Volume #12 - 780.|
RELATIONS AU SEIN DU COMMONWEALTH
DEA/3796 A 40|
Le haut commissaire en Grande Bretagne|
au sous secrétaire d'état aux Affaires extérieures
le 11 avril 1946|
Dear Mr. Robertson,
In your despatch No. 359 of February 25th you authorized us to consider with the Foreign office the establishment of regular channels of communication for the handling of consular matters in countries where Canada is not directly represented. We have attempted to analyze present procedures used by various departments in Canada House and to make some recommendations. I am attaching a copy of a draft memorandum which has been prepared for preliminary and informal discussion with the Consular Department of the Foreign office. It represents only the tentative suggestions of members of the staff, and the Foreign office understands that it is not an expression of the views of the Canadian Government at this stage. A copy has also been sent to the Canadian Immigration officer for his consideration. There may be some further delay before we are able to send to you the results of our discussions with the Foreign office on this matter, and in the meantime you may wish to see a copy of this preliminary draft.
I am attaching to the draft a paragraph concerning the question as to whether the Foreign office representative should be expected to give the Canadian Government advice. For obvious reasons this was not included in the draft which has been sent to the Consular Department.
[PIECE JOINTE 1/ENCLOSURE 1]
London, [n.d.] 1946
THE HANDLING of GENERAL CONSULAR MATTERS IN COUNTRIES WHERE CANADA IS NOT DIRECTLY REPRESENTED
Since the end of hostilities in Europe there has been a large increase in the number of matters of a general consular nature arising in countries where Canada has no direct representation. No doubt because of the development of special war time practices and the interruption of pre war methods there is at present considerable confusion as to the channels of communication. In some cases these problems are dealt with by direct communication from the Department of External Affairs to the British Mission on the spot. In other cases they are handled through Canada House, and in still other cases by direct communication from External Affairs to the Dominions office. It is highly desirable that confusion be avoided by the establishment of regular rules of procedure. The chief purpose of these rules should be to speed up communications and to remove unnecessary work from both Canadian and United Kingdom authorities.
2. The following seem to be the principal alternatives to be considered:
(i) It might be established as a general rule that the Department of External Affairs should communicate direct with the British Missions on the spot, and the British Mission should be instructed to communicate direct with the Department of External Affairs.
All communications might be channeled through London, that is, External Affairs should send communications to Canada House for trans-mission to the Dominions office or direct to the Foreign office to be sent on to the British Mission on the spot.
Either of the above methods might be supplemented by the use, where possible, of Missions in Ottawa of countries in which Canada is not directly represented—for example, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Italy. (Such procedure has been suggested by Ottawa in despatch No. of [sic] for seeking information about persons believed to be ill treated.)
For a number of reasons the first alternative seems to be the most practical. Transmission through London is unnecessarily slow because of the pressure of work in Canada House and in the Foreign office. As far as Canada House is concerned, such an arrangement as No. (ii) would necessitate an increase in the staff. There are objections, furthermore, to the introduction of a third party in matters which are better solved by communication between two parties. It is believed that the Foreign office themselves prefer direct communication. The use of No. (iii) method along with No. (i) is a matter on which the Department of External Affairs is better able to decide. It would serve to relieve the pressure on British officials. It may be doubted whether equally good results could be obtained by a Minister in Ottawa as by a British official on the spot. On the other hand, foreign representatives in Ottawa might be anxious to press the matter in order to be helpful to the Government to which they are accredited.
If direct communication from Ottawa to the Mission is adopted as the general rule it is possible that there might need to be certain exceptions which would require handling through Canada House. The following seem to be the principal exceptions:
The Repatriation of Canadians from Europe. Channels for handling these matters have been developed during and since the war by the Special Section, and there seems to be no good reason for changing them at a time when the number of repatriates is greatly diminished.
Property Claims. Up to date claims by Canadians for properties in enemy and formerly occupied Europe have been handled through Canada House. This special procedure has been adopted because of the necessity of working through the agencies set up by the United Kingdom Government in London to handle such matters. It has also been necessary because the channels for handling such matters have had to be evolved in consultation between Canada House and the United Kingdom Departments concerned. Now that these channels are more or less established, consideration might be given to the possibility of direct communication. If it is necessary to have a Canadian representative in London keeping in touch with United Kingdom authorities on these matters this responsibility might be transferred to the London Representative of the Custodian, whose Department in Ottawa is responsible for the registering of all claims. (It should be kept in mind that although property claims in Germany are now handled through the Canadian Military Mission in Germany there are an equal number of claims in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries which are still handled through Canada House).
(iii) Immigration and Naturalization. The Commissioner for European Emigration in London, because of his responsibility for all Europe, may wish to handle, or at least be kept informed, of all cases concerning immigration and naturalization arising in Europe.
There will always be cases in which some direct communication between United Kingdom and Canadian officials is necessary. This will be particularly the case when political considerations are involved. Although British Consuls or other representatives may be acting for His Majesty's Government in Canada it will be difficult to ask them to follow policies inconsistent with those which they would follow when they are acting on behalf of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. Recently a case of a Canadian being held by the Polish Security Police was handled directly between Ottawa and War-saw. In view of questions of high policy involved, however, it was considered necessary for the Foreign office to intervene by personal communication with Canada House.
If direct communication between Ottawa and the Mission on the spot is agreed upon as a general rule, the question arises as to whether copies of all correspondence should be sent to both United Kingdom and Canadian representatives in London. At the present time United Kingdom policy in most of these cases seems to be to instruct their representatives to send copies to the Foreign office. The Foreign office in turn provides copies to Canada House. Copies of telegrams between Ottawa and the British Mission which pass through the Dominions office come to Canada House. On the other hand, it is not the policy of the Department of External Affairs normally to send to Canada House copies of its communications to British Missions, and in few cases is there a complete file in Canada House on any of those cases handled directly. In this matter it would be proper for the Canadian Government to follow the wishes of the Foreign office, whose representatives are handling these matters on our behalf. In view of the probability of personal discussions in London on any particular subject there would be advantages in having, either at Canada House or at the Foreign office, but not necessarily in both places, a complete file of correspondence of all cases. The Foreign office may, of course, wish to have a record of the work being handled by its agents. In any case, it would be desirable to ask the Foreign office how many copies of varying kinds of documents it requires, so that in no case should the Foreign office have to make copies of documents on our behalf.
PRESENT CHANNELS of COMMUNICATION WITH UNITED KINGDOM DEPARTMENTS ON CONSULAR MATTERS:
7. Germany: In spite of the establishment of the Canadian Military Mission in Germany there are still several matters which are handled through Canada House, for example:
Reports on property claims initiated through United Kingdom authorities before the establishment of the C.M.M. in Germany.
Final stages in the repatriation of Canadians.
Matters concerning distressed Canadians in the French and United States Zones. (It is expected that these will be transferred shortly to the C.M.M. Questions concerning the Russian Zone are being handled both through the Canadian Embassy in Moscow and through the C.M.M.)
8. Correspondence concerning property claims is addressed to Miss J. M. Wardale in the Dominions office. Special Section correspond direct with United Kingdom Consular Representative in Germany. Other general matters concerning Germany may be handled by direct communication with the Control office for Germany and Austria, Norfolk House, St. James's Square.
9. Austria, Bulgaria, Romania: In view of the fact that the British Missions in these countries are still of a military nature, relations are handled by the War office rather than the Foreign office. Communications from Canada House on general matters, including property claims, go to the Dominions office. Special Section, however, corresponds direct with the United Kingdom Consular Representative in Vienna. It is expected that Romania will shortly become the responsibility of the Foreign office in view of the recognition of the Romanian Government.
10. Bulgaria, Finland, Siam, and other former neutral or allied States: Relations with these countries are handled through the Foreign office. Communications, therefore, should be addressed to Mr. G. C. Allchin, Consular Section of the Foreign office, or in the case of property claims to Mr. C. J. Edmonds, Consular Section, Foreign office. It is believed to be the desire of the Foreign office that communications should be with the Consular Section rather than the Political Division concerned, unless political policy is involved.
11. Japan: No consular matters with regard to Japan have come through this office and the channels used by the Canadian Government are not known.
12. The Foreign office request that three copies of all documents and also of an accompanying despatch or letter should be sent to them. The Dominions office ask, however, for only one copy of each document, provided another copy is available in this office if required for reference in London. The single valid copy of any legal document, however, should be retained in Ottawa or in this office, as neither the Foreign office nor the Dominions office wishes to be responsible for forwarding it unless it is needed on the spot.
13. Limited postal communications have been re established with all European countries, including Germany. In view of the very great pressure on the
United Kingdom Departments concerned, no request should be made to transmit documents unless there is some valid reason why they cannot be transmitted by ordinary post. Claimants are expected to communicate with their own attorneys in the country concerned, by post, and not through diplomatic bag. In some cases this will mean cutting off facilities for those who, at an earlier stage, were granted special privileges because of the absence of postal communications and the troubled situation on the Continent. It is not possible to establish definitive rules on this matter, but discretion should be used in making requests. For example, it might be assumed that documents have a better chance of reaching Czechoslovakia than Bulgaria, and the Foreign office might be asked to transmit documents to the latter country which it should not be asked to send to the former. Only if there is some urgent reason should personal letters be sent by diplomatic channels. On the other hand, the Foreign office is prepared to send along documents which will assist them in protecting the property of a British subject.
The question also arises as to the handling of consular matters of this kind which originate in applications direct to Canada House. Such applications come sometimes from Canadians in the United Kingdom and sometimes from Canadians in Canada who apply direct to the High Commissioner for assistance. If there is some urgency about these cases it may be necessary to act upon them without reference to Ottawa. It is desirable, on the other hand, that action should not be taken which is inconsistent with policy being followed by External Affairs. Furthermore, as a general principle it is desirable to use the standard channels at all times in order to avoid confusion.
CONSULAR MATTERS IN INDIA AND THE COLONIES
Canadian consular matters in parts of the British Empire where there is no direct Canadian representation are frequently handled through Canada House in direct communication with the India office, the Burma office, or the Colonial office. In the case of the West Indies, and possibly elsewhere, the Department of External Affairs communicates at times with the Colonial Secretary. Consideration might be given to ways and means of establishing more expeditious means of communication, particularly with India and Palestine.
[PIECE JOINTE 2/ENCLOSURE 2]
The question as to whether a United Kingdom Mission should seek to give advice to the Canadian Government on matters which it is asked to handle is one which requires some consideration. Some time ago the United Kingdom Ambassador in Venezuela was asked to take action by the Canadian Government. He indicated to the Foreign office that he did not agree with Canadian policy in this matter, and wished to let the Canadian Government have his views. The Dominions office refused to allow his advice to be passed on to the Canadian Government on the ground that it was not his place to express opinions as to Canadian policy. While it would obviously be undesirable that a United Kingdom official should give advice simply because Canadian policy was not advantageous to United Kingdom policy, nevertheless the advice of the British representative on the spot might frequently be helpful. This is obviously a matter on which general rules can scarcely be laid down. Advice of this kind might best be given informally by the Foreign office to Canada House. It might also be agreed that the Department of External Affairs should specifically ask for the advice of the British representative if it considers this would be helpful.