S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 150 Series

No. 964
Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright) to the Under Secretary of State (Smith)1

  • Subject: St. Lawrence Seaway Project

It is recommended that you support the proposed N.S.C. Statement on Policy regarding the national security interests in the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes Seaway Project.2

It is recommended that you urge, in connection with point No. 2 of that policy, that the Federal Power Commission be informed promptly and at the highest appropriate level, of the Policy Statement so that the Commission can make a decision on the New York Power Authority’s application as soon as possible.

Attached is a memorandum on the foreign policy aspects of St. Lawrence development.


Paper Prepared in the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs

  • Subject: Foreign Policy Aspects of St. Lawrence Legislation

Development of the St. Lawrence has an important bearing on U.S.–Canadian relations. The Canadian Government regards the St. Lawrence Project as the most important single facet in its relations with the United States. It regards the prompt beginning of the entire project, both power and waterway, as of great importance to the development of Canada. From the Canadian point of view the development of power is a matter of the highest priority and urgency in view of developing shortage of low-cost power in industrialized Ontario which will become acute by about 1957. The fact that this is a Canadian election year makes the problem even more acute from the Canadian point of view.

Anything done or not done by the United States Government which would have the effect of delaying the decision of the Federal Power Commission would almost certainly cause serious deterioration in our relations with Canada. As to the waterway part of the project, the Canadians, provided the power project is approved, are [Page 2075] committed to proceed on their own with the construction of the necessary works to provide a 27-foot waterway from Montreal to Lake Erie. There is a strong and probably predominant feeling in Canada that they would prefer this to be an all-Canadian project. The Government has assured us, however, that following favorable action on power it would be willing to discuss with us the question of United States participation in the waterway adding the caveat that this should be done without unduly delaying the waterway. As the Wiley Bill, now before Congress, pertains only to the question of United States participation in the waterway, which this Department has long felt would be in the United States interest, it is felt that this particular piece of legislation, provided it is acted on promptly, i.e., this session, should not complicate our relations with Canada. On the other hand, other bills such as the Lehman Bill, which include provisions relating to power and which, therefore, would almost certainly delay a decision on power, contain the risk of jeopardizing our good relations.

In summary, the most important action needed to insure a continuance of our close and harmonious relations, which in the political, economic and military fields are of great importance, is prompt and favorable action by the Federal Power Commission on the New York Power Authority’s application which is now before the Commission. This would remove any suspicion on the part of the Canadians that the United States Government is delaying the initiation of the power project. It will be helpful in this connection, should the Administration decide to support the Wiley Bill, to give public expression to the fact that this Bill should not in any way delay the power part of the project.

The recommendations in the N.S.C. Policy Statement are in the national interest of the U.S. Their implementation will not damage U.S.-Canadian relations. On the contrary, any effect, which the recommendations may have on the Federal Power Commission resulting in a prompt F.P.C. decision, will enhance those relations and facilitate other important negotiations with Canada.

  1. Drafted by Brown, cleared by Tate and Kirlin.
  2. Reference is to NSC 150/1, Document 966.