The Chargé in Canada (Clark) to the Secretary of State

No. 315

Sir: As I have previously reported, the Canadians are determined to enter negotiations relating to post-war civil aviation as a sovereign state, speaking for themselves. Only as a last resort will they fall back upon an Empire agreement confronting the rest of the world as a unit.

I understand that it was with some trepidation that they agreed to attend the recent British Empire conference in London on postwar civil aviation, and that, when they did agree to attend, it was on the distinct understanding that the discussions would be exploratory only, and that no commitments would be asked or given.

They seem to have had their way and, so far as I have been able to ascertain, the only commitment resulting from the conference was an undertaking by each not to deal separately with foreign governments on post-war civil aviation without consultation with the other members of the Commonwealth.

When the Canadian delegation had returned from London, I asked Mr. Norman Robertson, Under Secretary of State for External Affairs, whether he could not arrange to give me information regarding the results of the London discussions. He sent me to Mr. Escott Reid, the officer in the Department of External Affairs principally charged with civil aviation matters, and I quote below from a memorandum of my conversation with Mr. Reid:

“Mr. Reid began by saying that a conference which had lasted such a short time could not, of course, have gone into any detailed discussion of post-war civil aviation. In summary, the discussions in London had resulted in agreement (1) that there should be an international convention setting up an international civil aviation authority closely associated with, or even subordinate to, an international security authority; (2) that the nature and extent of the operating rights which would be provided in such a convention would depend upon the composition of the air authority and other provisions of the convention—sentiment was for going a long way toward removing restrictions upon international air transport; (3) that inter-dominion civil aviation would be subject to regulation by the international authority, the same as any other international civil aviation; (4) that thought on detail could crystallize only in discussions of the scope of the convention and the powers to be given to the international aviation authority.

“The international civil aviation authority would be constituted along the lines of our domestic regulatory boards and would regulate [Page 359] international traffic to the extent agreed upon, serving also as an arbitrator of disputes, or, at least, as a forum for the discussion of disputes. It was envisaged that the international authority would be constituted along lines similar to those of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. It is here that Mr. Reid anticipates difficulty with small countries as he believes that the executive of the international authority should be limited in number, and it is here, also, that the Canadian ‘functional representation’ comes into play, as Canada would expect to be included in the executive.

“Mr. Reid said that there had been a recognition in London of the paramount character of security. There had been agreement, therefore, that the international air authority should be closely associated with, or even made subordinate to, an international security authority which it was hoped would be constituted. Sentiment was that the enemy nations would not be allowed, for security reasons, to operate international air transport services, at least during the period of probation.

“Mr. Reid said that the extent of operating rights over or within foreign territory would depend upon the composition and the power of the international authority. The more advantages the members of the Commonwealth were able to obtain under the provisions of the convention, the greater the extent of the operating rights they would be willing to accord to other nations.

“Mr. Reid feels that the question of whether international services will be operated by government-controlled companies or by private enterprise is one for domestic determination, and he sees no difficulty in this regard. The discussions at London had indicated the possibility that unfair competition might be eliminated through the fixing of rates by the international authority. He hoped that the international authority would be given the right to arbitrate differences, but said that in the last analysis the planes of one country flying to the territory of another would, as heretofore, do so only under license of the latter, and the license could be withdrawn where any country refused to play ball with the international authority. He also felt that, if any country resorted to unfair competition through declaring certain zones prohibited areas, this matter could be dealt with through the close association of the international air authority with the security authority. These were details, however, upon which thought could not crystallize except during the progress of discussions when the time came to draw up the international convention which would establish the authority.”

Respectfully yours,

Lewis Clark