May 7, 1946


Right Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Minister of Justice): On behalf of the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie King) who is unfortunately prevented from being in the house at the moment, I should like to read a statement which had been prepared for him in connection with a defence agreement with Newfoundland. I wish to table copies of an agreement recently completed between Canada, the United Kingdom and Newfoundland concerning the disposition and post-war use of certain defence installations in Newfoundland. Before the recent war the defence of Newfoundland was generally deemed the exclusive responsibility of the United Kingdom, but it maintained there no defence installations nor military establishments. At the outbreak of war the United Kingdom had neither trained personnel nor equipment to spare for Newfoundland's defence, and overtures were made to Canada shortly thereafter by the Newfoundland government for equipment and assistance in training a local establishment. At the time, however, little assistance could be rendered because of shortages of equipment here in Canada. Following the military collapse of western Europe in 1940, a battalion of Canadian troops was promptly dispatched with the full approval of the Newfoundland and the United Kingdom governments to guard the Newfoundland airport at Gander, and this initial force was greatly enlarged within the following year by additional army, air and naval establishments. Arrangements were also made with Newfoundland for the coordination of Newfoundland home defence forces and Canadian army forces under an over-all Canadian command. Following the lease of bases in Newfoundland in 1941 to the United States for ninety-nine years, very considerable United States forces were also established in Newfoundland. Shortly after the despatch of the first Canadian troops to Newfoundland, by agreement with Newfoundland Canada assumed responsibility for the operation and control of Gander, Gleneagles and Botwood air bases for the duration of the war, and later constructed Goose Bay air base in Labrador and Torbay air base near St. John's. By agreement with the United Kingdom and Newfoundland governments, Canada also contracted on British admiralty account a naval base in St. John's. These various bases were available to the United States and United Kingdom throughout the war and were of inestimable importance in the conduct of the war. Without them the task of maintaining supplies to Britain, and of building up there a striking force, would have been immensely more difficult and victory in the desperate battle of the Atlantic would have been much longer delayed. With the cessation of hostilities the continuance of a large armed establishment in Newfoundland and the maintenance there of most defence installations established during the war have fortunately become unnecessary. The armed services have accordingly been withdrawing their personnel as rapidly as possible consistent with the care of equipment and properties. By now virtually all personnel have been withdrawn except from Goose Bay air base to which Canada has been granted a lease for defence purposes for ninety-nine years. The strategic importance of Newfoundland for the defence of Canada and North America generally and for the maintenance of communications across the North Atlantic has, however, been greatly enhanced by developments in aerial warfare and aerial navigation. The Newfoundland, United Kingdom and Canadian governments are therefore in agreement that some continuing arrangements for the defence of Newfoundland are essential. The agreement which I have tabled is designed to meet this need,, as well as to provide for the disposition of Newfoundland air bases which have been under Canadian control during the war. It provides that control of the air bases at Gander, Gleneagles and Botwood are to be handed back to Newfoundland as of March 31, in accordance wdth the original understanding between the two governments. In the event of an outbreak of hostilities involving Newfoundland and Canada, Canada may however take over control of Gander airport for the duration of hostilities. Canada will continue to operate Torbay airport as a civil airport for the Newfoundland-Canada service and may use it for military purposes as required. Article 5, which provides for continued cooperation in defence, reads in part: "the governments of Canada and Newfoundland, and as necessary the government of the United Kingdom, will consult with one another from time to time as occasion may require


International Agreements

with a view to coordinating defence requirements in Newfoundland." The same article also provides that Canadian and United Kingdom military aircraft may fly over Newfoundland and may use any airport in Newfoundland under Canadian or Newfoundland control. Since Newfoundland is shortly to hold a constitutional convention with a view to making recommendations as to its future form of government, the present Commission of government in Newfoundland felt that it would be undesirable to make long-term commitments, a view with which the Canadian government concurred. The present agreement, therefore, is for three years certain, but is to remain in force thereafter subject to alteration by agreement or to termination on twelve months' notice by any of the three governments. At this time when we are winding up our wartime activities in Newfoundland, I think it is fitting to express on behalf of the government our deep appreciation of the splendid cooperation which we have received from the Newfoundland government throughout the war and of the hospitality which the people of Newfoundland have constantly extended to the many Canadian service personnel stationed from time to time in their midst. One advantage of this partnership in the war effort is that mutual understanding between Canada and Newfoundland has undoubtedly been strengthened. Thousands of Canadians have come to know Newfoundlanders personally and to appreciate Newfoundland's problems. And Canada will not forget that a considerable number of her sons lie in Newfoundland graves. Personal ties are bound to strengthen the bonds of friendship through the years. It is perhaps fitting also that I should take the occasion to pay tribute to Newfoundland's direct war effort. Over 5,200 men raised by voluntary enlistment were sent overseas to the United Kingdom forces, and over 1,700 were enlisted for home defence. I am pleased to say also that over 1,200 male residents of Newfoundland served in the various Canadian armed services, and about 525 women in the various Canadian women's services. In addition, Newfoundland advanced to the United Kingdom in interest free loans, about twelve and a half million dollars. The house, I feel sure, will agree that Newfoundland, though a relatively small country, made a really substantial contribution to the achievement of victory.


Thomas Miller Bell


May I ask a supplementary question, in view of the importance of the agreement between Canada and New-

foundland? Would the Secretary of State for External Affairs send this agreement to the external affairs committee for study? This house should be apprised of the contents of the agreement; therefore it would be of service to have it studied by the committee.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: I do not exactly remember the terms of the reference to the committee on external affairs, but I would imagine they would be sufficiently broad to make available to the committee all papers tabled during this session which have to do with external affairs.

Topic:   C3260-81J



John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. JOHN BRACKEN (Leader of the Opposition):

On behalf of the Secretary of State for External Affairs the Minister of Justice has given us a statement with respect to defence establishments in Newfoundland. I am sure the house has listened with interest and, so far as we understand it I should think with approval, to the statement, but it raises another question I had intended to direct to the Prime Minister. The Minister of Justice has indicated that he would answer it and perhaps I may be permitted to ask it at this time. It has to do with the question of collaboration in Pan-American defence.

Incidentally, if I may make an observation here, the statement with respect to defence establishments in Newfoundland raises the question of the political relationship of that island to Canada. The house would welcome a statement either by the Prime Minister or by some other member of the government as to whether there has been any discussion of a closer relationship between that island and Canada.

At the moment I wish to two related questions of the Secretary of State for External Affairs, both arising out of a dispatch which appeared in yesterday's Ottawa Evening Journal respecting a bill which President Truman has sent to both houses of congress. The tenor of the bill is indicated by the first paragraph, which reads as follows:

President Truman asked congress to-day to authorize a programme of military collaboration between this country and other American republics. Canada was included by the president in his plan.

The questions are: Did any conversations take place between the governments of Canada and the United States on the matter of PanAmerican defence prior to the president's mes-

Pan-American Defence

sage to congress, and has any action been agreed to by the government of Canada which in any way prescribes our present diplomatic freedom in dealing with the various South American republics?

Right Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Minister of Justice): The Secretary of State for External Affairs has prepared an answer to the question, which is as follows:

I should judge that the president's message to congress is in the nature of a request for legislation which would enable the United States government to provide technical and other assistance to the governments of other American states under arrangements for defence cooperation which might be concluded. As such, it is primarily domestic legislation, the passage of which must precede the conclusion of such arrangements.

The answers to the questions put by the leader of the opposition are in the negative. The terms of this legislation were not discussed with the Canadian government and no conversations have taken place between the two governments on Pan-American defence. Moreover, I can state definitely that no action has been agreed to by the Canadian government which in any way prescribes our present diplomatic freedom in dealing with the various other American republics.




On the orders of the day:


Hazen Robert Argue

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. H. R. ARGUE (Wood Mountain):

I should like to direct a question to the Minister of Reconstruction, notice of which I sent to him. Will the minister state what steps will be taken to assure small towns of a fair share of building materials?


Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)


Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Reconstruction) :

Small towns are getting their share of building materials under equitable distribution methods or procedures administered by the wartime prices and trade board in the same manner as that in which all other supplies are distributed in Canada. Quotas are based on purchases during base period which is the year 1941. All distribution, whether to large or small towns, is on that basis.




On the orders of the day:


Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works)


Hon. ALPHONSE FOURNIER (Minister of Public Works):

Yesterday the hon. member for Saskatoon City put the following

questions to the Minister of Public Works;. but I was out of the house at the time. I should now like to reply. The questions were:

Is it the intention of the minister to evict, on May 31 some sixteen families from the London block in Saskatoon? If so, is the government prepared to take responsibility for finding shelter for these families at that time?

In 1945 the Department of Public Works took over two floors of that building for the use of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some months ago, because of the expansion of their activities, they requested more space in the same building. We gave notice of eviction some days ago to take effect on May 31. Since that notice was sent out I have received written complaints, addressed to me personally, from every tenant; therefore I have asked the officers of the department to reconsider the situation and try to find space elsewhere.

Topic:   HOUSING



May 7, 1946