711.42157 Sa 29/402

The Secretary of State to the Canadian Minister (Massey)

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your note of January 31, 1928, in which you inform me of the findings and recommendations of the National Advisory Committee in regard to the proposed St. Lawrence waterway improvement.

I note the view of the National Advisory Committee that the question of the advisability of the improvement at the present time depends upon the solution of a number of financial and economic difficulties and upon further consideration of certain of the engineering features [Page 72] and the conclusion of the Committee that it is possible to work out a method by which provision could be made for the construction of the waterway on terms which would be equitable to both countries and would also take adequate account of the factors in the Canadian situation which you have set forth.

The suggestions outlined in your note have received thorough consideration. While the United States is not in complete agreement with the representations made by the Canadian Government as to the relative benefits and ultimate costs to the two countries of the proposed improvement of the St. Lawrence and the division of expense to be borne by each country, it is inclined to regard as an acceptable basis of negotiation a proposal along the general lines suggested in your note: that the prosecution of the improvement of the St. Lawrence waterway be based on the undertaking by the United States of the deepening of the necessary channels through the interconnecting waters of the Great Lakes and the improvement of the international section of the St. Lawrence both for navigation and for power; and the undertaking by Canada of the construction of the waterway in the sections wholly Canadian, that is, the Welland Canal and the works in the St. Lawrence below the international boundary.

Whether the United States expends its share of the cost on the international section and Canada its share on the national sections would seem to be immaterial if, in the negotiations, there is a fair division of expense for a through deep waterway to the Ocean. Of course, in such an arrangement, all sections of the deep waterway should be so constructed as to make them most suitable for a through system of transportation. This is a detail to which I have no doubt your Government will entirely agree. The use of the waterway should be properly safeguarded by treaties between the two countries.

Concerning the value of the route to the sea to the two countries, I have noted the suggestions made in your note of January thirty-first. I might say that, while it may not be very material to the main issue, the United States has the use of the Panama Canal which is of great benefit to it especially on the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It has also the use of the Gulf of Mexico which reaches a considerable way across the Continent on the South and furnishes valuable water transportation for a large portion of the Southwestern part of the United States. Both of these waterways exercise a great influence on freight rates. The United States has other harbors on the Atlantic, such as New York served by both railways and the Erie Canal, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk, which involve a shorter railroad haul from the Great Lake territory to the Ocean than is enjoyed by Canada. Nevertheless, I feel that the construction of a deep waterway through the St. Lawrence to the Ocean will be of tremendous advantage [Page 73] to most, if not all, of the territory in the northern part of the United States, as well as to the corresponding territory in Canada.

Referring to your suggestions as to the order in which the different works should be undertaken, it would seem to me that this matter will also have to be the subject of negotiation because the works ought to proceed so that all parts of the navigation system would be completed substantially at the same time and the United States ought to have the advantage of its share of the power of the international section without waiting until Canada may be able to sell her power from these works.

Referring to the balance sheet, which undoubtedly was included in your note to illustrate the principles of the division of costs and the work to be done by each country, I am in general accord with those principles. The amounts and some of the items would have to be considered and discussed in the negotiations. To illustrate: I am not inclined to the view that it is right to include in the balance sheet the costs of the St. Lawrence and old Welland Canals except so far as they may be of use to the deeper system. These works are understood to be for lighter craft and of little value for the purposes of the works now proposed. These waterways are understood to have served their purpose in economic returns. It would also seem to be necessary to differentiate between the costs that may properly be chargeable to navigation and those to power in general. Those who now or in the future profit by the power should bear their share of the expense. It is understood that the power development will carry itself. To illustrate: under the suggestions you make, the United States will have no proprietary interest in the power on the national section. It would, therefore, seem that as this development is for the benefit of Canada, your Government should be responsible for that expense, and that such expense should take into account the costs to be borne by the respective interests whether the power is actually installed now or later. The amount, therefore, which power on the national section should contribute to the cost of the improvement should be left open for consideration and subject to determination in the negotiations. All power, of course, developed for joint benefit in the international section should ultimately be paid for as a part of the joint venture. The application of this principle would change the proposed balance sheet considerably. Therefore, if, as you suggest as to this section, the United States is willing to build not only the waterway but the power, it would seem that the United States ought to be permitted to develop its power and use its half, the other half to be used by Canada or not as it should desire.

The United States is agreeable to the proposal that all navigation channels provided in improvements have a minimum depth of 27 [Page 74] feet, the permanent structures having a depth of 30 feet for future expansion. The United States has at present under consideration the deepening of the lake channels to the extent economically justified by the present commerce of the Great Lakes. There is one question that we should like to leave for discussion and that is, whether it would be economical to at once build a new lock and deepen the Soo Canal until such time as the St. Lawrence is nearing completion so that there would be a demand for deeper channels. It is clearly advisable that the large expenditures required for depths in excess of present needs be deferred until the greater depths can be profitably used.

The United States fully recognizes the right of the Dominion of Canada to the ownership and use of the Canadian share of the power which may be developed in the international section of the waterway as well as to all that developed in the national section and it recognizes also that the disposition of the power is purely a domestic question. It recognizes further that this share is an inherent attribute of Canadian sovereignty, irrespective of the agency by which the power may be developed.

The United States regards it a fundamental economic principle that the beneficiaries of power developed in the improvement of the International Section of the St. Lawrence should pay ultimately their fair share of the cost of its production, whether the agency constructing these works be a corporation, a state or province, or a national government. It believes that a practicable means can be found for effecting the fulfillment of this principle in the arrangements made for the improvement of the international section of the river for the joint benefit of navigation and power development, and believes that the negotiations entered into in furtherance of the undertaking of the project should have this end in view.

The large expenditures required for the undertaking are a matter of grave concern to the United States as well as to Canada. It is felt that when the United States embarks on the enterprise all expenditures should be on a sound economic basis.

The United States accepts without reservation the principle that the operation of works in the International Section must be such as will control fluctuations of the outflow from Lake Ontario in such manner as to safeguard all interests on the purely Canadian sections of the river, including especially the Port of Montreal. It regards as acceptable the proposal that the design and operation of works in the International Section of the river be under joint technical control and assumes that the design of all works on the waterway will comply in general with the plans agreed upon by the Joint Engineering Board as embodying the best principles.

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The United States is fully in accord with the view that the advisability of undertaking the improvement at the present time depends on the solution of the financial and economic problems involved. It shares the hope expressed that a solution will be found which will fully safeguard the interests of the two countries and will afford an equitable basis for a division of the cost. It is confident that when these economic principles are determined, the solution of the engineering problems required for their fulfillment will be speedily realized.

I have the honor to suggest, therefore, that the two countries proceed with the appointment of commissioners to discuss jointly the problems presented in your note, and those which I have presented herein with a view to the formulation of a convention appropriate to this subject.

The Government of the United States will be glad to have this discussion extended to the further consideration of any outstanding problems affecting the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence as suggested in your note.

Accept [etc.]

Frank B. Kellogg