Volume #17 - 767.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
DEFENCE AND SECURITY ISSUES
SECURITY CLEARANCES FOR GREAT LAKES SEAMEN
Minutes of Meeting|
January 10th, 1951|
SECURITY INVESTIGATION OF MERCHANT SEAMEN|
A meeting to discuss ways and means of resolving the problems involved in establishing a procedure for the security investigation of merchant seamen serving in Canadian ships on the Great Lakes (and possibly deep sea vessels as well) was held in the Privy Council Committee Room, East Block, on Tuesday, January 9th, 1951, at 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Paul Pelletier, Privy Council Office (Chairman) Mr. R.G. Robertson, Privy Council Office Mr. M.M. MacLean, Department of Labour Captain J.W. Kerr, Department of Transport Captain F.S. Slocombe, Department of Transport Captain E.S. Brand, Canadian Maritime Commission Mr. G. de T. Glazebrook, Department of External Affairs Mr. D.W. Mundell, Department of Justice Lieut. Commander J.H.G. Bovey, Department of National Defence Lieut. Commander A.C.A. Baker, Department of National Defence Superintendent G.B. McClellan, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector R.A.S. MacNeil, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Mr. E.F. Gaskell, Privy Council Office (Secretary).
1. The Chairman reviewed the discussion which had taken place at the meeting held on December 15th with Captain H.T. Jewell of the United States Coast Guard who had come to Ottawa to explain the procedures employed in carrying out the President's Executive Order (No. 10173) relating to the safeguarding of vessels, harbours, ports and waterfront facilities of the United States.88
He explained that the Chairman, Security Panel,89 prior to his departure for the United Kingdom, had expressed a desire to have this matter progressed without further delay, emphasizing the need to have Canadian plans formulated and ready to be put into operation before the opening of navigation on the Great Lakes next spring.
2. Captain Kerr outlined the procedures which had been in effect in Canada during the late war, and stated that the Canadian Seaman's Identity Certificate, issued by the Department of Transport was now used chiefly to facilitate the landing of Canadian seamen at United States ports. He stated that an efficient organization was maintained by Transport for the purpose of issuing these certificates, and that the register of merchant seamen maintained by the Department would prove invaluable if it became necessary to carry out security investigations on a large scale. He indicated that about 6,700 seamen were normally employed on the Great Lakes each season, and stated that a large percentage of these men had already applied for identity certificates.
3. Mr. Robertson observed that it would be necessary to reach a decision in principle as to whether we should impose mandatory regulations or attempt to resolve the problem by some form of labour-management agreement before going into detailed discussion of the mechanics and this approach was generally concurred in.
4. Captain Brand stated that it was urgently necessary to take all possible steps to ensure the security of our own ships and port facilities by arbitrary measures, if necessary, and he urged that planning to this end should proceed without delay.
5. Mr. MacLean expressed the view that no serious difficulty was likely to be experienced in dealing with the various trade unions involved. The principal contact would be with the Seafarers' International Union, and this organization was likely to prove co-operative in carrying out schemes such as that envisaged in the preliminary talks. He further stated that if there was a possibility that we might have to evolve a system in accordance with the present U.S. policy, we should plan to do so at the earliest possible date. He felt, also, that security investigations might be facilitated by requiring all ships' crews to be recruited through the machinery of the Unemployment Insurance Commission.
6. Superintendent McClellan stated that if the R.C.M. Police were able to proceed with the necessary file checks at an early date, the great majority of cases could be processed before the opening of navigation next spring. It would be necessary, however, to begin the work before February 15th. He also gave it as his opinion that mandatory regulations would be required to provide an efficient organization and a workable solution to the problem. He further stated that the R.C.M. Police would be prepared to provide a draft questionnaire form suitable for use in checking merchant seamen, and also a sample identity card which would meet the special requirements of the intended operation.
7. Captain Kerr stated that the relevant Unemployment Insurance number was used by the Department of Transport, in conjunction with the Canadian Seaman's Identity Certificate, to prevent forgeries and to facilitate checking on the bona fides of the holders.
8. Mr. Glazebrook expressed the view that it would be most desirable to give the United States Government some early indication of our intended plan. This could be done in such a manner as to satisfy any questions likely to come from Washington without committing us to details before the problem had been resolved by the Canadian authorities.
9. It was agreed after discussion:
(1) That security investigation of Canadian merchant seamen (by file check) should be carried out on a compulsory basis, and that suitable regulations should be drafted to cover the intended operation;
(2) that planning should proceed at once to enable the R.C.M. Police to make an early start on file checks;
(3) that a small sub-committee, to include representatives of Transport, Labour, Justice, the Canadian Maritime Commission and the R.C.M. Police, should be set up to discuss procedures and draft appropriate regulations; and
(4) that the U.S. Government should be advised, through diplomatic channels, of our intended plans at the earliest possible date.
10. It was further agreed that the sub-committee should meet on Friday, January 12th, at 10:30 a.m. to consider draft regulations and to discuss the mechanics of carrying out the necessary security investigations.
88 Voir/See United States, Federal Register No. 15, October 18, 1950, pp. 7005ff.