Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State


Participants: Ambassador Hume Wrong—Canada
The Secretary of State
Ambassador Philip C. Jessup

In the course of a call this morning, Ambassador Wrong raised the question of the Newfoundland bases. He said that he had been strictly instructed to mention this matter directly to me but that he had already taken it up with Mr. Rusk.1 I told him that Mr. Rusk had mentioned his call to me. I said that my last contact with the matter had been on the occasion of the talks in Washington last month. At dinner at the Canadian Embassy I had talked with Mr. Pearson2 and told him that of course we were willing to discuss the matter with him but that before entering into these discussions we wished to iron out certain questions with the Department of Defense.

The Ambassador said that the matter had’ a considerable degree of urgency because Mac Lean’s magazine, the only national magazine in Canada, had had a man working on this subject collecting information in Newfoundland and in Washington. He had talked with a number of people in the Pentagon and some rather unfortunate statements had apparently been made to him. Although the Canadian Government had tried to persuade the editor of Mac Lean’s hot to publish the story, he had insisted that they would do so and it is to appear in the issue of November 15. The Canadian Government anticipates that this will raise a rather disagreeable debate in Parliament and might result in a nasty newspaper war unless the Canadian Government is in a position to make a satisfactory statement. The Ambassador said that he [Page 402] would go into further detail with Mr. Rusk but that one of the points which concerned them was the question of the definition of our military’s jurisdictional rights in the bases. He said it would not go down very well with Canadian opinion to say that these were the same rights which were exercised in some of the small West Indian islands. He also noted that the negotiation of a new agreement would probably be unsatisfactory in the sense that the Canadian Government would then have to take the onus of accepting on its own part a servitude instead of merely continuing a relationship which had been established previously by the British Government. The Ambassador also recalled that, when the Canadian Prime Minister had discussed this matter with the President, Mr. Truman had suggested that while he had anticipated there might be some difficulty with the point of view of the Defense Department he hoped that he, the President, and I could adjust the matter. The Ambassador thought that the time might be approaching when it would be necessary to invoke that type of high-level solution.3

I told him that I would be glad to consider the matter further when I had received from Mr. Rusk further information on the details which the Ambassador was about to give him.

Dean Acheson
  1. Dean Rusk, Deputy Under Secretary of State.
  2. See the Secretary’s memorandum of his conversation on September 10 with Lester B. Pearson, Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, p. 410.
  3. In a memorandum dated October 27 covering his conversation with the President, presumably on that date, Acheson said that Truman had emphatically assured him that in the interests of maintaining good relations with Canada, he would go into the matter of the Newfoundland bases any time the Secretary felt it was necessary to do so (842.7962/9–849).