Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State to President Truman
Subject: Joint Defense Measures with Canada
When Prime Minister Mackenzie King of Canada calls on you on October 28 at 2:30 p.m. it is hoped that you will emphasize that you consider that the time has now come for the basic decisions in this field to be made by yourself and the Prime Minister. The Permanent Joint Board on Defense and the planning authorities in our respective Armed Services have defined the problem and made recommendations but it is now up to the statesmen of both countries to direct the carrying out of joint defense measures with minimum disturbance to the two peoples and maximum advancement of world security through the United Nations.
The foregoing is suggested as the highlight of your conversation because Mr. King is reluctant to reach any decision until events have made it imperative to do so. We understand, moreover, that some in authority in Canada think that our military sometimes proposes more extensive plans than are necessary. It will be doubly helpful, therefore, to assure Mr. King that our non-military authorities are convinced that the program is necessary and also that you and they are watching to prevent any over-extension of military plans.
The former Canadian Ambassador, Mr. Pearson, with whom you talked recently, has remarked to Ambassador Atherton in Ottawa that it would also be helpful if you wished to provide Mr. King with some written document on this problem. Accordingly, there is attached a memorandum which you may wish to hand to him. …
These problems which we now ask Mr. King himself to decide are the most important problems currently before the Canadian Government. The following quotation from my memorandum to you of October 1 suggests why this is so:
“In view of Canada’s traditional close association with the United Kingdom, the shift to an even closer association with the United States armed forces is a matter of great moment in Canada and one which involves considerable political risk for the present Government. Some Canadians fear we would encroach on their sovereignty and some fear that Canada might ultimately have to withdraw from the British Commonwealth.”
Now that General Eisenhower6 and Field Marshal Montgomery7 have discussed standardization and the United States and British [Page 58]Navies have agreed to continue to make their facilities reciprocally available, it should be somewhat easier for Mr. King to approve similar steps proposed in the 35th Recommendation of the Joint Defense Board.
Outside the joint defense field we do not have any particular questions to raise. We do not know if Mr. King has any. Our relations with Canada continue excellent. We have, however, been disappointed by the Anglo-Canadian wheat agreement, a long-term bulk purchase deal, which we consider to be somewhat at variance with our proposals for liberalizing trade. On the other hand, the Canadians are troubled about our customs administration which they consider to be unduly restrictive in its effect on Canadian exports.
Mr. King’s Government has lost three by-elections over the past few weeks but, while his majority in Parliament is narrow, the opposition groups are split. One of the by-elections was fought and lost on the issue of the Anglo-Canadian wheat deal.
- General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chief of Staff, United States Army.↩
- Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, Chief of the Imperial General Staff.↩
- 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1031. For related documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. i, pp. 1 ff.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Reference is to the Second Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers and to the Paris Peace Conference; for documentation on U.S. participation in these sessions, see volumes ii, iii, and iv.↩