“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Like many Canadians, I have looked at the cancellation of the Avro Arrow program as one of the great mysteries in our nation’s still-young history.
I have read a lot about the company, the jet – the first and only supersonic interceptor built in Canada, developed to offset the threat of Soviet bombers which could attack North America by flying over the Arctic – and Diefenbaker’s decision.
The purely economic side makes sense. The government had no suitors. The U.S. would never buy Canadian, and why would they if the got all the theory and research for free (see the story) AND got all the benefits of the brain drain when the project and Avro died?
There is one outstanding query which overshadows any possible theory as to the Dief ’s motivation: Why the voracity?
Why would anyone who has spent millions upon millions – when $1 million was a mythological amount – not only kill a program but dissolve every bit of research, knowledge and understanding of that project?
Sure, cancel it to save money if you choose, but why would the actual five competed jets not simply be mothballed, plans and drawings archived, test results filed for future use if needed?
So you don’t want to spend good money after what was deemed bad….but how do you justify wasting every dime spent on the project by wiping the results of Canadian ingenuity from the face of the earth?
Simply, one can’t.
In a more philosophical look, take a look at the news around the world today. It seems pretty bleak and the horizon is not great. However, one thing Canadians have always had to prop us up has been our standing on the world stage. Canada, for many decades, has been kind of like a Switzerland with some clout.
The clout comes from being part of the G7. The standing comes from the ability of Canadian officials to be looked upon as though they are referees for the world, an arbitor at times.
So think about this: Dief steps on the gas, antes up a ton of money and puts the Arrow into full production for the Canadian Air Force. That would have made Canada a military power.
There would have been demand to send planes and soldiers into the world’s skirmishes.
Gone would be our “peacekeeper to the world” standing and we would have been much more aligned with the U.S.’s military might rep. That possibility is the only reason, even though I have never heard it mentioned, that could make sense for killing the Avro Arrow other than financial.
Publisher, ClubWest Magazine