top of page

82.10. Science For War?

Should we help to bail out a U.S. Administration overspending on overkill? Recently a memo has gone from the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defence to relevant U.S. agencies encouraging them to contact defence research in Canada under the Defence Development Sharing Agreement, which was reaffirmed during Reagan’s visit to Ottawa last Spring. Copies of this memo have been sent to the research administrators of Canadian Universities by an official of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, along with a letter implying encouragement of such cooperation. The advice seems questionable.

The wording of the U.S. memo is revealing: “this could save millions annually”. It seems that under the DDSA Canada will pay up to 75% of the costs of such research! At a time of severe shortage of funds for high technology research directed to Canadian civilian needs, it sounds like folly to squander our resources in helping a foreign nation’s military buildup (quite aside from one’s personal moral viewpoint of such activity).

There are other worries about it. For example patent rights on resulting technical developments would in many cases revert to the U.S. government. And it gives the U.S. effective knowledge of activities in our technological research labs — a high-level form of industrial spying.

A memo on this subject has been given to the Hon. John Roberts, Minister of Science and Technology; we are awaiting a reply. (This is appended to this item.)

A second aspect of the issue is seen in recent pressure for University scientists working in communications and other high-technology fields to seek security clearances when applying for or accepting research support from depart-ments of the Canadian government. Does this have any place in an academic in-stitution in peacetime? It raises the spectre of the subversion of our research institutions into the servicing of the military-industrial complex, in the manner of the U.S.

We intend to pursue the matter in Ottawa and to draw the issue to the atten-tion of our colleagues in other Universities. Comments on these issues are welcome.

-John Valleau

To: Hon. John Roberts, Minister for Science and Technology From: Professor Eric Fawcett, President of Science for Peace Re: “Canadian Government…could save the U.S. Government millions of dollars annually”

A memorandum dated November 10, 1981 (enclosed) from Frank C. Carlucci, Deputy Secretary of Defense for the U.S. Government, to all the Secretaries of the Military Departments, reminds them that under the existing U.S./Canadian Defense Development Sharing Agreement (DDSA), reaffirmed when President Reagan visited Ottawa in March 1981, the Canadian Government funds up to 75% of development costs. He urges them to ensure that “acquisition personnel are familiar with these arrangements and that they are being implemented”.

We are deeply concerned as members of the scientific community of Canada, as members of the University of Toronto and as members of Science for Peace about the implications of this memorandum:

  1. at a time when research funds in Canada for work in high technology fields such as communications and micro-electronics related to needs of the civilian economy are in short supply, we can ill afford to subsidize U.S. military research

  2. patent rights for research carried out under the DDSA in many cases reverts to the U.S. Government

  3. research under the DDSA may involve security clearances and the use of classified information and is therefore inappropriate in a University where the free flow of knowledge and discussion is an essential benefit

  4. there is a great danger that Canadian research institutions will be suborned into military areas to as large an extent as U.S. research institutions already are.

In view of this I should like to request an explanation why this memorandum has been given wide circulation in Canada in a letter dated December 17,1981 (enclosed) from R.M. Chell, Director General of the Defense Program Branch of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Commerce to, among others, Research Directors in the universities. Perhaps the Minister of Science and Technology is unaware of this undermining of Canadian interests? He should at least be aware of the fact that the financial cost to Canada is millions of dollars annually!

Recent Posts

See All

SfP Bulletin archive

SfP Bulletin February 2017 The President’s Corner: Science for Peace as a Foreign Language Metta Spencer Report of the Working Group on Global Governance Helmut Burkhardt Report of the Working Group o

Report of the Working Group on Global Governance

(2016-09-17) Members: Helmut Burkhardt (chair), Norman Dyson, Rose Dyson, Brydon Gombay, Julia Morton-Marr, Tom Simunovic, Peter Venton, Adnan Zuberi Mandate: We believe good global governance is mean


bottom of page