711.42/193: Telegram

The Minister in Canada (Moffat 20) to the Secretary of State

147. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. The following summary of the situation in Canada, although necessarily based on first impressions only, may prove useful by way of background.

Canada to date has had few if any war plans of her own. She has done exactly what the British Government asked and the British requests were based on the premise that the Maginot Line would hold and enable the Allies slowly but relentlessly to build up their armies and their reserves of equipment. Even the Empire air training scheme was predicated on Great Britain’s supplying most of the training planes, it was to proceed at a leisurely pace with the first classes of trained aviators being used as instructors for subsequent classes, et cetera. In the general matter of equipment the British have insisted on the standardization of parts so that British and Canadian equipment would be interchangeable. This would not have been so unfortunate if the British had decided early in the war on certain basic types of tanks, engines and other material and promptly supplied drawings: but one hears of so many instances where drawings were withheld, plans changed after tooling has begun, orders canceled in the interest of economy.
With Allied reverses, all this has changed.
The first effect of the reverses was to disrupt the Empire air training scheme. The British informed the Canadians one day that the promised training planes could not be delivered, they recalled almost all their inspectors and they asked that every available Canadian aviator be sent to England the moment his training was finished. [Page 14] Now the Canadians are scouring the United States for planes, engines, equipment and even instructors to salvage as much as possible of the scheme.
The second effect was a realization from one end of the Dominion to the other that this leisurely pace must give way to a maximum effort. That is the real meaning of Mackenzie King’s21 “war mobilization bill” which is supported by heavy majorities even in Quebec. Except for conscription for overseas service, against which there is still a strong sentiment in many quarters. All of Canada is asking for the chance to contribute as fully as possible both in men and money.
The third effect was an appreciation that in industrial production for military purposes Canada will have to divorce herself from British types and more and more adopt the American. Only in this way can drawings and specifications be counted on, spare parts and tooling be readily available and speed of production increased.
The fourth effect has been a growing conviction that as the war comes nearer North America Canada and the United States must concert together so as to be able to prepare effectively to meet an emergency if it should arise. That is why Mackenzie King is pressing for limited staff talks and why he is awaiting the President’s answer so anxiously.
In short, Canada is at a crossroad. She is about to intensify to the full her war effort and knows that it must be redirected. She is all prepared to direct it along American lines if we give her any encouragement. I hope, therefore, that as a first step we agree to allow naval and air officers of the two countries to make contact and discuss matters freely and informally, and that we may subsequently find other fields where technicians may make contact with a view to synthesizing Canadian defense efforts with our own.
  1. Jay Pierrepont Moffat was assigned to the post June 4, 1940.
  2. Canadian Prime Minister.