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Hasty move

Dear editor:

I would like to make a few remarks about a comment that was made on TV the other day regarding the inability of Canada to warn its citizens of terrorist attacks in a timely fashion like the U.S. can because we do not have a national warning system that can disseminate information quickly and accurately.

I served in the Canadian military for 37 years and I was able to see first-hand all the shenanigans we went through starting with the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis (as it affected Canada), and various other blips and bumps.

I remember when we (that is to say, the Canadian Army) practically brought our military training to a standstill while we expended vast amounts of money on national survival equipment and training.

Warning and rescue was about all we could do in the event of a nuclear war, and I remember well how we laboured to bring our militia units up to par by instructing them how to rescue people from disaster areas—even to the extent of building villages with buildings that were half-demolished so all forms of rescue could be practised.

The point of my story is that all that expenditure and training was thankfully never needed, but along with all that training, we also had constructed the infamous “Diefenbunkers” in most of the provinces where our heads of government could gather if war was imminent.

Although that is now all gone, it might be well to remember that along with the bunkers came one of the most complete communications networks ever established in this country—allowing the Canadian Forces Warning and Reporting System (of which I was a member for seven years) to instantly notify every city, town, and, in most cases, villages to take cover.

I realize the bunkers were costly to maintain and as the Cold War receded, it seemed like the economical thing to demolish them. But somehow I feel, in light of current events, that we got rid of the communications network too hastily.

I think that TV and radio do not fill the bill now as too much half-baked information can cause a lot of fear and hysteria among the general public. I’m thinking, specifically, of the recent plastic and duct tape episode in the American media.

As a former nuclear-, chemical-, and biological-trained staff officer, I can assure you that all the duct tape and plastic in the world won’t save you from a nerve agent and as for chemicals, you use up the oxygen in a closed in room very quickly!

Thank you for your time.


G. Woollard

Box 449

Emo, Ont.

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