Volume #20 - 496.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
DEFENCE AND SECURITY ISSUES
UNITED STATES COMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES
Summary of Informal Meeting|
June 8th, 1954|
CANADA-U.S. COMMUNICATIONS PROBLEMS|
The following were present:
Department of External Affairs
Department of Transport
Mr. Browne referred to the fact that the Departments of Transport, National Defence and External Affairs have been aware for several weeks of the desire of the United States Air Force to use temporarily a small parcel of land at St. John's-Cape Spear, Newfoundland, for the purpose of conducting communications tests, using the ionospheric scatter technique to broadcast to the Azores. He said he had agreed, in consultation with National Defence, that the meeting should be held because of the importance of a number of problems connected with the project. In particular, he was concerned lest the tests should be followed by the establishment of an operational military requirement and the expenditure of large sums of money on installations in which U.S. commercial interests (specifically AT & T) would have a major stake. If this were to happen, pressure could easily develop for the operation of the circuit for commercial purposes. The circuit, might feel it was morally obligated to permit its use commercially. Certainly Canadian commercial interests would suffer as they would not be able to duplicate installations already in operation.
G/C Cameron said that National Defence considers projects of this kind purely from the defence aspect, ignoring diplomatic, economic and other considerations. He thought it was important that some group or agency should be considering the broad picture.
He mentioned that Canadian National Telegraphs is now negotiating through the Canadian Government for the purchase from the U.S. Government of land lines and plant in Newfoundland. If microwave transmission were to become operational, CNT might lose the U.S. traffic on which it is counting. He said he understood that the Bell Telephone Company (New York) is proceeding with plans for microwave installations in Newfoundland and for the training of technicians to operate them.
Mr. Browne said there was evidence that the U.S. was disregarding certain stipulations concerning radio installations in Canada. For example, a 50 kw. transmitter had been installed at Goose Bay, where only 10 kw. were authorized.
Mr. Wershof emphasized:
(a) In authorizing new projects (experimental or otherwise), External can consider including any stipulations which DOT wants.
(b) External can always enquire about the progress of projects already authorized.
(c) If DOT wishes, External can always tell the U.S. Embassy we suspect that an experimental project is becoming operational without authority.
(d) If an operational requirement for defence purposes were established, External would recommend the necessary authorization, after consultation with interested departments. However, it could be made clear that such authorization in no way implied authorization of use for commercial purposes, either now or at any time in the future.
G/C Cameron said that there is no long-range frequency policy, looking forward to 1960 or 1965, with regard to U.S. operations in Canada in the radio field, and that such a policy is needed.
Mr. Brant said that his department was responsible for developing such a policy and that the question was constantly under review.
He then said that, with the repeal of the Emergency Powers Act, DOT is now required to list all U.S. radio installations in Canada. The U.S. Embassy should be asked for such a list and should be told that only installations which are on the list can be authorized to operate.
Mr. Stoner enquired whether now might be a good time to get agreement with the U.S. on the general principles which should govern the operation of U.S. radio facilities in Canada.
Views were exchanged as to whether or not the U.S. Government had a "master" plan for commercial communications development on a global scale.
Mr. Stoner suggested that one way in which we could check on the degree of long-range commercial interest in a project would be to insist on seeing the terms of the contracts which were awarded.
It was agreed that:
(1) Present U.S. operations in Canada, and future requests, in the communications field will receive closer scrutiny from now on.
(2) In particular, the proposed experimental project at St. John's-Cape Spear should be carefully examined.
(3) DOT should request External in writing to obtain from the U.S. Embassy the information which is required from the U.S. authorities in the radio field, as a result of the repeal of the Emergency Powers Act.
(4) Consideration should be given to the desirability of obtaining agreement within the Canadian Government on the general principles which should govern the operation of U.S. radio facilities in Canada.
(5) Consideration should be given to the desirability of working out a long-range government policy with regard to U.S. operations in Canada in the radio field, having regard to Canadian commercial interests.
It was further agreed that an informal working group should meet as required to consider questions related to U.S. operations in Canada in the radio field, and that the group should meet to consider the formal U.S. Note asking permission for the St. John's-Cape Spear project, when this was received.
It was suggested that action on (4) and (5) above might wait until the information required under (3) is obtained from the U.S. Embassy.
Mr. Wershof suggested that perhaps (5) should later be referred to the Panel on the Economic Aspects of Defence Questions.