329. Telegram From the Embassy in Canada to the Department of State 1

91. Ref: Deptels 79, 127, and 128 July 25.2 I saw the Prime Minister and delivered to him the letter contained in reftel 128 and gave him oral messages as per reftels. His immediate reaction was: “I am predisposed to be responsive to whatever the President asks. I will give ready and most sympathetic consideration to his request.”3 He said that the members of the Cabinet are scattered now but he would discuss the problem as soon as the Cabinet could be called together. He added that this might have to be sooner than later if the postal strike did not take a turn for the better for in that case he would be left no option but to recall Parliament and legislate the postal workers back to their jobs. A move which he certainly did not wish to take.

I have the feeling, based on several conversations, that Pearson has now had a change of mind and has come to the view he would prefer an election this fall for a number of reasons including the fact that he would not like to fight through Parliament his medical insurance plan without a majority behind him. But knowing him as I do, I [Page 697] am sure that the final decision will be made not far in advance. Be this as it may, the increase in our military commitment in Vietnam and any further notable increases in Canada’s civil benefactions will be regarded by his party as politically disadvantageous developments.

Incidentally the Embassy’s information is that the additional $500,000 of aid to Vietnam which the Canadian Govt publicly announced at the time of Cabot Lodge’s visit here last September has never been disbursed. Although the Canadians have been in touch with the Vietnamese Govt and our mission there suitable projects of which we thought building materials were one have never been agreed.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. There is no transmission time on the telegram, which was received at 4:36 p.m. Passed to the White House.
  2. Circular telegram 127, July 25, instructed Embassies to deliver the immediately following letter to their respective heads of state. Circular telegrams 128, July 25, contained the text of the President’s message, which concerned U.S. policy in Vietnam. Telegram 79 to Ottawa, July 25, contained instructions for the oral presentation of the letter. (All ibid.)
  3. In an August 5 reply to President Johnson, Pearson stated his satisfaction with the continued U.S. policy of restraint and reaffirmed his statements to Parliament of July 26 of support for the “purposes and objectives” of U.S. policy in Vietnam, reaffirming Canada’s willingness to provide economic assistance to South Vietnam. He concluded by stressing the need to bring the United Nations more fully into the search for a peaceful solution to the war. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Heads of State Correspondence, Canada-Pearson, Vol. 1)