362. Despatch From the Embassy in Canada to the Department of State1

No. 695


  • United States Bases and Operating Facilities, Canada


There are no real problems, either with respect to the Canadian Government or the population, arising from the presence, activities, or conduct of United States forces in Canada. The major portion by far of United States forces in Canada is stationed on bases in the Province of [Page 881] Newfoundland (which includes Labrador), and relationships there between those forces and local officials and the public are generally cordial and friendly.

Both the Government and the people of Canada are as a whole realistically aware of the continuing Soviet threat and have no illusions as to the long-term objectives of international Communism. Firmly committed to the principle that defense against this threat must be collective and continuing, they realize that the United States is at the same time the leader and chief bastion of the free world, as well as the number one target of the potential aggressor in any general hostilities, and that their continuing existence as a free and independent nation is tied to that of the United States, upon which they must in the final analysis rely for their defense.

The official Opposition to the firmly-established Liberal Government also accepts in principle the need for United States defense activities in Canada, but does harass the Government for political purposes on the issue of safeguarding Canadian sovereignty. Although numerically small and ineffectual, the Communists in Canada have succeeded in a few relatively unimportant instances, through distortion and misrepresentation, in stimulating umfavorable reports in the Canadian press concerning United States defense activities.

Given a continuing Soviet threat, it is estimated that for the foreseeable future the Canadian Government and people will accept United States defense activities on their soil and will in general support United States defense policies and requirements so long as the United States remains dedicated to the concept of collective security and provided that the present close United States-Canadian defense coordination continues.

This acceptance by the Canadian Government and people of United States defense activities is not influenced to any appreciable degree, on a national basis, by any economic benefits accruing from such activities in Canada, although in Newfoundland, where United States bases do contribute substantially to the economy of that province, local acceptance of United States operations is also motivated to a large extent by the economic benefits resulting therefrom.

Notwithstanding the basic soundness of present Canadian-United States relations, there is in this rapidly developing nation a growing consciousness of national destiny. As the population, industrial base and wealth of Canada increase, so will also the nationalism and sensitivities of its Government and people. The United States must be constantly attentive to this development and, in its own self-interest, continue to exercise the greatest consideration in all aspects of its relations with this country. While there are at present no Government objections or general local resentments with respect to United States defense activities in Canada, both the Embassy and United States [Page 882] military commanders in this country are constantly on the alert to initiate actions or measures designed to forestall local irritations or criticism. Pursuant to these efforts the United States has, for example, during the past year taken the initiative in an agreement to fly the Canadian flag alongside the United States flag at all United States military installations in Canada,2 thus forestalling virtually certain criticism from elements seeking instances of United States disregard for Canadian sovereignty.

In spite of the present satisfactory situation here, the growing feeling of nationalism in Canada could have dangerous potentialities, particularly if knowingly or unknowingly the United States takes any action which would appear to Canadians as an infringement on their sovereignty, [3½ lines of source text not declassified]

Because of Canadian sensitivity with respect to sovereignty, and in the best future interests of the United States, the Embassy suggests that consideration be given to the possible renegotiation with Canada of the 99-Year Leases on the bases in Newfoundland,3 in order to equate them with periods of tenure at other United States installations in this country. This recommendation is made despite serious reservations to such a course on the part of United States military commanders in Canada.

Although the Canadians already participate fully in United States defense planning and operations in Canada, and do not appear to feel a lack of identification with the objectives of such efforts, the Embassy makes three recommendations by which it believes this sense of cooperation or unity of operations might even be heightened.

[Subparagraph a (4 lines of source text) not declassified]

In order to present positive evidence that the joint defense of this continent is indeed mutual, it is recommended that an invitation be extended to the Canadian Government to station an RCAF Fighter Squadron on United States territory as part of the continental air defense system.
In view of the unique and important Canadian-United States defense relationship, it is recommended that consideration be given to the resumption of Canadian attendance at the National War College.4

[Here follows an 18-page detailed analysis.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.56342/3–157. Secret; Limited Distribution; No Distribution Outside Department. Drafted by Milton C. Rewinkel.
  2. Since the signing of two agreements by the U.S. Air Force and the Canadians, February and October 1956, the Canadian flag had been flown alongside the U.S. flag over all U.S. military installations in Canada. (Telegram 368 from Ottawa, January 30, 1957; ibid., 711.56342/1–3057)
  3. This was in accordance with the terms of the protocol concerning the defense of Newfoundland, signed by the United States and Canada at London, March 27, 1941; entered into force the same day. For text, see 55 Stat. (pt. 2) 1560.
  4. From 1946 to 1950, Canadian officers attended the National War College in Washington. In 1950 the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to terminate Canadian attendance because of many factors involving other NATO countries.