In 1954, preoccupied with the internal struggle over Stalin's succession, Soviet leaders abandoned the more virulent aspects of their anti-Western campaign and continued their efforts to seek an accommodation with the United States and its allies in the Far East and in Europe. Along the Korean peninsula, the armistice negotiated the year before held fast. In Europe, a strong and confident North Atlantic alliance consolidated its position when the conditions for West Germany's rearmament were elaborated in a series of conferences in London and Paris. For Robert Ford, who returned from Moscow early in the spring of 1954, these were reassuring developments:
[P]eace, or at least a state of 'cold war', which passes for peace these days, can be maintained. This does not necessarily mean that either side abandons its hopes that eventually some or all of the rest of the world can be converted to its way of life. But it does mean that it should be possible to eliminate war as a means of bringing about changes (Document 693).
The Secretary of State for External Affairs, Lester B. Pearson, was not as sanguine about the prospects for peace. The most that could be said about 1954, he concluded in December, was "that the gravest disturbances...remained potential rather than actual; threats of deterioration which were, at least temporarily, successfully averted."1 That Ford and Pearson should differ in their assessments of 1954 is hardly surprising, for the transition from the first, crisis-filled phase of the Cold War to a more stable, yet still dangerous, world order, was at best uncertain, containing confusing elements of the past and the future.
These themes take up much of the chapter on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and are closely associated with German rearmament and the struggle for strategic advantage in central Europe (Chapter 3, Sections 2, 3 and 4). Throughout the year, the alliance was forced to reply to repeated Soviet efforts to defuse tension in Europe through the neutralization of Germany. Spurred on by the American Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, NATO responded by tenaciously seeking to incorporate West Germany into the alliance. Like most of their allied colleagues, Canadian policy-makers were sceptical of Moscow's interest in reaching a European settlement and were prepared to accept the 'grand strategy' worked out in Washington, London and Paris. However, Ottawa insisted on being consulted, and from the Canadian perspective, the significance of the discussions on the Soviet overtures and the European Defence Community lay in Pearson's continuing efforts to turn NATO into a forum for genuine inter-allied consultation.
The prospective incorporation of West Germany into the North Atlantic alliance provoked a spasm of outrage in Moscow. At the United Nations, the Soviet delegation sponsored three anti-American propaganda items in the General Assembly, which ended its ninth session on a sour note as a result. Still, as the documents in this volume make clear, there was no obscuring the optimism that resulted from the United Nations' success in disarmament matters, a subject that absorbed two-thirds of the General Assembly's time. The unanimity with which the world organization agreed on resolutions to revive stalled disarmament talks (Documents 138 to 166) and to explore the possibility of an international atomic energy agency (Documents 167 to 207) resulted in "more sweetness and light...than at any time since the first General Assembly met in London nine years ago." (Document 210) With Pearson tied up in Europe with NATO, Paul Martin, the Minister of Health and Welfare and vice-chairman of the Canadian delegation to the General Assembly, emerged as Canada's foremost spokesman at the United Nations. As the principal negotiator for the Western powers with the Soviet Union on the disarmament resolution, Martin's persistence in search of compromise -- his greatest strength as a diplomat -- was well rewarded. Nevertheless, it prompted concern in Ottawa and caused Pearson to warn his colleague that "I do not think that the effort should be continued to a point where it would cause trouble between us and the United States." (Document 163)
The Prime Minister, Louis St. Laurent, also ventured onto the diplomatic circuit in 1954, undertaking an extended world tour during the first few months of the year to meet his counterparts in Europe and Asia. The visit was poorly documented and few records, apart from those chronicling St. Laurent's meetings with the Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, survive. These, however, offer the reader a hint of the difficulties that faced St. Laurent and Pearson as Canada tried to bridge the growing divisions between New Delhi and Washington over Asian affairs (Documents 435 to 442). Similar impulses are reflected in the documentation on American military aid to Pakistan (Documents 431 to 434). More generally, Canada's desire to maintain the economic and political stability of Asia as a bulwark against Communist expansion in the Far East underpins the lengthy series of documents on the Colombo Plan (Documents 390 to 430).
Asia bulked large in Canada's external relations in 1954. At their Berlin meeting in February, the foreign ministers of France, Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to convene a conference in Geneva to find a solution to the Korean problem. All of the combatants, including the People's Republic of China, North Korea and South Korea, were invited, and all but South Africa agreed to attend. The atmosphere was electric. A Canadian delegate later recalled that "Geneva in that spring and early summer was an extraordinary place...the centre of attention of the whole world."2 The conference, however, was quickly deadlocked over how best to supervise the elections in North and South Korea, which all agreed were a necessary prelude to unification. In drafting a declaration to explain their decision to break off the talks, the sixteen-member United Nations coalition was torn apart by Washington's determination to yield no ground even at the cost of losing the battle, increasingly important in the Cold War context, for world opinion. Pearson and the Canadian delegation fought to maintain the coalition's unity (Documents 19 to 87). The stalemate in Geneva and the armistice in Korea, though hardly a satisfactory ending to an experiment in collective security that cost Canada 1,642 casualties, at least allowed Ottawa to begin withdrawing its troops from Asia (Documents 88 to 91).
The gathering in Geneva had another important consequence for Canadian foreign policy. During the first few months of the year, the Communist-led insurgency against France in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam enjoyed a string of victories, culminating in the siege of French troops at Dien Bien Phu. Canada watched with concern as morale collapsed in Paris, and Washington tried to stiffen French resolve with promises of "united action" (Documents 714 to 722). The American failure led to a second Geneva conference on Indochina where France, Great Britain, and the People's Republic of China engineered an end to the fighting. To Ottawa's surprise, Canada suddenly found itself, with Poland and India, part of the international supervisory machinery established to oversee the cease-fire (Chapter 7, Section 1). Within a year, 160 Canadian military and diplomatic personnel were scattered on duty throughout Southeast Asia.3 Canada's participation on the three commissions -- one each for Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam -- would have profound implications for Canada's foreign policy over the next two decades. This volume includes a generous selection of material chronicling the department's first experiences in this part of Asia.
Despite signs of increased stability and decreased tension in Asia, in central Europe and at the United Nations, the terrifying possibility of thermonuclear war -- by accident or by design -- remained. Pearson was dismayed by Dulles's announcement in January that the United States would rely for its defence on "massive retaliatory power" applied "instantly, by means and at places of our own choosing."4 Pearson rebuked Dulles in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington, reminding him "that the 'our' in this statement should mean those who have agreed, particularly in NATO, to work together and by collective action to prevent war or, if that should fail, to win it."5 Some of the rationale behind Pearson's public statements on this issue is documented in this volume (Documents 443 to 445).
Pearson and the Minister of National Defence, Brooke Claxton, were also distressed to discover that NATO's military planners had based their latest strategic considerations on the assumption that theatre commanders would have automatic recourse to nuclear weapons in the event of war (Documents 356 to 380). Their fear that Canada might be drawn into a nuclear confrontation without forewarning or prior discussion was not entirely misplaced. Late in the year, nuclear war ominously loomed when the People's Republic of China and the United States squared off over a handful of small islands in the Straits of Formosa. This crisis, which reached its climax in 1955, will be covered in Volume 21.
The increasingly public nature of nuclear diplomacy in 1954 had an unsettling impact on opinion in Canada and, more important, the United States. Public and Congressional pressure in the United States encouraged officials in both countries to accelerate their efforts to expand continental defence facilities to meet the anticipated Soviet threat (Documents 448 to 462). Even so, it took most of the year for Ottawa to agree to an American request for a distant early warning line stretching across the arctic (Documents 446 to 490). By then, policy-makers in the Departments of National Defence and External Affairs were beginning to confront the probability that the United States would eventually wish to establish some form of joint command over Canadian and American forces assigned to the defence of North America (Documents 469, 476, 478 and 486). In dealing with these two questions (and indeed, with the other defence issues that make up the first half of the chapter on relations with the United States), Ottawa's perspective was characterized by both a willingness to cooperate and a careful regard for Canadian sovereignty.
Canadian-American relations were distinguished by the host of natural resource and trade questions that arise normally from the close continental partnership. At long last, the United States Congress signalled its willingness to move ahead with the St. Lawrence Seaway, albeit with a set of conditions that required lengthy negotiations with Ottawa before construction could begin (Documents 559 to 580). Even then, the project remained beset by technical uncertainty and petty bickering (Documents 581 to 588).
Similar problems occurred elsewhere in North America. Canadian policy-makers, for instance, were alarmed by Congress's efforts to increase the volume of water diverted southward from Lake Michigan at Chicago (Documents 612 to 621). Further west, the two countries began to wrestle seriously with the long-term implications of developing the Columbia River (Documents 600 to 608). At the same time, the Department of Trade and Commerce watched uneasily as Canadian natural gas found its access to the American market restricted (Documents 589 to 595). What all this meant seemed clear: "One of the most important policy problems now coming into focus...is concerned with the terms and conditions under which certain Canadian exports of energy -- natural gas and water power -- may be exported to the United States."6
More traditional trade irritants were also present in 1954. The problems created for Canadian wheat and cheese exports by new legislation in the United States aimed at reducing that country's agricultural surplus (Documents 513 to 522) figured prominently in the first meeting of the cabinet-level Joint Canada-United States Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs (Documents 523 to 558). So too did the future of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the growing number of restrictions a protectionist Congress placed on imports to the United States.
The future of GATT, American protectionism and Europe's progress toward convertibility were the interrelated subjects of a protracted international discussion on trade liberalization. It unfolded in Sydney, where the Commonwealth finance ministers met in January (Document 385), and in Washington, where the Canada-United States Joint Committee gathered in March (Document 525). From there, it moved to Paris and the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (Documents 622 to 641) and then back to Washington, where Commonwealth and American officials met to compare notes and plot strategy (Documents 227, 230 and 231). The process of consultation and negotiation culminated in Geneva late in the year when GATT's contracting parties met to review and strengthen the international agreement (Documents 218 to 235).
The personal, political and bureaucratic relationships that had shaped Canadian policy in 1953 changed dramatically in 1954. St. Laurent, exhausted from his world tour, left more and more of the conduct of external policy to Pearson. A cabinet shuffle in July brought new ministers into two portfolios with important foreign policy implications. After his long struggle to manage Canada's contribution to the UN effort in Korea, Claxton was succeeded by Ralph Campney as Minister of National Defence. Walter Harris, who disliked the "continuous social activity" associated with his new international responsibilities, replaced Douglas Abbott as Minister of Finance (Document 387). The ubiquitous C.D. Howe remained Minister of Trade and Commerce and Minister of Defence Production.
For most of the year, responsibilities within the senior ranks of the Department of External Affairs remained unsettled. To compensate for the vacancy left by Hume Wrong, who died suddenly in December 1953 after only two weeks as Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, Pearson appointed R.A. MacKay Deputy Under-Secretary in January 1954. The effective head of the department for most of the year, MacKay was aided by three new Assistant Under-Secretaries: John Holmes, Jean A. Chapdelaine and Max H. Wershof, who also served as legal advisor. In April, MacKay was named Associate Under-Secretary and Jules Léger, the Ambassador to Mexico, was recalled to become Pearson's deputy. He took up his duties in mid-August. In selecting the 41-year old Léger, Pearson was anxious to "have a young and vigorous Under-Secretary, the first from Quebec, and one who would normally be in the job for a long time, content, I take it, with the prospect of being a 'permanent' Under-Secretary and not a bird of passage to an Embassy!"7
There were no changes in leadership at Canada's most important posts. David M. Johnson continued as Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Dana Wilgress remained Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council and Representative to the Organization for European Economic Cooperation. N.A. Robertson served as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Georges Vanier and Arnold Heeney remained ambassadors in Paris and in Washington, respectively. Tragically, Jack Thurrott became the first Canadian Foreign Service Officer to die on duty when his jeep hit a mine while on a patrol for the International Commission for Supervision and Control in Indochina.
The records of the Department of External Affairs and the Privy Council Office provided most of the material for this look at Canadian foreign policy. These sources were supplemented where necessary by the personal papers of many of the Cabinet ministers and senior officials involved in these events and by the records of the Departments of Defence, Trade and Commerce, Fisheries, and Finance. In preparing this volume, I was given complete access to the files of the Department of External Affairs and generous access to other collections. A complete list of the sources examined in the preparation of this volume may be found on page xxvii.
While the selection of documents continues to be guided by the general principles set out in the Introduction to Volume 7 (pp. ix-xi), these have recently been reviewed in order to help the series deal with the constantly increasing amount of documentation that accompanied the expansion of Canada's international responsibilities after the Second World War. As a result of this review, some new editorial guidelines have been developed and approved. In order to save space, editors will more frequently abandon the present practice of letting the documents speak for themselves' and use introductory notes and footnotes to place documents in their proper context. In addition, editors may increasingly resort to summary documents.
Although there can be no hard and fast rules to govern the selection of documents, the series will now focus more intensively on Canada's most important bilateral and institutional relationships, and on the major international crises that directly involved the Secretary of State for External Affairs, the Prime Minister or other members of the Cabinet in substantive policy decisions. Unfortunately, this means that Documents on Canadian External Relations will no longer be able to track recurring diplomatic tasks such as the opening of new posts or the negotiation of routine international agreements. By narrowing its focus in this way and by employing more summary documents and editorial interventions, however, the series will be able to continue to re-produce the most important despatches, telegrams and memoranda that constitute the raw material of diplomatic history.
The editorial devices used in this volume are similar to those described in the Introduction to Volume 9 (p. xix) A dagger indicates a document that has not been printed and ellipses (...) an editorial excision. The phrase group corrupt indicates decryption problems in the transmission of the original telegram. Words and passages that are struck out by the author, marginal notes, and distribution lists are reproduced as footnotes only when significant. Unless otherwise indicated, it is assumed that documents have been read by the addressee. Proper and place names are standardized. The editor has silently corrected spelling, punctuation and capitalization, as well as transcription errors whose meaning is clear from their context. All other editorial additions to the body of the text are indicated by the use of square brackets. Documents are reprinted in either French or English, depending on their language of origin.
The task of editing this volume was made considerably easier by the help and support generously offered from many quarters. The staff at the National Archives of Canada were especially helpful. Paulette Dozois, Paul Marsden and Dave Smith of the Military and International Affairs Records Unit of the Government Archives Division responded promptly and professionally to my many (always urgent) inquiries. Janet Murray and Michel Poitras managed the circulation desk with cheerful efficiency, while Micheline Robert and Louise Bertrand helped ensure the safe and timely delivery of photocopies. Ciuineas Boyle, Access to Information Coordinator at the Privy Council Office, graciously facilitated my access to Cabinet records. Corrinne Miller greatly assisted my work in the archives of the Bank of Canada.
Ted Kelly, who assumes the position of assistant editor with this volume, edited the chapters on the United Nations and Europe. At every stage in the project, he was a source of helpful advice. Christopher Cook continued as my principal research assistant, locating lost documents and hidden files with enthusiasm. His work was supplemented by the efforts of Joseph McHattie. Boris Stipernitz also helped with the research, compiled the index and searched the text for typographical errors.
Steve Prince reviewed the material on the Korean Conflict and saved me from at least one embarrassing mistake. Angie Sauer was invariably available to discuss the broader Cold War context in which Canada's foreign policy evolved. Norman Hillmer and Hector Mackenzie assisted with sound and practical counsel. John Hilliker, the general editor of Documents on Canadian External Relations, played a large and constructive role in determining the evolving nature of this series and this volume. The series would not be possible without the continuing support of the director of the Corporate Communications Division, Simon Wade. I remain solely responsible for the final selection of documents in this volume.
The Historical Section continues to provide the supplementary text and coordinate the technical preparation of the volume. The manuscript was typed and formatted by Aline Gélineau. Gabrielle Nishiguchi located most of the photographs in this volume. Bruce Williams and Gayle Fraser also helped in my search for photographs. The department's translation bureau provided the French for the footnotes, captions and ancillary text. Francine Fournier and Nancy Sample, colleagues in the Corporate Communications Division, provided editorial guidance. Gail Kirkpatrick Devlin proofread the entire manuscript and composed the list of persons. In this latter task, she was assisted by Michael Stevenson. Finally and happily, Mary and Katherine Donaghy continued their close association with this documentary project.
1 Lester B. Pearson, « New Year's Message by the Secretary of State for External Affairs,» Statements and Speeches No. 54/61.
2 John Holmes, "Geneva 1954," International Journal, Volume XXII, No. 3 (Summer 1967), p. 463.
3 Canada, Department of External Affairs, Annual Report 1954 (Ottawa, 1955) p. iii.
4 John Foster Dulles, "The Evolution of Foreign Policy," United States Department of State, Bulletin, Volume XXX, No. 761, January 25, 1954, pp. 107-110.
5 L.B. Pearson, "A Look at the 'New Look'," Text of Address by the Secretary of State for External Affairs to the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., March 15, 1954, Statements and Speeches, No. 54/16.
6 O.W. Dier to F.H. Soward, October 15, 1954, DEA File 5420-40, National Archives of Canada.
7 Quoted in John Hilliker and Donald Barry, Canada's Department of External Affairs, II: Coming of Age, 1946-1968 (Montreal and Kingston, 1995), p. 90.