When Canada Was A Nuclear Power
In the 1950s when Canadian astro-scientists were building Mach 4+ Avro Arrows to compete with NASA, it was a simpler time. In 1958 the Canadiens beat the Bruins for the Stanley Cup, cars were fitted with tail fins that worked as directional stabilizers making them safer, movie goers were watching Alfred Hitchcock’s, ‘Vertigo,’ and nuclear missiles were the future of warfare.
As it was realized that in the event of war Soviet bombers would fly over Canada to strike at the U.S., the Americans came up with the nuclear Bomarc missile. It had a short range and the idea was to bomb Canada before the Soviets made it to America. This would have made Toronto and Montreal an atomic dumping ground as the Bomarcs exploded destroying the bombers and their radioactive payloads. The Diefenbaker government knew that this would be a bad idea. So they negotiated with the U.S. to accept Bomarcs so that they would detonate further north, away from major cities.
But as soon as the deal was reached Diefenbaker flip-flopped: He didn’t really want the nuclear weapons.
Infact, he did this twice: The CF-101 Voodoo jet fighter bought from McDonnell was to be fitted with air-to-air nuclear weapons, too. After Canada received the aircraft, they were never put on.
Despite what many people think the Liberals were pro-atomic weapon and the 1963 election was fought over how Canada should become a nuclear power. Lester Pearson won and we became a member of the atomic missile club.