated their wholesale criminal use against the peoples of South Asia. These chemicals were manufactured in Canada by a US multinational, spray tested at CFB Sheffield, Alberta, and were tested on the troops at CFB Gagetown - for use in Vietnam War. Indications also exist that the USAF stored Agent Orange at the Harmon Air Base in Stephenville, Newfoundland. During WWI, Canada was one of the biggest users of mustard gas and then became one of the leading manufacturers and researchers into bio-chem warfare agents in the world.
Now here we are, forty years after this criminal act took place, and those very forces elected to govern are telling those citizens to go to hell while at the same demanding the Canadian public line up behind the aggression in Afghanistan under the pretext of "supporting the troops." For the information of our readers, Shunpiking Online is printing the following letter to Veterans Affairs, Members of Parliament and of the Senate from Wayne Coady of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
Ottawa Are You listening ? Do You Care?
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Dear Members of Parliament and the Canadian Senate.
Minister of Veterans Affairs. MP Greg Thompson
We all know now that Canada played a major part in the production of Agent Orange chemicals and that these chemicals were used here in Canada. The Uniroyal plant in Elmira, Ontario was one of seven suppliers producing Agent Orange for the U. S. military's use in Vietnam, and in the province of New Brunswick, at Base Gagetown, as reported by government's own documentation.
Through their deceit, cover-up and negligence, the Canadian government has the blood of thousands of those who trained at Base Gagetown on their hands, not to mention the thousands citizens in Vietnam. To carry this even further, thanks to government documentation, we know that farmers in and around the area of the base were compensated because of drift.
Under the Geneva Convention, countries cannot be party to chemical warfare and must declare the use or supply of defoliants during conflicts. Therefore one can only take the position that the Canadian government knowingly breached the Geneva Convention, by permitting the use of Agent Orange back in 1966 and 1967. I use these dates, only because the Canadian government uses them for their own bases of paying out claims.
It's bloody unacceptable what the Canadian government has done to us and the other countries whose troops trained at Base Gagetown.
A study released in August last year by scientists from the United States, Germany and Vietnam found that Agent Orange was still contaminating people through their food.
Dioxin, the defoliant's deadly component, can cause an increased risk of cancers, immunodeficiency's, reproductive and developmental changes, nervous system problems and other health problems, according to medical experts.
Ken Dobbie the President of Agent Orange of Canada Association has even further proof that this chemical AO was used well before.
"Some time has gone by since the release of the information concerning the chemical defoliation of CFB Gagetown, I want to add a few facts.
"2,4-D + 2,4,5-T (which the Americans called Agent Orange & Agent Purple) was negligently sprayed on the training area of CFB Gagetown from 1956 to 1964.
"In 1964, there was a spraying accident involving a temperature inversion, which caused the Dioxin-laced spray to drift across the Saint John River to the market gardens of communities from Burton to as far down-river as Jemseg, primarily in the Sheffield to Maugerville area. However, the entire distance covered by the spray was 29 kilometres."
The Canadian government are neglecting their responsibility to its own citizens, while professing they are interested in up holding the rights of Afghanistan citizens. The Minister of Veteran Affairs is playing games with the lives of those Canadian citizens and troops who have passed through Base Gagetown, it is time Thompson, got in step.
Those private citizens employed at Base Gagetown, whose health was affected, are told to file with their provincial Workers Compensation Boards. Ottawa cannot pass the buck on this one, Ottawa must go to bat for those citizens, Ottawa was their employer and Ottawa is a major stakeholder in all provincial WCB Boards. This is a medical problem, created by Ottawa and they must address it with their provincial insurers.
According to the WCB Act in all provinces, Ottawa receives the protection of their Workers Compensation Legislation, therefore they can intervene, on behalf of those employed during 1966 and 1967. We must also take into consideration as well, that the province of New Brunswick, also breached the Geneva Convention, by giving permission for the use of Agent Orange. (Honourable is, as Honourable does )
CC: Agent Orange Association of Canada
Canadian Injured Workers Society
21 Ashgrove Avenue
Cole Harbour Nova Scotia
Canada B2V 1Z2
* * *
"Vietnam War veterans fight Agent Orange profiteers"
By EVA CHENG
4 November 2006
These soldiers were exposed unknowingly while executing US military orders to spray and dump the chemical or operate in an environment contaminated by it. Evidence has emerged since the end of the war that the US government was fully aware of the extreme toxicity of Agent Orange but chose not to warn its soldiers.
A November 1990 US Veteran Dispatch staff report gives a sense of just how in the dark the US soldiers in Vietnam were: "[The US ground troops] lived in the chemical mist of rainbow herbicides [Agent Orange and its family of similar herbicides]. They slept with it, drank it in their water, ate it in their food and breathed it when it dropped out of the air in a fine, white pungent mist ? Some ? used the empty Agent Orange drum for barbecue pits. Others stored watermelons and potatoes in them. Still others rigged the residue laden drum for showers."
An encrypted warning came belatedly in 1969, after the US had sprayed Agent Orange in Vietnam for more than eight years. In an October 23 message that year from Fort Detrick, Maryland, the troops in Vietnam were urged to clean the drum containing the herbicides, particularly those containing Agent Orange. The message stated: "Using the [Agent] Orange drums for storing petroleum products without thoroughly cleaning them can result in creation of an orange aerosol when the contaminated petroleum are consumed in internal combustion engine." Yet widespread re-use of herbicide drums by US soldiers in Vietnam to carry petrol meant that dioxin-contaminated exhaust pumped out routinely by trucks and other vehicles spread the deadly chemical far beyond the jungles.
Hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War veterans and their families have been seeking compensation to alleviate their health problems, but Washington has ignored their plea, hiding behind "sovereign immunity". A few dozen chemical companies that supplied the chemical to the US Army have also denied responsibility, claiming that they only followed government orders.
However, the corporate profiteers now face legal challenges initiated by the US Vietnam War veterans and the Vietnamese victims over the companies' role in devastating the lives and health of millions of people and their offspring. Dioxin is notorious for inflicting birth defects in second, or even third generations, most extensively in Vietnam where pockets of serious contamination in the environment often catch its victims unaware.
The first group of cases were initiated formally by two US veterans and are test cases that may affect tens of thousands of former US soldiers in similar situations. Similarly, the second action - now in appeal stage - affects an estimated 4 million victims in Vietnam, though launched in the name of a few individuals. Both groups of cases are presided over by senior US district judge Jack Weinstein, who heard the contending arguments earlier this year and is expected to present his judgement shortly.
The Vietnamese victims first initiated the legal action in early 2004, but their case was dismissed by Weinstein without even a chance to present their argument.
The US veterans' case has a longer history. Since 1978, US veterans have initiated hundreds of individual and class actions against the chemical companies - three-dozen notorious corporate sharks such as Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Diamond Shamrock and Hercules. These cases were gradually consolidated into a class action in 1982 for trial in May 1984. In a surprise twist a few hours before the trial, the chemical companies agreed to a US$180 million settlement on the basis of not admitting responsibility. This was meant to cover all veteran complainants once and forever! After some $9 million of lawyers' fees, what was left only paid minor compensation to some 50,000 veterans who were able to demonstrate they were suffering from "total disability" before the funds dried up in 1994.
Some Agent Orange-triggered illnesses can take decades to become evident and many veterans weren't aware of the 1982 class action when it was underway. Many veterans tried to seek legal redress against the chemical companies after 1994 but were routinely dismissed by the court.
Then came the cases of Joe Isaacson and Daniel Stephenson, both US veterans in the Vietnam War who discovered they had contracted cancer in the late 1990s. An Eastern District Court ruled against the case going ahead, but this decision was reversed in November 2001 by the 2nd Circuit Court. The chemical companies appealed to the Supreme Court in February 2003 but were greeted by a rare 4-4 tied decision out of a nine-judge panel, allowing the 2nd Circuit Court decision to stand.
The ninth judge, John Paul Stevens, sat the case out without providing a reason. His son, a Vietnam War veteran, died in 1996 due to cancer.
Apart from denying responsibility, Agent Orange manufacturers for the US military also, in the face of the victims' challenge, routinely denied that dioxin was harmful to humans. But the November 1990 US Veteran Dispatch staff report revealed that Dow Chemical, even back in the 1960s, had suppressed information about the toxic hazards of dioxin from both the government and the public.
There is also strong evidence from as early as 1967 that the US government was aware of the toxic power of dioxin. James Clary, a US Air Force scientist in Vietnam closely involved in the Agent Orange operation, wrote in 1988 to a member of Congress: "[We] were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. We were even aware that the 'military' formulation had a higher dioxin concentration than the 'civilian' version, due to the lower cost and speed of manufacture. However, because the material was to be used on the 'enemy', none of us were overly concerned."
Clary added: "We never considered a scenario in which our own personnel would become contaminated with the herbicide. And, if we had, we would have expected our own government to give assistance to veterans so contaminated." It didn't and still doesn't.
From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue #689 8 November 2006.
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