Memorandum of Conversation, by the Minister in Canada (Moffat)

During a talk with Mr. Pearson13 on another matter, he brought up the question of the Canadian desire to have a military mission in Washington. He said that at the meeting of Council last Tuesday where the War Cabinet and the three Chiefs of Staff (Army, Navy and Air Corps) were present, a memorandum had been read from Mr. Keenleyside14 in which he quoted me as indicating that probably we were further apart on nomenclature than we were on substance. Some discussion had then arisen as to whether a mission could be set up as a permanent office of the Joint Defense Board. The decision was adverse, partly on the ground that they did not feel that the matters for discussion properly belonged to the Permanent Joint Defense Board, but more particularly on the ground that the personnel involved would not suit them at all. There was a good deal of discussion as to making us some other proposition and although no decision was reached the idea was to suggest calling it by some name which would contain the word “technical” which, given our special supply situation, would probably not create a precedent that would come home to plague us.

All of this Mr. Pearson was telling me by way of background and in a measure off the record. The formal decision reached was to do nothing until the United States Government had replied to Mr. King’s informal request through me for reconsideration. I told him that that reply would not be given for eight or ten days as our people wished to explore the ground further, and notably as Hickerson wished to talk the thing out in greater detail with Keenleyside in New York next week.

  1. Lester B. Pearson, Canadian Assistant Secretary of State for External Affairs.
  2. Hugh L. Keenleyside, Secretary of the Canadian section of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense.