| Defence Spending – Strategic Industries
– Domestic Production – January 2009
Canadian Sovereignty is Rooted in Canada's Manufacturing Sector
Defence Spending is one way to Support such Strategic Industries
Editorial comments on recent government
decision to buy trucks built in Texas
Why Would the Canadian Government Neglect Truck Manufacturers
in this Country?
Most industrialized nations use defence spending as a means to partially subsidize their most important strategic
industries. It is generally agreed that this is one form of sustained govern- ment stimulation that
goes a long way to ensure the longevity of the country. Without this ability to build and maintain
the most fundamental military equipment, a nation state becomes vulnerable to the whims and fortunes of other
countries. This unthinking descent into a weak dependence on foreign manufacturers is a drift away from
sovereignty. The great fear of the elderly, the disabled, and the infirm is to be forced to rely on the
goodwill of others. Why then would any government consciously put their country – and their citizens –
in such a tenuous position, when they had the power to maintain a strong, independent
During World War II, Canada produced
more trucks for military use
than any other
country, other than the US.  Over 800
were manufactured across
Canada in the five years between autumn
1939 and the middle
of 1945. Over half of
these vehicles were designated Canadian
Pattern (CMP) - trucks and trailers
built for use by Commonwealth countries.
CMP family were built to Commonwealth, UK, and Canadian military specifications. Today, such dedicated truck
designs would be designated 'Standard Military Pattern' or SMP.
Canadian Trucks manufactured during WWII were Rugged, Versatile, and Easy to Maintain
Made of interchangeable parts, these trucks were simple in the extreme – thus, regardless of
which company built the individual CMP, the maintenance procedures were almost identical. The CMP
specifications were issued in 1939 and prototypes were made available for testing by the Canadian
Army almost immediately. By 1940, CMP trucks were in full production. 
The CMP family included almost 4000 C15TA Armoured Trucks, as well as specialty armoured vehicles (1506
Fox Armoured Cars and 1761 Otter Light Reconnaissance Cars – all
built in Oshawa). Completed CMPs were shipped to Commonwealth and other Allied nations. So too were CMP parts
for assembly abroad, some becoming the basis for new armoured vehicles. 
During WWII, Canadian auto makers also produced almost 400,000 civilian- pattern trucks
– about half of which were so-called 'Modified Conventional' vehicles. These were
commercial trucks adapted to military roles. Today, such
'off-the-shelf ' designs would be called
MilCOTS. The 'Modified Conventional' trucks were rather uninspiring vehicles. But they did vital work as radio trucks, MO (Medical Orderly or
casevac) vehicles and the like. However, there was one Canadian-built 'Modified Conventional' truck design that
would gain lasting fame. This was the quite unprepossessing, 2x4 Chevrolet 30cwt light truck (above). 
The Canadian-built 30cwt was selected by Britain's Long Range Desert Group  as an armed patrol vehicle for
use in the Western Desert. These 30cwt trucks were unarmoured. The LRDG crews relied on speed, surprise, and
skilled camouflaging for survival. Any truck part seen as non-essential was just cut off. What remained was
festooned with weapons or piled with gear.
During the Second World War, Canada was able to produce vast numbers of military trucks. How was
this country ( then with a population of only 11M – much of it in uniform)
able to build so many trucks and other types of military vehicles?  In part, it was simply
national pride. Productivity was part of how nations defined themselves at the time. That productivity would also
include at least a degree of self-sufficiency. And there was also wartime urgency.
Now Canadian Heavy-Duty Truck Builders are Leaving the Country or are Being Shut Down
No one would compare the Second World War with the current Canadian Forces involvement in
Afghanistan. But Canadian soldiers are fighting and dying overseas. So where is our sense of urgency now?
For that matter, where is our desire for productive self-sufficiency? We are told that Canadian industry can
no longer construct military vehicles and we are asked to believe this at face value. Producing a modern
tank or armoured fighting vehicle from scratch may now be a stretch for Canadian industry. But
simple heavy-duty trucks for the military?
Canadians have watched as heavy-duty truck makers in Canada have either left the country (eg:
Western Star, makers of the CF's Heavy Engineering Support Vehicle series) or been shut down by foreign owners
(eg: Sterling , maker of commercial-pattern stand-ins for the MLVW).
MLVWs are, of course, the clapped-out medium trucks that the Medium Support Vehicle System is struggling to replace
with a combination of militarized civilian trucks and Standard Military Pattern vehicles. The SMP order has yet
to be filled but MND, Peter MacKay, has already announced that the 1300 MilCOTS MSVS trucks
will be built entirely in Texas. The irony is driven home when Sterling, one of the few remaining
( if not Canadian-owned ) truck makers accepts its last order on the same day that the LOI
for the MSVS MilCOTS was issued. It's hard to argue that the skilled labour and factory floor space can't be
readily found in Canada today (with back-up from a hard-pressed auto parts sector ).
The job of any government is to secure, build, and maintain the nation it serves. US President Barack Obama
understands this and will likely move to protect US industry and interests. And so he should. Canadian industry
also faces tough times. Canadians should be demanding that their government emphasize the development and building
of Canadian industry and a skilled workforce free from lay-off cycles and constant changes of foreign
owners. "We [were once] a fierce, proud nation." All that is necessary to be so again is the recognition
that make-work projects like Industrial Regional Benefits are for the conquered. Free people are
 The US built almost 2.4M military trucks during WWII. Canada built double the trucks that Britain did, more
twice the number built by Germany, and four times that of the Soviet Union.
 Canadian Military Pattern production was undertaken by Ford Motor Company of Canada and by General Motors of
Canada. CMPs built at Windsor or Oshawa differed primarily in the engine used. Otherwise CMP trucks built by
the two companies were all but indistinguishable. (Chrysler's Dodge also produced pilot model CMP trucks but never
built the CMP in volume.)
 These CMP-based foreign armoured cars include the Rover in Australia, Beaverette NZ in New
Zealand, the ACV-IP series in India, and the South African Reconnaissance Car Mk IVF.
 The 30cwt was a generic term (the cwt stood for hundredweight, ie: a unit of mass equaling 112 pounds, 30
cwt = 1 1/2 tons). To GM, this truck was known as the 1940 Chevrolet 1533X2. This 30cwt had a 134 inch wheelbase and
was powered by an 86hp 6-cylinder gasoline engine.
 The LRDG chose its 1940 Model 1533X2 after successful experience with another Canadian Chevrolet 30cwt truck, the
1938 Model VA. In many ways, the British LRDG was the precursor of modern military special forces units,
leading indirectly to the formation of the famous SAS.
 Alongside 815,729 trucks, Canada produced over 3,600 Valentine, Ram, and Grizzly tanks,
2,000 Sexton self-propelled guns, almost 42,000 Universal and Windsor armoured
personnel carriers, over 6,500 Lynx, Fox, and Otter armoured car types, and a host of other