While Canada chose not to join America in the fighting, welcoming draft dodgers and deserters fleeing military service, it did support America in the field with intelligence and earned huge profits from the sale of munitions and supplies to the U.S. military’s almost limitless demand.Apparently Canada is the sum of actions undertaken by individuals, legal persons and governments that originate from within its legally recognized boundaries. One way of arguing this is that since a government has the authority and capacity to regulate large parts of the activities of individuals and legal entities ; and since a government - especially a democratic government - is ultimately representative of its citizenry, we are all responsible for behavior our government can regulate.There are plenty of objections to this argument. First, how much the behavior of its subjects can any government ever be aware of? Or , how much of the government's own activities can the political executive or legislature monitor? Even when our government or citizens learn of objectionable activities how do we act given the restraints of time and resources?
We could say that Canada is synonymous with its government because countries are after all political communities. Even then we might want to distinguish between what a government actually does through its own agencies and representatives; what it encourages its subjects to do; those private activities that it is indifferent to and those it is oblivious to. Each is a step down in culpability.
So if we reexamine the earlier accusations we have a few points to consider:
- Canada chooses whether or not to go to war;
- Canada sets its own immigration policy;
- Canada gathers and may share military or political intelligence;
- Canada may export munitions and other goods; finally
- Canada earns profits.
Canada had since WWII progressed through ever deeper and more complex integration with the US in defence and intelligence. As a result there was an increasing integration of the defence industry, no doubt matching our general economic integration, and an established practice of cooperation between our military and theirs. The question arises , are their relationships that we can't get out of of? Or if we can, is it only at enormous cost to ourselves. To what extent are we responsible for our behavior then? For example, according to the CBC , a Uniroyal plant, in Elmira Ontario, exported Agent Orange, to the U.S. military. What impact would prohibiting the export have had on the future of the Uniroyal plant, and the general trade relationship, especially if we expanded the list of prohibited exports? Governments are in the position that any party responsible for the well being of another has felt, namely , the priority of that person's well being even above general moral principles.
So in the end I don't think Canada is guilty of anything other than having an interdependent relationship with the U.S. while that country was at war. The Canadian government acted in way it thought was consistent with the well being of Canadians.