Dec. 23/60

Canadian Trade with Cuba

The policy in effect is as follows:

  1. No shipment of arms, ammunition, military and related equipment, or materials of a clearly strategic nature will be or has been licensed for export from Canada to Cuba for more than a year. This course is based on the Government’s general policy of refraining from exporting such goods or commodities to areas of tension anywhere in the world.
  2. A tight control is exercised on the export of goods such as aircraft engines which many in certain circumstances have strategic significance. Individual export permits are required in each case and, as applications are received, the circumstances determine whether the export of the goods concerned has a strategic significance, and if not a permit is issued.
  3. As to Canadian goods of a non-strategic nature, there are no limitations on such trade with Cuba.

In answer to those well-intentioned people who feel that Canada should follow the course taken by the United states, I would emphasize that no other country, including each and all of the NATO allies of the United States, such as the United Kingdom, France, West Germany, Belgium, Norway and other member nations, has taken any action to impose a similar trade embargo to that of the United States.

For Canada to restrict exports of non-strategic Canadian goods to Cuba in conformity with the United States embargo would be to impose a stricter control on trade with Cuba than we have with the countries of the Sino-Soviet bloc. Indeed, Cuba has been a traditional market for certain Canadian food products – notably fish and potatoes – and the United States itself is continuing to ship food and drug products to Cuba.

Embargoes and trade controls are powerful and sometimes double-edged weapons. If we use them towards Cuba we may be under pressure to use them elsewhere and unnecessary damage will be done to Canadian trade, present or prospective. As a country which lives by international trade, Canada cannot lightly resort to the weapons of a trade war.

As to goods of United States origin, there is no basis for the fears which have been voiced that such goods, which can be exported to Canada without control, can be trans-shipped from Canada to Cuba, thus evading the provisions of the United States embargo. Under existing regulations, no commodity of United States origin may be re-exported from Canada to Cuba without an individual export permit, and no permit will be issued for the re-export of United States origin goods to Cuba. In short, any possibility of back-door evasion has been blocked.

Apart from these purely commercial and economic considerations there are, of course, important political factors to be taken into account. The Canadian Government is by no means complacent about the situation in the Caribbean, and the operation of military and strategic material controls is clear evidence that the Canadian Government considers it to be a sensitive area.

We do not minimize American concern, but it is the Government’s view that to maintain mutually beneficial economic relations with Cuba may help and contribute to the restoration of traditional relationships between Cuba and the Western world.

Canada respects the right of every country to determine its own policy towards Cuba; we naturally expect others to respect our right to do likewise. United States authorities have explained that the “arbitrary, illegal and discriminatory” economic measures taken by the Cuban Government against United States citizens and United States interests made their embargo necessary. Canada could not justify an embargo or measures similar to those taken in the United States on this basis, for the treatment accorded Canadians and Canadian interests in Cuba has not been of a similar nature.

Canadian-Cuba trade must be seen in perspective, and there is no evidence at the present time that there is likely to be any dramatic or sustained increase in the volume of such trade, even in the peaceful items of Canadian origin in which trade with Cuba is permissible.


John Diefenbaker and John F. Kennedy seated and chatting in the Oval Office, White House, Washington, D.C.
John Diefenbaker with John F. Kennedy

Media and Document Gallery

Images

John G. Diefenbaker and Olive Diefenbaker with the Kennedys
John Diefenbaker and John Kennedy
Formal photo of John G. Diefenbaker
John Diefenbaker talking with John Kennedy
John Diefenbaker with John Kennedy
John Diefenbaker with John Kennedy
John Diefenbaker with John Kennedy

Audio

Telephone conversation between John Diefenbaker and President John F. Kennedy, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

Creator: Unknown

Subject: Canada – Head of Government | United States – Head of State | Communication Systems – Canada and the United States | Yukon Territory

Description: John Diefenbaker, from the ceremony opening the Whitehorse Microwave System, shares a telephone conversation with United States President John F. Kennedy, who is in the Eastern United States; both men praise the partnership between their two countries which made the Microwave System possible

Date Created: 22 July1961

Identifier:MG01/XVIII/T58-JGD57

Speech by John Diefenbaker to open 1957 federal election campaign at Massey Hall, Toronto

Creator: Unknown

Subject: Canada – Parliamentarians | Canada – Personalities | Canada – Election Campaigning | Canada – Opposition to International Communism | Canada – Relationship with the United States

Description: John Diefenbaker explains the Progressive Conservative Party’s policies in regards to freedom from communism and the leadership the United States provides, internationally, in ensuring the survival of freedom

Date Created: 25 April1957

Identifier:MG01/XVIII/T134-PAC6a

Documents

Confidential memo from the Prime Minister

Creator: Mr. Diefenbaker

Subject: Canada – Cold War

Description: Regarding statements made by Deane Finlayson, leader of Progressive Conservative Party of British Columbia, who made discouraging remarks about actions taken by the government.

Date Created: 26 October1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038976 – 038978)

Secret Memo from E. Davie Fulton to John Diefenbaker

Creator: E. Davie Fulton

Subject: Canada – Cold War | Canada – RCMP | Canada – International Relations | International Situation – Cuba | Soviet Union – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Extracts from a Communist Convention infiltrated by RCMP in October 1960.

Date Created: 12 December1960

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038859 – 038861)

“Certain General Views of the Government” regarding Cuba

Creator: Unknown

Subject: Canada – Cold War | Canada – International Relations | Canada – Relations with United States |

Description: Outlines policy of Canadian government regarding the threat of Cuba.

Date Created: 12 December1960

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038867 – 038869)

Message from Harold MacMillan to John Diefenbaker

Creator: Rt. Hon. Harold MacMillan

Subject: Canada – Cold War | Canada – International Relations | International Situation – Cuba | International Relations – United Kingdom

Description: Message in which MacMillan supports Canadian stance of utilizing the United Nations as a forum for solving problems in Cuba.

Date Created: 30 October1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038996)

Message from Khrushchev to Kennedy

Creator: Nikita Khrushchev

Subject: Canada – Cold War | Canada – International Relations | International Situation – Cuba | Soviet Union – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Outlining the reasons for assisting Cuba in attaining defensive weapons

Date Created: 21 October1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038985 – 038987)

Letter from John Diefenbaker to J.W. Murphy

Creator: John Diefenbaker

Subject: Canada – Cold War | Canada – International Relations | Canada – Relations with United States | United States – Senate | International Situation – Cuba

Description: Statements by American Senator Kenneth Keating on 07 February CBC Broadcast.

Date Created: 8 February1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038870 – 038871)

Printed transcript from Parliamentary debate

Creator: Unknown

Subject: Canada – Head of State | International Situation – Cuba | Canada - Parliamentary Debate | Canada – Relations with United States | United States – Head of State

Description: John Diefenbaker makes official statement on Cuban issue, following the television broadcast by the President of the United States.

Date Created: 22 October1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038902 – 038903)

Statement by Diefenbaker

Creator: John Diefenbaker

Subject: Canada – Head of State | Canada – Cold War | Canada – International Relations | International Situation – Cuba

Description: Diefenbaker announces an end to the potential conflict with Cuba.

Date Created: 28 October1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038993)

Transcript of Parliamentary Debate

Creator: Unknown

Subject: Canada – Cold War | International Situation – Cuba | Soviet Union – Nuclear Weapons | Canada – Parliamentary Debate | Canada – House of Commons

Description: Debate in which Mr. Diefenbaker makes official statement on “Cuban Situation”.

Date Created: 25 October1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038971 – 038973)

Secret Memo

Creator: Unknown

Subject: Canada – Cold War | Canada – International Relations | International Situation – Cuba | Soviet Union – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Secret memo outlining Soviet intentions and reactions during Cuban situation.

Date Created: 26 October1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038979 – 038982)

Document outlining Canadian trade with Cuba

Creator: Unknown

Subject: Canada – Cold War | Canada – Trade with Cuba | Canada – International Relations | Canada – Relations with United States | International Situation – Cuba

Description: Brief document outlining stance on international trade with Cuba regarding American trade sanctions.

Date Created: 23 December1960

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038862 – 038865)

Letter from Ivan B. White to Howard Green

Creator: Ivan B. White

Subject: Canada – Cold War | Canada – Relations with United States | United States – Head of State | International Situation – Cuba | Soviet Union – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Text of President Kennedy’s Proclamation on “Interdiction of the Delivery of Offensive Weapons to Cuba” made on 23 October 1962.

Date Created: 24 October1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (038925 – 038929)

“Your Emergency Pack”

Creator: Civil Defence, Department of National Health and Welfare

Subject: Canada – Cold War | Canada – Civil Defence

Description: Instructions for creating proper emergency preparedness and survival kit.

Date Created:1959

Identifier:MG01/XII/C/120 Volume 56 (042309 – 042316)