331. Telegram From the Embassy in Canada to the Department of State1

1455. Deptel 1136, April 25.2 I appreciate being asked “if there is anything constructive that we can do in relation to Canada at the present time.” While there are several which I will list below, I believe there is no one thing which would be more constructive or work more good for US-Canadian understanding at this time than a visit here by the President. I will recommend certain specifics about this in Part II of this telegram.


The political and psychological climate in Canada suggests that a visit by the President could have a tremendous impact in focussing the attention of Canadians upon enduring common interests between our countries and in redirecting their fixation away from such problem issues between us as Vietnam and China which they persistently view so astigmatically. Canadians need and would welcome new definitions and new challenges. Never in their hundred years of federation has there been less accommodation between French Canadian and English Canadian citizens or a less tenable division of power between the central government and the provinces. The political system is without reliable bearings or direction and is scarred by internal bickering and vituperation that has resulted in no major party’s meriting enough popular confidence to hold an electoral majority. In these circumstances, it is truly remarkable that as Canada’s only neighbor and potential scapegoat we are the recipients of less captious criticism or hostility than we might expect. Alongside the U.S. and its strong central guidance and purpose, Canadians feel an inferiority that is displayed in envy, resentment, and, particularly in foreign affairs, in sanctimoniousness. We have to recognize that against this backdrop of internal tensions and immaturity there are limits to what we can do. On such problem issues between us as Vietnam and China on which feeling is general and not merely regional, only peace in Vietnam or the success of a two-China policy (or its failure with Canada’s getting badly burned in the process) would exorcise these diversionary subjects.

On most foreign issues, however, we are not far apart, and strictly bilateral problems usually yield to satisfactory settlement. Since the [Page 700] Pearson government came to power in 1963, we have accomplished a number of things as described in my 1964 and 1965 annual reviews (A-581 and A-638)3 such as: Canada’s acceptance of nuclear weapons, the Columbia River Treaty, the auto parts agreement, the civil air accord, elimination of lead and zinc quotas, a balance of payments agreement, etc. We have staved off but not yet dissuaded Canada from pursuing its Law of the Sea statute which provides for enclosure of waters, now part of the high seas, by new baselines. Since for good reason our opposition is implacable, we should seek to avoid a future public confrontation by making our position unmistakably clear.

Of the constructive things that we can do, I want to single out one from the following list as uniquely appropriate should the President be able to visit Ottawa. This is the St. John River project now nearing the end of negotiations. The President could expect to address a joint session of the two Houses of Parliament, and the announcement of a St. John River agreement on that occasion would accent our continental partnership and dramatize for Canadians our common interest and advantage in close cooperation. A Presidential visit customarily takes place when Parliament is in session so that he can address a joint session of both Houses. Parliament is expected to remain in session until about mid-July, and a visit in early July would be feasible. Parliament is not expected to resume its session until sometime in September, and in addition the President will no doubt wish to consider a brief trip to Montreal to visit the American Pavilion at the Exposition in the late spring or early summer of 1967. Therefore, the spacing of these visits is a consideration.

Other constructive things, no one of which by itself is calculated to change very much the tenor of U.S.-Canadian relations, but together are of cumulative importance, are as follows:

Official designation of the NORAD regional headquarters at North Bay, Ontario, as alternate command post to CINCNORAD’s main headquarters at Colorado Springs. Canadians would regard this designation as a matter of gratifying prestige and closer military partnership.
Clarification by the U.S. Department of Defense of the desideratum for Canada’s future military role and contribution to NORAD and Western defense. Canada is preparing itself increasingly and all but irrevocably for a small power capability and for restrictively peacekeeping operations—without nuclear weapons (see pp. 17 et seq. of A-638).
Further reduction of trade barriers on both a multilateral and bilateral basis. Currently the US is rightly emphasizing negotiations in the Kennedy Round in connection with the efforts of both Canada and the US to achieve a liberalization of trade in multilateral context. Following the Kennedy Round we should examine with Canada prospects for further liberalization bilaterally such as was achieved by the US-Canadian automotive agreement.
An explicit decision to exempt Canada from present and future U.S. balance-of-payments corrective measures, in return for a continuing Canadian commitment to hold down and even to reduce Canadian gold and foreign exchange reserves. The existing agreement with Canada, whereby the GOC has agreed to reduce reserves in 1966 by $300 million to the advantage of the U.S., assures the U.S. that any Canadian B/P gains this year will in fact accrue to our benefit. U.S. direct investment capital outflow to Canada is nevertheless limited by the U.S. guidelines. Any restrictions applied against travel to Canada would gravely disturb our relationship particularly in view upcoming Expo 67 whereas situation in fact offers opportunity for cooperative action by US and Canada to promote tourism to North America given reserves agreement.
Elimination or amelioration of extra-territorial effects of U.S. legislation on U.S. subsidiaries in Canada, e.g. such as section 5 (b) of the Trading With the Enemy Act.
Definitive liberalization or elimination of the cheddar cheese quota, particularly on aged cheddar.
It would be useful now to clarify authoritatively for the Canadian Government the amendments to our 1965 Immigration Act insofar as they apply to Canada. This act [garble] long-term meaning, for example, especially in relation to the mobility of managerial, professional, and technical personnel in North America. Also, it is highly desirable that there be an authoritative clarification of our Selective Service Act in its application to legal alien residents in the US, persons with dual US-Canadian citizenship, and other persons resident in Canada who may be subject to it. Problems arising from ambiguities in this field are increasing and are getting into the political arena here.
Establishment of an international park on Point Roberts, a small US appendage to British Columbia accessible to Americans only via Canada.
Opening of a USIS office with a library in the Consulate General in Montreal manned by a young French-speaking officer for the counter—Gaullist and other reasons I have enumerated ad nauseum.

I will be glad to supply further information and detail as may be desired.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL CAN-US. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. There is no time of transmission on the telegram, which was received at 7:59 p.m. Passed to the White House.
  2. Telegram 1136 to Ottawa reads: “President has asked Dept ‘if there is anything constructive that we can do in relation to Canada at this time.’ Dept would appreciate any suggestions you may have by COB April 27.” (Ibid.)
  3. Neither printed. (Both ibid.)