811.114 Ottawa Conference/30
The Secretary of State to the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (Moss)
Sir: With regard to the conference to be held at Ottawa for the purpose of discussing ways and means of preventing the smuggling of liquor from Canada into the United States, suggested by the British Chargé d’Affaires ad interim in his note of July 16, 1923, I hereby designate you as the representative of this Government to have charge of the work of the conference so far as the interests of the United States are concerned. Your selection as the representative of this Government has been approved by the President. The [Page 234] conference will be held at Ottawa, and meetings with the Canadian representatives will begin on November 27, 1923. You will be accompanied by the following expert assistants:
- William R. Vallance, Assistant to the Solicitor, Department of State;
- James J. Britt, General Counsel, Prohibition Unit, Treasury Department;
- J. P. Crawford, of the Customs Legal Force, Treasury Department;
- Nathaniel G. Van Doren, Head, Special Agency, Customs Service, Treasury Department;
- George E. Boren, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, Department of Justice;
- William J. Donovan, United States Attorney, Buffalo, New York.
The enforcement of the National Prohibition Laws has become a matter of considerable difficulty and of great importance to this Government. As you are in charge of the agencies of the Treasury Department engaged in the enforcement of the prohibition laws and of the customs laws including the Coast Guard, you are already familiar with the large amounts of intoxicating liquor that are smuggled into the United States from Canada. It is with a view to obtaining assistance from the Canadian authorities in suppressing this illicit traffic that the conference at Ottawa has been arranged.
International cooperation in measures to prevent smuggling and the suppression of crime has been recognized as entitled to the support of all enlightened governments. It is natural, therefore, that the United States should deem it proper to approach Canada with very definite proposals concerning practical means for accomplishing the purposes for which the conference is called. The proposals which it is desired you shall submit for consideration and endeavor to have adopted are as follows:
- Cooperation between Canadian and American customs
- Furnishing information concerning clearances of ships with cargoes of liquor on board.
- Order-in-Council preventing clearance of ships destined to ports in the United States with liquor cargoes.
- Refusal of clearance to ships under 250 tons with cargoes of liquor.
- Search and seizure of vessels engaged in smuggling on Great Lakes.
- Obligation of vessels to proceed to ports for which they clear.
- Treaty arrangement providing for extradition of persons accused of violation of liquor laws.
- Treaty providing for conveyance of prisoners through territory when accused of violation of liquor laws.
- Treaty authorizing Canadian authorities to transport liquor across Alaska in connection with possible rights under Treaty of May 8, 1871.
- Measures to stop smuggling by land.
- Shipments by automobile or by aeroplanes to be reported to United States officials.
- Reciprocal arrangements for the attendance of witnesses, the execution of commissions and letters rogatory, and the certification of records.
With respect to the proposal that arrangements be made whereby Canadian authorities will furnish the officials and agents of the United States information concerning suspicious clearances of ships from Canadian ports with cargoes of liquor on board, your attention is invited to the fact that an agreement has been reached with the Cuban Government whereby the Cuban customs authorities furnish information concerning clearances of this character to the American Ambassador at Habana and this information is telegraphed to officials in the United States for use in preventing violations of its laws.77
Concerning the proposal that an Order-in-Council be issued by the Canadian Government preventing the clearance of ships destined to ports in the United States with cargoes of liquor on board, I may state that in a note dated June 19, 1923, received from the British Ambassador at this capital, the following statement was made:
“The Dominion Government further state that the export of liquor is not prohibited from Canada and that there exists no provision in the customs laws or regulations which would warrant the refusal of clearance papers to vessels carrying liquor destined for a port because of the fact that the entry of such liquors, without special permits, is prohibited at the foreign port in question. In these circumstances the Government of Canada much regret their inability to adopt the suggestion put forward by the United States Government in regard to this matter.”
In a note dated September 17, 1923, received from the British Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at this capital,78 the following statement was made:
“No spirituous liquors are cleared direct from the United Kingdom to United States ports.”
You will observe that the regulations imposed on shipments of liquor to the United States from Canada are not in accordance with those imposed in the United Kingdom which prevent the clearance of ships for the United States with cargoes of liquor on board. You will inquire whether the Canadian authorities will give favorable [Page 236] consideration to the subject of amending their laws so that they will be in accord with those of the United Kingdom. In case you deem it desirable you may discuss informally the advisability of concluding a treaty arrangement at a future date whereby reciprocal protection would be accorded to each country against the clearance of ships from the other carrying cargoes whose importation into the country of destination is prohibited.
With respect to the proposal that the Canadian Government refuse to issue clearances to ships under 250 tons with cargoes of liquor on board, reference is made to the Canadian Order-in-Council No. 275–C, dated September 19, 1923, which prohibits the exportation of liquor from Canada in vessels under 200 tons when the excise taxes levied upon such liquors have not been paid. You will endeavor to have this Order-in-Council extended to apply to all shipments of liquor from Canadian ports in vessels under 250 tons, regardless of whether the excise tax has been paid. You may point out that such vessels are incapable of transporting liquor to a destination other than the United States and that it is reasonable to suppose that when they clear from Canadian ports claiming ports in Cuba or Mexico as their destination, such statements are false.
With regard to the proposal that revenue cutters of each country be given additional rights to search and seize vessels of the other government engaged in smuggling operations beyond the International Boundary Line, your attention is invited to the fact that under existing arrangements revenue cutters of the United States are not permitted to pursue vessels engaged in violating its laws across the International Boundary Line into Canadian waters on the Great Lakes and tributary waters. It is believed that the Canadian Government may be disposed to permit revenue cutters of the United States to suppress the smuggling operations carried on by small motor boats on the Great Lakes and the waters tributary thereto. You will accordingly endeavor to effect a reciprocal arrangement with respect to this matter, whereby vessels engaged in policing the shores of each country and in preventing smuggling operations will be permitted to pursue vessels into and through the territorial waters of the other and to search them, and if evidence is found that the ship is engaged in smuggling operations, to seize them and subject them to proceedings before a competent court. Such arrangement should provide that search and seizure may also be made with respect to vessels found hovering along the International Boundary Line. It is believed that the Canadian Government may be disposed to permit vessels hovering along the International Boundary Line in the Great Lakes and tributary waters to be treated in the same way that British ships hovering outside the three mile limit of the United [Page 237] States will be treated under proposals which it is understood the British Government is in process of submitting to the United States.
The suggestion that arrangements be discussed whereby vessels will be obligated to proceed to the ports for which they clear is concerned with the filing of landing certificates showing that a cargo has in fact been landed at the destination stated in the clearance papers or at some other lawful place. The practice of selling cargoes of liquor on the high seas is a recent development, and it is believed that it will be found unwise to acquiesce in such practices with respect to cargoes generally.
In a note dated June 19, 1923, received from the British Ambassador at this capital, the following statements were made:
“The Government of Canada have carefully investigated the matter and have ascertained that the provisions of the law as it stands are being properly observed. Owing to the fact that liquors in bond cannot be exported except upon the giving of a bond of a Guarantee Company in double duties to produce a foreign customs landing certificate, the liquors in question are all duty paid.”
It is believed that the landing certificates which are furnished to the Canadian authorities in connection with ships of this character are forged or are fraudulently obtained. It would seem that a strict enforcement of the Canadian laws might serve to prevent many shipments of this character.
Concerning the suggestion that a treaty arrangement be made for the extradition of persons accused of violation of the liquor laws, I may state that under existing treaties persons charged with violating the National Prohibition Laws of the United States and the prohibition laws of the States thereof, are not subject to extradition if apprehended in Canada. Similarly, persons charged with violation of the laws of the Canadian Government or of the Provinces thereof with respect to traffic in intoxicating liquor, are not subject to extradition to Canada if they are found in the United States. In order that persons who have violated these laws may be brought to trial, you will inquire whether the Canadian authorities would be disposed to consider the conclusion of a Convention supplemental to the existing Conventions with respect to extradition and covering these offenses. A draft for such a treaty is enclosed with this communication.79
To render it practicable under the law for officers of the one government having prisoners in their custody to transport such prisoners through territory of the other en route to the place of trial, a treaty was concluded between the United States and Great Britain [Page 238] on May 18, 1908, in reference to reciprocal rights for the United States and Canada in the matters of conveyance of prisoners. A copy of this treaty is enclosed for your convenience.80 You will observe that this treaty does not authorize the conveyance of persons accused of violation of the laws of the governments which are parties to it respecting traffic in liquors and transportation thereof. Nevertheless, on May 22, 1923, the Department of Justice brought to the attention of this Department a case arising at Hyder, Alaska, involving the transportation of a man named Tibbets, a Canadian who was arrested by the Canadian authorities at the Premier Mine on the Canadian side of the International Boundary Line for violating the Canadian laws, and who was brought through Hyder en route to Stewart, British Columbia for trial. Inasmuch as similar cases will doubtless arise in the future, you will suggest the desirability of concluding a supplemental convention providing for reciprocal rights with respect to the conveyance of prisoners through the territory of the United States and Canada, covering persons arrested on the charge of having violated the laws with respect to intoxicating liquors.
With reference to the suggestion that a treaty be concluded authorizing the Canadian authorities to transport liquor across Alaska in connection with the claims it has advanced of a right to such transportation up the Yukon River under the provisions of Article 26 of the treaty concluded between the United States and Great Britain on May 8, 1871,81 I may state that on August 9, 1923, the British Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at this capital addressed a note to this Government in which he pointed out the difficulties encountered by the Government of the Yukon Territory in importing liquor for distribution by the Government in accordance with its laws. The British Chargé d’Affaires expressed a desire to have this Government authorize the shipment of liquor across Alaska via Skagway. The British Chargé d’Affaires stated that “under the provisions of Article 26 of the Treaty of Washington, the Government of Canada possesses the right to transport liquor into the Yukon Territory via the Yukon River”. He further pointed out that such liquor was imported and dispensed exclusively by the Government of the Yukon Territory. The United States is not prepared to admit that the Canadian Government has the right under Article 26 of the Treaty of 1871 to transport liquor up the Yukon River. However, with a view to acceding to the wishes of the Canadian Government in this matter, and in consideration of the assistance which it is hoped you [Page 239] will be able to obtain from them in respect to other matters above mentioned, you are authorized to discuss with the Canadian authorities the possible negotiation of a treaty whereby this Government would attach no penalty to the transportation of liquor from Skagway to the Yukon Territory under seal and under guard.
The smuggling of liquor by land relates largely to shipments by automobile. You will endeavor to effect arrangements whereby agents of the United States will be permitted to obtain advance information concerning suspicious vehicles loaded with liquor moving in the direction of the International Boundary Line. You will also endeavor to conclude arrangements whereby information will be furnished American customs officers regarding any transportation of liquor carried on by aeroplane between points in Canada and in the United States.
In order that the proceedings in courts of the United States against persons who have violated its National Prohibition Laws may be simplified, it is suggested that you discuss arrangements for furnishing evidence respecting acts committed, including copies of records made in Canada which may be important in completing proof in these cases. It is believed that the Canadian authorities charged with the prosecution of criminals may desire to obtain evidence of a similar character from sources in the United States. You will accordingly suggest to the Canadian authorities that arrangements might be concluded for an interchange of evidence of this character and whereby the authorities of one government would, when requested by the authorities of the other, attend at the trial of such cases. It should be understood that the cost of transcripts of records, depositions, certificates and letters rogatory in civil or criminal cases, and the cost of first class transportation both ways, maintenance and other proper expenses involved in connection with the attendance of such witnesses, would be paid by the nation requesting their attendance at the time of their discharge by the court from further attendance on such trial. It is believed that arrangements might be concluded whereby depositions and letters rogatory would be executed in civil cases with all possible despatch, and copies of official records or documents promptly certified by the appropriate officials.
Upon your return to the United States you are requested to submit a detailed report concerning the discussions carried on by you at Ottawa and your recommendations respecting further action to be taken to prevent the smuggling of liquor from Canada into the United States.
I have [etc.]
- See pp. 225 ff.↩
- Ante, p. 189.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1908, p. 397.↩
- Ibid., 1871, p. 516.↩