Memorandum of Conversation, by the
Director of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European
- Subject: Bilateral US–Canadian Defense Problems
- Mr. R.A. MacKay, Assistant Under Secretary of State for External Affairs
- Mr. H. Raynor, Director, BNA
On Thursday morning (November 20) Mr. Bliss and I met with Mr. MacKay. Several members of his staff were present. I said I was sure he would admit as I did frankly that neither side at present was entirely satisfied with the way things were going in the field of defense collaboration between our two countries. I said that one major purpose of my trip to Ottawa was to attempt to get firsthand from him and other Canadians their point of view on this problem and what might be troubling them about it. We talked for some time. As a result of this conversation I got the impression that the major issue troubling the Canadians is what they regard as lack of sufficiently early and complete consultation on upcoming projects. What they really want and what I believe may be necessary to improve the situation is the establishment on some regular basis of a form of joint planning. They admitted there were difficulties in view of our decentralization of planning and their centralization in Ottawa. They also agreed that there was a problem as to the proper level on which this could be done. They said, for instance, they knew certain things were mentioned by opposite numbers of the two services at fairly low levels but that too often this type of consultation was completely ineffective because not only did it not get to External Affairs but didn’t reach the top side of the Canadian military establishment.
Command is a secondary problem which while susceptible to development I feel it was not as fundamental a problem on the Canadian side as the question of joint planning.
Mr. MacKay and others stressed the Canadian feeling against additional US troops being stationed at or near populated areas such as St. John’s, Newfoundland. They mentioned the same point applied to one suggested station of the new supplemental radar chain.
During the course of the conversation Mr. MacKay produced a small-size wall map of Canada with pins placed on it at every spot [Page 2059] where U.S. troops were now stationed. The pins made an impressive showing.
I have mentioned the importance which I believe the Canadians attach to joint planning. In addition, my general impression reaffirmed my previous view that while the Canadians are prepared to continue to cooperate on vital questions they are going to insist upon a convincing demonstration on our part as to importance. My feeling was reenforced that to meet this general problem we need not only to work out something on joint planning but we should carefully screen all proposed Canadian requirements and not put up to the Canadians the less vital ones on the theory that to do so may prejudice our chances of securing rights which may be of the greatest importance.
- The meeting took place in Ottawa.↩