July 12, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


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):

I wish to say a word about an important conference to be held very/ shortly in Geneva. Some days ago I received from our ambassador in Washington a communication quoting a letter which had been addressed by Mr. LaGuardia, who is director general of UNRRA, to the ambassador, and which has since been forwarded to me. The letter addressed to our ambassador is under date of June 27, 1946:
My dear Mr. Ambassador:
The agenda for the forthcoming meeting of the UNRRA council includes an item regarding the future of UNRRA. There will in due course be circulated by the administration council documents bearing upon the several aspects of this problem on which decisions will be required.
I believe it to be of the greatest importance that delegations to the council meeting be fully prepared to discuss this question, and I ani, therefore, sending to you for the information of your government an aide memoire drawing attention to the situation. I earnestly hope that your government will give immediate consideration to this document.
Sincerely yours,
F. LaGuardia,
. Director General.
Mr. La Guardia also sent a personal letter to myself. It is under the heading United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administra-63260-214J
tion, and is dated Washington, June 29. In this communication Mr. LaGuardia says in part:
I am now giving some thought to the work of the forthcoming UNRRA council session. I am convinced that the meeting will be of great importance since it must decide what, if any, future provision should be made for relief activities. I am sending an aide memoire to you and other heads of member governments on this point since I know it will be essential to face these issues squarely and get clear-cut decisions.
The meeting of the UNRRA council had been arranged at first to take place in Paris on August 2. Owing, however, to the meeting of the peace conference opening in Paris on July 29, the UNRRA meeting is to be held at Geneva on August 5. I may say, Mr. Speaker, that the cabinet has given careful consideration to the steps that should be taken in meeting the request of the director general of the UNRRA, and I have an announcement to make as to the manner in which we believe it can best be met, which I think will be warmly received by the house.
It will be recalled that the third council session of UNRRA determined provisionally that final UNRRA shipments should be completed by March 31, 1947. The principal questions for consideration at the forthcoming meeting will be the transfer or winding up of UNRRA functions in the field of emergency supply, work with displaced persons and in relation also to welfare activities in countries devastated by war. In each of these fields much has been accomplished, but many problems remain and it will be for the forthcoming council meeting to make proposals for the consideration of the governments as to how these problems can best be solved.
In view of the importance of the financial implications of the questions to be considered at this meeting, the government has arranged that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) should himself attend the meeting at Geneva. The Minister of Finance will be accompanied by Mr. L. B. Pearson, our ambassador at Washington, who has taken a foremost part in the relief and rehabilitation activities of the united nations since their inception.
Hon. members are aware that my colleague the Minister of Finance has intimated at different times to fellow members in the house that he felt considerably fatigued as a result of the strenuous exertions he has had for many months past, and that he was contemplating an absence after the motion to go into committee of ways and means had been decided. He had that very much in mind, without having reached a decision as to just where he should go for the vacation to which he has looked forward, if it can be called a vacation. Having in mind the communica-
Business oj the House

tions that were received from the director general of UNRRA, and realizing how very important this meeting will be, I felt, and so expressed myself to my colleagues, that the Minister of Finance might be able to get a bit of a change and rest on an ocean voyage en route to Geneva, and that perhaps he would be able to make better use of his time than otherwise would be the case if while away he had some active work to engage his attention.

Full View