CFB Cold Lake was an ideal weapons range for testing of new
ordinances that required great distances to fly. This was an
important factor when the decision was made by the federal
government to allow testing of the American Cruise Missile at
Cold Lake on 15 July 1983. The tests included Air Launched
Cruise Missiles, which were long-range missiles that had been
developed for ranges over 2,500 kilometre. They could carry nuclear
warheads and were undetectable by conventional radar, making
The announcement by the federal government sparked massive
protests, as many argued that Canada should not participate in
the development of nuclear weapons and systems to deliver them.
Many worried that the new cruise missiles created an imbalance
in the world military structure that would bring with it
international instability and the risk of war.
The protests against testing of the cruise missile included
mass marches and, in one case, an act of political vandalism.
Art student Peter Greyson went to the National Archives in
Ottawa, approached the Constitution of Canada and poured red
paint on it. He stated that the test of the cruise missile
violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which allowed for
the basic right to be alive. In October 1984, Greyson was
convicted of public mischief and received a sentence of 89 days
In 1985, Operation Dismantle, an anti-nuclear organization,
presented arguments to the Canadian federal court that indicated
testing of cruise missiles was against the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms because such a weapon denied the right to
life. The court rejected the arguments because they were based
on assumptions and not real evidence.
Aboriginal peoples continued to oppose testing of cruise
missiles since such action was seen as a violation of their
territories and the treaties they had signed. These protests
were not effective as tests were carried out and continue to be
carried out over Canadian territory.