Transcript: How Canada Fought the Vietnam War | Apr 30, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, checkered shirt, and dark blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "How Canada fought the Vietnam war. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says THE VIETNAM WAR MAY HAVE BEEN THE MOST AGONIZING AND POLARIZING CONFLICT IN AMERICAN HISTORY. BUT AS AUTHOR JOHN BOYKO REMINDS US, CANADA HAD ITS FINGERPRINTS ON THAT WAR AS WELL. HE TELLS US HOW, IN HIS EIGHTH BOOK. IT'S CALLED, "THE DEVIL'S TRICK: HOW CANADA FOUGHT THE VIETNAM WAR," AND IT BRINGS JOHN BOYKO TO OUR VIRTUAL STUDIO FROM LAKEFIELD, ONTARIO, NEAR PETERBOROUGH.

John is in his sixties, clean-shaven, with short white hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a black suit and a white shirt.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover is white, with a picture of a soldier's helmet.

Steve continues JOHN, IT'S GREAT TO SEE YOU AGAIN. HOW ARE YOU DOING?

John says IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN, STEVE.

Steve says WE'RE HAPPY TO HAVE YOU BACK ON THE PROGRAM. NOW, I'M GOING TO START HERE WITH... LET'S START WITH THIS. WE HAVE A LOT OF YOUNGER VIEWERS WHO UNLIKE YOU AND I WILL HAVE NO FIRSTHAND MEMORY OF THIS WAR AND THEREFORE I NEED A BIT OF A SUMMATION OFF THE TOP HERE. SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT THIS WAS A CIVIL WAR BETWEEN THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH. SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT THIS WAS A DOMINO IN THE COLD WAR, COMMUNISM VERSUS CAPITALISM. HOW DO YOU SEE IT?

The caption changes to "John Boyko. Author, 'The Devil's trick.'"
Then, it changes again to "Domino theory."

John says IT WAS BOTH OF THOSE THINGS. WHEN I WAS LOOKING AT HOW THE VIETNAM WAR BEGAN, I HAD TO GO BACK TO 111 BC FROM WHEN CHINA INVADED WHAT BECAME VIETNAM AND THE VIET PEOPLE. WE WON'T GO BACK THAT FAR. WE CAN SKIP AHEAD TO THE 1600s WHEN THE FRENCH MOVED IN AS MISSIONARIES, ALWAYS CHASING GOLD AND SELLING GOD, AND THE FRENCH COLONIZED WHAT BECAME VIETNAM, CAMBODIA, AND LAOS, AND KEPT THAT COLONY GOING FOR LITERALLY CENTURIES. IN 1954, WHEN THE NORTH VIETNAMESE DEFEATED THE FRENCH, THE FRENCH DECIDED TO LEAVE IN 1954, AND THAT'S WHEN THE AMERICANS CAME IN. THE CANADIANS TOO. I'M SURE WE'LL TALK ABOUT THAT MORE. AND THE VIETNAMESE, LED BY HO CHI MIN, SAID WE HAVE THREE GOALS: WE WANT THE FOREIGNERS OUT. IT WAS THE FRENCH, IT WAS THE CHINESE, AND NOW IT WAS THE AMERICANS. WE WANT A UNITED COUNTRY, NORTH AND SOUTH VIETNAM TO BE ONE. AND WE WANT HO CHI MIN, THE COMMUNIST LEADER, TO BE THE RULER. THERE WERE PEOPLE FIGHTING AGAINST THAT AND THE AMERICANS AND THE RUSSIANS AND THE SOVIETS WERE SEEN AS PART OF A PROXY WAR. IT VERY MUCH WAS A NATIONALIST WAR, A CIVIL WAR, AND A PROXY COLD WAR ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Steve says INTERESTING. ONE OF THE THINGS YOU SAY EARLY ON IN THE BOOK WHICH REALLY SURPRISED ME WAS THAT ONE CANNOT FULLY COMPREHEND THE VIETNAM WAR WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING CANADA'S ROLE IN IT. WHICH SUGGESTS A MUCH BIGGER ROLE THAN THIS COUNTRY HAD THAN MAYBE ANYBODY EXPECTED. IS THAT IN FACT THE CASE?

John says THAT IS IN FACT THE CASE. WHEN I SAID THE FRENCH DECIDED TO LEAVE AFTER LOSING THE BATTLE IN 1954, A COMMISSION WAS PUT TOGETHER IN GENEVA, AND ALL OF THE BIG COUNTRIES WERE THERE AND THEY DECIDED THEY WOULD DIVIDE THE COUNTRY. THE NON-COMMUNISTS WERE RULE THE SOUTH. TEMPORARILY. A COMMISSION WOULD BE PUT IN THERE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE FRENCH LEFT. ANYBODY FROM THE NORTH WHO WANTED TO GO SOUTH, WELL, THEY COULD DO SO AND THE OTHER WAY AROUND. AND THERE WOULD BE ELECTIONS THAT WOULD REUNITE THE COUNTRY. NOW, THERE WERE THREE COUNTRIES THAT WERE ASKED TO RUN THE INTERNATIONAL CONTROL COMMISSION TO OVERSEE THIS. AND ONE OF THOSE COUNTRIES WAS CANADA. AND IT WAS INDIA AND POLAND AS WELL. WELL, THAT MEANS WE WERE IN THE VIETNAM WAR IN 1954. OUR DIPLOMATS AND OUR SOLDIERS WERE THERE, TEN YEARS BEFORE THE AMERICANS CAME IN A BIG WAY, AND WE WERE THERE RIGHT UNTIL THE END, IN 1973. AND WE WERE THERE IN MANY DIFFERENT CAPACITIES. AT THE SAME TIME, WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN CANADA WAS BEING AFFECTED BY THAT WAR.

Steve says WELL, LET'S GO BACK TO THE '50s THEN, THE BEGINNING OF OUR INVOLVEMENT. WE'RE GOING TO BRING UP A PICTURE HERE BY SOMEONE BY THE NAME OF SHERWOOD LETT WHO WAS A VETERAN OF PASSCHENDAELE. WHAT WAS HIS ROLE, FOR US, IN THE LEAD UP TO THE VIETNAM WAR?

A black and white portrait picture of Sherwood Lett appears briefly on screen. He's in his forties, with short dark hair and a short mustache.

The caption changes to "Diplomatic dealings."

John says HE WAS PICKED BY LESTER PEARSON TO BE HEAD OF THE CANADIAN CONTINGENT THAT WAS PART OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONTROL COMMISSION, AS A BRIGADIER GENERAL AND AS A LAWYER FROM A SUCCESSFUL FIRM IN VANCOUVER, HE HAD NOT ONLY THE MILITARY BACKGROUND AND ABILITY BUT HE ALSO HAD THE LEGAL ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND THE LEGAL COMPLEXITIES OF TRYING TO ENFORCE A CEASE-FIRE THAT WASN'T REALLY A CEASE-FIRE. TRYING TO GET THE VIETNAMESE PEOPLE TO GET ALONG WHILE THEY MOVED FROM NORTH TO SOUTH. TRYING TO KEEP THE BIG POWERS OUT. AND TRYING TO GET THE NORTH VIETNAMESE AND SOUTH VIETNAMESE TO AT LEAST PLAY NICE. WE KNEW THAT THERE WAS A CIVIL WAR GOING ON UNDER IT ALL THROUGHOUT THIS TIME. BUT AT LEAST TO PLAY NICE AND NOT UNTIL THEY COULD GET TO THE 1956 ELECTIONS, AND IT WAS SHERWOOD LETT THAT DID A GREAT DEAL TO MAKE THE ICC WORK AS WELL AS IT COULD.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says DO YOU THINK HIS EFFORTS IN FACT SAVED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES?

John says WHETHER IT'S HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OR THOUSANDS OR TENS OF THOUSANDS, I COULDN'T GUESS. BUT HE WROTE BACK TO HIS WIFE, AND WHAT HE SAID WAS THAT WE BEING THERE MADE THINGS BETTER THAN THEY OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE BEEN. THAT IS, PEOPLE WHO WOULD HAVE DIED WERE SAVED. CATASTROPHES THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED WERE AVERTED. AND LIKE IN POLITICS, IT WAS A LITTLE BIT THE ICC, THEIR SUCCESS WAS AS MUCH AS WHAT THEY AVOIDED HAPPENING AS WHAT THEY DID. AND IN 1956, BY THE WAY, THAT'S WHEN THE ELECTION WAS DUE TO HAPPEN. SHERWOOD LETT WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN TRYING TO SET UP THE ELECTION. BUT IT LOOKED LIKE, AND HE REPORTED BACK TO WASHINGTON AND TO OTTAWA, THAT IT LOOKED LIKE IF THIS ELECTION WAS HELD, HO CHI MIN AND THE COMMUNISTS WOULD WIN. WE THEN HAD THE IRONIC SITUATION WHERE THE COMMUNIST RUSSIANS, THE COMMUNIST CHINESE, AND THE COMMUNIST NORTH VIETNAMESE WANTED THE DEMOCRATIC ELECTION TO HAPPEN. AND THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT JOINED WITH THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT IN NOT ALLOWING IT TO HAPPEN.

Steve says THE MISTAKES ALONG THE WAY, EH? ALL RIGHT. LET ME MOVE YOU TO THE 1960s. BLAIR SEABORNE IS ANOTHER CANADIAN WHO DELIVERS A MESSAGE ON BEHALF OF THE NEW PRESIDENT, LYNDON JOHNSON, TO THE NORTH. WHAT WAS THAT MESSAGE?

In a black and white picture, Lyndon Johnson poses with his hands clasped together. He's in his forties, clean-shaven, with short, receding hair.

John says WELL, IT WAS INTERESTING THAT JOHNSON HAD BEEN TOLD, AS FAR BACK AS EISENHOWER, WHEN THE AMERICANS WERE MOVING INTO THE VIETNAM QUAGMIRE IN SUCH A BIG WAY, WITH FIRST MONEY AND THEN ADVISORS AND THEN MORE TROOPS, THAT THIS WAS A DOMINO THEORY. THAT IF VIETNAM FELL TO THE COMMUNISTS, THEN ALL OF THE SURROUNDING COUNTRIES WOULD FALL AS WELL. JOHNSON HAD THE C.I.A. LOOK AT THAT, AND THE C.I.A. TOLD HIM IN 1964, THIS IS SIMPLY NOT THE CASE. IF WE LEFT VIETNAM, THEN VIETNAM WOULD PROBABLY TURN COMMUNIST, BUT NONE OF ITS NEIGHBOURS WOULD TURN COMMUNIST. JOHNSON HAD NO WAY OF ENDING THIS WAR BEFORE IT EXPLODED BECAUSE HE HAD NO DIPLOMATS IN NORTH VIETNAM AND HE HAD NO WAY OF COMMUNICATING WITH HO CHI MIN. HE THEREFORE ASKED CANADA TO HELP. PEARSON PICKED BLAIR SEABORNE, A VERY EXPERIENCED DIPLOMAT LIVING IN OTTAWA AT THAT TIME. HE WENT AS THE HEAD OF THE ICC THAT WAS STILL THERE, MET IN HANOI WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF NORTH VIETNAM, AND TOOK HIM THE MESSAGE THAT JOHNSON HAD ASKED HIM TO TAKE. AND THE VIETNAMESE LEADER AND BLAIR SEABORNE CAME UP WITH A DEAL, AND THE DEAL WAS THAT THE AMERICANS WOULD LEAVE, A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS WOULD HAPPEN, AND VIETNAM WOULD HOLD ANOTHER ELECTION, JUST LIKE THEY HAD BEEN PROMISED IN 1956, AND VIETNAM WOULD REMAIN NEUTRAL IN THE COLD WAR. WHAT IS REALLY INTERESTING IS THAT BLAIR SEABORNE TOLD WASHINGTON THIS DEAL, AND JOHNSON TURNED IT DOWN, REFUSED TO LISTEN TO WHAT BLAIR SEABORNE HAD SAID. IN 1973, IF WE SKIP FORWARD, WHEN PRESIDENT NIXON EVENTUALLY ENDED THE WAR AND KISSINGER IN PARIS SIGNED THE DEAL THAT ENDED THE VIETNAM WAR, THE AMERICAN PART OF IT, THE DEAL WAS ESSENTIALLY THE SAME AS WHAT SEABORNE SAID IN 1964. SO BLAIR SEABORNE GAVE THE AMERICANS A WAY OUT OF THE WAR BEFORE THE WAR BEGAN, AND THE AMERICANS REFUSED TO TAKE IT.

Steve says AND THE NORTH VIETNAMESE PRIME MINISTER ALSO SAID TO SEABORNE, THE FOLLOWING. SHELDON, I'LL ASK YOU TO BRING THIS GRAPHIC UP.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "To the bitter end for North Vietnam." The quote reads "It's impossible for you Westerners to understand the force of the people's will to resist, and to continue. The struggle of our people exceeds the imagination. It has astonished us too."
Pham Van Dong, as quoted in "The Devil's Trick." 2021.

Steve says THAT WAS PHAM VAN DONG TO BLAIR SEABORNE. WHAT DID YOU INTERPRET THAT TO MEAN?

The caption changes to "John Boyko, @Johnwboyko."

John says I'LL TELL YOU WHAT SEABORNE INTERPRETED IT TO MEAN. WHEN HE WROTE HIS CABLES BACK TO WASHINGTON, HE MET WITH THE PRIME MINISTER FOUR MORE TIMES, AND EACH TIME THE NORTH VIETNAMESE LEADERS REITERATED THAT POINT, AND THE POINT WAS: YOU CAN... YOU AMERICANS... CAN ATTACK US. YOU CAN BOMB US. YOU CAN INVADE US. YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE TO DO WITH US. BUT IN THE END, WE WILL PREVAIL. WE WILL WIN. WE WILL OUTLAST YOU.

In a black and white picture, North Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong sits in an armchair with his arms spread open. He's in his forties, clean-shaven, with short dark hair.

Steve says AND HE WAS RIGHT.

John says ISN'T THAT EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED.

Steve says AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. WE'RE LOOKING AT A PICTURE HERE OF THE NORTH VIETNAMESE PRIME MINISTER PHAM VAN DONG RIGHT HERE. WAS IT A SIGNIFICANT ATTEMPT BY CANADA TO STOP THE VIETNAM WAR BEFORE IT GOT OUT OF HAND?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

John says THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS. I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO GO TO OTTAWA AND MEET WITH BLAIR SEABORNE, HE WAS IN HIS 90s AT THE TIME AND STILL VERY MUCH WITH IT, I MET WITH HIM AND WENT OVER THE CHAPTER THAT I HAD BASED ON HIS EXPERIENCES AND HE TOLD ME A NUMBER OF THINGS THAT WERE VERY INTERESTING, INCLUDING THE FACT THAT HE BELIEVED AT THE BEGINNING THAT THE AMERICANS WOULD TAKE HIS ADVICE, TAKE THE DEAL THAT HE AND THE NORTH VIETNAMESE HAD COME TO, AND WOULD AVOID THE WAR. BUT HE SAID TOO MANY AMERICANS, TOO MANY AMERICAN SOLDIERS, TOO MANY OF THEM, HE SAID IN HIS WORDS, FOUGHT LIKE JOHN WAYNE. THEY THOUGHT THEY COULD BULLY THEIR WAY THROUGH THIS AND THEY WOULD WIN, NO MATTER HOW MUCH HE TRIED TO CONVINCE THEM THAT THEY WOULD NEVER WIN.

Steve says WE'RE NOW GOING TO SHOW A PICTURE OF TWO POLITICIANS WHO HAD ALMOST NOTHING IN COMMON, THAT'S MIKE PEARSON, CANADA'S PRIME MINISTER ON THE LEFT, LBJ, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT ON THE RIGHT. HE ASKS TO CANADA'S HELP IN VIETNAM. HE GAVE A FAMOUS SPEECH AT TEMPLE UNIVERSITY IN PHILADELPHIA AND LBJ SURE DOES NOT LIKE THAT SPEECH. WHAT DOES HE SAY, JOHN?

In a black and white picture, Michael Pearson and Lyndon Johnson sit side by side in the sun. They're both in their sixties, clean-shaven and balding.

John says WELL, IT WAS INTERESTING. THE SPEECH AT TEMPLE UNIVERSITY BY PRIME MINISTER PEARSON, HE WAS DOWN THERE TO ACCEPT A GLOBAL PEACE AWARD, AND HE COMPLIMENTED THE AMERICANS FOR THE WORK THAT THEY WERE DOING IN VIETNAM IN HOLDING BACK COMMUNISM. BUT IN THAT SPEECH, HE CRITICIZED THE AMERICAN STRATEGY OF BOMBING NORTH VIETNAMESE CITIES AND PORTS, KILLING CIVILIANS, HE SAID, IS NEVER A WAY TO VICTORY IN A WAR. WHEN HE LEFT THE STAGE, THERE WAS A PHONE CALL WAITING FOR HIM. HE FLEW TO CAMP DAVID WHERE HE MET WITH JOHNSON FOR LUNCH THE NEXT DAY. AT LUNCH JOHNSON IGNORED HIM THROUGHOUT THE LUNCH. OH, HE WAS ON THE PHONE RANTING AND RAISING AT McNAMARA ABOUT THE VIETNAM WAR AND SIMPLY IGNORING THE CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER. FINALLY HE TOOK HIM OUT TO A LITTLE PATIO PORCH OUTSIDE AND BEGAN SCREAMING AT THE PRIME MINISTER, AND GRABBED HIM BY THE LAPELS OF HIS JACKET, LIFTED HIM, AND SAID: YOU CAME TO MY LIVING ROOM AND YOU PISSED ON MY RUG.

The caption changes to "'You pissed on my rug!'"

Steve says YOU CAN JUST IMAGINE...

John says FASCINATING MOMENT IN CANADIAN-AMERICAN HISTORY.

Steve says NO KIDDING. CAN YOU IMAGINE LBJ, WELL OVER E GUY, AND THE INTIMIDATING TEXAN TAKING HIM ON LIKE THAT? PEARSON MUST HAVE BEEN SHAKING IN HIS BOOTS.

John says EXACTLY. HE DID WHAT JOHNSON ONCE CALLED A FULL JOHNSON ON HIM IN THAT HE PUT NOSE TO NOSE IN THE MOST INTIMIDATING FASHION THAT HE COULD MUSTER, COMPLETE WITH THE GRABBING OF THE lapels. PEARSON, BY THE WAY, THE NEXT DAY WROTE A LETTER, DIDN'T MENTION THAT EPISODE, AND GAVE CANADA'S FULSOME SUPPORT TO THE VIETNAM WAR.

In a black and white picture, a woman in her late forties with a grim expression on her face holds up a sign that reads "Ten day Vietnam fast."

Steve says I WANT TO TALK TO YOU NOW ABOUT PERHAPS ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT PROTESTERS IN CANADA OF THE VIETNAM WAR, HER NAME WAS CLAIRE CULHANE. SHE WANTED CANADA TO HAVE NO PART OF THIS WAR. SHE HELD A HUNGER STRIKE. SHE MET WITH THE NEW PRIME MINISTER, THIS IS PEARSON'S SUCCESSOR NOW, PIERRE TRUDEAU, IN 1968 TO SEND THAT MESSAGE. WHAT DID TRUDEAU TELL HER IN THAT PRIVATE MEETING THAT THEY HAD?

The caption changes to "In protest."

John says WELL, IT WAS INTERESTING BECAUSE IN THE PHOTOGRAPH THAT YOU JUST SHOWED, SHE DID A 10-DAY FAST ON PARLIAMENT HILL, AND IT WAS INTERESTING THAT AT THE END OF THAT FAST, THE END OF THE 10 DAYS, AND IT WAS INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES, HEADLINES AROUND THE WORLD, BECAUSE THIS WAS A CANADIAN... AND NOT ONLY A CANADIAN BUT IN THE 1960s, A CANADIAN WOMAN THAT WAS LEADING THIS PROTEST MOVEMENT. THAT INCIDENT WAS JUST PART OF A LARGER MOVEMENT, AN ANTIWAR MOVEMENT THAT SHE WAS SPEARHEADING. HE WAS... PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU ASKED HER TO COME TO HIS OFFICE. SHE CAME. AND WITHIN TWO MINUTES, A KNOCK CAME TO THE DOOR WITH AN AIDE SAYING, HE NEEDED TO BE ELSEWHERE. AND THEY ALL LAUGHED BECAUSE EVERYBODY KNEW THAT WAS THE SETUP. AS TRUDEAU WAS LEAVING, HE TURNED QUIETLY, SAID TO HER, "YOU CAN'T IMAGINE THE PRESSURES THAT I AM UNDER." AND CLAIRE CULHANE SAYS WHAT DO YOU THINK I'VE BEEN DOING OUT THERE FOR TEN DAYS, IF NOT TO BRING MORE PRESSURE?

Steve says NOW, TO THE EXTENT THAT CANADIANS KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE VIETNAM WAR, MY HUNCH IS, IT'S THE VIETNAM DRAFT DODGERS, SO-CALLED. AND THERE WERE I GUESS AN ESTIMATED BETWEEN 40,000 AND 100,000 AMERICANS WHO JUST SIMPLY DID NOT WANT ANY PART OF THAT WAR AND CAME UP TO CANADA. WHAT WAS THE ATTITUDE OF CANADIANS AT THE TIME TO THOSE AMERICANS WHO CAME HERE?

The caption changes to "Dodging the draft."

John says A NUMBER OF THINGS IN MY RESEARCH SURPRISED ME, AND THE ONE THING THAT SURPRISED ME WAS THAT, I CAME INTO THIS BELIEVING THAT WE CANADIANS WERE SO MAGNIFICENT IN THAT WE WELCOMED ALL OF THESE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WHO WERE EVADING THE DRAFT. WEREN'T WE GREAT PEOPLE? WHAT I DISCOVERED IS THAT THE POLLS TAKEN AT THE TIME SAID THAT THE MAJORITY OF CANADIANS DID NOT WANT THESE DRAFT DODGERS TO COME UP TO CANADA. THEY DID NOT WANT THEM SETTLING HERE. AND THEY CERTAINLY DID NOT WANT THE DESERTERS, THE PEOPLE WHO WERE A PART OF THE MILITARY AND THEN LEFT THE MILITARY TO COME TO CANADA. A NUMBER OF GROUPS WERE ORGANIZED IN ORDER TO HELP THE DRAFT DODGERS AND DESERTERS, THE EVADERS COME UP. AND A NUMBER OF CHURCH GROUPS WERE THE SUPPORTERS OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS. WHAT IS INTERESTING IN THE POLLS TAKEN IN A NUMBER OF CANADIAN CHURCHES SAID, THAT WHILE THE LEADERSHIP OF THE CHURCHES AGREED THAT THEY SHOULD SUPPORT THESE REFUGEES, THESE WAR REFUGEES, THE LAITY, THE PEOPLE IN THE PEWS BY A VAST MAJORITY, MORE THAN 60 percent SAID, NO, WE SHOULD SUPPORT THESE PEOPLE. IT'S INTERESTING THAT THE MAYORS OF A NUMBER OF CITIES INCLUDING TORONTO AND VANCOUVER AND OTHERS SAID HORRIBLE THINGS ABOUT THE DRAFT DODGERS, OF THE AMERICANS. IT WAS SITTING ON A FOUNDATION OF ANTI-AMERICANISM AND A FEELING THAT THESE YOUNG PEOPLE WERE JOINING WITH THE CANADIAN YOUNG PEOPLE AT THE TIME WHO WERE WEARING LONG HAIR AND FUNNY CLOTHES AND LISTENING TO FUNNY MUSIC AND UPSETTING THE APPLE CART OF EVERYTHING THAT WE AS CANADIANS HELD DEAR. IT WAS PART OF THE BABY BOOM GENERATION AND THAT WHOLE REBELLION. SO I THOUGHT THAT WE WERE GREAT IN TAKING IN THE DRAFT DODGERS. AND WE WERE. WHAT I DIDN'T REALIZE IS HOW MANY CANADIANS WANTED TO PART OF THEM.

Steve says I GUESS IF WE CAN LOOK AT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN, THE OPPOSITE OF THE DRAFT DODGER WAS THE CANADIAN WHO VOLUNTEERED TO GO FIGHT IN VIETNAM. HOW MANY PEOPLE DID THAT?

The caption changes to "Raring to go."

John says WELL, ABOUT... IT'S HARD TO TELL BUT ABOUT 20,000, SOME PEOPLE SAID 30,000 BECAUSE IT'S TOUGH TO TELL WHO EXACTLY WERE CANADIANS. IF YOU WERE A CANADIAN AND YOU WENT TO THE UNITED STATES AND SIGNED UP TO FIGHT IN VIETNAM AND THEN BECAME AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, WELL, ARE YOU STILL A CANADIAN? AND THE CANADIANS THAT WENT AND THEN REMAINED AFTER THEIR TOURS OF DUTY. SO IT'S TOUGH TO TELL EXACTLY. BUT I HAVE READ ANYWHERE FROM 15,000 TO 30,000 CANADIANS SIGNED UP FOR THE AMERICAN MILITARY AND WENT TO FIGHT IN VIETNAM. MANY DIFFERENT REASONS FOR DOING THAT. THE TWO MOST PROMINENT THAT I FOUND WAS (1) PEOPLE, YOUNG PEOPLE HAD GROWN UP WITH ALMOST EVERY MALE ADULT IN THEIR LIFE BEING A VETERAN, FIGHTING IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR OR KOREA, AND THEREFORE THEY FELT IT THEIR DUTY TO SERVE. THE SECOND REASON IS THAT THEY FELT THAT THEIR GOVERNMENT WAS CORRECT, THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT WAS CORRECT THAT WE HAVE TO FIGHT COMMUNISM. AND THE PLACE WHERE COMMUNISM WAS BEING DIRECTLY FOUGHT AND CONFRONTED WAS IN VIETNAM. SO THEY WERE GOING TO GO AND DO THEIR BIT. AND THEY WERE THE TWO REASONS THAT SO MANY CANADIANS WENT AND FOUGHT IN THE VIETNAM WAR, AND MANY WERE KILLED. AGAIN, BETWEEN 79 AND 160 ARE ON THE BLACK WALL IN WASHINGTON, THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL, AND MANY THAT RETURNED RETURNED WITH THE SAME PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE THAT THE AMERICAN VETERANS CAME BACK WITH. AND SOME OF THE VETERANS THAT I SPOKE WITH ARE STILL, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY'RE IN THEIR 70s AND THE WAR WAS SO LONG AGO, STILL SUFFERING THE EFFECTS OF HAVING SERVED IN VIETNAM.

Steve says AND I GATHER THEIR EFFORTS WERE ONLY RECENTLY RECOGNIZED IN CANADA DOWN IN SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO; IS THAT RIGHT?

John says THAT'S RIGHT. THERE'S NOW A MEMORIAL DOWN THERE. AND IT IS INTERESTING THAT THE CANADIAN VETS RETURNED, AND NOT IMMEDIATELY, BUT EVENTUALLY BEGAN SAYING, WE DESERVE RECOGNITION FOR THE SERVICE THAT WE PROVIDED IN FIGHTING COMMUNISM. NOT NECESSARILY FOR HAVING FOUGHT IN THE VIETNAM WAR, BUT AS PART OF THE COLD WAR. WE WERE COLD WARRIORS SERVING IN VIETNAM. THEY WERE NOT RECOGNIZED BY THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT. THEY WERE NOT RECOGNIZED BY THE CANADIAN LEGION. THEY WERE NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO LAY WREATHS AT MEMORIAL DAY SERVICES, AT REMEMBRANCE DAY SERVICES IN NOVEMBER. SO IT WAS A TOUGH, TOUGH SLOG FOR A LONG TIME, AS ALL OF THE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGES THEY WERE SUFFERING, THEY RECEIVED NO HELP FOR YEARS, FOR DECADES, IN ORDER TO DEAL WITH THESE PROBLEMS.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Steve says NOW, AS WE CONTINUE OUR LOOK AT THE LEADERS OF BOTH COUNTRIES, WE NOW COME TO PIERRE TRUDEAU FOR CANADA AND RICHARD NIXON FOR THE UNITED STATES, AND THE TWO OF THEM, QUITE FAMOUSLY, HAD A PRETTY TERRIBLE RELATIONSHIP. WHY DON'T YOU START BY TELLING US HOW NIXON USED TO REFER TO TRUDEAU? AND, YES, YOU CAN SAY THE WORD.

John says I WAS GOING TO SAY. I CAN SAY THIS ON TELEVISION? HE CALLED HIM AN EGGHEAD SON OF A BITCH. AND WHEN TRUDEAU WAS TOLD THAT THAT IS HOW NIXON REFERRED TO HIM, TRUDEAU... AND YOU CAN PICTURE THE MAN SHRUGGING AND SAYING, "I'VE BEEN CALLED FAR WORSE BY MUCH NICER PEOPLE."

Steve says I THINK NIXON SAID... I THINK HE SAID SOMETHING ELSE TOO, A WORD THAT BEGINS WITH AN "A" AND ENDS WITH "HOLE."

John says YEAH, HE CALLED HIM THAT SEVERAL TIMES TOO.

Steve says YEAH.

John says THERE ARE OCCASIONS WHERE HE WAS TOLD THAT THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA WISHED TO SPEAK TO HIM AND HIS RESPONSE WAS: I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO THAT ASSHOLE. HE DIDN'T THINK MUCH OF TRUDEAU. TRUDEAU RESPECTED NIXON AS A LEADER. HE RESPECTED HIM AS PRESIDENT. BUT HE SAID IN HIS MEMOIRS, HE WAS THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE MAN IN HIS OWN SKIN THAT HE EVER ENCOUNTERED. HE ALSO WAS THROWN BY THE FACT THAT SO MANY TIMES WHEN HE WOULD BE IN CONVERSATION IN THE OVAL OFFICE OR WHEN HE VISITED IN OTTAWA, THAT NIXON HAD TO TURN TO OTHERS FOR DETAILS OF WHATEVER THE TOPIC OF CONVERSATION, AND TRUDEAU OF COURSE KNEW HIS BRIEFS INSIDE AND OUT. SO IT WAS A BAD RELATIONSHIP. NOT AS BAD AS DIEFENBAKER AND KENNEDY, BUT IT WAS NOT A PLEASANT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO.

Steve says MM-HMM. ALL RIGHT. LET ME TAKE YOU NOW TO THE LATE 1970s. THE VIETNAM WAR IS OVER. IN FACT, I GUESS APRIL 30TH, THIS IT DATE, 1975. THE AMERICANS LEFT SAIGON. SOUTHEAST ASIA EXPLODES. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES WHO ARE FLEEING FOR THEIR LIVES. AND YOU HAVE AN ACCOUNT IN YOUR BOOK, JOHN, THAT I TELL YOU, IS GOING TO STAY WITH ME FOREVER, BECAUSE IT IS... THIS FAMILY IS TRYING TO ESCAPE BY BOAT, WHICH HAS BEEN ORDERED ABANDONED BY ITS CAPTAIN. I'M GOING TO READ THIS EXCERPT NOW OF WHAT CAME NEXT...

Another quote from John's book appears on screen, under the title "Troubled waters." The quote reads "Rebecca sat Helen on the deck and held her with one foot while she picked Judy up with both hands and with all her might threw the screaming child out into the darkness. Judy plunged into the water just in front of Sam, and in seconds he had her. Rebecca then picked up Helen and planned her move. She tossed her crying baby high into the air and at the same moment jumped. Smacking into the water, she frantically scrambled up to the surface, plunged her hands into a splash beside her and, astonishingly, caught her howling daughter. Treading water with one arm and pulling Helen close with the other, she thanked God for saving them all."

Steve says I MEAN, YOU JUST CANNOT IMAGINE... WELL, YOU CAN NOW WITH THIS KIND OF REPORTAGE THAT YOU'VE DONE, THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THESE PEOPLE FLED FOR THEIR LIVES. WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE IN CANADA AS THEY CAME UPON OUR SHORES?

The caption changes to "The Boat People."

John says AGAIN, IT WAS INTERESTING FOR ME BECAUSE WE HAVE MORE RECENTLY LIVED THROUGH OUR WELCOMING THE SYRIAN REFUGEES, WHICH WE DID BASED ON THE SAME MODEL AS WHEN WE WELCOMED THE VIETNAMESE REFUGEES AFTER THE MADNESS THAT FOLLOWED THE 1975 TRUE END OF THE VIETNAM WAR. AND I THOUGHT, NAIVELY, I GUESS, WEREN'T WE TREMENDOUS PEOPLE, JUST LIKE WITH RESPECT TO THE DRAFT DODGERS, THAT WE WELCOMED THEM WITH OPEN ARMS. WHAT I DISCOVERED, HOWEVER, IS THAT AGAIN THE POLLING INDICATED THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF CANADIANS DID NOT WANT THEM. WHEN THEY ARRIVED, THERE WAS INCREDIBLE RACISM AND DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES ALL ACROSS CANADA, ESPECIALLY ON THE WEST COAST BUT ACROSS CANADA, AND WHAT I FOUND AGAIN WAS THAT IT WAS THE CHURCH GROUPS THAT WERE ONCE MORE STEPPING UP TO GIVE THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT AND GIVE THE BUREAUCRATIC SUPPORT, BECAUSE YOU HAD TO REGISTER WITH THE GOVERNMENT TO BRING REFUGEES IN. AND WHAT I DISCOVERED IS THAT, AGAIN, THE CHURCH LEADERSHIP WERE IN SUPPORT OF BRINGING THE VIETNAM REFUGEES INTO CANADA, BUT THE LAITY AGAIN WAS IN THE MAJORITY SAYING WE DO NOT WANT ALL OF THESE VIETNAMESE AND CAMBODIAN AND OTHERS COMING HERE. AND SO IT WAS A SURPRISE TO ME. AND WHAT I TRIED TO DO WITH THE CHAPTER AND WHAT YOU'VE JUST REFERRED TO IS TO PUT A HUMAN FACE ON THESE REFUGEES THAT WERE COMING, AND REBECCA TRINH, WHO LIVES IN CALGARY... I HAD A GREAT... SEVERAL GREAT CONVERSATIONS ON THE PHONE WITH HER... TOLD ME THESE STORIES. IT WAS HORRIFIC TO ME. AND MY HEART BLED FOR WHAT THEY WERE GOING THROUGH IN JUST SIMPLY TRYING TO SAVE THEIR LIVES. AND THEN TO THE NEXT DAY BE READING ACCOUNTS OF CANADIANS WHO ARE SAYING, "WHY SHOULD WE LET THESE PEOPLE IN? THEY'RE FINE." EVEN MANY PEOPLE ON RADIO AND TELEVISION SAYING THEY'RE FAKING IT. IT ISN'T THAT BAD OVER THERE. THEY'RE JUST TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF US. IT WAS HEARTBREAKING. IT ALSO LED ME TO SEE THAT THE COST OF WAR IS ALWAYS THE HUMAN COST. TOO OFTEN, I THINK, WE LOOK AT THE POLITICAL AND THE MILITARY RAMIFICATIONS OF WAR. AND THEY'RE IMPORTANT. BUT THE HUMAN COST I THINK IS WHAT WE NEED TO FOCUS ON. AND THE STORY OF REBECCA TRINH AND HER FAMILY I THINK IS... IT AT LEAST HELPED ME TO UNDERSTAND THAT HUMAN COST.

Steve says REBECCA AND HER FAMILY WERE JUST A FEW OF MORE THAN A 100,000 SO-CALLED "BOAT PEOPLE." AS WE CALLED THEM THEN WHO REASONABLY SUCCESSFULLY RESETTLED IN CANADA, DID THEY NOT?

John says ABSOLUTELY. THAT'S SOMETHING ELSE THAT I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT WITH RESPECT TO REBECCA TRINH. THE LITTLE GIRL THAT GOT THROWN INTO THE WATER FIRST, JUDY, MANY OF YOUR VIEWERS PROBABLY SEE HER ON CBC TV BECAUSE JUDY TRINH IS A CBC REPORTER AND YOU WILL SEE HER SAYING, "JUDY TRINH, CBC, IN OTTAWA." AND THERE SHE IS WITH HER DARK HAIR AND NOW THE LITTLE GIRL IS NOW A VERY SUCCESSFUL PERSON OUT IN CALGARY. THEY SUBSEQUENTLY HAD A SON AND HE'S AN ENGINEER. BOTH REBECCA AND SAM ARE NOW BOTH RETIRED BUT THEY LED VERY SUCCESSFUL LIVES. MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO CAME LED VERY SUCCESSFUL LIVES, CONTRIBUTING BACK TO CANADA IN WAYS THAT WE CAN'T IMAGINE. WHAT IS INTERESTING IS THAT WHEN THE SYRIAN REFUGEES CAME IN 2015, EACH OF THE THREE TRINH CHILDREN ADOPTED SYRIAN REFUGEE FAMILIES BECAUSE THEY RECOGNIZED WE HAVE TO GIVE BACK AND THEY HAVE BEEN GIVING BACK TO CANADA EVER SINCE THEY ARRIVED.

Steve says ISN'T THAT SOMETHING? WE SHOULD PUT ON THE RECORD THAT IT WAS JOE CLARK'S GOVERNMENT IN 1979... IMMIGRATION MINISTER RON ATKEY WHO, SADLY IS NO LONGER WITH US, THEY WERE REALLY THE DRIVING FORCES IN MAKING THIS HAPPEN SO SUCCESSFULLY. FAIR TO SAY?

A black and white picture shows a young man and woman posing with a toddler girl and a baby.

John says ABSOLUTELY, YES. AND FLORA MACDONALD WHO PLAYED AN ESSENTIAL ROLE AS WELL. IT WAS THE CLARK GOVERNMENT THAT SHOWED THE COMPASSION AND THE HEART THAT SAID THIS HAS TO BE DONE. AND THAT IS THE SIGN OF POLITICAL COURAGE BECAUSE THE POLLS THAT I WAS JUST INDICATING TO YOU... JOE CLARK COULD READ THOSE POLLS. HE HAD A FLIMSY MINORITY GOVERNMENT. IT WASN'T GOING TO LAST, JUST A FEW MONTHS, AND YET HE STILL HAD THE POLITICAL COURAGE TO SAY THIS IS NOT POPULAR, BUT IT'S RIGHT AND THAT'S WHAT A GOOD GOVERNMENT IS ALL ABOUT.

Steve says JOHN, LET'S END FULL CIRCLE, HERE. I WANT TO BRING IT TO TODAY BECAUSE, OF COURSE, PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN JUST RECENTLY ANNOUNCED THAT AMERICA IS GOING TO BE LEAVING AFGHANISTAN AFTER 20-YEARS... THE LONGEST WAR AMERICA'S EVER PARTICIPATED IN, EVEN LONGER THAN VIETNAM WHICH I WELL REMEMBER FROM MY YOUTH WAS A PLENTY LONG WAR ALREADY. IT DOES SUGGEST THE QUESTION OF WHAT DO YOU THINK AMERICA HAS LEARNED FROM ITS VERY PROLONGED MILITARY ADVENTURES OVERSEAS?

John says IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE IN SOME WAYS, AMERICA HAS LEARNED WELL THE LESSON OF VIETNAM... BUT IN SOME WAYS, IT'S LEARNED A TWISTED LESSON. ONE OF THE THINGS IT LEARNED WAS A NUMBER OF ITS GENERALS CONVINCED A NUMBER OF PRESIDENTS THAT WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS CONTROL THE MEDIA. IT WAS THE MEDIA THAT LOST THE VIETNAM WAR FOR US. AND SO THEREFORE EVERY WAR SUBSEQUENT TO THAT, THE MEDIA HAS BEEN CONTROLLED AND WHAT WE SEE IN A WAR, FROM A WARFRONT, IS MUCH DIFFERENT THAN WHAT WE SAW IN VIETNAM. IT IS CONTROLLED, AND IT IS... I PROMISE NOT TO USE THE WORD FAKE NEWS... I THINK I JUST DID, BUT WHAT WE SEE IS NOT REALLY WHAT'S GOING ON. WHAT WE SAW IN VIETNAM WERE THE CAMERA PEOPLE AND THE REPORTERS THAT WERE RIGHT THERE, NOW THE MEDIA IS CONTROLLED. WHAT WAS ALSO LEARNED ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES IS IF YOU ARE GOING TO GO INTO A WAR, YOU HAVE TO GO IN WITH A GREAT EXIT STRATEGY, YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT SUCCESS IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE. AND FOR A NUMBER OF ENGAGEMENTS THAT HAPPENED RIGHT AFTER VIETNAM, THAT LESSON WAS APPLIED. THAT LESSON WAS FORGOTTEN WITH AFGHANISTAN AND THAT'S ESSENTIALLY WHAT PRESIDENT BIDEN WAS TALKING ABOUT WHEN HE ANNOUNCED THAT THEY WERE FINALLY LEAVING BECAUSE IF NOT NOW, WHEN? WHAT WILL SUCCESS EVER LOOK LIKE?

The caption changes to "Produced by: Steve Paikin, @spaikin; Produced by: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says JOHN, I ALWAYS LEARN SO MUCH READING YOUR BOOKS. WE THANK YOU FOR WRITING "THE DEVIL'S TRICK: HOW CANADA FOUGHT THE VIETNAM WAR" AND WE'RE GRATEFUL IT BROUGHT YOU TO TVO TONIGHT. TAKE CARE, MY FRIEND.

John says THANK YOU SO MUCH, STEVE. ALWAYS GOOD TO BE WITH YOU.

Watch: How Canada Fought the Vietnam War