611.42321 SL/11–152

No. 951
Prime Minister St. Laurent to President Truman


Dear Mr. President: We are naturally delighted here in Canada that the International Joint Commission has approved1 the application made by our two governments for the power development in [Page 2042] the St. Lawrence River, and we will be deeply grateful for anything it is possible for you to do to facilitate or expedite the hearings before the Federal Power Commission, which is the last remaining obstacle to the commencement of this great power and navigation project, which means so much to both our countries. Your many friends in Canada would like to feel that the actual commencement of this historic undertaking would be associated with your term of office as President of the United States.

You will recall that, at the time you received my colleagues, Mr. Pearson and Mr. Chevrier, on the 14th of April last,2 when the two governments agreed to submit applications to the International Joint Commission, it was also agreed that, if the Congress of the United States were to approve the joint project at any time while the application was under consideration by the International Joint Commission, both governments would be ready to revert to the 1941 Agreement and withdraw the matter from the International Joint Commission.

Now that the International Joint Commission has approved the applications, and particularly as we have already taken certain preliminary steps with respect to the construction of the Seaway, my colleagues and I have concluded that it would no longer be practicable for the Canadian Government to revert to the actual terms of the 1941 Agreement which has never been ratified, and that the proper course for us to take is to inform your Secretary of State that the Canadian Government now regards that Agreement as having been completely superseded.

We feel there are two reasons for taking this course. One is that so long as there appear to be two alternatives, it seems to us that the opponents of the development of the navigation and power resources of the St. Lawrence will endeavour to play one off against the other, and thereby thwart the development itself. The second consideration, which I feel sure you will fully understand, is that public opinion in Canada, and particularly, in the Province of Ontario, has now become solidified in support of the plan which has been approved by the International Joint Commission.

In the circumstances, I do not believe it would be realistic to ask our Parliament to approve the actual terms of the 1941 Agreement, and any attempt to provide for a joint undertaking without a new agreement between our two countries would certainly be in the highest degree embarrassing to the present Administration which, as you know, is going to have to face a general election in the relatively near future.

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In these circumstances, we have felt here that the most appropriate time to advise the United States Government of our position would be November 4th, since, on that day, our action could not be used by anyone in any attempt to influence the course of the Presidential campaign, nor could it be interpreted as having, in any way, been influenced by the outcome of that campaign. Moreover, our action at this particular time seems a natural consequence of the decision of the International Joint Commission, and any delay in making our position clear might be open to misinterpretation.

I did not want to have formal action of this kind taken without advising you privately, as long as possible in advance, and the only reason this word was not sent to you earlier is that our decision as to timing, which was necessarily governed by the date of the decision of the International Joint Commission, has only just been made.

I should like, before concluding this letter, to say once more how deeply I have valued the close and understanding relationship we have had since I became Prime Minister of Canada, and to assure you again that I will not, and I know the Canadian people will not, forget the immense and courageous services you have rendered in these post-war years in strengthening the ramparts of freedom and reducing the awful prospect of a third world war.

With warmest personal regards and every good wish for the future.

Believe me, Mr. President,

Yours very sincerely,

Louis S. St. Laurent
  1. On Oct. 29.
  2. For a record of this meeting, see Document 941.