The Prime Minister emphasized the importance to Canada of an early start on the St. Lawrence project and the especial urgency to Canada of the power development. The President assured the Prime Minister that the United States is fully aware of Canada's urgent need for St. Lawrence power. He said that he favoured the development of the United States share of St. Lawrence power under the authority of New York state and that he hoped for an early favourable decision by the federal power commission in this matter. The President in this connection referred to the decision of the cabinet on this subject announced today. The Prime Minister said that the Canadian government was still prepared to discuss United States participation in the international section, provided that arrangements for power construction are completed and provided the whole seaway would not be delayed. He stressed again Canada's readiness to proceed at once with the work under the Canadian St. Lawrence legislation of 1951.
Recognizing the importance to the free world of the adequate defence of the North American continent, the President and the Prime Minister emphasized the desirability and effectiveness of co-operation on the basis of the Ogdensburg declaration of 1940, which established the permanent joint board on defence between Canada and the United States. Post-war arrangements for continental defence have continued in this framework. It was recognized by the Prime Minister and the President that joint defence facilities erected in Canada under these arrangements strengthen the defence and the security of both Canada and the United States. The President assured the Prime Minister that the United States, for its part, in such joint actions will continue scrupulously to respect Canadian sovereignty.
The Prime Minister and the President reaffirmed the importance of continuing the wholehearted co-operation between the two countries in the field of continental defence, and in the wider field of international action designed to preserve and strengthen peace.
Hon. members will have noted the reference to a cabinet decision announced earlier before the communique was put out. In the headlines in the morning Citizen I see this: "New Problem in Issue of Seaway". It may create a new problem or express new urgency in connection with what will have to be done by our good friends in the United States, but it creates no new problem for us. Our position remains the same. At the present time the only thing that is under consideration officially is the application of the state of New York with respect to the power development. If there is an early and favourable decision, as the President has expressed the hope there will be, then we are in a position to go ahead right away with both the power development and our part of the undertaking to provide a seaway even in the international section; but we will still be disposed to listen to and discuss any proposal that might come from our United States friends, provided that it can be made and discussed and disposed of in such a manner as not to retard the completion of the project.
It is necessary in the United States that there be some legislation. There is no legislation now under which any agency of the United States can act to take part in the development of the seaway, but there are proposals before congress. I felt quite satisfied that this cabinet decision was intended to intimate that the time was growing short. There was this application; but there was the hope of the President and the administration that the application would receive an early favourable decision and that therefore the way would be opened to act, and that if they were really anxious in wishing to have some part now in providing the seaway there ought to be action and speedy action. I take it that that was the purpose of this statement or this declaration by the cabinet.
I was asked by the press club yesterday when I expected there would be a decision. I had to say of course that while I was a lawyer I never ventured to predict when a decision in a case that had been taken under advisement would be handed down. But I am quite satisfied that the administration is doing everything that it would be proper for it to do to have the federal power commission realize that an early decision is desirable, and that the present administration feels that that decision should be in the form of granting the application of the state of New York.
There were of course quite lengthy discussions about trade. Perhaps hon. members will have noted the summary of the very encouraging speech made by the President in New York on Thursday evening. The headline is: "Ike calls world trade vital. Says policy is essential to American prosperity. Stand is opposed to that of some in party clamouring for high tariffs."
Well, I found that that was the attitude of the President and his cabinet colleagues. Of course they are not in a position to forecast what congress will do or may do; but I was speaking with several of the leaders, both of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and those I had the opportunity of speaking to seemed to share the views of the President with respect to the interest of the United States in expansion of world trade. It emboldened me to say at the press club yesterday that we were very hopeful there would be nothing done in the United States that could be regarded as a retrograde step at this time instead of an advance toward the liberation and expansion of world trade.
On the whole I think the atmosphere that grows out of these personal contacts is of value, just as I thought was of value the
atmosphere that prevailed and the form of relations that grew out of the conference of the commonwealth prime ministers in London last November and December. I am confident that we shall again find at the next conference the same sincere desire to co-operate, in spite of the difficulties which are serious and which exist in all our various areas. We shall find the same unanimity about objectives, and the same sincere desire to co-operate again in the manner that will be most apt to enable us all to achieve those objectives.
The President and his colleagues expressed the hope that there would be other opportunities for these personal contacts, and I told him that I was not speaking as the leader of a party. I left with him a copy of the unanimous resolution that had been passed by this house and I told him that the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) and I were there speaking for the people of Canada and not for any one party of the people of Canada.
(See also page 5063.)