Prime Minister St. Laurent to
the Ambassador in Canada (Woodward)1
Dear Mr. Woodward: With reference to our conversation in my office last Friday, you might find it useful to have a brief written account of the reply I made to the President’s personal message, which you conveyed to me at that time,2 regarding the possibility of allocating to navigation a greater share of the costs of the works described in the joint applications for power development in the International Rapids Section of the St. Lawrence River than is contemplated in those applications.
As I told you on Friday last, I feel that much of the misunderstanding which appears to exist in respect of the problem of allocation of costs is due to the fact that the conception of common works, as envisaged in the 1941 Agreement, is still very much to [Page 2039] the fore in many persons’ minds whereas, in fact, under the applications now before the International Joint Commission there are no common works. The joint applications which our two governments have submitted to the International Joint Commission relate to power and power alone. The application which has now been made to the Federal Power Commission of the United States also relates to power and power alone.
It is my understanding that the policy of the administration in the United States has been that hydro-electric energy should not be developed in the International Rapids Section unless a deep waterway was constructed concurrently. For this reason and because the Canadian Government also supports strongly early construction of the seaway, we have agreed to insert a reference to Canada’s commitment in this respect in the joint applications for power development now before the International Joint Commission. This reference, however, in no way alters the basic fact that the development of power in the International Rapids Section is the only matter for consideration either by the International Joint Commission or the Federal Power Commission.
As I explained to President Truman when we discussed the matter in September 1951,3 the Canadian Government’s position is that, provided appropriate agencies in Canada and the United States are willing and have authority to construct, pay for and maintain all the works required to develop hydro-electric energy in the International Rapids Section of the St. Lawrence River as if power were to be developed alone, the Canadian Government will concurrently construct, pay for and maintain whatever additional works are required to ensure uninterrupted 27-foot navigation between Lake Erie and the Port of Montreal. The basis on which this commitment was made was agreed to by the Government of the United States in the exchange of Notes which took place on June 30, 1952.4 The works described in Section 8 of the applications now before the International Joint Commission, as modified by our agreement of June 30, are all required to develop power and, as a consequence, all the works are properly attributable to power, with the sole exception of certain additional excavation which the Canadian Government stipulated must be undertaken as a condition of its approval and for which it has agreed to pay $15,000,000. It would be well to remember in this connection that the power-developing entity in the United States has been relieved, by the agreement referred to above, of the necessity of providing for the continuance of 14-foot navigation, the total cost of which had been estimated [Page 2040] a few years ago to be approximately $14,000,000. Thus, the cost of developing power under the current applications to the International Joint Commission and to the Federal Power Commission will, in fact, be lower than would be the case had not the Canadian Government committed itself to construct the seaway.
I would also like to stress that the basis of the arrangement respecting development of the International Rapids Section was approved by the Parliament of Canada and the Legislature of the Province of Ontario and that appropriate laws were duly enacted by both bodies. In view of the agreement reached between Canada and the United States on June 30th, and quite apart from the other considerations outlined above, I think it would be unrealistic to expect the people of Canada or their elected representatives to countenance any change in these laws at this late date.
In the final analysis, the proposal to construct the deep waterway between Lake Erie and the Port of Montreal is something which the Canadian Government is unilaterally and quite independently superimposing on a power development project to be undertaken in the International Rapids Section of the St. Lawrence River by the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission and an entity to be designated by the Government of the United States. In the circumstances, our public would fail to see that there are justifiable grounds on which to re-open this question now and I feel that any attempt to do so would entail long delays even if we could ultimately succeed in doing the educational work required to secure the approval of our public.
I would be grateful if you would convey the contents of this letter to President Truman together with my warmest personal regards.5
- Woodward transmitted a copy of this letter to the Department in despatch 429, Oct. 29. (611.42321/10–2952) The Embassy was requested by the Department of External Affairs not to release the letter for publication without clearance by the Canadian Government.↩
- For a summary of this conversation, see telegram 96 from Ottawa, supra.↩
- For a record of this conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. ii, p. 920.↩
- For information on this exchange, see Document 944.↩
- A copy of this letter was enclosed in Woodward’s letter to the President of Oct. 28, infra.↩