On January 10 the Italian Representative called to see me and stated that on the signing of the Peace Treaty with Italy in February the Italian Government would like to establish formal diplomatic relations with this country. They hoped that we would, in due course, be able to take similar action. I told Count di Cossato that we could appreciate their desire in this matter, and that if an Italian Legation were established here we would no doubt wish to be represented diplomatically in Rome.
Count di Cossato said that his Government also wished to open certain consular offices in Canada as soon as possible, even before the signing of the Peace Treaty. They would desire to open only Vice Consulates in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, cities with comparatively large Italian populations, and five or six consular agencies in other Canadian cities where there are Italian communities.
In 1939 Italy had consular offices or agencies in eleven Canadian cities: Fort William, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Saint John, Sudbury, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg; only the Consul-General and Vice-Consul in Ottawa, the Consul in Montreal, and the Vice-Consul in Toronto were career officers.
At present Italy has only the Office of the Representative in Ottawa. The Representative holds the personal rank of Consul-General; his First and Second Assistant Representatives have the personal rank of Vice-Consul.
I think that once our relations with Italy are legally established on a peaceful basis we should agree to reciprocal diplomatic representation, but I see no reason for opening consular offices before the signing of the Peace Treaty, or indeed for any particular haste in the matter. We shall presumably be in no hurry to establish consulates in Italy. There has been no immigration from Italy since the war, and our Italian communities now consist of people who have already passed through the more difficult stages of adjustment to a new environment. It will probably be some time yet before Italian shipping is very considerable.
Aside from the time factor, however, there are arguments both for and against the opening of a large number of consular offices. Much depends, of course, on the character of the Government represented and of the representative selected. Good consuls from democratic countries can do a great deal to raise the morale of the immigrant, to ease the strain of adjustment to new conditions, and to keep him reminded of the best traditions of his native land out of which he has something of real value to contribute to the country of his adoption. Another type of consul from another type of Government can retard the process of assimilation by promoting a divided loyalty, by injecting into the Canadian scene controversial issues from the old country which serve only to unsettle the immigrant, and even by exerting pressure for the financial support of causes that should no longer concern him. Evidence of such activities was not lacking before the war and there are some indications of resumption at the present time.
7. Many countries have extensive consular services in Canada. As relations with Italy revert to normal, we shall probably not wish to distinguish between the Italians and other countries in this regard. But in their case their record provides some excuse for making haste slowly. I suggest, therefore, that we might begin by allowing them to open consular offices in the seaports which handle the bulk of Italian shipping. Further expansion of Italian consular representation here can be made from time to time. It is likely to involve requests for the appointment of non-career officers — Italian-Canadian businessmen eager for the prestige and influence attached to such office in their communities — and these can be considered on their merits as they are received.16
16Note marginale: Marginal note:
I agree St. L[aurent]