24 AUGUST 1985, Page 22

Canadian cowards

Sir: I must take exception to Christopher Hitchens's article on Canadians in the 3 August issue of your magazine. He has neglected to mention the most important failing of the Canadian character – moral courage. By 1960, the Canadians had designed, built and flown a swept-winged jet, the 'Avro Arrow', which experts esti- mated was 25 years in advance of anything in the air. Simultaneously Canadians were developing ships based on the hydrofoil principle, ships which would be built as patrol craft for Canada's extensive coast. When Canadian officials realised what had been developed, they panicked; the 'Avro Arrow' was smashed up for scrap, and the hydrofoil was driven onto a beach, and forgotten. Canadians did not want to antagonise the Russians; nor did they want to bring attention to themselves from the Americans. The conclusion of the article merely stresses what I have just written. Cana- dians, Mr Hitchens writes, would rather be John Buchan instead of LBJ, and Clark Kent instead of Superman. This is exactly my point: Canadians do not have the moral courage to be themselves.

W. W. O'Brien

169 Ribblesdale Road, London SW16