280. Memorandum From Secretary of State Dulles to President Eisenhower0


  • Your Visit to Ottawa, July 8–11, 1958

I conceive the general purpose of your visit to Ottawa to be the improvement of our relations with Canada under its Conservative Government. We seek to establish the same mutual confidence and close working relationship with the new government that we enjoyed [Page 687] with the Liberal Government for 22 years. The attainment of that relationship is, however, somewhat impeded by the existence of vocal, widespread criticism of the United States and its policies. In large part this criticism owes its origin to Canadian nationalism. It has been further nourished by the election campaign as well as by the current recession in Canada.1 A major manifestation of this has been a tendency to assert Canada’s independence of the United States. Some members of the government have been prone to play upon the emotional response that such assertions evoke and to try to make the United States the whipping boy for many of Canada’s ills. It will be important during your visit to convey to members of the government a sense of the importance of interdependence among independent nations, and of maintaining harmony and unity among allies confronted with a common danger.

We would like to persuade the Canadians that (a) United States policies are reasonable; (b) far from taking Canada for granted, the United States prizes its intimate relationship; and (c) the United States recognizes that problems exist in our relations and is determined to find constructive solutions on the basis of mutual give and take. In general I think frankness should be the key note, with a forceful presentation of the United States case wherever our policies are imperfectly understood.

The text of your speech to Parliament sets a good perspective for the public aspects of your visit.2 Your private talks with the Canadian Ministers could emphasize the common global responsibilities of Canada and the United States. They would be interested in a broad-brush treatment of the United States appraisal of Soviet trends, with particular reference to disarmament, and the possibility of a Summit meeting.

It will be well to be wary of tendencies on the part of some of the Ministers to go into specifics and even become contentious. As you note in your speech there is a multiplicity of established mechanisms through which the two Governments can give their problems the full attention they require. Also, I shall have opportunities for separate meetings with the Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Smith. I am enclosing a memorandum that suggests ways to handle specific subjects which, within the foregoing context, are likely to be discussed.

John Foster Dulles3
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1. Continental Defense

Our relationship with Canada in cooperative efforts to improve the defense of the North American Continent has been most fruitful and is of an especially intimate character. Consultation is maintained through a number of joint committees of which the best known is the Permanent Joint Board on Defense. We would like to have the Conservative Government’s assurance that this relationship will continue. We have been pleased to note recently that the Canadian Parliament has ratified the establishment of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) under General Partridge and Air Marshal Slemon. We view this Command as part of the NATO concept.

2. Atomic Energy Cooperation

Cooperation between Canada and the United States in the peaceful uses of atomic energy has been closer than with any other country. The Canadians will be interested to know that under our amended Atomic Energy Act, agreements for greater cooperation in non-weapons military applications, e.g., power reactors for propulsion and other purposes, will be possible.

3. Development of the Columbia River Basin

We should call the attention of the Prime Minister to the rising concern among people of the Pacific northwest states over General McNaughton’s public statements reflecting his interest in the possible future diversion of Columbia River waters into the Fraser. We hope that the Canadian Government shares, and will continue to share, our belief that the Columbia Basin should be jointly developed on a cooperative and equitable basis to obtain maximum benefits for both countries.

4. Meeting of Joint Cabinet Committee on Economic and Trade Affairs

We have suggested to the Canadians that the next annual meeting be in Ottawa on August 4. Although my trip to Brazil will prevent my attending, Mr. Dillon will be able to represent the State Department, and [Page 689] the other Cabinet officers concerned on our side will be available. The Canadians may prefer a date later in the Fall. We should try to get them to accept an August date, in order to provide an early forum for detailed discussion of matters which would otherwise take too much of the time of your visit. Moreover, we consider it important to have such a meeting prior to the Commonwealth Economic Conference opening in Montreal September 15, so as to forestall any action at that Conference directed against the United States.

5. Specific Economic Problems

As regards individual problems such as our wheat disposal programs under PL 480,5 the restriction of oil imports and the tariff on lead and zinc, I would suggest that you should avoid being drawn out further than the statements contained in your speech. The valid objections of the Canadians to our wheat disposal effort centered on the operation of our barter programs. This program was drastically revised and curtailed over a year ago and since then Canadian experts admit that our wheat disposal program is no obstacle to Canada. This is borne out by this year’s Canadian wheat export figures. Virtually all other questions can be deferred until the Joint Cabinet Committee can discuss them.

6. Opening of St. Lawrence Seaway

You may wish to indicate to the Prime Minister your expectation of participating in an international ceremony marking the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Tentative plans call for the ceremony to be held on Cornwall Island (Canadian territory) on June 23, 1959.

7. Visit of Prime Minister Diefenbaker

I recall that a few months ago when you suggested to Prime Minister Diefenbaker that he visit Washington, he urged you to come to Canada instead and you agreed. In this context you might tell him, without mentioning any date, that you hope your next meeting with him will be in Washington.

8. Trade with Communist China

While Canada does not recognize the Communist Chinese Government and maintains controls over trade with that country, it does permit trade in non-strategic commodities. There has been recent criticism in Canada that the United States’ China trade policy operates to prevent U.S.-owned Canadian companies from selling merchandise, particularly automobiles, to Communist China. To meet this problem we are prepared to propose during your visit a modification in the Treasury [Page 690] Department’s licensing practices governing the operations of American subsidiaries established in Canada. While we should not publish the details of our proposal, the Canadian Government will want to be in a position to indicate that some accommodation has been reached on this score. This will result in pressures for similar treatment for United States subsidiaries in Japan, Indonesia and elsewhere and might also lead to similar pressures from some U.S. domestic interests. We assume in this connection that the Canadian Government will not recognize Communist China and will continue to support the moratorium formula in the United Nations.

9. Concessions to Canadians in COCOM

We hope to obtain Canadian support for the continued embargo of nickel and cobalt if the U.S. agrees to a removal of copper from the multilateral embargo list. In this connection it can be noted that, of the 7 metals items which Canada wishes to delete from embargo (iron and steel scrap, molybdenum, aluminum, copper, cobalt and nickel) the U.S. in the COCOM negotiations has already made significant concessions on the first three.

10. Arctic Inspection Zone

Prime Minister Diefenbaker has not yet replied to a letter from Khrushchev dated May 30, in which the Soviet leader took sharp exception to Diefenbaker’s earlier disapproval of the Soviet attitude regarding the U.S. proposal in the UN for an Arctic inspection zone. We have agreed, at the Canadian request, to postpone the transmission of your reply to Khrushchev’s letter to you of May 9 until after your visit to Ottawa. Now there is the new Khrushchev letter to you, received July 2. This subject should be discussed.6

11. NATO Food Bank

Prime Minister Diefenbaker has referred on several occasions recently to the desirability of setting up “something in the nature of a food bank whereby there will be available under NATO direction food for distribution among those countries that today stand in danger of being overrun by the Soviets by economic means”. In view of the generalized nature of his suggestions we are not clear whether the Prime Minister is suggesting jointly controlled stockpiles or individual national stockpiles. The Canadian proposals are now properly before the NATO Food and Agricultural Committee for further study.

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12. Other International Questions

In developing the theme of the interdependence of independent nations, it would be useful to refer to Canada’s recent effective participation in the solution of major international problems, for example: their contribution of forces to the United Nations command in Korea; their participation in the International Control Commission in the Indo-China States; and their participation in the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East. We hope to encourage the Conservative Government to continue playing this kind of effective role in international affairs. The Canadians may also be interested in learning our thinking on Lebanon and on problems faced by De Gaulle in Algeria and Tunisia. These and other wide-ranging international questions whose bilateral aspects are of interest to the Canadians might most appropriately be discussed in detail by me when I meet with the Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Smith.

13. Communiqué

For our purposes, a communiqué or joint statement following your visit is not necessary. Your meeting with the Prime Minister is to be of the same informal nature as Prime Minister Macmillan’s recent visit with you. A communiqué would impair this aspect of informality, and it is preferable to avoid focusing public attention on specific matters, since the problem troubling the Canadians cannot be wholly resolved at this time. However, it is probable that the Canadians will press us for either a communiqué or joint statement. If they do, I believe that, rather than let the matter become a major issue, we could agree to generalized language emphasizing mutual cordiality and cooperation.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.11–EI/7–358. Confidential. Drafted by Green and Parsons and approved by Dillon. This memorandum repeats the substance of telegram 1041 from Ottawa, June 30, in which Merchant outlined the purpose, background, and issues involved in the President’s trip, as he saw them. (ibid., 711.11–EI/6–3058)
  2. The Canadian elections had been held on March 31.
  3. For text of President Eisenhower’s address to a joint session of Parliament on July 9, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958, pp. 529–537.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.
  5. Confidential. Prepared in the Department of State. Secretary Dulles discussed this paper with the President on July 7. They agreed that the visit should not be the occasion for any specific agreements between the two countries, that no definite dates should be established for items 4 and 7, that the United States should make concessions on item 8, and that items 11 and 12 were appropriate for discussion. (Memorandum of conversation, July 7; Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers)
  6. The Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954; enacted July 10, and since extended and amended to provide for disposal of agricultural surpluses. (68 Stat. 454)
  7. A copy of Khrushchev’s letter is in Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. For text of the U.N. resolution, the Soviet notes of May 9 and July 2, and the U.S. reply of July 31, see Department of State Bulletin, May 19, 1958, p. 820; ibid., June 9, 1958, pp. 940–942; and ibid., August 18, 1958, pp. 278–281.