431. Telegram From the Embassy in Canada to the Department of State0

873. In accordance with Prime Minister’s March 5 request1 I call on him in few days to discuss information in Paul Martin’s hands I saw Diefenbaker at length this morning. Contrary to his state in our original telephone call he was relaxed completely. I told him Washington was as shocked as he and I at alleged revelation content confidential talk between the President and himself and said that investigation was underway, with view to corrective action, to indentify US officer alleged to have talked in Detroit. I said that fracture security and indiscipline [Page 1169]could not be condoned but reminded him of circumstances in which he had informed the President of his intention re nuclear arms. I recalled that agreement by Canada to their acceptance had been element in original package proposed last spring which included placement by US of $150 million aircraft purchase in Canada. On basis his statement that this at the moment politically impossible, President in May had eliminated it as component of package. But I said it was obvious that in order to obtain necessary funds for so domestically unpopular a contract limited number congressional and military leaders had to be informed in strict confidence of Prime Minister’s personal attitude and plans. Diefenbaker said he understood this entirely and that only subject his complaint was violation by others of such confidence. He repeatedly expressed admiration for the President and he is fully recovered from original agitation.

Question along lines foreshadowed has not yet been asked in House by Martin or their opposition leaders. Prime Minister rather expects it is being held for general debate on defense estimates now scheduled for next week. This is likely to be occasion for full-scale discussion entire nuclear questions. Answer he plans to give in House if asked by Martin to confirm information allegedly given by US officer in Detroit and US legislator in Bermuda is along lines “diplomatic usage unfortunately prevents him from commenting on any private conversations but failure to do should not be interpreted one way or the other.”

Incidentally, March 5 memo of record2 re Martin’s intention to ask question refers to “high ranking US General” and not “high ranking US Army officer” as he had first told me on phone. Prime Minister also made clear that pipeline which periodically leaks to Martin according to his suspicions runs from Canadian civil servants and not any US source.

Our discussion then turned to other matters being reported separately.3

Merchant
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 742.5611/3–862. Secret; Limit Distribution; Priority.
  2. In telegram 855, March 5, Merchant reported that Diefenbaker had called him on March 5 to say that Martin intended to question him about a Canadian undertaking made during President Kennedy’s visit in May 1961 to receive nuclear arms. The Prime Minister added that he wanted to talk to Merchant about this in the next day or so. (Ibid., 742.5611/3–562)
  3. Not found.
  4. Telegram 871, March 8, reported briefly on negotiations for nuclear agreements, stating that Diefenbaker expected to begin them once the debate on defense estimates in the House of Commons was completed. (Department of State, Central Files, 742.5611/3–862)