Cold War concerns continued to dominate Canadian foreign policy during 1959, but the year was notable as a temporary thaw before the heightening of hostilities in 1960-62. The resignation of John Foster Dulles as American Secretary of State in April seemed to mark the beginning of a more relaxed era. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's September visit to the United States and the resulting "spirit of Camp David" were welcomed by members of the Department of External Affairs. Indeed, the main concern of senior officials was that the Americans might not attach enough importance to maintaining détente (Document 345). The reservations about many aspects of American policy which would become ever more pronounced in the next few years first clearly manifested themselves in 1959. In this regard, the appointment of Howard Green as Secretary of State for External Affairs in June (following the sudden death of Sidney Smith in March) marked an important turning-point. Green at first appeared an unusual choice for this post: though an extremely experienced politician who possessed Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's full confidence, he had little direct experience of the wider world. As journalists were quick to point out, he had not travelled outside North America since his service in the First World War. However, Green lost no time in establishing himself as a presence on the international scene. He made an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, and in October he travelled to Europe, meeting with French President Charles de Gaulle and Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville in Paris (Documents 329-331) and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in London.
In his first few months as minister, Green decided that disarmament and the effects of nuclear radiation were two issues Canada should make its own, thus setting the stage for later controversies about the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Responses to Green and his agenda among members of the Department of External Affairs were mixed, but on the whole favourable. The Canadian ambassador in Washington, Arnold Heeney, considered that "Green, the most pleasant of good simple men, is an innocent abroad, and what is more, obstinate and underneath inclined to a sort of pacific-isolationism."1 On the other hand, Charles Ritchie, Canada's representative at the United Nations, observed, "Those who think that they have got a nice tame Canadian in the new Minister are very much mistaken. He is a very shrewd politician. He is also admirable in his pursuit of objectives in which he tenaciously believes, particularly in the field of disarmament."2 Basil Robinson, who acted as liaison between External Affairs and the Prime Minister, conceded that Green was sometimes "naïve" and "stubborn," but the new minister was also "serious and hard working and he knew how to make use of his department." Given the lack of "creative, resourceful" leadership in foreign policy from Diefenbaker, "the department was all the more likely to respond to Green, even if his field of interest appeared to be narrow. At last here was a minister who knew where he wanted to go, and whose relationship with the prime minister was solid enough to permit him to follow the trail he had marked out."3
During the fourteenth session of the General Assembly, the Canadian Delegation launched an important initiative on atomic radiation, calling for more systematic collection and analysis of data, in order to better understand the biological effects. After considerable behind-the-scenes negotiation, resolution 1376 (XIV) was passed. Among other United Nations issues in which Canada played an important role, the Security Council elections proved especially contentious. Before the fourteenth session began, South Africa lobbied Canada to support its candidature for the Commonwealth seat on the Security Council. Recognizing that the Asian and other African Commonwealth members would oppose this, Canada successfully convinced South Africa to withdraw in favour of Ceylon. Canada also supported Poland's election to the Council, even though the United States and Britain strongly preferred Turkey. In Cabinet, Green curtly dismissed American lobbying in favour of Turkey as a "cold war manoeuvre … undesirable under present conditions" (Document 6). After 52 inconclusive ballots, a coalition of nations, including Canada, intervened to negotiate a compromise: Turkey and Poland agreed to split the seat, with Poland resigning in 1960 in favour of Turkey.
Green's stand on the Security Council election showed his determination that Canada not be perceived as an American satellite. This determination was shared by the Prime Minister, and it would lead to serious conflicts, particularly on defence and nuclear issues. A strong hint of future problems came when Cabinet vetoed the staging of Operation Skyhawk, the first major air defence operation scheduled since the inception of NORAD and an exercise which had been exhaustively planned by military officials for many months. After the United States Ambassador, Richard Wigglesworth, informed Diefenbaker that Washington officials were "mad as hell" (Document 204) about the Canadian decision, President Dwight Eisenhower intervened personally in the dispute and asked his Canadian counterpart to authorize the staging of Skyhawk. Cabinet remained resolute, however, and refused to reconsider its position.
Trouble also loomed when the United States formally requested that ongoing negotiations in military channels to allow the storage of nuclear weapons at leased bases in Canada be swiftly concluded with a formal diplomatic agreement. In preparation for the second meeting of the Canada-United States Ministerial Committee on Joint Defence, to be held at camp David in November 1959, Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs Norman Robertson emphasized the importance of concluding these arrangements by noting the "serious repercussions"4 that failure to secure an agreement would have on Canadian-American relations. The key nuclear weapons question for Canada in 1959 - which eventually played a pivotal role in the Conservative government's downfall - was the provision of nuclear weapons to Canadian forces. In May, Washington recommended that the two governments should exchange notes on the conditions governing Canada's acquisition of nuclear weapons, and by early December, officials in Ottawa had drafted a proposal (Document 191). However, to the dismay of National Defence Minister George Pearkes, Green took no action on it.5 Beginning in January 1960, the disagreements between the two ministers on this issue would become ever more marked and bitter.
If the Canada-US defence agenda was crowded with an array of complex and increasingly contentious items, economic relations between the two countries in 1959 showed a remarkable improvement in several fields. Although Canadian officials initially worried that their attempts to alter Washington's tough policy on crude oil imports were a "virtually complete failure" (Document 235), Canadian oil producers eventually received an exemption from American import restrictions. Canadian negotiators succeeded in forging a new agreement on uranium with the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and a significant milestone was reached in the protracted Columbia River negotiations: by the end of 1959, the International Joint Commission had hammered out an agreed statement of principles for determining and apportioning benefits from the cooperative development of power resources along the Columbia. Finally, a draft agreement on the sharing of defence production contracts was also produced by the end of the year. This agreement was of critical importance to the Canadian high technology sector in the wake of the cancellation of the CF-105 interceptor (Avro Arrow) programme in February.
In relations with the Communist bloc, the major focus was naturally on détente. Canadians were highly gratified when the brief, unplanned visit of Soviet Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan to Halifax proved to be an occasion of memorable informality, warmth, and friendliness (Document 351). There was a general readiness to promote cultural exchanges and visits, although in the case of the Soviet Union Canada lagged well behind the US and UK in formal cultural relations. Sidney Smith's decision to permit a visit by the Peking Opera Company marked a significant departure in policy. This was the first such visit to North America by performers from the People's Republic of China, and Norman Robertson noted that it "could be considered as part of a policy of proceeding by gradual steps toward eventual recognition" of the People's Republic (Document 453). In trade relations, too, the outlook was generally optimistic. Negotiations for the renewal of the 1956 trade agreement with the USSR continued throughout the year, and despite controversies about the application of Canadian anti-dumping regulations to Chinese goods, at the end of 1959 there were hints of great things to come in trade between Canada and China (Document 452).
Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization continued to confront the Soviet threat in Europe. However, Canadian officials played only a peripheral role in the formation of NATO policy. Berlin remained the flashpoint of East-West tension, and External Affairs officials hoped initially that Canada might play a prominent role in crafting a new Western solution to the German problem. Consequently, Canadian diplomats in NATO capitals were encouraged to determine the level of support for an initiative on Germany. Although senior officials in Ottawa professed their satisfaction at the outcome of these consultations, they ultimately saw "no advantage in Canada formally advancing or endorsing specific proposals" (Document 83) as the major NATO powers prepared for the Foreign Ministers' Conference. These high-level discussions were conducted while earlier NATO decisions on the storage and use of nuclear weapons by the Alliance in Europe were being implemented. Canadian officials and the Prime Minister, who were worried about the impact of this development on East-West détente, proved unable to stop the Alliance from issuing an alarming press release on NATO's new armaments.
Canada's inability to influence the course of NATO policy on these important matters in part reflected Ottawa's diminished financial and material contribution to the Alliance. Although the Diefenbaker government did make the costly decision to re-equip the Canadian Air Division in Europe, Canada was gradually retreating from its support of a comprehensive mutual aid programme. In August, Cabinet approved a mutual aid budget for 1959-60 of $90 million, a sharp decline from the peak of more than $250 million in the mid-1950s. This projected expenditure, however, also included Canada's contribution to the NATO infrastructure program, and Canadian officials were forced to admit that the provision of military equipment and supplies to NATO countries could not be continued.
As always, Diefenbaker especially valued consultation with the United Kingdom. During the visit of Prime Minister Macmillan to Ottawa in March, a wide range of issues were discussed, including Berlin, German reunification, Macmillan's recent visit to the Soviet Union, and preparations for the 1960 conference on the Law of the Sea. Nevertheless, limitations to the Canada-UK relationship had to be faced: when Macmillan expressed the hope that Canada would buy more British goods, Diefenbaker said he could give "no undertaking that the Canadian Government would feel able to take any fresh steps designed to increase imports from the United Kingdom" (Document 149).
In Western Europe, 1959 was a year of change. The first steps taken by the new European Economic Community brought to the forefront Canadian anxieties about possible disruptions to multilateral trade. External Affairs closely followed developments as "the Six" decided on their common tariffs, with such commodities as aluminum and agricultural products being of special concern. The negotiations leading up to the formation of the European Free Trade Area were of equal interest, since "the Seven" included Great Britain. Canadians were determined to preserve their traditional economic ties with the United Kingdom, but representations on pork products and frozen fish met with little success. Canadian concerns about the impact of these new trade groupings were shared by the United States. At the end of the year, American Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Douglas Dillon sought Canadian support for the transformation and revitalization of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation.
Relations between the West and the developing world were a focus of increasing concern for the Department of External Affairs. The "New" Commonwealth, the Middle East, and Indochina were well established as areas in which Canada took a deep interest, and in 1959 Canadian policy-makers also began to turn their attention to Africa (Documents 144, 454, 455) and Latin America. The Commonwealth was on the eve of dramatic change. Over the next decade, decolonization would result in twenty-five new members, and the implications of this anticipated growth were already being contemplated in Ottawa. Both Diefenbaker and Green remained firm believers in the value of the Commonwealth, and they were keenly interested in its future development. Cyprus' potential membership in the Commonwealth was an issue of particular importance to Diefenbaker. Early in 1959, agreement was reached in London on Cypriot independence; questions remained, however, on whether an independent Cyprus would join the Commonwealth and, if it did, what its status would be within the association. Diefenbaker was especially troubled by suggestions that Cyprus might be invited to join on a basis of differentiated membership, that is with fewer rights than existing members. He cautiously agreed to British discussions with the Cypriots, but warned the UK High Commissioner that "the idea of a special form of membership seems to me to have serious implications for the future of the Commonwealth" (Document 117).
Escott Reid, the Ambassador to West Germany and former High Commissioner in New Delhi, put forward a number of suggestions about the Commonwealth's role in the evolving postcolonial world. He wrote to Green that it could become a "firm bridge between the democracies of the West and the newer democracies of Asia and Africa" (Document 143). To strengthen this bridge, existing links were reinforced. Meeting in Jakarta, the Colombo Plan Consultative Committee agreed to extend the plan for a further five years beyond 1961 (Document 142). Initiatives in education, including the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship plan first contemplated at the 1958 Trade and Economic Conference in Montreal, were solidified at the first Commonwealth Education Conference, held in Oxford. Since the early 1950s, Commonwealth Finance Ministers had met regularly to discuss economic relations. In 1959, these meetings were formalized as the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council; lesser officials concerned with trade and finance met in the spring, followed by a meeting of Finance Ministers in September. These concerted efforts at increased consultation in the areas of education, aid, and trade demonstrate the Diefenbaker government's determination to ensure that the Commonwealth remained a vigorous and developing international association.
In the Middle East, Canada's role during 1959 was more active and important than at any previous time except the Suez crisis. This was due mainly to Arnold Smith, who was appointed as Canadian ambassador to the United Arab Republic in the fall of 1958. Since 1956 neither the United Kingdom nor France had been represented in Cairo, and Canada's scope for action was accordingly much greater than it would otherwise have been. Smith was able to establish excellent personal relations with President Gamal Abdul Nasser and other members of the Egyptian government, thus placing himself in a position to significantly influence events.
World attention had focused once more on Egypt in December 1958, when Nasser accepted Soviet aid for the building of the Aswan High Dam. Fears that the UAR would be drawn into the Soviet orbit naturally ensued, but as Smith pointed out in January 1959 (Document 363), Nasser himself was experiencing a change of heart due to events in Iraq. There the revolution of July 1958 had overthrown the monarchy and the pro-Western regime of Prime Minister Nuri al-Said. It increasingly appeared that the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Abdul Karim Qasim, was unduly reliant on Communist elements in his country. Qasim rejected Nasser's claims to leadership in the Arab world, preferring an independent stance for Iraq. In Smith's view, this situation presented a valuable opportunity for the West to mend its relations with the UAR. Early in 1959, the British and Egyptians finally arrived at a settlement of financial claims arising from the confiscation of British-owned property in 1956. This opened the way for the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Smith was actively involved in facilitating this outcome. He played an even more important role in the resumption of relations between the UAR and Australia, since Canada had acted as the protecting power for Australia after relations were broken off in 1956. Canada's reputation was accordingly so high in the Arab world that on a visit to Iraq, Smith was informed of the government's strong wish for Canadian representation in Baghdad (Document 372). In contrast, Canada's relations with Israel showed little positive development during 1959. In the dispute over Israel's right to use the Suez Canal, Canada's major concern was that the matter should not hinder better relations between the UAR and the West.
In the Far East, Canadian involvement continued to revolve around the International Commissions for Supervision and Control. The Laos Commission had been adjourned sine die in July 1958, but early in 1959 allegations that members of the ex-Pathet Lao faced persecution by the government of Prime Minister Phoui Sananikone were followed by border incidents between Laos and North Vietnam. Reconvening the Commission to deal with this situation was favoured from the outset by Poland and India, but firmly resisted by Canada. External Affairs officials generally concurred with the American belief that the North Vietnamese, Chinese, and Soviets wished to see the Commission re-established because they considered it as a way of curbing American influence and of strengthening their own. In the hope of preserving Laotian neutrality, Canada's diplomats sought other means of resolving the situation, working actively with UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.
External Affairs officials believed that the Vietnam Commission would continue to be needed "until the two countries resume relations or until the Commission is replaced by the United Nations in its role as a go-between".6 The new Canadian commissioner, Price Erichsen-Brown, at times found it difficult to maintain the appearance of neutrality, particularly in the face of such provocations as the North Vietnamese propaganda claim that a thousand political prisoners had been murdered in Saigon at the behest of the United States. From Ottawa, Assistant Under-Secretary of State John Holmes warned him against over-reacting on such matters. Holmes himself was infuriated by an American note soliciting Canadian help in augmenting the personnel of the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG). Holmes described this as "a rather disturbing document because of the blatant pressure tactics it uses." (Document 435). As the Americans admitted to Erichsen-Brown, they had used the Temporary Equipment Recovery Mission (TERM) to bring additional MAAG personnel into South Vietnam. However, the Commission had called for TERM to end its existence in June 1959. Reluctantly, Ottawa agreed that Erichsen-Brown should advocate an extension of TERM.
By far the most dramatic events of 1959 in Latin America were the sudden fall of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista on January 1 and the formation of a revolutionary government dominated by Fidel Castro. Canada was quick to recognize the new regime, but harsh reprisals against Batista's supporters soon led to doubts about its character and potential for stability. When Castro briefly visited Montreal in April, he was enthusiastically greeted by crowds of well-wishers, but his coming was less welcome to the Prime Minister and to External Affairs. From Havana, Canadian Ambassador Hector Allard had warned that "Castro is fast becoming [a] victim of his own verbosity and also a tool of communist elements surrounding him" (Document 460). Nevertheless, Canada's attitude to the new government and its leader was far from being entirely negative. The letter of instruction to Allard's successor, Allan Anderson, noted that Castro had come to power not through "a mere change of guard at the top" but rather through "a deeply popular revolution." Anderson was instructed to "display as much patience and understanding as are compatible with your functions and seek ways to reconcile Canadian political and economic interests with a revolution which cannot be stabilized until the deep grievances that produced it have been redressed" (Document 466). Throughout 1959, the Conservative government's overriding aim was to maintain Canada's traditional good relations with Cuba.
Several personnel changes affecting the conduct of Canadian external relations occurred during 1959. After the death of Sidney Smith on March 17, Diefenbaker served as acting Secretary of State for External Affairs until the appointment of Howard Green on June 4. Other Cabinet incumbents in portfolios dealing with foreign policy remained unchanged during 1959: Donald Fleming, Gordon Churchill, and Ellen Fairclough retained their ministerial positions at Finance, Trade and Commerce, and Citizenship and Immigration respectively. During his first seven months in the External Affairs portfolio, Howard Green benefited greatly from the advice and experience of Norman Robertson, who served as Under-Secretary throughout 1959. This continuity was not matched, however, in other senior departmental posts in Ottawa. R.M. Macdonnell served as Deputy Under-Secretary until he resigned from the Department on 20 July 1959; he was not replaced until July 1960. Two of the four Assistant Under-Secretaries were replaced during 1959. Douglas LePan left the Department in March 1959; A.E. Ritchie replaced him in September. W.D. Matthews, who died in March 1959; was replaced by E.W.T. Gill in April. The other two Assistant Under-Secretaries - John Holmes and Marcel Cadieux - remained in their positions throughout the period covered by this volume.
There were no major changes in representation at Canada's most important diplomatic posts abroad during 1959. Arnold Heeney was appointed Ambassador in Washington in January 1959; he replaced Norman Robertson, who had left Washington in October 1958 to assume his duties as Under-Secretary. George Drew and Chester Ronning remained in their High Commissioners' posts in the United Kingdom and India. Pierre Dupuy retained his ambassadorial post in Paris, as did Escott Reid in Bonn. Jules Léger continued to be Canada's Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council and Representative to the Organization for European Economic Cooperation. In New York, Charles Ritchie continued to serve as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations. David Johnson was Canada's Ambassador in Moscow throughout 1959.
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, Trade and Commerce, and Citizenship and Immigration, and from the private papers of Cabinet ministers and senior government officials. In preparing the volume, the editors were 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 xxxiii.
The selection of documents in Volume 26 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). The series continues to attempt 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. However, for reasons of space and economy, additional efforts have been made in this volume to reduce the number of documents. Fewer Cabinet Conclusions have been printed than in earlier volumes, since these records are now available on the website of Library and Archives Canada. Some passages and names have been omitted in accordance with the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. These deletions are indicated in the documents.
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 ellipsis (…). 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 editors have 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.
The research for this volume was carried out by Ted Kelly, John Clearwater and Janice Cavell, with some assistance in the final stages from Jeff Noakes. As always, staff at Library and Archives Canada gave invaluable help and advice. The editors would especially like to thank Julie Attallah, Paulette Dozois, Loretta Barber, and Dave Smith. Ciuineas Boyle and Herb Barrett facilitated access to Privy Council Office records. Rob Paul and Jason Caldwell at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre in Saskatoon did everything they could to make Ted Kelly's research visit a pleasant and profitable one. Aline Gélineau typed and formatted the manuscript. Gail Kirkpatrick Devlin proofread it and produced the list of persons. The Translation Bureau at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada provided the French versions of footnotes and other ancillary texts. Ted Kelly supervised the production of the volume, and as this is his last year with the Historical Section before retirement, the editors would like to pay tribute to his fine work on the series over the years.
Greg Donaghy, the general editor of the series, read the manuscript in its entirety, and offered many constructive suggestions. Mary Halloran and Hector Mackenzie both provided support and advice. The series would not be possible without the support of René Cremonese, the director of the Outreach Program and E-Communications Divison. The editors remain solely responsible for the final selection of documents.
Finally, we would like to thank our families for their patience and support: Alex, Cecily and Ben Cavell; Bina Mehta and Nikesh and Prem Mehta-Spooner; and Robbie Stevenson.
Chapters I and III
Chapters II and IV
1Arnold Heeney, The Things That Are Caesar's: Memoirs of a Canadian Public Servant, ed. Brian D. Heeney (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972), p. 162. Emphasis in original.
2Charles Ritchie, Diplomatic Passport: More Undiplomatic Diaries, 1946-1962 (Toronto: Macmillan, 1981), pp. 162-63.
3H. Basil Robinson, Diefenbaker's World: A Populist in Foreign Affairs (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989), p. 103.
4Unprinted Memorandum for the Minister, October 23, 1959, DEA 50309-A-40.
5Robinson, Diefenbaker's World, 114.
6Unprinted Memo to DL2 from Far Eastern Division, June 10 1959, DEA 50052-40.