From the Desk of RCAF Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harold Wright

‘Inquiry into chemical spraying on Canadian Forces
more urgent than Mulroney brown-bagging money’

The following was published in the Fredericton, N.B. Daily Gleaner.

By Bill Gerdson
For The Daily Gleaner
Published Wednesday January 16th, 2008
Appeared on page C8

It hit the headlines Jan. 12; Prime Minister Steven Harper will call a public probe into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair.

This, no doubt, will cost taxpayers millions of dollars just to find out Brian Mulroney didn't want the cash in a brown paper bag.

All will go on their merry way and Opposition MPs will grumble that they didn't get the political hay out of the story they hoped for.

Damage control will have been done, and everyone will be back to Brian Who? within a year.

We at the Agent Orange Association of Canada have been calling for a public inquiry since 2005 into the poisoning of soldiers and civilians at CFB Gagetown from 1956 to 1985. Due to the criminal negligence, false reports and incorrect information (were) supplied to the general public about this tragedy, the government's greatest fear is to be forced to hold an inquiry.

The Fredericton Daily Gleaner is the only paper in the country to support our organization and call for an inquiry.

Peter Stoffer of the NDP is the only defense critic to continue to pressure the government on our behalf.

We know the spraying of 3,326,000 litres and kilograms of 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, dioxin, picloram and hexachlorobenzene on CFB Gagetown took place, although the Canadian government stated only two-and-a-half barrels of Agent Orange was sprayed by the Americans for three days in 1966 and four days in 1967.

The Daily Gleaner was provided with evidence that DND sprayed an additional five days in 1966 which Veterans Affairs Canada brushed off in typical fashion as much ado about nothing.

The compensation program which offers $20,000 to a limited number of people is expected to cover it. The point is, the government is hiding the true effect of what took place during this period and the devastation it caused so many families.

To have an ethics committee in Ottawa investigate Mulroney and then allow one of the largest health travesties of this country go unanswered puts a gaping hole into the heart of democracy.

The veterans of this country sacrificed their youth to ensure families had a safe and healthy land to bring up their children. It is galling to have their own government commit acts such as this and then hide the harmful effects since at least 1980.

It is a matter of history that when Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps, he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even be made to bury the dead.

He did this as if to say: "Get it all on record now. Get the films. Get the witnesses because somewhere down the track of history, some bastard will get up and say 'that this never happened'."

A full judicial inquiry would supply the general public with information showing what their government did to the very people who put their lives on the line to protect them.

Hopefully, it would put the true meaning of ethics back on the Hill in Ottawa. It would also show history that it did happen.

Bill Gerdson is vice-president of the Agent Orange Association of Canada. He lives in Rusagonis, N.B.