317. Report Prepared by the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)1


As expected, at the meeting in Ottawa February 5 with Canadian Minister of External Affairs Paul Martin,2 Canada dropped its claims to the waters of the Arctic archipelago but insisted on claiming all other straits and bays on both the East and West Coasts, as well as the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as internal waters. They seemed to admit that the position we have taken offering to acquiesce in a 12-mile fishing zone, measured in a valid manner from the coast and straight base lines, meets the larger part of their fishing problems, and that their claims to most of these other waters are of doubtful international legality. However, in effect the Minister took the position that, as domestic political commitments had been made by Canadian leaders on these more exaggerated claims, it would be politically impossible to give them up and hoped that the United States would bail them out of their problem by not protesting their action. Deputy Under Secretary Johnson pointed out the impossibility of our doing this because of the precedents it would set elsewhere for freedom of the seas, particularly off Soviet coasts, and made the suggestion of a non-contentious (i.e. friendly) suit in the International Court of Justice.3 Martin was obviously very much taken aback by his failure to obtain all he was seeking from us. After a private meeting with Mr. Johnson and subsequently caucusing with his advisers, he indicated that the Cabinet would consider the matter on Tuesday, February 11, and Mr. Johnson agreed to return to Ottawa on February 12 for further discussions.4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Canada, Vol. 1. Confidential. The report was attached to a February 7 memorandum from Benjamin Read, Executive Secretary of the Department of State, to McGeorge Bundy.
  2. A memorandum of their conversation is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 33-4 CAN-US.
  3. Instructions to raise this possible solution were contained in a memorandum from Secretary Rusk to U. Alexis Johnson, February 4. (Ibid.)
  4. Memoranda of their February 12 conversation are ibid.