1961 was a year of crises, during which the world often seemed to be veering dangerously towards the brink of major conflict. The American-backed invasion of Cuba resulted in an embarrassing débâcle at the Bay of Pigs. In view of the worsening situation in Laos, Canada was reluctantly forced to agree that it was necessary for the International Commission for Supervision and Control (I.C.S.C.) to reconvene. The difficulties encountered by the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Congo were intensified after the death of U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld in a plane crash on the night of September 17-18. But the most dramatic and significant political event of 1961 was the erection of the Berlin Wall in mid-August. Soon after East Berlin had been sealed off from contact with the West by the government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Soviets resumed nuclear testing on a large scale, exploding a 58-megaton device. The United States quickly followed suit, a decision that Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker considered “preposterous” (Document 114).
Indeed, Diefenbaker=s annoyance over many aspects of American foreign policy rose steadily during 1961. In February, he had a cordial meeting in Washington with the new American president, John F. Kennedy (see Document 320). However, Kennedy=s visit to Ottawa in May (see Document 324) went less smoothly. The meeting left Diefenbaker convinced that Kennedy expected him to follow the American lead in foreign policy matters without question. In late August, the Prime Minister remarked bluntly that he was “tired of being told that he should not speak out on Berlin. ... After all, the New York Times was full of speeches by Senators and others giving their opinions and he was not prepared to sit in silence as if the Canadian Government had no views of its own. He was not prepared to be a tail on the United States kite” (Document 258).
Despite the heightening of tensions, Canada=s Secretary of State for External Affairs, Howard Green, retained his faith in and dedication to the cause of disar-mament. Green did manage to achieve some successes in this area. For example, since the failure of the Ten Nation Committee in the summer of 1960, Green had doggedly fought for a resumption of negotiations in a reconstituted committee. In December 1961, the United Nations finally adopted a resolution to this effect (see Document 139), leading to the creation of the Eighteen Nation Committee in the following year. However, the Americans expressed “serious disappointment” over Canada=s decision to support a Swedish resolution calling for “non-nuclear club” –that is, a group of nations refusing to acquire nuclear weapons (Document 134).
Behind Green=s campaign for disarmament and his support of the Swedish resolution lay his profound opposition to the ownership of nuclear weapons by Canada. In January, Clerk of the Privy Council Robert Bryce – who favoured acceptance of the weapons – wrote to Diefenbaker: “The chief difficulty is, of course, Mr. Green and this causes me serious concern, for I have much respect and affection for him, even when I cannot agree with him. I should be glad to help in any way I can in preparing memoranda for you to give him or in talking to those of his officials, chiefly Norman Robertson, who encourage him in this last ditch opposition to our having these warheads available” (Document 326). Later in the year, the Minister of Defence, Douglas Harkness, told his Cabinet colleagues that “there was all the difference in the world between the defensive weapons desired for the Canadian forces and hydrogen bombs which everyone had in mind in thinking of nuclear weapons. BOMARCS could not start a war ... [T]he government should lose no time in starting negotiations for an agreement on nuclear weapons for the Canadian forces. The agreements should be completed first and then the government could decide later if and when they would actually have the weapons made available in Canada for the forces in accordance with the agreements” (Document 243). However, Robertson continued to support Green in his opposition to Harkness=s plans. Their fears of a nuclear conflict were hardly assuaged by such American statements as the remark by General Lauris Norstad that he “could think of half a dozen situations in which the use of atomic weapons by NATO forces would be the only possible action in terms of commonsense” (Document 295). Commenting on a draft agreement between Canada and the United States written by members of the Department of National Defence, Robertson and George Ignatieff warned Green it did not meet “the requirement you specified, namely that Ministers should know in advance the implications and obligations involved for Canada” (Document 345). Following the American decision to resume nuclear testing, the Prime Minister became much less receptive to the arguments put forward by Bryce and Harkness. He commented “that the public position now taken by the President had killed nuclear weapons in Canada. At another point, he said that more and more it was becoming clear that we would not be having nuclear weapons in Canada unless there was war” (Document 360).
In contrast to earlier years, by the end of 1961 the tendency to serious conflict in Canada-U.S. relations was beginning to spread well beyond the nuclear weapons question. Nevertheless, many contentious issues were still resolved with relative ease. Relations between the Canadian government and the new Kennedy administration began on a promising note when Secretary of State Dean Rusk assured the Canadian ambassador, Arnold Heeney, that he was eager to maintain the “special relationship” between the two countries, so long as this could be done “without arousing suspicion or resentment on the part of other close allies of the United States.” In reply, Heeney stated that the relationship was “fundamentally sound and friendly,” and “any really serious divergence in major objectives was improbable” (Document 317). However, Cuba – which “seemed to have priority” among the subjects raised by Kennedy during his Ottawa visit (Document 324) – was a sore point, especially after Fidel Castro publicly proclaimed, “This is a socialist revolution” (see Document 821). An External Affairs memorandum noted that it could not “be assumed that the Canadian people would sympathize with any move by the United States to upset the Castro regime by force from outside.” Moreover, for Canada to join in the American embargo against Cuba would have severe economic repercussions. “As a country living by international trade Canada cannot lightly resort to the weapons of a trade war,” observed a Department of Finance brief for the 1961 meeting of the Canada-U.S. Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs (Document 398). Therefore, Ottawa fervently hoped a way could be found to “eas[e] the tension in the Caribbean without armed intervention or extreme economic measures” (Document 828). A comment by Green on the desirability of negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba was strongly resented in Washington (see Documents 834-836, 838, 846). Though Canadian diplomats realized the strength of American concerns about the Castro regime, they themselves remained convinced of the need for a “more positive USA policy” on Latin America (Document 839). This position was not likely to foster harmony and goodwill between Ottawa and Washington.
Similar problems arose over Vietnam, but in this area External Affairs was inclined to be both more sympathetic to the American point of view and more actively helpful to Washington. Canadian and American diplomats shared an intense frustration over the many breaches of the 1954 cease-fire agreement by North Vietnam and over the reluctance of the Polish and Indian members of the I.C.S.C. to investigate these infractions. Indeed, early in the year Canadian commissioner Charles Woodsworth reported from Saigon that, due to the internal conflicts on this matter, “the International Commission in Vietnam has almost ceased to function as an effective body” (Document 721). The Americans responded to the situation with a plan to massively increase the number of their military advisers in South Vietnam. Woodsworth accurately predicted: “If USA proceeds on this basis we and West are in for a stormy future here” (Document 728). However, Ottawa realized “that any Canadian attempt to deflect the Americans from their stated intentions ... would be untimely and probably misunderstood” (Document 744). Eventually, an uneasy compromise emerged: the U.S. would not publicly announce its intention to flout the terms of the cease-fire agreement, and the Canadians would attempt to forestall any condemnation of the U.S. by their Polish and Indian colleagues. As Green summed it up at the end of the year, Ottawa realized that the U.S. had “important responsibilities in Vietnam ... and ... it must make its own decisions on how best to carry out these responsibilities.” However, Canada could not forget that it had “responsibilities of a different kind arising from our membership in [the] ICSC.” The State Department “must recognize [the] difficulties and limitations of our position” and avoid placing the Canadians in a situation where they would have to either side with the Poles and Indians against the U.S. or openly support the American violations of the Geneva agreements (Document 764).
The situations in Cuba and Vietnam required Canada to take account of American foreign policy priorities; in contrast, interactions between the two countries on the law of the sea, the Canadian wheat sale to China, and the status of American magazines in Canada were driven mainly by Canadian concerns. Ottawa was deeply disappointed by the failure of the second United Nations conference on the law of the sea, held at Geneva in 1960. A joint Canada-U.S. proposal failed to obtain the required two-thirds majority by only one vote. In 1961, External Affairs expended much effort in an attempt to convince Washington that a multilateral convention based on the rejected proposal could succeed. The State Department had “no objections” to a canvass of opinion in other countries by Canada and the United Kingdom (Document 73), but, even though the results of the survey were generally encouraging, in the autumn of 1961 it became clear that Washington would not give its support to a campaign for a multilateral convention. This outcome left Canadian officials to decide whether or not they wished to unilaterally extend Canada=s territorial waters from three to six or even twelve miles (see Document 104). From Washington, Ambassador Heeney conveyed an American warning that, if Canada did proceed unilaterally, “we would be bound in such an event to have ‘a very difficult time’ ” (Document 107).
In the economic sphere there was no shortage of contentious issues, but the spirit of compromise prevailed. The report of the Royal Commission on Publications (the O=Leary Report) made several recommendations designed to stop the flow of advertising dollars to the Canadian editions of such American magazines as Reader=s Digest and Time. Most notably, the report suggested that the income tax deduction for Canadian businesses placing advertisements in these publications should be dropped. Even before the report was formally released, there were protests from Washington. In an attempt to meet American concerns while still improving the position of Canadian magazines, the Cabinet Committee on the O=Leary Report suggested a compromise whereby Reader=s Digest and Time could continue to operate in Canada (see Documents 417-419).
In the most politically charged of the Canada-U.S. economic issues during 1961, the announcement of a large Canadian sale of wheat to Communist China sparked serious American concerns. The Canadian subsidiaries of American oil companies soon inquired whether bunkering the ships that carried the wheat to China would violate the American Foreign Assets Control regulations (the Trading With the Enemy Act). During the Prime Minister=s first meeting with the new American president, Diefenbaker warned Kennedy that “any attempt by FAC to become involved in this would lead to a very serious outcry in Canada” (Document 783). Soon afterwards, Ambassador Heeney=s reports indicated that the American authorities were “clearly endeavouring to find a procedure acceptable under their law to solve the problem” (Document 784). However, when the wheat shipments began, American firms refused to supply equipment required for loading the grain. Again, the Americans were quick to seek a solution. U.S. Treasury officials agreed “to licence exports of these items ... in those cases where orders have already been received by the supplier company in the United States.” They emphasized that their action was “being taken as an accommodation to the Government of Canada” (Document 795). This cooperative spirit was all the more welcome in view of a report that the Chinese government “intended to continue purchases on an annual basis” (Document 797).
Finally, the question of when the Columbia River Treaty would be ratified by Canada presented both countries with an unusual problem, since the delay was caused by the Premier of British Columbia, W. A. C. Bennett. In May, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall informed E. Davie Fulton that “the United States was ‘ready to go’ and was in fact rather impatient to get started.” Udall “did not seem to be too disturbed at the possibility that ratification here might be delayed until the autumn,” but he “intimated that a delay into next year could have the effect of requiring a re-examination by the United States of alternative possibilities to the proposed Columbia development” (Document 439). By November, ratification seemed as far off as ever. From the embassy in Washington, Saul Rae reported to Ottawa that he and his colleagues had “studiously avoided raising the question of the Columbia River Treaty with United States officials.” However, the American press was beginning to make adverse comments on the delays caused by Premier Bennett (Document 448). Not wishing the treaty to lapse, by the end of the year the members of the Cabinet had agreed that they were “willing to make some compromise with the government of British Columbia if necessary to achieve the purpose of the Treaty” (Document 458).
Canada=s relations with the United Kingdom during 1961 were also marked by a growing tendency to conflict. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was firm in his belief that there should be no open condemnation of South Africa=s racial policies at the 1961 meeting of Commonwealth leaders, and that South Africa should be encouraged to remain within the association. Diefenbaker, who recounted that he had “given the matter a great deal of thought,” wished to take a stand on apartheid, but he was also “most reluctant to be responsible for South Africa=s expulsion from the Commonwealth” (Document 459). Bryce believed strongly that action by Canada was necessary, so that “the value of the Commonwealth as a bridge between the white and coloured will be strengthened” (Document 461). From London, High Commissioner George Drew reported that British officials were assiduously spreading the view that “all Commonwealth countries but Canada” were ready to take a moderate stance on South Africa. Drew himself was convinced that, on the contrary, “Malaya, India, Ghana and Nigeria would probably welcome a firm stand” (Document 462). Diefenbaker was now resolved “to condemn apartheid strongly” (Document 472), but he also hoped for some concessions on the part of South Africa which might allow the issue to be deferred for another year. At the meeting, he suggested that no direct criticism of South Africa should be made, but that the Prime Ministers should collectively issue a statement describing the Commonwealth as a multi-racial organization. Under these circumstances, the South Africans chose to leave the Commonwealth. It was a diplomatic triumph: the desired result had been obtained, but Canada could not be held responsible for “forcing” South Africa out.
There was general elation in Ottawa over this result, but reports from Drew accused the British of attempting to cast blame on Canada through stories planted in the press. Drew suspected that a similar approach would be taken by the British regarding the possibility that they might join the European Economic Community (see Document 506). The British offered reassurances that Commonwealth nations would be consulted before any decisive step was taken, but it seemed likely that the consultation process would be a mere matter of form. Diefenbaker, concerned by the prospect of seeing Canada=s trade ties with the U.K. disrupted, felt that “[a] subject of such great importance to Canada should not be handled in this almost perfunctory manner” (Document 491). Finance Minister Donald Fleming agreed that “there was real substance in the present political and economic relationships between the UK and other Commonwealth countries.” Accordingly, “there was a great responsibility on the UK in this matter” (Document 522). Following Fleming=s lead, other representatives at the meeting of the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council in Accra also called for more extensive consultations before a British decision was made. Although some Cabinet ministers felt Canada might be taking too strong a line, Diefenbaker and Drew continued to push for full information regarding U.K. intentions. British officials proved reluctant to supply it. Near the end of the year, Drew concluded there was “little doubt that the decision to join [the] European Community has already been made, subject only to refinement of detail, contrary to the numerous assurances which were given.” Canada, he argued, had both sentimental and sound practical reasons to oppose Britain=s course. “I suggest that as the country which in fact produced the concept of the modern Commonwealth in 1867, we have special reasons for being devoted to the maintenance and strengthening of [the] Commonwealth,” he wrote (Document 534).
However, despite all these controversies and hints of trouble to come, in one area of major international political importance Canada worked constructively with the United States and the United Kingdom. Throughout 1960, External Affairs had resisted the suggestion that the I.C.S.C. for Laos should be reconvened in order to deal with the turbulent and increasingly violent situation in that country. Early in 1961 the Laotian government itself agreed to consider an Indian proposal on the subject. The British Foreign Secretary, Lord Home, wrote to Green: “I think we are very much on the water-shed and must set things running towards a peaceful solution if they are not to turn towards a widening of the conflict” (Document 656). Green remained critical of the plan, noting that the I.C.S.C. had been created “to supervise and control an existing cease fire, not ... to negotiate [a new] one” (Document 658). The Americans, too, had reservations, but at a meeting in Washington, representatives of the three countries agreed on a plan of action. The commission was accordingly reconvened, and its members were sent to Laos for a preliminary assessment of the situation. Canada also took part in the international conference held in Geneva. Despite “heavy going” at the conference (Document 717), by the end of the year Green could congratulate the Canadian representatives on having secured terms of reference for the commission=s future activities that safeguarded “the principles which we regard as important” (Document 719). Although relations with the U.S. and the U.K. dominated Canadian foreign policy concerns during 1961, Ottawa was more anxious than ever before to forge strong connections with the developing world. Diefenbaker=s reluctance to follow the American lead on Cuba stemmed in part from a concern over Canada=s reputation in Latin America; his opposition to South Africa=s racial policies reflected his desire to maintain good relations with the non-white nations of the Commonwealth. There were numerous other manifestations of this trend. An External Affairs departmental panel was established to lay out guidelines for a consistent Canadian approach to African questions at the United Nations. Aid programmes were established for both Commonwealth countries and French-speaking countries in Africa. In addition, Canada agreed to provide French-speaking military instructors to Ghana. Premier Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana and President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia were welcomed to Ottawa. Unfortunately, Jagan=s conversation with Diefenbaker was somewhat less than cordial, due to the latter=s suspicions that Jagan might wish both to make British Guiana Communist and to keep it within the Commonwealth (see Document 602). With Bourguiba, however, the Prime Minister had a far more productive meeting. Their conversation ranged over such topics as Cuba, Algeria, and the Congo, with Diefenbaker showing an evident interest in non-Western views (see Document 857).
There was little change in the Department=s senior personnel at home and abroad during 1961. Howard Green and Norman Robertson remained in their posts throughout the year, as did Arnold Heeney in Washington, George Drew in London, Pierre Dupuy in Paris, Chester Ronning in New Delhi, Escott Reid in Bonn, Jules Léger at NATO headquarters in Paris, and Charles Ritchie at the United Nations. Early in the year, Arnold Smith became Canada=s ambassador in Moscow. In Ottawa, Marcel Cadieux remained deputy under-secretary. John Watkins became an assistant under-secretary, joining Evan Gill, George Glazebrook, George Ignatieff, and A. E. Ritchie. At the Cabinet level, Donald Fleming retained his portfolio as Minister of Finance, as did George Hees at the Department of Trade and Commerce, Douglas Harkness at the Department of National Defence, and Ellen Fairclough at the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.
Documents in this volume were selected primarily from the records of the Department of External Affairs and the personal files of Prime Minister Diefenbaker, held at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre in Saskatoon. Additional documents were chosen from the files of other government departments, as well as from the private papers of Cabinet ministers and senior government officials. In preparing the volume, researchers were given unrestricted access to the files of the Department of External Affairs and generous access to other collections. A complete list of the archival sources consulted to prepare this volume is found on page xxix.
The selection of documents for Volume 28 has been guided by the general principles outlined in the Introduction to Volume 7 (pp. ix-xi), as amended in the Introduction to Volume 20 (p. xxiii). The series continues to attempt to provide a self-contained record of the major foreign policy decisions taken by the Government of Canada, by concentrating on Canada=s most important bilateral and multilateral relationships and on the major international issues that directly involved Cabinet members and senior bureaucrats in substantive policy decisions. Some passages and names have been omitted in accordance with the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. These deletions are indicated in the documents.
The editorial apparatus employed in this volume remains identical to that described in the Introduction to Volume 9 (p. xix). A dagger (†) indicates a document that is not printed. Editorial excisions are shown by an ellipsis (Y). The phrase “group corrupt” indicates decryption problems in the transmission of the original telegram. Words and passages that were struck out by the author, marginal notes, and distribution lists are reproduced as footnotes only when important. Unless otherwise indicated, it is assumed that documents have been read by the intended recipient. Proper and place names are standardized. The editor has silently corrected spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. All other editorial additions to the documents are indicated by the use of square brackets. Documents are reprinted in either English or French, depending on their original language.
In carrying out the research for this volume, I had the efficient and enthusiastic assistance of Dr. Jennifer Anderson. Staff at Library and Archives Canada gave invaluable help and advice, as did Rob Paul at the Diefenbaker Centre. Aline Gélineau typed and formatted the manuscript; Gail Kirkpatrick Devlin produced the list of persons and proofread the volume, with the assistance of Christopher Cook in both tasks. Dr. Michael Stevenson compiled the index. As always, Aline, Gail, Chris, and Michael did their work with exemplary professionalism and good humour. The Translation Bureau at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada provided the French versions of the footnotes and other ancillary texts. Dr. Greg Donaghy, the general editor of the series, read the manuscript in its entirety and offered many constructive suggestions. I remain solely responsible for the final selection of documents. Finally, the series would not be possible without the ongoing support of Ariel Delouya, the director of the Policy Research Division.
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