How did the Vietnam War Have an Impact on Canada? Essay Sample

How did the Vietnam War Have an Impact on Canada? Pages
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The Vietnam War was the most gruelling and unpopular war in America history. It resulted in nearly 60 000 American deaths and an estimated 2 million Vietnamese deaths.1 The war started in 1956 after Vietnam had gained its independence from France. Vietnam was temporarily divided between the north and the south. The south was anti-communist, and thus supported by the United States (US) and the North was a communist state, supported by The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In 1956, South Vietnam had denied to hold the unification elections.

By 1958, the Viet Cong in the north had begun to attack the South Vietnamese Government. By 1966, America had employed 190,000 US troops in Vietnam. The indirect cost of the war had been 140 billion dollars while the estimated indirect costs of this war have been 900 billion dollars.The reason Canada did not go to war in Vietnam was because Canada did not adopt the Truman and Eisenhower Doctrines.2 Canada did not agree that communism must be actively opposed through foreign intervention. Instead, Canada held that illegal acts of international aggression must be opposed under a United Nations resolution.Although Canada did not directly get involved in the Vietnam War, it was still impacted economically, socially and militarily.

The Vietnam War impacted Canada economically, because of war materials, produced in Canada, that were sold to the United States. Canada had supplied 2.5 billion dollars of war materials to the United States and an additional 10 billion dollars in food, beverages, berets and boots for the troops was exported to the US, as well as nickel, copper, lead, and oil for shell casings, wiring, plate armour and military transport3. This had affected Canada because it allowed the economy to boom. The unemployment rate in Canada during the Vietnam War had been at an all time low of 3.6%. This was direct occurrence of companies hiring individuals to keep up with American demands. The unemployment rate in Canada during that time gives evidence to show that Canada had indeed been affected economically . Furthermore, American firms invested an additional 1 billion dollars in Canadian Companies to allow them to expand and keep supplying the US with war materials. Canada had also been affected militarily by the Vietnam War.

Although the Canadian Armed Forces were not engaged in total war in Vietnam, the Canadian military was affected by the war in Vietnam. Canadian and US defence departments had worked together to test “Agent Orange”. “Agent Orange” is the code name for one of defoliants used in the Vietnam War. 80,000,000 litres of this defoliant were sprayed across Vietnam.4 The goal was to defoliate forested and rural land so they could deprive the guerrillas of their cover. “A recently released report states that in June 1966, the American army tested Agent Orange at Base Gagetown in New Brunswick”5. Another reason the Vietnam War had affected Canadian Armed Forces was that many soldiers had volunteered to fight in Vietnam with the United States. As many as 30 000 soldiers had volunteered to fight along with US troops. Even though many Canadian soldiers had volunteered to fight in the Vietnam War, Many citizens did not agree with the conscription policies and thus fled to Canada.

The Vietnam War also affected Canada socially. Nearly 60 000 young men had come to Canada to seek refuge.6 They were known as “Draft Dodgers”. “Draft-Dodgers” is a term that refers to a person who avoids the conscription policies of the nation he or she resides in by leaving the country or going into hiding. Many of these men did not want to fight for the war effort in Vietnam and hence came to Canada to seek refuge. This had affected Canada socially because many people were entering the country in a short period of time. In addition, many American men who were enlisted in the US army came to Canada to seek refuge. They were known as Deserters. These men had abandoned the US military and made their way to Canada. The men who had deserted the US army have still not been pardoned and are able to face jail time if caught within the US.

An example of this was the case of Richard Allen Shields. Shields had deserted the US army in 1972 after serving for one year in Vietnam. When Shields travelled to the US in 2000, 28 years later, he was arrested and jailed in the state of Washington.7 The discrimination against US army deserters made by the Canadian Government was removed in May of 1969 under the Government of Pierre Trudeau. The government was reluctant to make this decision and in early 1969 Pierre Trudeau claimed: “Surely a person who deserts from the armed forces of the US is guilty of a criminal offence and accordingly would be inadmissible to Canada on that ground alone.”8. This was a result of student activism in Canada, against the Vietnam War and in support of deserters, and extensive pressure by the New Democratic Party (NDP) at the time. This had affected Canada socially because it was the first time an activist group had influenced a decision made by the Canadian Government.

Canada had been impacted by the Vietnam War since it was a major distributor in war materials used in Vietnam, which had a great impact on Canada’s economy. Many soldiers volunteered to fight in the war alongside US troops and the Canadian Defence department had worked to test a major defoliant used in Vietnam which caused Canada to be affected militarily. As Many as 60000 Draft Dodgers had come to Canada and the deserters of the vietnam war had influenced immigration policies in Canada. Canada had been affected greatly by the Vietnam War although they did not participate directly in it.

Works Cited

” BBC NEWS | Americas | US deserter’s Canadian campaign .” BBC News – Home. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3867481.stm (accessed May 22, 2011).

“Canada’s Secret War: Vietnam | CBC Archives.” CBC Archives. http://archives.cbc.ca/war_conflict/vietnam_war/topics/1413-9128/ (accessed May 22, 2011).

Jones, Joseph . “Historical Notes on Vietnam War Resisters in Canada.” Welcome to the UBC Library – www.library.ubc.ca. http://www.library.ubc.ca/jones/hstrnt.html (accessed May 22, 2011).

Levant, Victor . “Vietnam War – The Canadian Encyclopedia.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0008367 (accessed May 22, 2011).

Pellow, David Naguib. Resisting global toxics: transnational movements for environmental justice. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007.

“Richard Allen Shields | Veteran Won’t Face Trial for Desertion – Los Angeles Times.” Featured Articles From The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2000/apr/09/news/mn-17670 (accessed May 22, 2011).

“The Vietnam War.” Digital History. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/modules/vietnam/index.cfm (accessed May 22, 2011).

“What was the Truman Doctrine?.” GCSE Modern World History. http://www.johndclare.net/EC8.htm (accessed May 22, 2011).

1 “The Vietnam War.” Digital History. Web. 22 May 2011.

<http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/modules/vietnam/index.cfm>

2 “What was the Truman Doctrine?.” GCSE Modern World History. http://www.johndclare.net/EC8.htm (accessed May 22, 2011).

3 Levant, Victor . “Vietnam War – The Canadian Encyclopedia.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0008367 (accessed May 22, 2011).

4 Pellow, David Naguib. Resisting global toxics: transnational movements for environmental justice. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007.

5″Canada’s Secret War: Vietnam | CBC Archives.” CBC Archives. http://archives.cbc.ca/war_conflict/vietnam_war/topics/1413-9128/ (accessed May 22, 2011).

6BBC NEWS | Americas | US deserter’s Canadian campaign .” BBC News – Home. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3867481.stm (accessed May 22, 2011).

7″Richard Allen Shields | Veteran Won’t Face Trial for Desertion – Los Angeles Times.” Featured Articles From The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2000/apr/09/news/mn-17670 (accessed May 22, 2011).

8Jones, Joseph . “Historical Notes on Vietnam War Resisters in Canada.” Welcome to the UBC Library – www.library.ubc.ca. http://www.library.ubc.ca/jones/hstrnt.html (accessed May 22, 2011).

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