Hon. L. B. Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs):
Mr. Speaker, as I previously informed the house, this government has already protested formally and strongly to the United States government in the only way open to this government with regard to the action of certain members of the United States Senate subcommittee on security in making public again, years after their first appearance, slanderous insinuations against the loyalty of a high Canadian official, which helped to bring about the tragic results that have so shocked and saddened us.
The note of protest to which I have referred was dated March 18. It was from our ambassador in Washington to the Secretary of State, and it reads as follows:
I am instructed by my government to bring to the attention of the United States government the allegations of disloyalty which have been made in the United States against Mr. E. H. Norman, the Canadian ambassador to Egypt, a high and trusted representative of the Canadian government. The irresponsible allegations to which I refer, and which in any event would concern matters to be dealt with by the Canadian government and not by a subcommittee of the United States Senate, were contained in the textual record of the internal security subcommittee of the Senate committee on the judiciary, which was officially released by that body to the press in Washington, D.C., at 4.30 p.m., on March 14.
I am instructed to protest in the strongest terms the action taken by an official body of the legislative branch of the United States government in making and publishing allegations about a Canadian official. This procedure is both surprising and disturbing because it was done without the United States government consulting or even informing the Canadian government and without taking account of relevant public statements made earlier by the Canadian government.
The Canadian government examined similar allegations as long ago as 1951, and as a result of an exhaustive security inquiry the full confidence of the Canadian government in Mr. Norman's loyalty and integrity has been confirmed in all respects. The conclusions of the Canadian government were made public at that time and must have been 82715-212
known to the subcommittee particularly as the State Department was requested at the time and again on December 11, 1952 to draw them to their attention. I am attaching the texts of two statements made by the Canadian government on this matter in 1951.
The repetition of such irresponsible allegations in the subcommittee and the publication on the authority of this official body of a record containing such allegations is the kind of action which is inconsistent with the long standing and friendly co-operation characterizing relations between our two countries.
Accept, sir, the renewed assurance of my highest consideration.
A. D. P. Heeney.
Today, Mr. Speaker, I have received from the acting secretary of state of the United States a reply to the communication which I have just read. It reads as follows:
I have the honour to refer to your note 155 of March 18, 1957 protesting, on behalf of the Canadian government, against certain references to Mr. E. H. Norman, the late Canadian ambassador to Egypt, which were made during hearings of the Senate internal security subcommittee and which were later made public.
I should like, at the outset, to express to the Canadian government and to Mrs. Norman my sincere condolences and those of my colleagues over the death of Ambassador Norman in Cairo.
As for the substance of your note, I wish to assure you that any derogatory information developed during hearings of the subcommittee was introduced into the record by the subcommittee on its own responsibility. As you are aware under our system of government the executive branch has no jurisdiction over views or opinions expressed by members or committees of the United States congress. The investigation being undertaken by the subcommittee lies entirely within the control of the subcommittee.
It is the earnest desire of my government to continue to maintain friendliest relations with the government of Canada, and it deplores any development from any sources, either American or Canadian, which might adversely affect those relations.
Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
We followed up, Mr. Speaker, the first note to the United States government, the one I have just read and pending a reply to it which has now been received, by oral communications through our embassy in Washington and through the United States embassy here. Our views on this matter have reached the very highest authorities in the government of the United States, who have understood our feelings and our position and have tried to be helpful in this matter.
In making this statement, Mr. Speaker, I venture to express the hope that the action in question about which we complain, and
which has aroused resentment and even bitterness in Canada, can be kept in proportion in so far as our relations with the United States generally are concerned. This action was taken by only one or two members of a legislative subcommittee, and by one of its employees. It has been attacked by other Americans and deeply regretted by more. May I mention, for instance, the sincere letter sent to our ambassador in Washington by the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, and which included the following words; this is from Senator Green:
It was with the deepest sorrow that I learned of the death of Mr. E. Herbert Norman, your ambassador to Egypt. Indication that his death may have been attributable to unfortunate publicity arising from activities in connection with the work of the Senate leads me to express my deep regret to the Canadian government and to the Norman family. Please convey this message to them.
I have, myself, received a great number of communications from, and read many articles by, Americans which express the same kind of indignation which we feel. Perhaps I might be permitted to quote one paragraph from a letter sent to me by a man of whom I have never heard, in a small town in Maryland. He writes:
I sincerely believe that the vast majority of the people of the United States have the warmest regard and admiration for your great country and its people and regret exceedingly the action of the subcommittee.
Please don't direct your ire at the people of our country or our government for I truly believe that in this case a handful of men have cast a bad reflection on over 160 million people.
I hope, therefore, that we will not permit our strong feelings in this matter to be directed against the people of the United States or the government as a whole. They remain our close friends, and we must do everything possible to maintain and strengthen a friendship which has meant so much to both countries in the past and may mean more in the trying and dangerous days ahead. To indict the whole United States because of our just resentment regarding the acts of two or three individuals, even though in high legislative positions, would be indulging in that guilt by association which we so rightly condemn in others as a dangerous and disintegrating threat to the freedom and order in our society today.
The issue before us, however, is not only the tragedy of one man, victimized by slanderous procedures in another country and unable to defend himself against them. There is a broader question of principle involved, the right, to say nothing of the propriety, of an agency of a foreign government to intervene in our affairs in such a way as to harass
one of our citizens who held a responsible and important position in the service of our government.
Such intervention, I am sure the house will agree, is intolerable and should not take place. It is this government's, this Canadian government's, own responsibility to deal with accusations against its citizens within its own jurisdiction in matters concerning security, as in other matters. It is not the responsibility of any subcommittee of the legislature of another country. We try to accept our responsibility as a government in this regard, and we will discharge it to the best of our ability, having regard not only to the security of our own country but also to that of a friendly neighbour, and to the danger to free institutions generally from the international communist conspiracy.
I hope we will also act in these matters, Mr. Speaker, in accordance with principles of justice and fair play, which do not include the making public of charges made in secret session of a committee, which concern officials of a friendly foreign state. If we fail in the discharge of our security responsibilities as a government, we are answerable to our own people and not to a subcommittee of any foreign legislature. While of course this government cannot control in any way, and has no desire to control, the practices of any governmental agency of another country, we have also a duty to refrain from any action which might assist or facilitate those practices to the prejudice of our own citizens.
We have, therefore, with this purpose in mind, examined our procedures regarding exchange of security information with the United States. I recognize, Mr. Speaker, that nothing we could have done would have prevented the action taken against Mr. Norman by the United States Senate subcommittee on security because the information they gave out, covering allegations going back years and dealt with by this government years ago, was secured from other than Canadian sources. Nevertheless, this experience has emphasized that we should now take steps to ensure that information received from us on these matters could not possibly be used for wrong purposes against Canadians in the future.
With this end in view, our ambassador in Washington today delivered the following communication to the United States acting secretary of state, and I will put this communication on the record:
I am instructed by my government to take up, as a matter of urgency with the United States government, the question of the procedures which have been followed intermittently by the internal security subcommittee of the Senate committee
on the judiciary in releasing the names of Canadians who have been mentioned in the proceedings of that subcommittee particularly in its executive sessions.
The Canadian government has more than once complained of the methods employed by that subcommittee in releasing the names of Canadians and has stated that if the names of Canadian officials appear in evidence before investigating committees in Washington, those names should be sent in confidence to the Canadian government so that the allegations can be investigated and dealt with in Canada.
In our view it is essential that this procedure, requested by the Canadian government, should be followed, and that references made in proceedings of the subcommittee to individual Canadians should not first be made known to the Canadian government through the press.
As the United States government knows, the Canadian government finds the procedures actually adopted by the subcommittee with respect to Canadians difficult to understand, unfair and indeed intolerable. The Canadian government therefore requests again that these procedures be altered in so far as Canadians are concerned along the lines indicated above.
The Canadian government has a duty to protect Canadian citizens by all means legally at its disposal from unwarranted interference by any foreign government. There is little that the Canadian government can do, however, to make this protection effective for those Canadian citizens, whose names are made public by congressional committees, unless it is able to secure the co-operation of the United States government.
The United States government is aware that the appropriate security agencies of the two governments have in the past exchanged security information on a reciprocal basis when such information formed part of an investigation important to the security of either country. This reciprocal exchange of information has assisted substantially in maintaining the security of our two countries, and the Canadian government is not suggesting that it has been improperly used by the security agencies in the United States with which this exchange takes place.
Nevertheless the Canadian government must take every precaution which lies within its power to protect Canadian citizens from the danger of this information falling into the hands of persons who might use it without any sense of responsibility or fairness, or regard for the rights of Canadian citizens, within the jurisdiction of Canada. In view of the conduct of congressional investigations affecting Canadians, and because of its responsibility for taking every precaution in its power to protect Canadian citizens, the Canadian government requests that, in the reciprocal exchange of security information, the United States government give its assurance that none of its agencies or departments will pass such information to any committee, body or organization in the United States over which the executive branch of the United States government has no executive control, without the express consent of the Canadian government in each case. The Canadian government for its part assures the United States government that any security information on United States citizens supplied by United States agencies to the security agency of the Canadian government will be given similar protection in Canada to that now requested with respect to security information about Canadians from the United States government.
Unless such an assurance can be given, I am instructed by my government to inform you that the Canadian government must reserve the right in future not to supply security information concerning Canadian citizens to any United States government agency.
That, Mr. Speaker, is the end of the note which was delivered today. I can only hope that very shortly a satisfactory reply will be received to that note, that the assurances we have asked for will be given, and that the rights I mentioned will not have to be exercised.
Subtopic: UNITED STATES