On January 27 Cabinet approved an interim technical assistance programme for the West
Indies under which immediate requests by the federal authorities in the West Indies for Canadian
experts and for training programmes in Canada were to be met. Consideration was to be given to
more long-term measures of Canadian assistance to the federation. With the authority of the
Ministers concerned, officials had held informal discussions with representatives of the West
Indies to review their needs and resources and to explore ways in which Canada could be of
From these discussions two conclusions emerged: first, that any Canadian aid should be
directed to helping the federation as such; and second, that the top priority need of the federation
at this stage was for an inter-island shipping service. The West Indian authorities have stated
emphatically that this is their greatest need; and undoubtedly, as a form of aid, it would have the
widest popular appeal. In this connection a copy of a senior Canadian official's report, with
which Iam in full agreement, is attached as an annex. This report emphasizes the high
importance attached by the West Indies to an immediate Canadian announcement before their
election on March 24.
It is proposed that we should decide now to give the West Indies a ship for the inter-island
service and that an announcement to this effect should be made well before the election in the
West Indies which is to take place on March 24. This announcement would leave open the
possibility of giving a second similar ship. Canadian shipping experts agree with the West Indian
view that the inter-island service requires two vessels. If built in Canada, these would cost about
$2½ million each. Because of the time required for the preparation of plans and specifications
construction could start approximately eight to ten months after a decision is made to proceed. It
should be noted that if a formal decision to provide the second vessel is deferred, no time will be
lost in the planning of this vessel because it would be similar to the first vessel.
Officials have been guided in their discussions by the views of Ministers concerned, to the
effect that expenditures for aid to the West Indies of approximately $10million over five years
would be appropriate. If it were agreed that two ships might be provided as the major item of
capital aid, half this sum would remain to be spent over the next five years. This would be used
to continue and to expand the technical assistance programme which has already been started and
to support it with equipment and contributions to building costs, etc., where appropriate.
- I recommend,105 with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Trade and
Commerce, that the Canadian Government announce immediately
that, in response to a request from the West Indies and as the first major project in the
Canadian programme of aid to the new federation, the Government has decided to give a ship to
be used in the inter-island shipping service; and
that discussions regarding further capital and technical assistance under the Canada-West
Indies aid programme are expected to take place with representatives of the West Indies who are
being invited to be present at the Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference in Montreal
in September, 1958.
105 Approuvé par le Cabinet le 4 mars 1958. Pour le
texte de la lettre envoyée le 10mars 1958 par le premier ministre Diefenbaker à lord Hailes, gouverneur général des Antilles, annonçant les plans d'aide canadiens, voir Canada, ministère des Affaires extérieures, Affaires Extérieures, vol.10, N3, mars 1958, p.71.
Approved by Cabinet on March 4, 1958. For the text of the letter sent on March 10, 1958, from Prime
Minister Diefenbaker to Lord Hailes, the Governor-General of the West Indies,
announcing the Canadian aid plans, see Canada, Department of External Affairs, External Affairs, Vol.10, No.3, March 1958, p.71.