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ARMS CANADA: THE DEADLY BUSINESS OF MILITARY EXPORTS

Regehr, Ernie.

Toronto, James Lorimer, 1987. 273pp, paper, ISBN 0-88862-960-5 (cloth) $24.95, 0-88862-959-1 (paper) $16.95. CIP

Post-Secondary
Reviewed by J.D. Ingram

Volume 16 Number 1
1988 January


Acronyms seem to be a sign of our time, particularly when we talk about the military. Test yourself on the following: NAADA, LAV, DPSA, DIP and RAMSES. (Answers at the end of this review.) A great deal of statistical information coupled with such abbreviations doesn't make prolonged reading of Regehr's book easy. Nevertheless, the author has organized a great deal of data in an informative and telling manner.

For example, Regehr states that Canada's current defence integration and dependence on the United States may be traced back to the Ogdensburg agreement. Since that 1940 agreement, Canadian policy has been to reject the development of a Canadian defence industrial base and link with the Americans in a North American defence industrial base, to the point where "Canadian industry was and remains dedicated to the supply of material for the Reagan arsenal."

This arrangement meant that during the Vietnam war, no Canadian military commodities went to Vietnam as a "belligerent," but no such restrictions applied to the United States!

Despite arguments that military spending provides jobs, Regehr's figures indicate that military technology and research enhance military production, and do less for the "civilian" economy. Dollars invested in National Defence goods and services produced fewer jobs than a similar amount of money in other areas, such as hospital services and residential construction.

Canada, claims the author, "has given a foreign power inordinate influence over Canadian military equipment decisions." As a result, he says Canada has abdicated the sovereign ability to formulate military policies. The culture of dependence is inevitably reflected in Canadian defence policy. Canada should not be exporting any military or military-related items to the Third World. There should be guidelines for export, and so-called "end-use" certificates should be required. Regehr rejects both Canada's dependence on the U.S. and the degree to which Canada sells military equipment or parts to Third World countries.

Among Regehr's list of some ten alternatives are the following: 1) Military production and sales should not be pursued as a commercial enterprise; 2) the ultimate destination of military commodities should be controlled. From pages 218 to 242 is an appendix that outlines the destination of Canadian military components, and Canadian production of nuclear weapons components. There are nineteen pages giving the sources of Regehr's research.

The author's arguments are even more impressive, given the extent of his research. How practical his proposals are is debatable. Should there be full public disclosures of military and military-related exports, and an annual public review? There are thought-provoking revelations and ideas in this book, and it is an important source for those who wish to be more informed on the topic.


NAADA-North American Aerospace Defence Agreement
LAV-Light Armoured Vehicle DPSA-Defence Production Sharing Agreement
DIPóDefence Industry Productivity
RAMSES-Reprogrammable Advanced Multimode Shipboard Electronic Counter Measures System


J.D. Ingram, Gordon Bell High School, Winnipeg, Man.
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