112. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford1


  • US-Canadian Relations—Status and Near-Term Prospects

In early March, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau embarks on another tour of Western European capitals with scheduled visits to Bonn, Rome, the Vatican, the Hague, London and Dublin. On the Canadian side, these visits are seen as a continuation of the Trudeau mission to France and Belgium last December. Trudeau’s goal is to lay the foundations for a new and closer relationship with the European Community (EC) states, as part of efforts included in his central policy aimed at bringing about Canada’s “economic independence” from the United States and establishing a distinct national identity for Canada. This is borne out by developments in US-Canadian relations since your December 4 meeting with the Prime Minister in Washington. Since that time, the Canadian government—in both statement and action—has pointedly restated its intention to lessen Canada’s vulnerability and dependence on the United States, particularly in the economic sphere but in political and security areas as well.

Political: In a formal speech in 1975, Canada’s Minister for External Affairs Allan MacEachen, has stated that Canada has reconsidered her relations with the United States and decided to “strengthen the economy and other aspects of national life in order to secure our independence.” MacEachen has reaffirmed Canada’s intentions to lessen Canada’s economic dependence on the United States, to put an end to the so-called “special relationship” with the United States, and—recognizing the magnitude of the existing bilateral relationship—to treat the United States as the first among all our partners.

[Page 413]

Economic: Canada will continue to implement its previously stated policy of restricting oil and gas exports to the United States; control over foreign investments in Canadian firms will be tightened; Canada will more than likely pass legislation preventing foreign-owned subsidiaries in Canada from adhering to trade restrictions imposed on parent firms; Canadian import quotas on beef and pork can be expected to remain in effect indefinitely. The Canadian Cabinet has just acted to eliminate the special tax status enjoyed by the Canadian editions of Time and Reader’s Digest.

Security: Renewal of the NORAD air defense agreement is expected but not without Canadian insistence on changes that would more clearly recognize Canadian sovereignty over airspace and control over national forces. Also of concern is the Canadian defense budget for 1975–76 which forecasts a slight reduction in the overall Canadian defense effort.

Developments in each of these areas as well as other major aspects of US-Canadian relations are reviewed in greater detail in the background paper at Tab A. While it was anticipated by some that the impact on Canada of U.S. inflation and recession in recent months might cause the Canadians to move to a closer, more accommodating approach to US-Canadian relations, it would appear clear that the Trudeau Government has decided that Canada’s best course lies in gaining greater distance from the United States. As Trudeau has a healthy Parliamentary majority, and as he is not required to hold new elections until 1979, we can expect to see a concerted Canadian effort to further these policy objectives.

With this renewing surge of increasing Canadian nationalism, the Trudeau Government can be expected to give close and continuing attention to all aspects of the bilateral relationship—including issues which may in the past been dealt with solely at the private sector level—seeking in each instance to maximize the Canadian advantage. It will be important to bear this in mind in our dealings with Canada. I will be taking a close look at ways to improve the flow of information on Canadian planning and activities that have a bearing on U.S. interests.

  1. Summary: Kissinger discussed U.S.-Canadian relations and their near-term prospects.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 2, Canada (3). Secret. Sent for information. Attached but not published is Tab A, an undated background paper. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. Ford initialed the memorandum. On March 31, Kissinger asked MacEachen, “Is Canada trying to move away from the United States?” When MacEachen denied this, Kisisnger retorted, “You’d say that anyway. Even if the opportunities are there?” MacEachen replied that Canadians viewed “relations with the United States as being our most important in the long and short haul. We have and we continue to have the closest of relations with you. We are trying to establish new relations elsewhere but it is not our purpose to supplant the United States. No other two countries in the world have the same extent of relations.” (Memorandum of conversation, March 31; ibid., NSC Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs Staff Files, Box 2, Canada 1975 (3) WH)