112. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The President’s Meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre-Elliott Trudeau


  • The President
  • Prime Minister Trudeau
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
  • Mr. Ivan L. Head, Legislative Assistant to the Prime Minister

The President was met at the front door by the Prime Minister and was escorted to the Prime Minister’s office on the second floor for the head-to-head talks.

Prime Minister Trudeau thanked the President warmly for paying a visit to Canada and for being true to his word. The Prime Minister also expressed appreciation for our letting Canada float its dollar and for the President’s letter informing the Prime Minister of the results of the Peking Summit.2

The Prime Minister was eager to discuss global issues, and policy toward China and the USSR. There was the context of interdependence, but there was also the context of independence; this was important to Canada psychologically. Canadians were impressed by the President’s attitude as expressed in the Nixon Doctrine.

The Prime Minister continued that it was important that the U.S. understand that Canadians understood our need to take tough steps. In their own minds they were prepared to make substantial concessions on such issues as military procurement, tourist allowances and citrus. The Prime Minister was sure that in Secretary Connally’s mind Canada [Page 432] was not going far enough.3 The Prime Minister had great sympathy for the Secretary’s position and repeated that Canada was willing to make unilateral concessions.

The President said that he too wanted to spend a substantial amount of time in their conversation on international affairs. In our bilateral relations, we had to bargain hard in the short run. But the negotiations would continue.

The Prime Minister said, “We will give you everything you need” on nine-tenths of the issues on which we differed, except for the auto-trade matter. That we would handle possibly by resuming discussions. The responsibility lay with Secretary Connally.

The President then turned to global matters, noting that Canada had relations with Peking that the U.S. did not have. It was clear that Peking was interested in political relations, not economics. They had a completely different philosophy: The U.S. talked of peace, the Chinese talked of justice. They talked to us because they were in a dangerous situation. They had many motives: contempt for the Indians, fear of the Soviets, fear of Japan. One might have thought that the U.S., being white, was the most unlikely to have a close relationship.

The Prime Minister said that he could see what was in it for them. But what was in it for us?

The President said it had to do with the Russian game. The Russian concern was with the East. When the President had announced the China initiative on July 15, the Kremlinologists were afraid that it would ruin the chances for good relations with Moscow. On the contrary, what would ruin the chances for Moscow was defeat in Vietnam. We would not go to Moscow hat in hand. Neither of the two super powers must do anything to get themselves into a confrontation with each other. The point of the game was that it was a country’s own interests and not its affection that determined influence. The President then mentioned SALT, which he said has moved ahead very well. We could have all these things—but not in the context of a U.S. defeat.

The most important part of the Shanghai communiqué,4 the President noted, was the part containing the agreement on basic principles.

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Prime Minister Trudeau again expressed admiration for the Nixon Doctrine. What had started out as pulling back had now turned into a beautiful exercise of exerting our influence skillfully, throwing our weight now one way and now another.

Other issues, particularly bilateral ones, were discussed in the course of the conversation. The Prime Minister conveyed his personal interest in expanding cooperation with us in the marine sciences, on which he and the President had corresponded in 1970.5

At about 11:45 a.m., the head-to-head talks broke up and the President and Prime Minister walked down the hall to join the plenary talks being held in the Cabinet Room between Secretary Rogers and External Affairs Minister Mitchell Sharp. After about twenty minutes, the President left the meeting and met privately in Mr. Sharp’s office with opposition leader Robert Stanfield for a brief conversation.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Memos for the President. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Prime Minister’s office. Nixon visited Canada April 13–15. For texts of his public statements, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 530–543.
  2. Nixon and Trudeau exchanged correspondence on the President’s trip to Beijing in February. The exchange was sent to the Embassy in Ottawa in telegram 31693, February 24. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 750, Presidential Correspondence, Canada Trudeau corres.) According to an undated memorandum from Kissinger to the President, the meeting with Trudeau “will provide the opportunity for a review of your trip to Peking.” (Ibid., Box 472, President’s Trip Files, Visit of Richard Nixon to Canada)
  3. A March 28 briefing memorandum prepared for Kissinger informed him that the Canadian Government had been taking a hard line in the trade negotiations and that Prime Minister Trudeau had criticized the U.S. position on changes in the 1965 automobile pact. Connally reportedly was working on recommendations for the President’s April 13–15 trip. The paper noted the “passion” Connally evoked in Canada and questioned whether he should accompany the President. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 290, Agency Files, Treasury, Vol. III) Connally did not accompany the President to Canada.
  4. Dated February 27. For text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 379–381.
  5. Trudeau’s October 20, 1970, letter and the President’s December 18 reply are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 750, Presidential Correspondence, Canada Trudeau corres.
  6. Memoranda of conversation covering the discussions prior to the arrival of the President and Prime Minister and the talks that followed their arrival are ibid., Box 471, President’s Trip Files, Canada 1972. No record of the Nixon-Stanfield meeting was found.