Monday, 25 August 2014

Things I Learned from Richard Rohmer’s 1989 Thriller Red Arctic

Two superpowers (and Canada) stand toe-to-toe-to-toe in the far north in Richard Rohmer’s Red Arctic.  Submarines, jet fighters and de Havilland Twin Otters race to recover ancient Russian artifacts that could redraw the map of the world and tip the balance of power forever.  Think Ice Station Zebra plus Raiders of the Lost Ark, if what everyone wanted was a belt buckle.

Besides providing white-knuckle thrills, Red Arctic also reveals why Richard Rohmer, who was born to be in the Canadian Senate, never made it: He hated Brian Mulroney, and couldn’t stop saying it.

Red Arctic is sort of about high stakes action.  But it’s mostly about how Richard Rohmer thinks Brian Mulroney is a cheap, stupid dingleberry.

Because Rohmer lets us know, repeatedly and in no uncertain terms, that none of the action in Red Arctic would have happened – the Russians wouldn’t have tried to pull any of their crap -- if Canada had nuclear submarines.  And who didn’t buy those subs? Prime Minister Dumbass.

How many nuclear submarines should Canada have had to stand up to the Commies?  Rohmer doesn’t say, but according to the US Naval Institute, in 1991 the USSR had 235.  So let’s say 100.  (Let’s not go nuts.  It’s just a deterrent. We don’t have to match them boat for boat.) A Trafalgar-class hunter killer submarine cost £200 million in the 1980s.  So £200 billion worth.

A small price to pay.

Q.  Does Inspector Boychuk notice big tires?

Half an hour later the slow-moving Twin Otter was circling… the helicopter pilot satisfied Constable Palmer that, with its fat, oversize wheels and short-landing capability, he could put his aircraft down safely.  p.3

Boychuk looked out the hanger’s office window the short distance to the squat, white Twin Otter.  Its fixed undercarriage carried two outsized main-wheel tires… p.77

“It’s not gravel,” he spoke his assessment to Boychuk… "It looks to be fairly smooth although there’ll be lots of sharp edges. Looks okay with these fat tires.” p.87

“OK, Inspector,” the pilot said.  “As I said, our big fat tires are built for exactly that kind of stuff.” p.87

 “It’s an all-terrain vehicle,” Boychuk answered.  “It’s a Swedish design, being built for the army by a Calgary firm.  This is the first one I’ve seen.  Look at those big fat tires.” p.125

 Q. What do the Soviets call their secret mission in Richard Rohmer’s Red Arctic?

“Would the name ‘Operation Red Arctic’ be too descriptive, too close to the point?” p.60

“I think it’s a good name, Red Arctic.” p.60

Red Arctic p.61

Operation Red Arctic, Red Arctic, Red Arctic, Operation Red Arctic p.62

Operation Red Arctic, Red Arctic p.63

Operation Red Arctic p.64

Operation Red Arctic p.65

Operation Red Arctic, Red Arctic, Operation Red Arctic, Red Arctic p.67

Operation Red Arctic, Red Arctic p.68

Operation Red Arctic, Red Arctic, Red Arctic p.69

Operation Red Arctic, Red Arctic p.70

Operation Red Arctic p. 130

Operation Red Arctic p. 131

Q. What do Russians drink?

Vodka, Vodka, Vodka, Vodka, Vodka p.54

Vodka, Vodka p.56

Vodka p.57

Vodka p.60

Q. What the hell?

“How in heaven’s name did it get there?” p.16

“How the hell do I do that, Inspector?” p.82

“What the hell are you hooked into the Pentagon for?” p.95

“And the president of all those wonderful United States of America, what the hell does he think he’s doing channeling to me through Greco and you?” p.100

“Where the hell is George Daniels?” p.101

“What the hell is that?” p.109

“What the hell is that? It’s huge.”  p.125

“How in hell could the Russians have all those submarines and landing parties in place and we don’t know about it, Admiral?” p.140

“How in the name of Christ did the Soviets get those documents?” p.141

“…what the hell am I supposed to do if we have to attack the sub?” p.143

“How in hell do you know that?” p.148

“Who the hell do you think you are, you arrogant son-of-a-bitch.” p.148

Q. Tell me something I already know.

“Commissioner, as you well know, the prime minister is a very busy guy.” p.45

“As I told you, Uncle, this case arrived on my desk today, just this morning.” p.57

“As I told you, what I need is your counsel, your advice, your experience.” p.58

“The first is that, you all well know, he is the nephew of our esteemed former chief of the general staff and still my close advisor.” p.67

“They’d also been able to trap white fox and rabbits but, as you know, they got into the muskox in a big way.”  p.77

“But I told you, no one knows about Shalaurov.  The Soviets can’t know!”
“And as I told you, I wouldn’t put anything past the KGB, nothing.” p.85

“I’ll get onto our National Security Agency people.  As you know, their job’s to monitor Soviet communications that might affect Canada.” p.96

“…the admiral has instructed the commander of air command to put his Hercs straight into the small airport at Pembroke.  As you know, it isn’t far from Petawawa.” p.98

…having regard to length of time it would take for the court to hold hearings on the matter, then finally come to a judgment, well, as everyone knew, that would have to be measured in terms of years rather than months.  p.130

“As you are fully aware, Prime Minister, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had filed an application with the International Court of Justice, claiming that which rightfully belongs to our nation, namely, most of the islands in the Arctic Archipelago lying north of the Northwest Passage.”  p.158


  1. I'm pleased to see that you're not making too much about the Twin Otter, Chris. After all, it was the product of a crown corporation. The real heroes and innovators are shareholders in the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.

    Good thing Brian Mulroney sold de Havilland to Boeing; he very nearly got the value of its real estate. Imagine how high the 1986 deficit would've been without it. Selling Baffin Island might have eliminated it completely.

    And who can blame Boeing for reneging on assurances that the Twin Otter would continue to be produced. Sure, it was a huge money-maker, who could blame Boeing for not wanting to compete with itself?

    Brian Mulroney is a cheap, stupid dingleberry.

  2. I have witnessed Mulroney walking his dog and not picking up after it. Consistent with the way he treated Canada.