William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)
Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to
make a statement on defence cooperation with the United States. This statement is also being made today by the government of the
United States. It is regarding the results of discussions which have taken place in the permanent joint board on defence on the extent to which the wartime cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries should be maintained in this post-war period. In the interests of efficiency and economy, each government has decided that its national defence establishment shall, to the extent authorized by law, continue to collaborate for peacetime joint security purposes. The collaboration will necessarily be limited and will be based on the following principles:
(1) Interchange of selected individuals so as to increase the familiarity of each country's defence establishment with that of the other country.
(2) General cooperation and exchange of observers in connection with exercises and with the development and tests of material of common interest.
(3) Encouragement of common designs and standards in arms, equipment, organization, methods of training and new developments. As certain United Kingdom standards have long been in use in Canada, no radical change is contemplated or practicable and the application of this principle will be gradual.
(4) Mutual and reciprocal availability of military, naval and air facilities in each country; this principle to be applied as may be agreed in specific instances. Reciprocally each country will continue to provide, with a minimum of formality, for the transit through its territory and its territorial waters of military aircraft and public vessel of the other country.
(5) As an underlying principle all cooperative arrangements will be without impairment of the control of either country over all activities in its territory.
While in this, as in many other matters of mutual concern, there is an identity of view and interest between the two countries, the decision of each has been taken independently in continuation of the practice developed since the establishment of the permanent joint board on defence in 1940. No treaty, executive agreement or contractual obligation has been entered into. Each country will determine the extent of its practical collaboration in respect of each and all of the foregoing principles. Ei.ther country may at any time discontinue collaboration on any or all of them. Neither country will take any action inconsistent with the charter of the united nations. The charter remains the cornerstone of the foreign policy of each.
An important element in the decision of each government to authorize continued collaboration was the conviction on the part
of each that in this way their obligations under the charter of the united nations for the maintenance of international peace and security could be fulfilled more effectively. Both governments believe that this decision is a contribution to the stability of the world and to the establishment through the united nations of an effective system of world wide security. With this in mind each government has sent a copy of this statement to the secretary general 9f the united nations for circulation to all its members.
In August, 1940, when the creation of the board was jointly announced by the late President Roosevelt and by myself as Prime Minister of Canada, it was stated that the board "shall commence immediate studies relating to sea, land and air problems including personnel and material. It will consider in the broad sense the defence of the north half of the western hemisphere." In discharging this continuing responsibility the board's work led to the building up of a pattern of close defence cooperation. The principles announced today are in continuance of this cooperation. It has been the task of the governments to assure that the close security relationship between Canada and the United States in North America will in no way impair but on the contrary will strengthen the cooperation of each country within the broader framework of the united nations.
There are a number of comments I should like to make on the foregoing statement.
Cooperation between Canada and the United States in matters of defence has become increasingly effective in recent years. Among the first public statements to be made by the head of either government was the speech of the late President Roosevelt at Kingston, Ontario, 1938 when he said, "The Dominion of Canada is part of the sisterhood of the British empire. I give to you assurance that the people of the United States will not stand idly by if domination of Canadian soil is threatened by any other empire." Two days later at Woodbridge, Ontario, as Prime Minister of Canada I replied, "We, too, have our obligations as a good friendly neighbour, and one of these is to see that, at our own instance, our country is made as immune from attack or possible invasion as we can reasonably be expected1 to make it, and that, should the occasion ever arise, enemy forces should not be able to pursue their way, either by land, sea or air, to the United States across Canadian territory."
It was two years later, in August 1940, that the permanent joint board on defence was created and it has met regularly ever since to discuss common problems and to make
recommendations to the governments which created it. The statement made today emphasizes the desirability of continuing the cooperation between Canada and the United States in matters of defence w'hich has developed through the years.
As the joint statement points out, the charter of the united nations is the cornerstone of the foreign policy of both governments. Certainly, the Canadian government holds that its obligations to the united nations are of overriding importance. In time, it is to be hoped that there will emerge-apart altogether from reduction and limitation of arms and elimination of weapons of mass destruction-a system of international security which will be adequate to preserve the peace of the world. The ultimate objective is not joint or regional defence, but collective international defence as the guarantee of national security.
It must be recognized, however, that much progress has still to be made before a system of international security becomes effective. Each nation must therefore consider what steps it should take in the meantime to defend itself against aggression, while bearing constantly in mind that these steps should contribute to the development of general security in accordance with the charter of the united nations. I should like to make it entirely clear that, so far as the Canadian government is concerned, and I am sure the United States government also, defence cooperation between Canada and the United States is intended to support and strengthen the united nations.
It will be noted that the principles of cooperation announced in the joint statement parallel closely the procedures which have long been applied between the nations of the British commonwealth. Without formal agreements between governments, we have had working arrangements with the United Kingdom and other commonwealth countries for the interchange of personnel, the exchange of observers, and so forth. The similar arrangements envisaged between Canada and the United States in no way interfere with or replace our commonwealth connections in matters of defence training and organization. Given the geographical position of Canada, it is important that measures of cooperation should be undertaken both with the United States and the United Kingdom.
In conclusion, I should like to comment briefly on problems of northern defence. The subject has naturally engaged the attention of many people both here and abroad and some quite unfounded suggestions have been put forward. There is a persistent rumour, for
example, that the United States government has asked for bases in the Canadian north. This is a rumour which 1 should like to deny emphatically. There has been talk of Maginot lines, of large-scale defence projects, all of which is unwarranted and much of it fantastic. What we are trying to do is to view the situation soberly, realistically, and undramatically.
It is apparent to anyone who has reflected even casually on the technological advances of recent years that new geographic factors have been brought into play. The polar regions assume new importance as the shortest routes between North America and the principal centres of population of the world. In consequence, we must think and learn more about those regions. When w'e think of the defence of Canada, we must, in addition to looking east and west as in the past, take the north into consideration as well. Our defence forces must, of course, have experience of conditions in these regions, but it is clear that most of the things that should be done are required apart altogether from considerations of defence We must know more about such fundamental facts as topography and weather. We must improve facilities for flying. We must develop better means of communication. The general economic development of the north will be greatly aided by tests and projects carried out , by both civilian and defence services. As the government views it, our primary objective should be to expand our knowledge of the north and of the conditions necessary for life and work there with the object of developing its resources.
Canada's northern programme is thus primarily a civilian one to which contributions are made by the armed forces. This has been the pattern for many years. Thus the army years ago installed and lias continued to maintain communication systems in the northwest territories. It is now responsible for administering the Alaska highway, now known as the northwest highway system, extending from Dawson Creek to the Alaska boundary. The Royal Canadian Air Force has been responsible for taking aerial photographs to be used in the production of maps and charts. It has also been given the responsibility of administering the airfields of the northwest staging route from Edmonton north which are used for civil aviation. More recently, a small winter experimental establishment was set up at Churchill where various tests on clothing, equipment, transport, and so on, are being conducted which will be of general benefit to all who live in the north. Since the United States, as well as Canada, recognizes the
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need for greater familiarity with northern conditions, we have arranged for its government to participate in the work of this establishment. It may be that other tests and projects will require to be undertaken on a joint basis, in order to extend with a maximum of economy and effectiveness, our knowledge of the north. Through such extension we will acquire the basic data that are needed to make more accessible the economic resources of this region and which will be more valuable for defence purposes as well.
Subtopic: SECURITY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CANADA AND UNITED STATES IN NORTH AMERICA