NATO and the Bomb: Canadian Defenders Confront Critics
by Erika Simpson
Kingston & Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001,
During the Cold War, the Canadian government's approach to NATO and nuclear weapons raised eyebrows, provoked newspaper headlines, and angered Americans and Europeans alike as new ways of thinking among Canadian leader competed with traditional attitudes and approaches. In NATO and the Bomb Erika Simpson, helps explain contemporary defence decisions and Canada's support - or lack thereof - for NATO.
Using new conceptual framework, this study documents and analyses the underlying convictions of influential Canadians, explains why there were such varied degrees of support for NATO, and shows why different leaders either supported or rejected nuclear weapons and the stationing of the Canadian Forces in Europe. Examples taken from previously classified documents illustrate how the underlying convictions of leaders such as Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau significantly shaped defence policy. Behind - the- scenes maneuvering and competing beliefs about nuclear weapons, deterrence strategy, and possible entrapment in a nuclear war led some to defend and others criticize Canada's approach to both NATO and the bomb. Despite the technological ability and resources to develop its own nuclear weapons - or to acquire them from the United States - Canada ultimately chose not become a nuclear power.
Why did some Canadians leaders defend the nuclear option while others condemned the country's nuclear commitments and called for an end to the arms race? Simpson shows that some leaders rejected prevailing American defence strategy and weapons systems to pursue alternative approaches to managing Canada's complex bilateral and multicultural defence relationships.