Volume 24 in the Documents on Canadian External Relations series is the first of two covering the period from 10 June 1957 to 31 December 1958 following the election of John G. Diefenbaker's minority Progressive Conservative government. This volume contains documents detailing Canada's involvement in the affairs of the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Commonwealth. It also contains chapters on Western Europe and atomic energy. The succeeding volume will document Canada's relations with the United States, the Middle East, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the Far East, and Latin America.
The Conservative election victory in 1957 guaranteed that Commonwealth affairs would be granted a higher priority than they had enjoyed under previous Liberal governments. As the extensive documentation in Chapter Three reveals, however, this shift in emphasis did not always lead in productive directions. Prime Minister Diefenbaker travelled to the London meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers determined to gather support for a Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference–the first since 1932. Although the response to this proposal was lukewarm, Diefenbaker returned to Canada with the promise that a request for a meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers in Canada in September would be considered favourably. Arriving at Uplands Airport on 6 July 1957, Diefenbaker announced his intention to divert fifteen percent of Canada's import purchases from the United States to Britain, a proposal that dominated the ensuing efforts to convene the Finance Ministers' meeting.
Senior bureaucrats quickly advised Diefenbaker that a marked shift in preference for British goods would have "severe repercussions on exports and on Canada's general prosperity" [Document 345]. British officials, however, took up Diefenbaker's offer and raised the ante by proposing a free trade agreement between Canada and Britain, a politically motivated scheme that, if implemented, would have been disadvantageous to Canada [Document 351]. The British Minister of Agriculture, Derick Heathcote Amory, met with Diefenbaker and Finance Minister Donald Fleming on 9 September in Ottawa to press for a quick Canadian decision on a free trade plan, a tactic Wynne Plumptre, the assistant deputy minister of finance, described as "absolutely outrageous" [Document 354]. Detailed bilateral discussions among Cabinet ministers and senior officials [Documents 353 and 360] did transpire prior to and following the meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers held at Mont Tremblant, Quebec, from 28-30 September 1957, but no substantive agreement could be reached concerning measures to significantly boost the level of Anglo-Canadian trade.
Despite this bruising initiation into the arena of Commonwealth politics, the Diefenbaker Government received the necessary approval at Mont Tremblant to host a Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference in Montreal in September 1958. Senior officials realized from the outset that the Commonwealth itself "involved a clash between form and substance" [Document 364], but they undertook extensive preparations attempting to ensure the conference's success. On the eve of the conference, however, Cabinet members admitted that its prospects were "somewhat depressing" [Document 370], an assessment that proved to be largely correct in terms of substantive economic benefits for Canada. Nonetheless, important measures were adopted during the conference, including an agreement in principle to construct a Commonwealth cable system, and, of greatest significance, a decision to fund a comprehensive system of scholarships for Commonwealth students [Documents 374-386].
Although the Trade and Economic Conference proved to be a disappointment in terms of securing a dramatic economic breakthrough benefiting Canada, the Commonwealth link nonetheless proved to be of considerable importance in other policy areas. Diefenbaker's Conservatives remained committed to maintaining Canada's exemplary record of contributing generously to the Colombo Plan. Although Canada continued to fund capital programs to assist recipient countries, the Conservatives also chose to use Colombo Plan channels to aggressively dispose of portions of Canada's considerable wheat surplus [Documents 414-428]. The sentimental link many Canadians enjoyed with the Commonwealth was emphasized and reinforced by Prime Minister Diefenbaker's extensive world tour beginning 29 October 1958. Diefenbaker first toured European capitals and conducted important conversations with British, French, and German leaders. He then proceeded to tour Commonwealth countries in the Far East, returning to Canada in mid-December fully convinced that the tour had been an outstanding publicity success.
Despite the increased attention paid to Commonwealth issues, Canadian officials, as the documentation in Chapter One indicates, continued to place a high priority on United Nations matters. Indeed, Canada's most important multilateral initiative in the first eighteen months of Diefenbaker's mandate centred on efforts to broker an agreement codifying the international law of the sea, particularly in the delineation of the breadth of the territorial sea. The St. Laurent government had originally supported a twelve-mile territorial sea, but had ultimately adopted a policy, under strong pressure from the United States and Great Britain, calling for a territorial sea of three miles with an additional nine-mile zone contiguous to the territorial sea in which a coastal state would have exclusive control of the fisheries. In preparation for the first United Nations conference on the law of the sea, to be held in Geneva beginning 24 February 1958, the new Conservative government chose to accept the three plus nine formula as the formal Canadian position on the territorial sea [Documents 37, 40, and 43]. Based on pre-conference consultations that had occurred in New York between Canadian officials and their British and American counterparts [Documents 39 and 42], the Canadian delegation in Geneva assumed that some measure of cooperation from their primary allies would be forthcoming.
This hope, however, proved illusory. After the Canadian position on the territorial sea was unveiled at the conference on 17 March 1958, both the United Kingdom and the United States abandoned their rigid pre-conference positions embracing a three-mile territorial sea with no contiguous fishing zone. On 2 April, the British delegation tabled a resolution calling for a territorial sea of six miles with no contiguous fishing zone. Shortly thereafter, the American delegation introduced a proposal calling for a territorial sea of six miles with a six-mile contiguous zone in which a coastal state would exercise exclusive control over fisheries after a phasing out period of at least five years had elapsed for countries exercising traditional fishing rights. In light of the fact that the Canadian position had "steadily deteriorated," the chairman of the Canadian delegation, George Drew, concluded that the Canadian proposal stood "no hope whatever" of being accepted [Document 61]. Eventually, Drew sought and received approval from Ottawa to table another proposal that called for a six-mile territorial sea and a six-mile contiguous exclusive fisheries zone, a proposal that mimicked the American plan without recognizing traditional fishing rights.
On 19 April 1958, the conference committee studying the territorial sea voted on the numerous proposals before it. After fourteen separate votes, only the second paragraph of the Canadian proposal calling for an exclusive fishing zone adjacent to the territorial sea extending out to a maximum distance of 12 miles from the coast secured a majority vote. Undaunted by the defeat of their resolution in Committee, the American delegation secured the reintroduction of their proposal into the plenary session of the conference. On 25 April 1958, both the American proposal and the portion of the Canadian proposal carried from the committee stage of the conference secured majority support. Both plans, however, failed to secure the necessary two-thirds support to be adopted as international law. In his post-mortem on the conference, Drew claimed that many delegations had been threatened by the Americans and the British with the withdrawal of economic aid if the Canadian position received two-thirds support in the plenary session. Drew reported, however, that the failure of the American resolution to be enshrined in law was a "real victory" in defence of Canadian fishing interests in the face of blatant "dollar imperialism" [Document 78]. He also concluded that the conference had been a "very outstanding achievement," with one of its most important outcomes being the "unqualified acceptance" of the need for a contiguous fishing zone. The conference had supported meeting again, and the thirteenth session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) succeeded in scheduling a second conference to be held in Geneva in the spring of 1960 [Documents 81-86].
In addition to the law of the sea, two issues that had previously dominated the agenda of the United Nations are featured prominently in this volume. The perennial attempt to establish the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development (SUNFED) finally yielded results [Documents 88 to 116]. In July 1957, at the twenty-fourth session of the Economic and Social Council, developing countries gained the support of the Netherlands and France in passing a resolution calling for the establishment of SUNFED. The United States realized that it could no longer postpone the inevitable, and it formulated a modified version of SUNFED that was closely linked with existing UN technical assistance machinery. At the twelfth session of the UNGA, the Canadian delegation exercised an "important moderating influence" [Document 105] in efforts to draft the resolution endorsed in plenary session on 14 December 1957 that established a Special Fund in principle. After a Preparatory Committee met in the spring of 1958 to set the official parameters of the Special Fund, it was formally established in October 1958.
While the creation of the Special Fund ended a decade of procedural wrangling between developed and developing nations, the question of disarmament remained unresolved [Documents 117-143]. The Sub-committee of the United Nations Disarmament Commission, meeting in London in the summer of 1957, failed to make any progress, despite the presentation of a comprehensive Western disarmament package [Document 117]. Charles Ritchie's account of the Sub-committee's deliberations [Document 123] cogently outlined the reasons for the unbridgeable chasm between East and West over the disarmament issue. At the twelfth session of the UNGA, efforts to secure propaganda victories followed their usual course, and the Soviet Union subsequently announced its intention to withdraw from participating further in UN-sponsored disarmament consultations [Document 134]. A poorly managed Western response to a Soviet complaint to the Security Council in April 1958 concerning Strategic Air Command flights toward the Soviet Union prompted Ritchie to note that the Council was "impotent in the face of real risks to peace and security" [Document 138]. At the thirteenth session of the UNGA, this impotence was manifestly evident, as no constructive measures were put forward to kick-start disarmament negotiations under the aegis of the UN. By this time, two independent conferences in Geneva dealing with surprise attack and nuclear test suspension were underway, and the UN was reduced to simply passing resolutions supporting these conferences.
Chapter Two of this volume examines Canada's participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Two topics were of immediate interest to Canadian officials. First, NATO was involved in formulating a major policy document–known as MC-70–that set the minimum force requirements for each member country between 1958 and 1963 [Documents 181-204]. Canada played a decisive role in convincing the NATO Council to incorporate the implementation of MC-70 into the 1958 Annual Review process [Document 193]. Ottawa, however, refused to commit the financial resources necessary to fulfil its MC-70 obligations, including the acquisition of a second aircraft carrier and the re-equipping of its air division in Europe with strike aircraft. Canada's need for fiscal retrenchment was also evident in its appropriations for mutual aid to NATO countries [Documents 237 to 242], which dropped to ninety million dollars for fiscal year 1959-1960, a substantial reduction from the figure of 290 million dollars in 1953-1954.
The second substantive policy decision capturing the attention of Canadian officials regarding NATO was the contentious issue of nuclear weapons stockpiles in Europe [Documents 205 to 236]. Volume 25 of this series will provide extensive documentation on the formation of policy concerning the role of nuclear weapons in North American continental defence. Ottawa nonetheless maintained an active interest in the American proposal to provide nuclear weapons to its NATO allies, especially in the light of the fact that Canada's army brigade in Europe might be called upon to arm itself with tactical nuclear missiles. After the NATO Heads of Government meeting in Paris in December 1957 endorsed the American stockpile proposal, Canadian officials maintained a careful watch on the progress of negotiations between Washington and European capitals concerning the incorporation of nuclear weapons into the arsenals of Western Europe. The possibility of the Federal Republic of Germany acquiring nuclear weapons was of particular concern, and a frank exchange of views between Secretary of State for External Affairs Sidney Smith and his American counterpart, John Foster Dulles, occurred in the spring of 1958 [Documents 221 and 226]. Department of External Affairs officials remained unclear about the command and control of nuclear weapons stockpiles throughout this period. A colourful exchange of letters between General Charles Foulkes, the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, and Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs Jules Léger in the summer of 1957 [Documents 206 and 207] revealed the "considerable difference of opinion" [Document 206] between civilian and military officials concerning the control of nuclear weapons. Foulkes believed that NATO military leaders had full authority to use nuclear weapons without seeking the assent of political leaders, while Léger categorically denied the supremacy of the military over their civilian counterparts. This debate took on added importance once agreements between Washington and NATO countries concerning the stockpiling of nuclear weapons became final. At the end of 1958, senior Canadian bureaucrats still remained uncertain about who was ultimately responsible for deploying nuclear weapons in the event of war [Documents 228-236].
NATO was also preoccupied with a number of other important issues. Of great international concern was the renewed Soviet threat to alter the political status of Berlin and instigate a second Berlin crisis. Canadian officials were displeased with the decision of the United States, Britain, France, and Germany to hold separate talks to formulate a response to the Soviet initiative concerning Berlin [Document 313]. The subsequent NATO effort to draft diplomatic notes to be sent to Moscow was described by the Canadian permanent representative to the North Atlantic Council as "uninspiring and depressing" [Document 320]. Events in France further absorbed the attention of NATO members. Charles de Gaulle's return to power in June 1958 guaranteed that he would attempt to force his views on the proper place and position of France within the alliance. In September 1957, de Gaulle contacted British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and American President Dwight Eisenhower seeking to establish a triumvirate within NATO, an initiative Prime Minister Diefenbaker dismissed as one that betrayed de Gaulle's "totally unrealistic assessment of France's power and influence in NATO affairs" [Document 289]. Nevertheless, Canadian officials realized that the French proposal would relegate NATO members such as Canada to second-class status within the alliance, and they carefully watched diplomatic discussions among French, American, and British officials that occurred during the final months of 1958.
The actions of French officials figured prominently in two important topics documented in Chapter Four of this volume, which deals with Canada's policy toward Western Europe. Ottawa maintained a keen interest in the domestic political situation in France before and after de Gaulle assumed power, and Canadian bureaucrats were directly affected by French policies and attitudes concerning Algeria. External Affairs officials incurred the wrath of Paris when they considered receiving a mission from various African nations to discuss the Algerian question. After the mission was abruptly cancelled in the face of French pressure, a departmental memorandum identified "lingering colonialism" [Document 505] as marking the French relationship with Canada. Perhaps more sensitive to potential criticism in the aftermath of this incident, Canada actively lobbied Commonwealth members to withhold recognition from the provisional government of Algeria formed by the Front de libération nationale (FLN), an initiative that was greatly appreciated by Paris [Document 516]. France also dominated the complex negotiations spearheaded by the United Kingdom to form a European Free Trade Area, a trade bloc that could have had a significant negative impact on Canadian trade with Europe. Throughout 1958, an inter-governmental committee headed by Reginald Maudling attempted to win the six members of the European Economic Community over to the idea of a wider continental free trade association. France, however, remained intransigent, and came precariously close to "wrecking the Common Market itself" [Document 491].
The final chapter in this volume provides a comprehensive examination of Canada's atomic energy policy. The application of controls and safeguards to uranium exports was one of the key policy issues facing Canadian officials from a number of government departments. Bilateral agreements with West Germany and Switzerland were negotiated with considerable ease, and Canada worked closely with the United States and the United Kingdom to adopt a comprehensive policy of international controls. These controls were manifestly necessary in the light of the actions of uranium producing countries such as South Africa, which displayed a willingness to export uranium without the application of control provisions. Canada's commitment to the international supervision of atomic energy was also evident in its approach to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Although Max Wershof, the Canadian representative to the IAEA, expressed a pessimistic view of the administrative capabilities of the Agency [Document 572], Canada nonetheless remained firmly dedicated to supporting the IAEA through direct financial contributions and the donation of uranium metal to the Agency for resale to Japan [Documents 583 and 585].
For the first three months of the Conservative mandate, John Diefenbaker held the portfolio of External Affairs in addition to his duties as prime minister. Throughout his term in office, Diefenbaker maintained a keen interest in international affairs and insisted on personally handling critical foreign policy issues, often excluding External Affairs officials in the process. Diefenbaker viewed the department's "Pearsonalities" with a certain degree of suspicion owing to their perceived allegiance to their former political master. As a result, Robert Bryce, the Clerk of the Privy Council, arranged in August 1957 to have H. Basil Robinson appointed as a full-time liaison between the Prime Minister's Office and the department, a responsibility that Robinson handled with distinction. In September 1957, Diefenbaker handpicked Sidney Smith, President of the University of Toronto, to fill the position of secretary of state for external affairs. An able academic administrator, Smith failed to carve out an independent niche for himself prior to his sudden death in March of 1959. The documentation in this volume provides ample evidence that Smith often adopted a passive stance toward his portfolio, content to let his departmental officials shape his views on many key issues. Smith was also overshadowed by other ministers with more clout at the Cabinet table such as Donald Fleming and Gordon Churchill, who played an active and prominent role in determining Canada's position on key international issues.
Both Diefenbaker and Smith were able to draw on the advice of a veteran group of senior External Affairs officials during the first eighteen months of the Conservative administration. Jules Léger served as Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs before Norman Robertson replaced him in October 1958. R.M. Macdonnell assisted Léger and Robertson as Deputy Under-Secretary from September 1958 (this position had been vacant from May 1957). The Department depended on the services of four Assistant Under-Secretaries during the period covered by this volume: John Holmes, Douglas LePan, W.D. Matthews, and Marcel Cadieux. Cadieux also served as the Department's Legal Adviser.
No major changes in representation occurred at Canada's major posts abroad until the autumn of 1958. Norman Robertson served as Ambassador in Washington until 10 October 1958 before he returned to Ottawa to assume his duties as under-secretary. A.D.P. Heeney replaced Robertson in Washington. In June 1957, Diefenbaker appointed George Drew as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Jean Désy served as Ambassador to France until July 1958 before being replaced by Pierre Dupuy. Prior to his retirement in July 1958, Dana Wilgress served as Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council and Representative to the Organization for European Economic Cooperation. Jules Léger replaced him in these positions in September 1958.
Documents in this volume were selected primarily from the records of the Department of External Affairs and the Privy Council Office. Additional documents were chosen from the files of the Departments of Finance and Trade and Commerce, and from the private papers of Cabinet ministers and senior government officials. In preparing this volume, I was given unrestricted access to the files of the Department of External Affairs and generous access to other collections. A complete list of the archival sources consulted to prepare this volume is found on page ???.
The selection of documents in Volume 24 is guided by the general principles outlined in the Introduction to Volume 7 (pp. ix-xi), as amended in the Introduction to Volume 20 (p. xxiii). In short, the series attempts to provide a "self-contained record of the major foreign policy decisions taken by the Government of Canada," by concentrating on Canada's most important bilateral and multilateral relationships and on the major international issues that directly involved Cabinet members and senior bureaucrats in substantive policy decisions.
The editorial apparatus employed in this volume remains identical to that described in the Introduction to Volume 9 (p. xix). A dagger (†) indicates a Canadian document that is not printed. Editorial excisions are shown by an ellipse (...). The phrase "group corrupt" indicates decryption problems in the transmission of the original telegram. Words and passages that were struck out by the author, marginal notes, and distribution lists are reproduced as footnotes only when important. Unless otherwise indicated, it is assumed that documents have been read by the intended recipient. Proper and place names are standardized. The editor has silently corrected spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, as well as transcription errors whose meaning is clear from their context. All other editorial additions to the documents are indicated by the use of square brackets. Documents are reprinted in either English or French, depending on their original language.
Many individuals collaborated in the preparation of this volume. The Historical Section continues to rely on the staff of the National Archives of Canada for help in locating relevant records. Paulette Dozois and Maureen Hoogenraad responded quickly to requests for help, and Loretta Barber allowed me to see certain files from the Donald Fleming papers. At the Privy Council Office, Ciuineas Boyle, the director of the Access to Information and Privacy Division, and Herb Barrett facilitated access to classified Cabinet records for the period and declassified several documents that are printed in this volume. At the Diefenbaker Canada Centre, Bruce Shepard, the Director, Johnson Kong, and Rob Paul provided invaluable assistance during my stay in Saskatoon and responded quickly to many subsequent requests for information. Basil Robinson steered me toward important documentation contained in his personal papers. Finally, Father Jacques Monet, s.j., graciously granted permission for me to view the papers of Jules Léger.
Ted Kelly helped research portions of this volume and supervised the production process with great efficiency. Boris Stipernitz, Liz Turcotte, and Michael Carroll provided invaluable assistance in researching extensive sections of this volume. Christopher Cook conducted archival research and proofread the manuscript. Hector Mackenzie and Mary Halloran provided advice and moral support during the editing process. Greg Donaghy patiently instructed me in the finer points of documentary editing, and his unflagging support of my academic efforts is greatly appreciated. John Hilliker, the general editor of this series, carefully scrutinized the manuscript in its entirety and offered constructive and detailed suggestions for improvement. The series would not be possible without the support of the former director of the Communications Programs and Outreach Division, Gaston Barban, and his successor, Roger Bélanger, director of the Outreach Programs and E-Communications Division. I remain solely responsible for the final selection of documents in this volume.
The Historical Section provided the supplementary text and coordinated the technical preparation of this volume. Aline Gélineau typed and formatted the manuscript. Gail Kirkpatrick Devlin proofread the manuscript and composed the List of Persons. The Translation Bureau supplied the French for most of the captions and ancillary texts. These were carefully edited by Francine Fournier of the Communications Services Division.
Finally, my wife, Robbie, patiently endured another extended period of separation while I completed this volume. I thank her for her continued support.