The Canadian Legation to the Department of State 23


The Canadian Government has been informed of the course of the negotiations for the establishment of a United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and of the suggestion made by the United Kingdom Government that the proposed Policy Committee of the Administration should be enlarged so as to include, in addition to representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China, members from three other countries, one of which would be Canada. It is understood that objection has been taken to this enlargement.

The Canadian Government considers that the enlargement of the Policy Committee (if this Committee retains in the final scheme the importance given to it in the draft proposals) is necessary to insure the effectiveness of the Relief Administration. Unless this change is made or other alterations with equivalent effects are adopted, Canada, and no doubt other countries, will not be able to cooperate in the work of the administration as fully as they would be prepared to do if they were responsible partners in a joint international enterprise. The purpose of the Canadian Government in making their position clear at this time is to ensure that the place of Canada in the councils of the Relief Administration will match that Administration’s anticipated dependence on Canada as a supplier of relief goods. Unless [Page 867] such a relationship is recognized by the principal participating Powers, Canadian co-operation in this essential project will be prejudiced from the outset. The Canadian Government and people are ready to do their full share in the task of organizing and providing post-war relief. They do not feel they can do so if effective participation in the formulation of policy is to be restricted to the four greatest Powers, two of which will themselves be major recipients of relief.

There is already a good deal of public questioning over the place accorded to Canada in the various inter-Allied bodies which have been set up for the direction of the war. During wartime, problems of this nature are to some extent disguised, because of public concentration on the attainment of victory and because of the secrecy which must surround many aspects of war direction. After the fighting ends, the issues will be seen nakedly. The full activities of the Relief Administration will not begin until the war is over; and it will be very difficult, or even impossible, to persuade the Parliament and people of Canada to accept the financial burdens and other sacrifices, such perhaps as the continuation of rationing and other restrictions on the domestic supply of consumer’s goods, which will be necessary for the provision of relief through the Administration on the expected scale, unless they are satisfied that their representatives exercise their due part in the direction.

It is appreciated that there are great practical difficulties in creating effective international agencies that are properly representative of the United Nations. These difficulties are a challenge to statesmanship; they must be faced and on their solution depends in large measure the possibility of an enduring peace. No lasting international system can be based on the concentration of influence and authority in bodies composed of a few large Powers to the exclusion of the rest. Such a system would be a denial of the democratic principle. It would also be unreal, for it is not always the largest Powers that have the greatest contribution to make to the work of these bodies, or the greatest stake in their success. In the opinion of the Canadian Government, representation of countries on international bodies should be determined on a functional basis whenever functional criteria can be applied; this principle can be given wide application, particularly in the case of international economic and technical organizations such as the Relief Administration.

The Canadian Government, therefore, hopes that the Government of the United States will support the alteration of the draft scheme for the creation of the Relief Administration so that it will make provision for the full participation of Canada in its direction.

  1. The Department acknowledged this memorandum on March 4, stating that it had been carefully considered and would be laid before the interested Governments represented in the preliminary discussions (840.50/1442).