The return of Prime Minister L.S. St. Laurent's government in the August 10, 1953 general election and the reappointment of L.B. Pearson to the External Affairs portfolio ensured the continuation of the close working relationship that had developed in the preceding years between the Department of External Affairs and its political masters. But while the department enjoyed the benefit of continuity at the political level it experienced several changes within its own senior ranks.
In July Dana Wilgress, who had been appointed Under-Secretary the previous year, left that post to become permanent representative to the North Atlantic Council in Paris. Hume Wrong, the Ambassador to the United States, was chosen to replace Wilgress as Under-Secretary. Arnold Heeney succeeded Wrong as Ambassador in Washington. Wrong, at the time of his appointment, was unwell and did not take up his duties until November 1. He served only two weeks before his health failed and he died in January 1954. In Wrong's absence Charles Ritchie, the Deputy Under- Secretary, headed the Department in an acting capacity. Another change was the appointment in October of John Holmes as Assistant Under-Secretary. He replaced Jules Léger who became Ambassador to Mexico.
An important focus of plans for the establishment of new missions abroad was the Middle East (Chapter I). The accreditation of an Israeli minister to Canada and the need for the government to take positions on Arab-Israeli issues at the United Nations contributed to the Department's desire to create its own means of assessing developments in the region.
The conflict in Korea continued to be one of the government's leading international priorities (Chapter II). Before the armistice agreement was concluded on July 27, External Affairs reflected on the collective security implications. A departmental paper (document 53) observed that although it had been hoped that the experience would strengthen the principle of collective action through the United Nations, there was pessimism about the results. Since Canada lacked the capacity to influence the behaviour of the opposing powers, the United States, around which the United Nations forces had been arrayed, had been the principal focus of its diplomacy. Ottawa's influence on American policy, however, had been limited, leading to the conclusion that there was a need for more effective arrangements for consultation among states participating in collective action.
Other items on the United Nations General Assembly agenda were of less immediate concern to Canada (Chapter III). Consequently, the Canadian delegation played a less prominent role than it had the previous year. Among the subjects in which the delegation was primarily involved were personnel policy and the issue of Chinese Nationalist troops in Burma. The delegation was also actively involved in the discussion of disarmament, the Department of National Defence having overcome its earlier reluctance to participate in the development of Canadian policy on the subject. In April Dag Hammarskjöld was appointed Secretary-General following the resignation of Trygve Lie. Pearson was a leading candidate for the post, but he was vetoed by the Soviet Union (document 258).
The government took a great interest in the operations of the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies (Chapter IV). As the examples of the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization show, Canadian delegations consistently promoted the importance of sound administrative practices consistent with the agencies' purposes and the willingness of member states to provide the necessary financial support on an equitable basis.
Consultation remained a priority in NATO (Chapter V), but Canadian officials recognized that discussion of major issues in the North Atlantic Council before agreement had been reached among the leading powers would make consensus more difficult to achieve (document 484). In such instances it was accepted that consultations would normally be initiated on a bilateral basis outside of the Council. The government also considered a Norwegian proposal for the creation of a NATO parliamentary assembly. After initially expressing interest in the idea it decided to support another proposal calling for informal methods of contact between the organization and parliamentarians from the member states.
Air services agreements were concluded with Mexico and Peru (Chapter VI). Anticipating the renewal of a campaign to remove the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization from Montreal, the government despatched a strong delegation to the Seventh Session of the agency's Assembly held in Brighton, England in June. However, the issue did not arise.
Commonwealth heads of government met in London in June, following the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, to discuss the international situation (Chapter VII). During the meetings St. Laurent tentatively accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to visit India the following year. This journey, for which planning began in September, eventually grew to include a number of stops in Europe and Asia. Colombo Plan matters received considerable attention in Ottawa. Capital and technical assistance programmes for India, Pakistan and Ceylon were approved and negotiations for future projects undertaken.
Economic and strategic issues dominated the Canadian-American agenda (Chapter VIII). Ottawa viewed with some alarm the new Republican administration's apparent lack of enthusiasm for multilateral trade liberalization. This was reinforced by a surge of protectionist pressures in the United States which threatened a number of Canadian exports to that country. St. Laurent expressed concern about American commercial policy when he and Pearson met with President Dwight Eisenhower and his cabinet colleagues in Washington in May. The Americans surprised their Canadian visitors by proposing that their governments study the feasibility of bilateral free trade. Ottawa rejected the overture but the two governments followed up a suggestion made by Pearson at the May summit meeting by establishing the Joint United States-Canadian Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs.
North American air defence collaboration continued to expand in response to the Soviet Union's growing military capabilities. In early 1953 Ottawa agreed to permit the building of two experimental radar stations on Canadian territory to test the feasibility of an early warning radar system in the far north. Studies carried out in the United States that summer recommended the construction of an early warning line along the 55th parallel to be followed by a distant early warning system when required. An American request for the creation of a mid-Canada radar fence soon followed. Seizing the initiative, Brooke Claxton, the Minister of National Defence, proposed that Canada build the mid-Canada line by itself in the expectation that doing so would enhance the use of Canadian technology in continental defence and strengthen Canada's hand in dealing with further American requests. The Cabinet Defence Committee supported the minister's proposal.
Although the Canadian government expressed general support for the principle of European integration it was not a subject in which Ottawa was actively engaged (Chapter IX). External Affairs decided not to recommend that a delegation be accredited to the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community in the belief that Canada's interests did not justify such representation. Canada showed more interest in the work of the Organization for European Economic Co-operation, especially in discussions of the collective approach to currency convertibility, and in deliberations concerning trade liberalization. In the Middle East, the main issue receiving attention was the sale of arms to Israel.
Relations with the Soviet Union improved somewhat following the death of Joseph Stalin in March (Chapter X). The most visible signs were the easing of travel restrictions for diplomats in that country and the appointment of an ambassador to Ottawa. The Canadian government responded by relaxing its own travel reporting requirements for Soviet officials and by agreeing to appoint an ambassador to Moscow. The thaw also made it possible to settle two long standing Canadian claims concerning the Petsamo nickel mines and mutual aid.
Canada pursued a cautious approach to developments in Indochina (Chapter XI). Although the government had extended qualified recognition to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in late 1952, it did not seek an invitation to the five-power military conference held in Honolulu in April which dealt with strategic planning for South East Asia. However, Ottawa was prepared to respond sympathetically to requests from the three states for technical assistance under the Colombo Plan. Relations with Japan focused on arrangements for that country's participation in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the exchange of most-favoured-nation treatment.
Canada extended its relations with Latin America through the despatch of a five-week Trade and Goodwill Mission, headed by the Minister of Trade and Commerce, C.D. Howe (Chapter XII). This event led to renewed debate in External Affairs about the possibility of Canadian participation in the Organization of American States. The prevailing view was that Canada's relations with countries in the region were best pursued on a bilateral basis.
The guidelines followed in selecting documents for this volume are outlined in the Introductions to Volume 7 (pp. ix-xi) and Volume 18 (pp. xxi-xxiii). The bulk of the selection was drawn from the files of the Department of External Affairs. The L.B. Pearson Papers were a valuable source as were the records of the Privy Council Office. Much less useful were the L.S. St. Laurent Papers. Other collections were consulted when required to complete the consideration of individual subjects.
The editorial devices are similar to those described in the Introduction to Volume 9 (p. xix). A dagger (†) indicates that a document has not been printed in this volume; an ellipse ( ... ) represents an editorial omission.
I was given full access to the available records in the Department of External Affairs central registry files, the L.B. Pearson Papers, and the L.S. St. Laurent Papers. Unfortunately, the Privy Council Office, at the time I consulted it, was unable to provide a finding aid for its collection for 1953. The selection of documents from that source, therefore, was taken from materials chosen by the PCO. Those responsible for other collections kindly gave permission to consult those records when requested. One document selected for publication was not released by the Permanent Joint Board on Defence; documents 592, 593 and 594 were edited by External Affairs and International Trade Canada in conformity with the Access to Information and Privacy Act.
For advice and support I am grateful to Arthur Blanchette, the former Director of the Historical Division, and to John Hilliker, the current Head of the Historical Section. Janet Bax, the former Director of the Academic Relations Division, and her successor, Brian Long, did much to facilitate the production of the volume. E.A. Kelly and Christopher Cook assisted me in the initial selection of documents and performed many follow up tasks. Jeannette K. Fournier, the former supervisor of the department’s Semi-Active Records Unit, and her colleagues, and the staff of the National Archives of Canada were most co-operative. Technical preparation of the volume was carried out by Isobel Cameron, Geneviève de Chantal, Gail Devlin, Jean Hage, Liza Linklater, Margarita Maffett and Islay Mawhinney. Mrs. Cameron also chose the photographs and prepared the List of Persons and the Index. Word processing, of the manuscript was by Joanne Whissell. To all I am most grateful.