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The Cancellation of the Avro Arrow

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The Cancellation of the Avro Arrow

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  • October 21, 2011
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The success of the Avro Arrow was unique and groundbreaking for Canada, and its ultimate cancellation lead to many questions and speculation as to why the program was prematurely halted. The declassification of government documents has shed some new light on the events leading up to the cancellation of the Avro project; however; it is a legacy that will endure. The charges and countercharges regarding the decision are as diverse as life itself. This paper delves into the issues and the processes that surrounded Diefenbaker during the period in which he was contemplating the continuation or cancellation of the Avro Arrow project, the implications this would have on his government and the factors that led to his ultimate decision. It would appear on the surface that when Prime Minister Diefenbaker won the election in June 1957 and took control of a government and a country it was in a time of relative peace and stability. Overall, there was a strong economic outlook and high morale within the general population. In fact, what Diefenbaker found was that the defense budget had escalated well beyond any reasonable figure, and there were insurmountable management challenges particularly with communication issues surrounding the Avro Arrow project. These pre-existing conditions, compounded with the change in power, and new government mandates, was the direct hit that took out the Avro Arrow program and led to its cancellation and eventual destruction. Following the end of World War II, a new source of conflict was at the forefront of government decision making. Political leaders were cautiously observing the escalation of tension between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics into what is known as the Cold War. As an ally of the U.S., Canada was keenly aware that its security was strongly linked to the security of its superpower neighbour. During this post-war period, Canada experienced economic booms with a significant portion of the...