338. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Secretary’s Conversation with Canadian Foreign Minister Martin: US-Canadian Relations and Over-all Policies


  • US Side:
    • The Secretary
    • Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Dep. Asst. Sec., EUR
  • Canadian Side:
    • Foreign Minister Martin
    • Yvon Beaulne, Minister

Martin said that the problem of Canada “and other small countries” vis-á-visthe United States is that they are forced to talk so much on the periphery of things. All of them are very concerned as to what they say to Uncle Sam and they do not speak frankly, nor do they feel that the United States is completely frank in return.

The Secretary disagreed, saying that he had always felt in his talks with Martin that both were being very frank, and that the exchanges they had had were often very lively. Saying that he would take advantage of Martin’s emphasis on the desirability of frankness, the Secretary said that he had the impression that Canadian foreign policy did not evolve from a systematic calculation of the kind of world Canada would like to see in its own interest. He thought Canada reacted to situations and tried to find a middle point, but it had no over-all framework within which to make its judgments. The Secretary suggested that it might be useful if discussions could be held between the two [Page 712] governments at the policy planning level. For example, Canada obviously has interests in Southeast Asia and the outcome of the situation there; likewise Canada has interests in Africa and other areas of the world. A thorough discussion of such things from the standpoint of Canadian interests might lead to conclusions which would be different from what we have seen out of Ottawa so far.

Martin noted that he is three-fourths French and that the French are always sensitive about the persons with whom they deal. He had profound respect for the Secretary, and the Secretary should know that the last week, in which Canada seemed to be taking a different line from that of the US, had caused him real agony. However, Martin continued, the Canadians feel that they do not really know the actual plans of the US. Canada is the neighbor of the US and Canadians have a similar origin to Americans; if this were not the case, Canada would probably take a very strong stand against the US. Martin said that the Canadian Government is always under great pressure from the public for being a satellite of the United States. This is a difficult situation.

The Secretary said he appreciated this, but he asked again what Canadian policy would be if it were enunciated only in Canadian national terms. Martin said that, for one thing, Canada wanted a world where the US and the Soviet Union would be on better relations than is now the case. He felt that the UK, in the interests of such relations, should take a chance and stop the bombing in North Viet-Nam. Martin said that, in general, the Soviets are developing in the right direction in their society. He cited his talk with Kosygin as being reassuring on this score. Martin continued that the United States could not expect Canada to say “yes” to US policy in every situation. He said that Canada believes in the Commonwealth and believes very strongly in the UN.

The Secretary asked if this included Article I of the UN Charter, providing for collective security. Martin responded affirmatively, although he said that the Canadian people were divided on Viet-Nam, just as the American people. So far as NATO was concerned, the French population of Canada had nothing to do with Canada’s stand on the relocation of NAC. At the same time, Canada feels close to France, and believes that no steps should be taken which could be interpreted as being against the French people.

The Secretary said that it is fundamental to the kind of world we want that the US should meet its commitments. The Soviets and the Chinese must see that we mean business; otherwise we could have war.

Martin said he understood our policy in Europe and in NATO and he felt this was important. The Secretary commented that what we did in Asia was equally important; we cannot be a virgin in Europe and a whore in the Pacific.

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The Secretary concluded by stressing again his desire for frank understanding with Canada, and he urged Martin to query us if he had any questions concerning our policies.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Canadian Desk Files: Lot 69 D 35, Pol 7 Visits. Secret. Drafted by Stoessel. The memorandum is Part 10 of 10. The other memoranda of conversation are ibid. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s Dining Room.