352. Telegram From the Embassy in Canada to the Department of State1

5. Re Embassy telegram 475.2 As stated Embassy telegram 475 consider proposed text St. Lawrence Exchange excellent solution far as US interests concerned but given probability Canadian refusal accept word “agree” in key sentence have been thinking about possible fallback position. In event Canadians unwilling accept language key sentence I suggest Department consider as possible alternative linking Canadian duplication United States facilities in Cornwall–Barnhart area to attainment minimum specified traffic volume. Key sentence might be amended read: “Canadian Government therefore proposes that there be no duplication of locks by United States in Iroquois area or by Canada in Cornwall–Barnhart area until number vessels transiting seaway attains minimum of (blank) ships per annum or until the two governments are agreed that such duplication is warranted in response increased traffic needs.”3 This alternative assumes technical [Page 869] feasibility of determining saturation point figure for number of ships which would be readily agreed to by both governments. Otherwise there would be no particular advantage in transferring future hassle on this point to present.

Another avenue worth exploring might be Pearson’s statement to me on June 11 in Washington4 that Canadian Government had no intent of duplicating facilities until such future time as growth of traffic made it economically necessary. He told me Canadian Government had already said this but if we wished he would put it in writing again and “pledge that Canada would not build duplicatory facilities until the economic justification was obvious.” If Department considered this acceptable fall-back position key sentence might then read: “the Canadian Government therefore states that there will be no construction on duplicate locks by Canada in the Cornwall–Barnhart area until the economic justification therefor is obvious.” Canadians might request similar assurances re duplication at Iroquois.

I fully realize problems posed for Executive Branch by Canada’s desire dredge Cornwall north channel to 27 foot depth but for reasons which I expounded at June 12 meeting Washington5 am convinced it not in US interests endeavor prevent Canada from carrying out this project. In my judgment US can rely on Canadian assurances that they do not intend construct duplicate facilities until required by increased traffic needs.6 I consequently prefer as fall-back position in the event Canadians unwilling accept language as now drafted, approach outlined in immediately preceding paragraph based on Mr. Pearson’s statement to me [that?] proposed St. Lawrence exchange might usefully include language which would provide that in the event of any disagreement regarding the security measures applied by either country to shipping passing through their part of the seaway, the disagreement would be referred to PJBD [IJC?] which would be requested recommend solution.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.42321–SL/7–356. Confidential.
  2. In telegram 475 from Ottawa, June 22, Merchant expressed views similar to those in this telegram. (Ibid., 611.42321–SL/6–2256)
  3. The June 20 draft agreement has not been found in Department of State files. In a later draft, July 13, the passage reads as follows: “The Canadian Government recognizes that a duplication of Seaway facilities will not be desirable or economically justified until required by the pressure of increased shipping traffic on the St. Lawrence River facilities as well as on those connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The Canadian Government therefore proposes that it will not duplicate any part of the St. Lawrence Seaway project in the international rapids section by the construction of additional facilities until such time as the two Governments agree that traffic conditions justify such additional facilities.” (Airgram 17 to Ottawa, July 13; ibid., 611.42321–SL/7–1356)
  4. Pearson was in Washington on June 11 attending a meeting in preparation for the North Atlantic Council which would meet in Paris on July 16. No record of the conversation concerning the St. Lawrence Seaway has been found.
  5. On June 12, at the Pentagon, Secretary of the Army Brucker met with the representatives of the Department of State, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, and the Attorney General. No record of the meeting has been found in Department of State files. (Memorandum from Marselis C. Parsons, Jr., to Elbrick, June 26; Department of State, Central Files, 611.42321–SL/6–2656)
  6. The Department replied on July 9 that it preferred a broad approach instead of giving a specific number of ships as proposed by Merchant. (Telegram 8 to Ottawa; ibid., 611.42321–SL/7–356)