Volume #27 - 228.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENT IN CANADA
Memorandum by Ambassador in United States|
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATIONS WITH THE PRIME MINISTER IN OTTAWA, TUESDAY, AUGUST 30, 1960, AND WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31, 1960|
Tuesday, August 30
This morning I saw the Prime Minister to say good-bye - we are off to Washington again on Friday - and our conversation turned out to be more than a perfunctory exchange.
After enquiring about my health, the P.M. spoke at once about the CL-44 position14 (Guest, of the Prime Minister's office, and Notman, of Canadair, had both telephoned me about this yesterday). Mr. Diefenbaker said that, in view of the position taken by the government at the time of cancellation of the Arrow, it would be "politically impossible" to make any deal which would involve the acquisition of U.S. fighters. He was most emphatic on this and categorical. The Government had attempted an alternative quid for the U.S. quo in the manning by Canadians of further radar in Canada, but Gates had turned this down. Had I "any ideas" as to anything else we might suggest to encourage the U.S. to buy CL-44s? It would be a helpful offset to public criticism of U.S. policies if the U.S. Government would place an order with Canadair. Pace and Notman were eager that he (the P.M.) should phone the President about this but Mr. Diefenbaker was reluctant to do so - it would inevitably "leak out."
I said that my impression had been that the U.S. would not buy CL-44s unless we were prepared to re-equip our home squadrons with modern (U.S.) interceptors. I could think of no "fresh idea" which would induce them to do so though I would, of course, be glad to take the matter up when I returned to Washington if the P.M. wished me to.
Mr. Diefenbaker then went on to speak of what he characterized as "anti-Americanism" in Canada. Since we had last met, the state of Canadian opinion in this respect had deteriorated seriously. In his judgment, anti-American sentiment was now worse than at any time in his lifetime or mine. The P.M. characterized popular criticism of the U.S. as growing into an "avalanche." This was causing him the greatest concern. He would like the President to know about this situation and his own assessment of its gravity for he was anxious that there should be nothing done during the remainder of the Eisenhower Administration to exacerbate relations between Ottawa and Washington. (He expressed deep personal respect and friendship for Eisenhower - distaste for Kennedy and a favourable opinion of Nixon.)
When I questioned him as to the reasons for this growth of anti-U.S. sentiment in Canada, the P.M. said that it arose from:
(1) the widespread impression that the U.S. were "pushing other people around."
(2) distrust of the U.S. military and anxiety over the Pentagon's real intentions;
(3) the economic aggressiveness of U.S. interests; and
(4) the adverse trading position.
Mr. Diefenbaker went on to express his resentment of the lack of any appreciable notice of Canadian affairs in the U.S. press, radio and television. He spoke of the U.S. press representatives in Canada in disparaging terms - they were second-rate and tended to file only critical pieces on Canada and Canadian policies.
Mr. Diefenbaker referred to the severe criticism of the U.S. by the Opposition mentioning particularly Liberal defence policies and the highly critical statements of Mr. Pearson. The forthcoming Liberal meeting at Queen's would be an occasion for further outbursts against the U.S.
The Prime Minister told me that he based his assessment of Canadian sentiment on his own extensive correspondence and the opinions of Members of Parliament. All evidence from these sources pointed to an accumulation of resentment and criticism of the U.S. which would, he repeated, burst as an "avalanche" of unprecedented proportions. He would in all probability, at the next session, have to introduce legislation to compel U.S.-owned corporations to disclose financial statements. He hoped he would not have to initiate other measures aimed at U.S. interests.
I said that what the P.M. had told me alarmed me greatly. I had known that there had been differences and criticism in Parliament and in the press of the U.S. Government and of Americans. I had had no idea, however, that anti-Americanism had reached such proportions. Generally speaking, the economic or commercial relations between the two governments were - continued to be - good. There would, I thought, be no serious difficulty in Washington about restrictive legislation of an economic character such as the P.M. had mentioned. The most serious issues, in my opinion, arose in relation to joint defence where the U.S. were currently worried about our co-operation. For example, they were puzzled by our hesitancy to go along with them in such matters as nuclear storage. (Here the P.M. interrupted, comparing the Liberal policy of no nuclear weapons for Canadian forces and purely Canadian control with the government's concept of "joining control." Here nothing new emerged.) I said that I regarded the Canadian-U.S. alliance as "our most precious international asset," the loss of which in its traditional friendly working would be tragic for Canada. What could I do on my return to the United States to counteract the developments of which Mr. Diefenbaker had been speaking?
The Prime Minister again invited me to express any ideas I might have, asked me to think the problem over, especially in relation to the purchase of Canadian transport aircraft, and to speak to him again tomorrow.
Our talk lasted something over half an hour.
Wednesday, August 31
I had another long talk this afternoon with the Prime Minister - lasting nearly an hour between two and three o'clock while he ate his lunch after a long Cabinet session.
I reported that, after reviewing the CL-44 matter and referring to Washington, I remained of the opinion that the U.S. would only be interested in buying from us if we re-equipped the RCAF with modern U.S. interceptors. Mr. Diefenbaker said "All right, then, they'll go their road, and we will go ours."
The P.M. then, reverting to the main subject of our previous conversation, showed me a letter, which he characterized as "intelligent" and as summarizing well the "anti-American" feeling among Canadians of which he had spoken yesterday. This was from a "young Conservative" and it forecast serious difficulty for the party if it did not take greater account of the widespread anxiety and dissatisfaction felt by Canadians about U.S. nuclear policies and economic aggressiveness in Canada. The letter had been read with care and marginal comments made by Mr. Diefenbaker. It was quite clear that the letter had made a deep impression upon him.
The Prime Minister then went on to read from and show me a loose file of other letters, all of which were severely critical of the United States and U.S. policies and urged that the government take action to halt the process which was allegedly infringing our independence and involving us in the risk of nuclear war. There were a number of references to Canadian "neutralism" as a desirable policy and to getting out of NORAD, even NATO - the main emphasis being on detaching Canada from U.S. involvement. A good many of the correspondents referred to the American commercial and financial take-over of Canadian resources and all, in one way or another, deplored the erosion of Canadian sovereignty. Many were abusive of the U.S.; all were highly critical of U.S. international behaviour. Many were highly emotional. The folder from which these were drawn - which Mr. Diefenbaker said comprised only those received in August - might, I suppose, have contained about 50 letters, perhaps more. They were mostly hand-written.
The Prime Minister - on the other side - showed me an offensive letter from an American criticizing the Canadian government for the premium charged U.S. visitors on their dollar. Mr. Diefenbaker had had a draft reply to this prepared but had not sent it.
The Prime Minister observed many times as he went through this correspondence that I would now see what he meant by telling me yesterday of the extent and depth of the wave of anti-Americanism which was sweeping across the country from one end to the other. In that connection, he mentioned the influence of Minifie's book15 urging neutralism for Canada (that "expatriate," "for whom Canada wasn't good enough"). Mr. Diefenbaker did not share Minifie's views but I could see, he said, that they had made an impression upon many Canadians and were widely shared. Many newspapers had expressed and were continuing to support similar opinions; he mentioned particularly The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star, The Calgary Albertan, The Vancouver Sun.
Mr. Pearson, the Prime Minister continued, had avoided neutralism and had not gone so far as to advocate Canada leaving NATO. But the Leader of the Opposition must accept large responsibility for the resurgence of anti-U.S. sentiment in recent weeks and months. Mr. Diefenbaker returned to this several times and referred especially to recent speeches of LBP in and out of Parliament. If these views had been expressed by other Opposition leaders - Martin, Chevrier - they would not have mattered, but Pearson had great influence.
Another evidence of Canadian sentiment, Mr. Diefenbaker went on, was the close vote in the CCF Convention on Canada leaving NATO. Only the personal intervention of Coldwell and Tommy Douglas had prevented its passage. And read what Argue had said! This was a national convention with representatives from all over Canada.
When I observed that the policies advocated in the correspondence which the Prime Minister had shown me would surely strike at the very base of the U.S.-Canada relationship, to the enduring value and nature of which the P.M. had borne frequent public witness, Mr. Diefenbaker seemed to agree. Nevertheless, he kept coming back to the new and violent sweep of anti-Americanism throughout Canada. He wanted me to appreciate and understand the widespread nature and gravity of this. Further, he wanted the U.S. Administration to be aware of it. When I asked whether he wished me to express his estimate of these developments to those in authority in Washington, he said certainly - they should know how Canadians felt about these things.
I said that I had been very much worried by what he had told me yesterday and now reinforced today about Canadian public attitudes toward the U.S. and toward American policies. I was not too concerned about measures which the Government might feel compelled to take affecting the U.S. and Americans in the economic field such as laws requiring disclosure of financial information by U.S.-owned undertakings in Canada or even steps which the Government might decide upon for safeguarding industrial operations in Canada. If I were given instructions in advance, I would, I thought, have no serious difficulty in explaining such actions in Washington. What was in my mind much more serious was the Canadian position in relation to general political strategy and policy, in particular our attitude on joint defence and on the Western Alliance. My nightmare was that, under the buffetings and criticisms of her allies and what Americans regarded as the failure of support from other nations, the U.S. would revert to a neo-isolationist policy. Here Canadian attitudes and actions were of great importance because of our traditional relations. Recent and prospective technological developments were such (the ICBM) that the concept of "Fortress America" was becoming feasible again; there would be not much longer the same need for overseas bases and for U.S. troops and installations overseas; a policy of isolation for the U.S. would again become feasible. It would be tragic if this came about as a result of the disintegration of the Alliance and doubly so if we - who not long ago had despaired of the U.S. accepting large and continuing international responsibilities - had any part in bringing about such a result. The very people who were criticizing the government now for not standing up to the U.S. would be the first to complain if such a sorry development were to come about.
The Prime Minister again seemed to acquiesce in my argument and referred to his explanations and defence of the United States, notably in his speech to Parliament in New Delhi.16
There were, I went on, one or two other points I wished to make before I left. In my twenty-two years of connection, in one capacity or other, with Canada-U.S. affairs, there had never been in Washington an Administration which, first, knew more about Canada and Canadian affairs and, second, tried more to meet Canadian wishes, than the present one. (I instanced the President himself, Herter, Dillon and Merchant.) Here the Prime Minister agreed emphatically and spoke in high terms of his own relations with Eisenhower and his respect for the others I had mentioned.
In January, I continued, there would be a new Administration in the U.S. capital. Whichever party won, we would be confronted by those "who knew not Joseph." They would, for this reason and by reason of the individuals concerned, be much more difficult for us to deal with. This would not be my problem for I would be leaving Washington soon after the new President was inaugurated. (Here the Prime Minister interjected that it was understood that I should remain for only two years; I said that this was not my point - I would be willing to stay on a month or two after January 20 if that would be more convenient to the Government.) If it were not presumptuous, I would like an opportunity of expressing my views as to the kind of successor who should be appointed in the new circumstances - not the individual, of course, but the qualities that would be required of the Canadian representative in the new circumstances.
Finally, I asked, had the Prime Minister anything to say to me as to what I could do in this last phase of my mission toward the solution of the problem of current relations as he had described it to me? What could I do in Washington to alleviate the situation?
Mr. Diefenbaker had no particular instructions to give me, other than to repeat his judgment of the very grave extent of the recent increase in anti-American sentiment in Canada and to ask me to let the authorities in Washington know how seriously he regarded it.
As I left, the Prime Minister said that he valued these personal talks with me. He had earlier invited me to write him personally and privately when I had had an opportunity to assess the position after my return to Washington. This I undertook to do in a letter which he asked be marked "To be opened only by the Prime Minister" and sent special delivery.
14Voir les documents 295 Ó 300./See documents 295-300.