William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)
Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, an agreement between the government of Canada and the government of Ontario with regard to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin development was completed to-day at 1.35 p.m. It was signed at Ottawa yesterday by Mr. Howe and myself on behalf of the Canadian government and at Toronto to-day by Mr. Hepburn and Mr. Nixon on behalf of the government of Ontario.
This agreement is designed to enable the two governments in cooperation with the government of the United States to carry out the developments which are necessary to make beneficial use of the waters of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin, including the development of power from the Ogoki and Long Lac diversions at the Sault, Niagara and ultimately in the international rapids section; the preservation of the scenic beauty of the Niagara river and falls and the more effective use of the waters in the Niagara for power purposes and the building of a controlled single-stage project in the international rapids section of the St. Lawrence.
An agreement with the United States of America was signed at Ottawa at 2.40 this afternoon in the Prime Minister's office by the plenipotentiaries appointed by His Majesty the King in respect of Canada: myself as Secretary of State for External Affairs, Mr. Howe, Minister of Munitions and Supply, and Mr. Read, legal adviser of the Department of External Affairs; and by the plenipotentiaries appointed by the President of the United States of America: Mr. Moffat, the United States minister to Canada; Mr. Berle, the Assistant Secretary of State of the United States, and Mr. Leland Olds, Chairman of the Federal Power Commission of the United States. This agreement covers the development of power throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin and makes provision for a deep waterway from the head of the lakes to the harbour of Montreal. It also contains provisions dealing with and controlling diversions from the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence watershed and for the preservation of the scenic beauty at Niagara. Generally, its scope is similar to that of the Niagara convention of 1929, and the St. Lawrence Deep Waterway treaty of 1932.
The copy of the signed agreement for the President of the United States of America is being taken to Washington to enable the president to communicate it, in a formal manner, to the United States congress. The agreement will be formally brought to the attention of congress on the afternoon of Friday, the 21st. On the same day, when the House of Commons assembles, it wild be communicated to the parliament of Canada together with the texts of the Canada-Ontario agreement, the texts of relevant correspondence between Canada and the United States from May, 1938, to the date of signature of these agreements, the texts of relevant correspondence with the governments of Ontario and Quebec during the same period, and a general plan of the power and navigation development in the international rapids section. In order to permit simultaneous publication in congress and in parliament, the agreements will not meanwhile be tabled.
By an exchange of correspondence tabled in the House of Commons at an earlier date, provision was made for the establishment by the two governments of temporary Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin committees, in order to make the engineering investigations that were necessary to expedite work on the project, in the event that the development was approved by parliament and by congress. Reports addressed to the President of the United States of America and to the Prime Minister of Canada have been submitted by these committees, which have been working in cooperation. These reports give the general description of the project, the recommendations of the committees and the estimates of costs.
I shall now table copies of these reports in English and in French. They will be distributed without delay.
The report being tabled is styled:
St. Lawrence Deep Waterway, International Rapids Section.
Reports submitted to the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Canada by the Canadian temporary Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin committee and the United States-St. Lawrence basin committee.
1. Joint report submitted by the committees.
2. Engineering report transmitted by the committees.
3. Detailed estimate of cost.
The question of the relationship of the St. Lawrence waterway project, both to the immediate war effort of our country and to the broader defence problems in which the governments both of Canada and the United States of America are interested, has been carefully considered by the two governments. I deem it advisable immediately to bring to the attention of parliament the exchange of cor-
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respondence, which contains a personal message addressed to me by the President of the United States of America, with regard to this aspect of the question. I do not think that it would be desirable to comment on Mr. Roosevelt's statement at the present stage, but I feel bound to express the satisfaction and gratification of the government, and, I am sure, of all Canadians, at the president's action in placing on record in a formal state paper the determination of the government of the United States to supply such aid and material to Great Britain, the members of the commonwealth and their allies, as may be necessary to enable them to bring the war to a successful termination. As these communications are of the greatest possible public interest, I shall now read to the house the exchange of notes between the United States minister and myself of March 5 and March 10, which contain the message referred to.
The following is the message addressed by myself as Secretary of State for External Affairs to Mr. Moffat, the United States minister to Canada. It is dated Ottawa, March 5, 1941:
I have the honour to refer to certain questions which have arisen in the course of the St. Lawrence waterway negotiations, and which we have discussed recently.
As you are aware, my colleagues and I have been giving prolonged consideration to the problems presented by the St. Lawrence waterway project. We have noted the progress made in the preparation of the engineering plan for the international section and in the drafting of the general agreement. There is, however, one consideration of a fundamental character to which we desire to call attention.
The growing intensity of the war operations and the apprehension that still more serious perils will have to be faced in the very near future, necessitate the most careful examination of any proposed expenditure from the point of view of public need and in the light of war requirements.
In existing circumstances, the Canadian government desires to know whether the government of the United States is of the opinion, in view of the position in Canada, and, of course, the position in the United States as well, that the project, as outlined in the State Department's proposals of 1936 and 1938. and under consideration since that time, should now be proceeded with.
We have, of course, been fully aware of the desire of the government of the United States to have a treaty or agreement respecting the St. Lawrence waterway concluded at as early a date as possible, and negotiations, which have been carried on or more or less continuously for some time past, have had in view the desire on our part to arrive, at the earliest possible date, at terms of agreement which would be mutually advantageous. We are also aware of the pronouncements, which have been made from time to time by the president, respecting the added emphasis given by the war to the importance alike of power and navigation developments in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence waterway project. We are also duly appre-
ciative of the agreement recently reached between our respective governments, whereby the province of Ontario has obtained the right to the immediate use of additional power at Niagara, and the diversion of the waters of the Ogoki and Long Lac rivers into lake Superior, in consideration of which, authority was given for the immediate investigation by United States engineers of the project in the international section of the St. Lawrence river in Ontario, in order to enable work of future development to proceed with the least possible delay, once an agreement between the two governments, respecting the St. Lawrence development was concluded.
We would naturally be prepared to give every consideration to power or navigation developments which the United States may deem necessary to the prosecution of measures calculated to aid Great Britain, Canada and other parts of the British commonwealth of nations in the present war, or to further the security of the United States itself against possible future events, which, at the moment, cannot be foreseen, but of which in times like the present full account must be taken. We realize that the government of the United States will be as solicitous as our own government to appraise the project at the present time in terms of its contribution to the efforts which are being put forward by our respective countries to preserve and to restore freedom.
It is from this point of view and in this spirit that we would ask that the St. Lawrence project be again reviewed by the government of the United States before an agreement or treaty be finally entered into.
Accept, Sir, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
W. L. Mackenzie King, Secretary of State for External Affairs.
To that communication I received from Mr. Moffat, the United States Minister to Canada, the following reply:
Legation of the United States of America
Ottawa, March 10, 1941.
I lost no time in bringing to the attention of my government your note of March 5 in regard to the St. Lawrence waterway negotiations. In view of the importance of the question you raised, the matter was laid before the president, and I have been instructed by way of reply, to transmit the following personal message from him to you-
The remainder of this communication is in quotations; it is the message from President Roosevelt:
"I have given careful consideration to your recent request that in view' of the growing intensity of current war operations and the apprehension over perils which may have to be faced in the near future, the government of the United States review the St. Lawrence project and give you an indication of its views as to whether, in the existing circumstances, this project as outlined in the State Department's proposals of 1936 and 1938 should now be proceeded with.
"May I say at the outset that I am aware of Canada's increasing war effort and I readily agree that it must have first call upon your country's resources and man-power. I also
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agree that in view of the existing situation the most careful examination of any proposed expenditure is necessary from the point of view of the public need and in the light of defense requirements.
"With these considerations in mind the government of the United States has as you requested reviewed the St. Lawrence project. We have welcomed this occasion to review the project because of the fact that our own defence programme renders it desirable that all public expenditures in the United States be weighed in the light of considerations similar to those set forth in your communication. The government of the United States is engaged in a great defence programme. It is determined to supply such aid in material to Great Britain, the members of the commonwealth and their allies as may be necessary to enable them to bring the war to a successful termination. Simultaneously our own defences are being strengthened to the extent necessary to prevent any foe from menacing the security of this hemisphere. It is indispensable that all public projects contemplated by the government of the United States be considered from the standpoint of their relationship to these supreme objectives.
"The government of the United States regards the Great Lalces-St. Lawrence basin project as directly associated with the accomplishment of the foremost national objectives of this government. It believes -that the project should be proceeded with and that construction should commence at the earliest possible moment. It regards the construction of this project as a matter of vital necessity.
"You refer to the engineering investigation now being conducted in the international section of the St. Lawrence river. I need hardly say that I directed the release of $1,006,000 from the special defence fund for this purpose only because of my conviction that the completion of this project by 1945 might prove of vital importance to our defence effort. It is gratifying that there has been sufficient progress to make possible the initiation of construction this spring.
"I am sure you will agree writh me that, while our countries must put forth maximum immediate defence effort, we must also prepare for the possibility of a protracted emergency which will call upon the industries on both sides of the border to meet constantly expanding demands. The combination of advantages offered by the St. Lawrence project makes it imperative that we undertake it immediately.
"In terms of the time factor, the St. Lawrence project as a part of our defence programme is not exceptional, since wre are to-day 'appropriating money for construction of vessels of war which will not be ready for service until the completion of the St. Lawrence undertaking.
"I am convinced of the urgent need for the large increment in low cost electric power which the St. Lawrence project will provide. Already the demand for power is running ahead of expectations. In fact one of the most serious handicaps to the rapid expansion of aeroplane production is the difficulty of finding the large supplies of high-load factor power required for aluminium production. We are of course expanding our electric facilities for this purpose as fast as practicable but by the time the St. Lawrence power is available other sources of cheap power will have been largely allocated.
"The St. Lawrence project offers by far the soundest and most economical provision for the power requirements of certain portions of our 14873-106
long-range defence programme, more particularly for certain -high-load factor defence industries. Furthermore the manufacturing facilities and skilled labour available for the construction of steel turbines and electric equipment will be needed to meet the requirements of the vast -areas of our continent where water power is not so economically available.
"I am also convinced that the opening of the St. Lawrence deep waterway to afford an outlet for naval and cargo ships constructed in great lakes shipyards, far from representing a diversion of funds and resources from the defence effort, would have the opposite effect. Our shipbuilding programme, to meet -the requirements of defence, will call for a great expansion of shipyards with their associated machine shops and adequate supplies of skilled labour. The extent to which intensified submarine and air attacks on convoys may necessitate an expansion of the programme is still unknown. If the war is protracted however it seems certain that the number of shipyards required will have to be several times those at present available. In terms of our present industrial arrangements, many of these can be most readily and economically available in the great lakes area.
"If the full burden of our expanding ship construction must fall on seaboard shipyards the time required to complete the vessels themselves must, in many instances, be increased by -the period necessary to construct new shipyards and facilities. With this in mind it is apparent that -the deep waterway could be completed in time to provide an outlet to the sea for many of the new vessels included in -the present programme.
"In the light of these facts it is my belief that the funds -and man-power required for the earliest possible completion of the St. Lawrence project could not be better spent for our joint defence effort, including aid to Great Britain. It is my feeling -that failure to take advantage of the possibilities of this project would be short-sighted, in no way contributing to an increase in our immediate defence effort, while limiting our defence programme in the difficult years which lie ahead."
Accept, Sir, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
I now table copies of this correspondence in English and in French, and also French copies of -the report of the engineers.
I should like to repeat what I said a moment ago, that, while I do not think it is desirable to comment upon Mr. Roosevelt's statement at the present stage, I feel I should emphasize -the great appreciation of the government and the people of Canada of the president's expression in a formal state paper of the determination of the government of the United States to supply such aid and material to Great Britain, and members of the commonwealth and their allies, as may be -necessary to enable them to bring the war to a successful termination.
Hon. R. B. HANSON" (Leader of the Opposition): The Prime Minister has made an announcement of more than ordinary importance although, I may say, not altogether
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unexpected. It would be manifestly improper, if not impossible, for me to make at this time any comment which would serve a useful purpose. There are, however, a few questions which I should like to ask the Prime Minister. It is apparent, I think, from the statement which he read that the agreement is in the form of an agreement and not in the form of a treaty. I think we can take that as an accepted fact.