103. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Message from Trudeau on Vietnam

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau has sent you the message at Tab A on two issues related to Vietnam.

Trudeau first addresses “the recent massive aerial bombardment of North Vietnam,” expressing the hope that the present pause will become permanent. He says that he has thus far attempted to avoid criticizing U.S. military actions in Indo-China, and has stressed Canada’s belief in a negotiated settlement. Further, he says the United States has not demonstrated that bombing of North Vietnam will contribute to successful peace negotiations, that the recent bombing has aroused widespread and bitter criticism of the United States in Canada and elsewhere, that the reputation of the United States is being questioned and that this questioning is deeply disturbing to those who admire the United States.

Secondly, Trudeau repeats the assurance that Canada stands ready to assist U.S. troop withdrawals and the repatriation of American prisoners. At the same time he casts further doubt on Canada’s willingness to participate in a Vietnam peace supervision force, noting that his Government has strong reservations about the feasibility of such a force.

I think it probable that this message has been generated largely by Trudeau’s current domestic political situation. Trudeau has avoided detailed public comment on recent events in Vietnam saying, in response to questions, that such comments would not help the search for a negotiated solution.

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Today, on January 4, the Canadian Parliament reconvenes for the Speech from the Throne, setting forth the Trudeau Government’s policies. We can expect this to be followed by vigorous debate led by Stanfield’s Progressive Conservatives (who now have the same number of seats as Trudeau’s Liberals). This in turn will be followed by the first vote of confidence in the government, probably on or before January 19.

Trudeau undoubtedly is anticipating opposition questions on Canada’s position with regard to U.S. military activities in Vietnam, a possible Canadian peace force role, and whether or not he has been in touch with you on these issues. Accordingly, I believe Trudeau has sent the message to permit him to say that he has been in touch with you and has raised his concerns.

The purpose of this memorandum is to bring Trudeau’s message to your attention. A proposed reply to the Canadian Prime Minister will be forwarded separately.

  1. Summary: Kissinger relayed a message from Trudeau on Vietnam.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 750, Canada, Trudeau, corres. (1969–1973) (1 of 1). Secret. Sent for information. Attached but not published is Tab A. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. Nixon circled the last paragraph of the memorandum and wrote, “No reply.” On January 17, Sonnenfeldt forwarded to Kissinger a draft condolence message to Trudeau on the death of his mother, noting that “the President rejected the idea of a reply to Trudeau’s recent Vietnam letter. There were also put in train some other manifestations of our displeasure. We now have the attached condolence message. I personally feel it should be sent as a civilized gesture. But because of the mood you described yesterday I want to be sure you know and agree this is being done.” Scowcroft wrote at the bottom of Sonnenfeldt’s memorandum, “HAK says no.” (Ibid.)