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

222. Department’s A–155 November 2.2 Following is initial informal reaction of External Affairs to Embassy Note 126 November 7 which conveyed substance Department’s A–155.

External sees US recognition de facto situation as framework in which Cornwall North and South Channel dredging can now proceed. Canada eager to complete documentation on arrangements and public announcement soon as practicable and in manner to do least damage and most good for US-Canadian relations.

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External official believes it of doubtful value for US note to state that proposed Canadian action in North Channel not in accord with previous arrangements. This statement again brings legality of US and Canadian positions to fore and compels Canada to make rebuttal in reply to our note.

In order avoid airing legal positions in public and further exacerbation of issue External at moment not amenable public release of notes,3 preferring simple announcement stating nature of work to be undertaken by both governments in Cornwall Channels.

Canadian reply to US note which expected latter part this week will probably request clarification paragraph 3 on reservation US rights. If Canada subject to claims for possible injuries sustained as result North Channel dredging, External feels it desirable make thorough study Canadian participation in South Channel dredging east to mile 109.7 in light such legal liability and in light possibility legal positions may receive public airing. Canadians appear convinced North Channel dredging can be undertaken in compensatory manner so long as close cooperation of engineers on both sides forthcoming.

I am in full accord with US position reserving our rights in event Canadian action should prove prejudicial to immediate or long-term US interests and hope Canadians will accept it without making counter-reservations which will complicate solution and plans for publicity.

While Governor Brucker has, I believe, given Marler assurances regarding cooperation among engineers to ensure insofar as practicable that North Channel dredging proves compensatory, it may be advisable to have this arrangement confirmed on Castle-Chevrier4 level.

I believe it preferable to give entire matter minimum publicity and would accept simple announcements along lines suggested by External Affairs if this agreeable to Department, Defense and SLSDC. On our side, I believe copies of classified notes could be made available to interested members of House Committee on Public Works and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in order to establish fact we are not acting surreptitiously and that we have reserved our rights to claim any future damages. This would still leave problem of explanations to journalists5 but I am hopeful both sides could handle in manner minimize [Page 877] differences. Pass foregoing urgently to Governor Brucker whom I will telephone tomorrow to elaborate.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.42321–SL/11–1356. Confidential-Priority.
  2. A–155 to Ottawa, November 2, transmitted a verbatim text of a note sent by the Embassy to the Canadian Government as Note No. 126. (Ibid., 611.42321–SL/11–256) This note and the Canadian reply, December 4, are printed in Department of State Bulletin, December 24, 1956, pp. 992–993.
  3. On the next day, however, the Canadian Government agreed to publication of the notes. (Telegram 223 from Ottawa, November 14; Department of State, Central Files, 611.42321–SL/11–1456)
  4. Lionel Chevrier, President of the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Authority.
  5. The Department issued a press release on December 7; see Department of State Bulletin, December 24, 1956, p. 992.