445. Telegram From the Embassy in Canada to the Department of State0
990. Paris for USRO. Embtel 987.1 Following is interim Embassy appraisal where we stand in readjustment US-Canadian relations now that initial shock Department’s January 30 press release wearing off and Canadians beginning take stock realities facing them.
In view our patient tolerance of unrealistic Canadian view of external world past half dozen years, witness GOC foot dragging in vital matter continental defense and pretentious posturing in various international arenas, our sudden dose of cold water naturally produced immediate cry of shock and outrage. Traditional psychopathic accusations of unwarranted US interference in domestic Canadian affairs, while vehement, are subsiding quickly and both public and political leadership find hard realities, as set forth in Department release, are staring them in face and cannot be ignored.[Page 1197]
Preponderance of evidence available—news media, editorial comment, private citizens expression of views—indicate shift of public attention from US statement to clear recognition Diefenbaker indecisiveness, with frequent and widespread reaffirmation of identity of US and Canadian interests and explicit acknowledgment that Canada has somehow gone astray. Department will recall this was basic aim of exercise (Embtel 949)2—i.e., to bring Canadian thinking back to state of relevance to hard realities of world situation. Defense policy, particularly nuclear weapons issue, was key element this psychological problem, and its resolution will have profound bearing on Canadian attitude toward other less important foreign policy questions.
For past four or five years we have—doubtless correctly—tolerated essentially neurotic Canadian view of world and of Canadian role. We have done so in hope Canadians themselves would make gradual natural adjustment to more realistic understanding. For long period there were good grounds for hope this shift would occur relatively painlessly and without our help.
Inconclusive outcome last June’s general elections, GOC fumbling and indecision during Cuban crisis, continued GOC evasiveness on vital defense matters suggested reappraisal necessary. However we had been encouraged recent weeks that liberal opposition beginning to crystallize and were beginning at long last to press government to focus on major questions. GOC performance in Commons January 24 and 25 nevertheless clearly showed Prime Minister Diefenbaker determined carry on in dream world as long as possible, and continue to postpone acquisition nuclear warheads for Canadian forces to carry their share of defense of continent, at same time refusing us permission stockpile for our own use, not to mention failure arm 104 G’s of Canadian air division in NATO.
In effect we have now forced issue and outcome depends on basic common sense of Canadian electorate. Our faith in their good judgment is based on our reading that public has been way ahead of political leadership of all parties. Moreover Embassy had benefit recent grass roots assessment, in form reports from all eleven Consulates during January 24–25 principal officers conference, which independently reached same conclusion with greater emphasis on importance attached by public to Canada honoring its commitments. Public reaction to current developments (Embtel 987 and Tousi 343) supports this assessment. In short we think Canadian public is with us, even though some liberal politicians have been afraid we have handed Diefenbaker an issue he can use [Page 1198] against them and US. We think Canadians will no longer accept irresponsible nonsense which political leaders all parties, but particularly progressive-conservatives under Diefenbaker, have got away with for several years.
If our appraisal is sound and if trend continues, we face transitional period uncertainty, probably until general elections return a new government with an absolute majority and thus a clear mandate. Whether government will be brought down on early no-confidence motion or whether Diefenbaker will seek take initiative by calling snap election is not yet clear but it has become exceedingly doubtful present Parliamentary situation can long continue and in any case an election before summer was regarded as virtually certain. Diefenbaker now faces probable no-confidence defeat on defense policy by Tuesday evening. Under these circumstances he may decide dissolve Parliament and seek justify as necessary consequence US “intrusion”. In any event Diefenbaker can be counted on to mount his campaign on anti-US platform and had earlier last month launched “made in Canada” slogan at National Party Convention. However, we are persuaded such a campaign would not have the success some observers predict. Not only is this not 1911, when “no trade or truck with the Yankees” was slogan which won an election, but it is not even 1957, when Diefenbaker first came to power on wave of anti-US jingoism. World has changed and Canadian people know it. Polls show strong Canadian majority support for acquisition nuclear warheads and for close cooperation with us. Cuban crisis last October evoked widespread evidence public unhappiness with Foreign Minister Green’s moralizing and Diefenbaker’s flexible inaction. Our own observations coincide with those of all eleven consulates to point where we are convinced anti-Americanism could not now effect a Canadian Government.
We should not be unduly disturbed at steam of resentment which first blew off upon publication of Department’s release. Diefenbaker’s reaction was expected. He is undependable, unscrupulous political animal at bay and we are ones who boxed him in. Pearson and other party leaders could not permit him pose as sole spokesman for Canadian nationalism; hence they had to protect their flanks and join chorus of protest at our “intrusion”. Let us also face fact that we are forcing Pearson to go faster and further than he desires in the direction we favor. What is significant is celerity with which this issue is being recognized as false and attention returning to facts in Department’s statement, which remain unrebutted. If this assessment is not premature then we are entering new phase in US-Canadian relations. It may not be so superficially euphorious but we should be able establish more realistic basis for our relationship. We look forward to clearer Canadian appraisal of what our proximity means to them and greater Canadian realization of their need [Page 1199] to cultivate good relations with us. Correspondingly, we think we will wish take more coolly appraising look at concessions we offer in return for their readiness to accommodate themselves to us. Of course we benefit from undefended border and from having friendly neighbor to north but we do not want to buy same asset time and again as is now the case. We have reached point where our relations must be based on something more solid than accommodation to neurotic Canadian view of us and world. We should be less the accoucheur of Canada’s illusions.
As this appraisal indicates, we see grounds for optimism that over the long run this exercise will prove to have been highly beneficial and will substantially advance our interests. We have introduced element of realism which no government, whether progressive-conservative or liberal, will be able ignore.
One thing which could bring it all to naught would be backing away from our present stand. I recommend therefore that Department and all other agencies concerned continue stand politely but firmly behind January 30 release and that nothing be said or done to indicate any doubt whatsoever that time for hard decisions has come. On maintenance of this stance depends framework of our future relations with Canada.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, Def 12 Can. Secret; Niact. Repeated to Paris.↩
- Telegram 987, February 2, transmitted a summary of Canadian reaction to the U.S. press release. (Ibid.)↩
- Telegram 949, January 27, summarized Diefenbaker’s statement on defense on January 26. (Ibid., 742.13/1–2763)↩
- Not found.↩