321. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Law of the Sea


  • Marcel Cadieux, Under Secretary of State for External Affairs
  • William R. Tyler, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs

I told Mr. Cadieux that I was glad of this opportunity to meet him and to discuss with him informally the subject of the Canadian claims and pending legislation in relation to U.S. rights and interests. I said that I had no instructions, and that the purpose of my visit was to acquaint myself at first hand with the Canadian government’s position and arguments. We agreed that nothing that would be said or omitted by either of us in the course of our conversation would be considered to constitute any change in the position of either side.

Mr. Cadieux reviewed the situation at some length and in the course of our discussion, the following points emerged:


Gulf of St. Lawrence: I asked Mr. Cadieux what was the essential Canadian concern with regard to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I said that if it was a matter of the restriction and control of fishing, we could consider participating in a multilateral conference with various other countries to see if agreement could be reached on fishing practices. On the other hand, if it was a question of security, we were prepared to engage in bilateral talks with the Canadian government to consider the factors involved and see what we might be able to do to be helpful.

Mr. Cadieux said that closing the Gulf was essentially a domestic political necessity. While both fishing and security were an important consideration, the present situation had been inherited from the previous government, which was prepared to go to the limit on the issue, and which would have the full backing of the five maritime Provinces. The Prime Minister had no alternative to facing up to the United States if we maintained our opposition to the point of trying to take Canada before the ICJ, except to let his government fall, as it most surely would if it did not close the Gulf.

”Customary” versus “historic” rights: Mr. Cadieux, while disputing this issue along the familiar Canadian lines, said he thought this [Page 685] would be no problem as part of an overall agreement, including the area and species aspects.
U.S. trawlers within 12-mile limit: I raised this in the form of a question for my own information, and was told this would present no difficulty.
Canadian consultation with other countries: Canada has already held, and will pursue talks with the following countries between now and the end of the year: France, U.K., Norway, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and it has told Japan what it has in mind. It does not plan to talk with any additional countries. One reason why the Canadian government is opposed to convening a multilateral conference on the question of the waters of the Gulf is that the Japanese would insist on participating for their fishing interests, while the Russians would press to come in for their own sinister purposes. Mr. Cadieux said that the French and the Norwegians had already indicated that they would have no trouble with the Canadian move.
Legislative timetable: The Canadian Government expects Bill S-17 to become law by July 15. It will have some flexibility with regard to applying the law, and Mr. Cadieux used such phrases as “certainly not before the end of the year, and well into the spring of 1965,” and “maybe one year if the Government can say that negotiations are still under way.” At another point, he used the words “well into next year.”
Canadian position: The Government position is that it has no alternative to proclaiming the extension of the fisheries zone to 12 miles, on a straight baseline basis, including closing lines for the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Without abandoning formally its claims to closing the Arctic Archipelago and Queen Charlotte Sound, the Canadian Government is prepared to postpone such action indefinitely. I asked whether Queen Charlotte Sound would encompass the adjoining waters of Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance. Mr. Cadieux said it would not, but that the Canadian Government would be prepared, if we could reach agreement, to refer the issue concerning these two bodies of water to arbitration. I asked about the Bay of Fundy. Mr. Cadieux said that it was not of comparable importance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and that he did not think “that it would be a very difficult matter for Canada and the U.S.” I inferred from the foregoing that the Canadians have in mind the following package: the U.S. (1) to confine itself to protests and to give up going to the ICJ, (2) to accept the closing of Hudson’s Bay and Hudson’s Strait, in return for which the Canadians would: (1) proclaim the extension of the fisheries zone on a straight baseline basis to 12 miles, (2) proclaim the closing of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, (3) defer action on the Arctic Archipelago, (4) defer action on Queen Charlotte Sound, (5) submit Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance to arbitration, (6) defer action on closing the Bay of Fundy in order to try to work out [Page 686] something mutually acceptable, (7) agree to, and be prepared to grant the most formal assurances to protect the exercise of our customary fishing rights, (8) not raise any difficulties about U.S. trawlers.2
Canadian reaction to U.S. recourse to ICJ: Canada, said Mr. Cadieux, will not appear before the Court in any circumstances. It would invoke the Connally amendment,3 and—in order to defend itself against the charge that it was unwilling to observe the spirit of international law—would counter-attack by pointing out that the U.S. record of acceptance of the authority of the ICJ was greatly inferior to that of Canada.
Canadian reaction to U.S. position with regard to ICJ: At the conclusion of our talk, Mr. Cadieux advanced again the argument that we were proposing to treat Canada more harshly than we had treated other countries, e.g.: Indonesia, which had established a 12-mile limit and had enclosed certain bodies of water. I pointed out the particular circumstances of the proximity to the U.S. of the waters which Canada was proposing to enclose, and of the degree to which these waters were of importance to our security. We were not motivated by the desire to deal harshly with Canada, but we considered their proposed restrictions obnoxious, not only in themselves, but because they created a precedent for other countries to invoke. We thus could not afford to be less severe toward Canada on this issue than we would have to be toward others. Finally, I said it looked as though we were both in for a rough time, and Mr. Cadieux agreed.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 33-8 CAN-US. Confidential. Drafted by Tyler.
  2. At the time it effected its 12-mile fishing ban, the Government of Canada issued an “Order in Council” that exempted the United States and certain other nations from its provisions. The text was forwarded to the Department of State in airgram A-103 from Ottawa, August 5. (Ibid., POL 33-4 CAN-US)
  3. For text of Senate Resolution 196, 79th Congress, August 2, 1946, see A Decade of American Foreign Policy: Basic Documents, 1941-1949 (rev. ed.), p. 129.