343. Summary of a Meeting, Parliament Building, Ottawa, March 17, 19551




Mr. Picard, Chairman of the Standing Committee on External Affairs of the House of Commons, as Chairman of the meeting, introduced the Secretary with a few cordial remarks of welcome including the statement that the Secretary was the world’s foremost statesman.

Statement by the Secretary

Opening Remarks: The Secretary opened his statement by thanking the Chairman for his generous introduction and by expressing his pleasure at being in Canada on his first official trip. He referred to his close personal ties with Canada, his ownership of an island in Ontario and his payment of taxes for schools and a road although there were no roads on the island and the nearest school was 25 miles away.

Continental Defense: The Secretary referred to the major importance of continental defense to the United States and Canada and to the joint efforts of the two countries to solve this tremendous problem. He mentioned the possibility that the Soviet Union might begin a conflict by an attack on this continent with the objectives of knocking [Page 850] out the airfields from which retaliatory attacks would be launched and of knocking out the industrial power which was essential in the winning of World Wars I and II.

St. Lawrence Seaway: The Secretary mentioned the partnership of Canada and the United States in this great enterprise and noted with some regret the delay in securing United States participation. He emphasized the importance of the Seaway in the bringing of iron ore from Labrador to replace the dwindling resources of the Mesaba Range and in making possible the building of seagoing ships in inland waters free from attack by submarines carrying atomic missiles.

Trade: The Secretary stressed the importance of trade to both countries and added that it was not easy to keep the flow open. Members of Congress represent district and State needs. The problem is one of immediate losses which can be seen versus future losses which cannot so readily be seen. The essential solution is to have one person with discretionary power to distinguish between local interests and national interests. President Eisenhower is the one person responsible for reconciling national and local interests. The Secretary expressed himself as hopeful that the President’s trade agreements program3 would be passed by the Senate but stated that the difficulties were considerable. He added that the administration, in the event of the possible grafting of crippling amendments on the bill, would try to temper their effects as far as Canada is concerned in recognition of the special relations existing between Canada and the United States.

[Here follow the Secretary’s comments on the situation in the Far East and in Europe.]

Conclusion: The Secretary complimented Mr. Pearson on his great contribution on the international scene and complimented Canada on its constructive and powerful role in NATO. He stated that Canada was a great force for peace and enlightenment.

[Here follows a series of questions and answers.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 440. Confidential. No drafting information is given on the source text.
  2. A briefing paper, March 8, indicates that this closed, off-the-record meeting was held under the auspices of the Canadian House and Senate External Affairs Committees, open to other interested members of these two bodies and to members of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association. (Ibid.)
  3. The administration had asked the Congress for a 3-year extension of the Trade Agreements Act. The new law was signed on June 21 as the Trade Agreements Extension Act of 1955. For text, see 69 Stat. 162.