Volume #14 - 798.|
RÉFUGIÉS DE L'EUROPE DE L'EST
Note du chef de la Direction européenne|
pour le sous-secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 16 janvier 1948|
GRANTING OF "SAFETY VISAS" BY CANADIAN LEGATION IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA|
I attach a copy of a letter of December 10 from the Canadian Chargé d'Affaires in Prague. † Mr. Macdonnell has suggested that the least Canada can do to bolster democratic forces behind the Iron Curtain is to grant Canadian visas to democratic leaders when their continued stay in their own country would be at great personal or family risk. Mr. Macdonnell would help sustain their courage by the promise of a visa "as a last resort if things get too tough."
2. Mr. Macdonnell makes it clear that no emergency situation exists at present in Czechoslovakia but he asks for departmental guidance in case he should have to meet such a situation on short notice.
3. He suggests that he be empowered to grant non-immigrant visas, valid for a year and which might be later extended. I think we shall have to point out to Mr. Macdonnell that he already has the power under paragraph 904a of the Department's Consular Instructions to issue six-month non-immigrant visas on his own discretion and without previous consultation with the Department. This authorization is, in fact, so broad that it may be necessary at a future date to issue a supplementary instruction, limiting and defining it 24
4. Certainly, if Mr. Macdonnell were to issire "safety visas" he would have to proceed with the utmost caution25. The bona fides of the non-immigrant would need establishment and I do not think that visas could be issued on any great scale. Mr. Crean has suggested that we should learn something about the potential, underground means of escape from Czechoslovakia before a decision is taken. It would, no doubt, be wise to find what present procedirre and future plans the United Kingdom have in this regard. If yoir agree Mr. Crean will investigate this matter through his channels in the United Kingdom.26
5. Mr. Crean has raised the further point that we should ascertain whether the Government would wish to give entry to Canada to a number of people with no automatic right to the status of landed immigrant and who might wish to carry on from Canada with the domestic political struggle in their own country.
6. There is a danger that if a future Czech Government were to discover that we were issuing visas on a political basis, they could designate this as Canadian interference in Czech domestic affairs. I think this charge should be avoided, if possible, but I think it would be difficult for them to maintain successfully that the issuance of a permit to visit Canada constitutes a breach of diplomatic propriety.
7. Unless the greatest discretion were used, there would be a further danger that the Canadian Legation in Prague would be flooded with visa applications if the word were to get around.27
8. I think the political desirability of giving what small comfort we can to Czech democrats is clear. We shall have to try to indicate to Macdonnell what practice he should adopt, with any necessary directions and cautions as to procedure.
9. I am attaching for your signature letters to Prague, London, and Washington28
24 Note marginale :/Marginal note:
25 Note marginale :/Marginal note: I agree [Pearson]
26marginales :/Marginal notes: Yes [Pearson]
27 Note marginale "Marginal note:
28 Les renseignements obtenus de Londres et de Washington indiquèrent que ni les britanniques ni les américains n'offraient des visas de cette façon. Une réponse intérimaire fut envoyée à Macdonnell le 16 janvier à l'effet que la situation en Tchécoslovaquie n'était pas encore de nature a justifier un recours à des visas de sécurité".
29 Note marginale :/Marginal note: