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Somalia Affair

In 1992–93, Canada contributed military forces to UNITAF, a United Nations–backed humanitarian mission in the African nation of Somalia. In 1993, Canadian soldiers from the now-defunct Airborne Regiment tortured and killed a Somali teenager named Shidane Arone. These and other violent abuses during the mission shocked Canadians and damaged the country’s international reputation. They also led to a public inquiry that revealed serious failures of leadership at the highest levels of the Canadian Armed Forces, kick-starting reforms aimed a professionalizing the officer corps.

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Bomarc Missile Crisis

The CIM-10B Bomarc was the world’s first long-range, nuclear capable, ground-to-air anti-aircraft missile. Two squadrons of the missile were purchased and deployed by the Canadian government in 1958. This was part of Canada’s role during the Cold War to defend North America against an attack from the Soviet Union. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s refusal to equip the missiles with nuclear warheads led to a souring of Canada’s relationship with the United States, especially once the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the issue to the fore. The issue split Diefenbaker’s Cabinet and contributed to his party losing the 1963 election.

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Sponsorship Scandal (Adscam)

After a razor-thin majority voted in the 1995 Quebec Referendum for Quebec to stay in Canada, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien responded with various initiatives to promote federalism in the province. A sponsorship program began in 1996. Public money was directed from the Department of Public Works and Government Services to private advertising agencies to promote Canada and the federal government at cultural, community and sports events in Quebec. The media began questioning the spending and handling of these contracts. Two auditor general reports and a public inquiry revealed that ad agency executives and Liberal Party officials had corruptly handled more than $300 million; $100 million of which was funnelled from the government to the Liberal Party. Five people were found guilty of fraud. Along with several other issues, the scandal helped lead to the government of Chrétien’s successor, Paul Martin, being reduced to a minority in 2004.