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CFB Gagetown - Toxic Chemicals - 1956-1984

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Author Topic: CFB Gagetown - Toxic Chemicals - 1956-1984  (Read 7603 times)
Kenneth H. Young
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« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2009, 09:08:18 am »

April 24, 2009


Halifax writer releases book about defoliant spraying at CFB Gagetown



This Week


A Halifax writer has released a book all about the defoliant spraying that has taken place at CFB Gagetown. Author Chris Arsenault’s book, Blowback: A Canadian History of Agent Orange and the War at Home was officially released in March and he made an appearance at Sharla Books in theOromocto Mall last Saturday where he signed copies and spoke to the local residents he wrote this story about.


When Arsenault was first approached to write this story, it was originally intended to be a magazine piece. Upon further investigation, and the discovery of more information, he quickly realized there was more to this story than one article would allow room for.


This book came out of an idea Arsenault said he pitched to the editor of This magazine on Canadian veterans and the Spanish Civil War. That editor came back with the more local Agent Orange idea.


“After I began doing interviews and especially after going to Enniskillen and seeing that place, I realized this was a huge issue. It wasn’t just one story and it wasn’t just some mistake that happened a long time ago,” Arsenault said.


He said he couldn’t overlook other issues pertaining to pesticide spraying and environmental control as well as foreign wars, Canada’s role in the world and the treatment of veterans by the Forces that they serve.


Arsenault said he then realized after writing the feature-lengthy magazine piece he wanted to do more digging on his own and keep writing this story. Much of his research has stemmed from Freedom of Information Act requests. Because of the amount of time he knew this was going to take, he decided to turn the project into a book. Arsenault spent the better part of a couple of years compiling information.


He said he was surprised at how blatant some of the information that he came across really is. “I found minutes of one meeting of the Defence Research Board of Canada from May 1966 which showed that senior officials in Ottawa knew that ‘dangerous and unregistered’ herbicides were being used at the base,” Arsenault said.


“I think that’s the biggest contribution I’ve made because up until now, the general idea was that 2,4-D and 2, 4, 5-T were legally registered chemicals in Canada. But what I’ve seen, actually, is that they knew unregistered chemicals were used. Those weren’t the only chemicals at all.”


The idea that those were registered and therefore nobody’s at fault, I tried to show that that’s actually not the case and when you read these minutes, how can you guys not change your policy based on that,” he said.


Arsenault said he’s pleased with the response he’s gotten from the book so far. He tried hard to maintain the integrity of his sources and have them tell their own stories through him. Arsenault said he wanted to continue in the research and exposure of this issue and add to the already incalculable amount of work done by a lot of military families, civilians and other journalists.


“My first goal that I wanted to do was compile all the information. I think having a book lends credibility to an issue,” Arsenault said. “I wanted to try to find new information and goal three was I just wanted to tell the story of people who were involved in this.”
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