The St. Lawrence Waterway: A Study in Politics and Diplomacy

By William R. Willoughby | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
THE NEGOTIATION OF THE GREAT LAKES-ST. LAWRENCE DEEP WATERWAY TREATY 1930-1932

Less than a month after the Conservatives replaced the Liberals at Ottawa the American Acting Secretary of State instructed Hanford MacNider, American Minister to Canada, to advise prime minister Bennett of continued American interest in the St. Lawrence waterway and to inquire "whether the Canadian Government now finds itself in a position to appoint commissioners to discuss jointly with commissioners of the United States the details of the seaway, and to formulate a treaty appropriate to the purpose."1 In an interview granted MacNider, the prime minister indicated that he "could not see any immediate prospect of action by his Government upon such a request . . . and intimated, rather than said, that he regretted this matter should be brought before him at this time, contrary to his anticipation."2 Later, in a formal reply, he stated that, inasmuch as he would soon be leaving to attend a meeting of the Imperial Conference, it would not be possible to deal with the question until after his return.3

To President Hoover the prime minister's reply was keenly disappointing. On July 4, 1930, he had signed the Rivers and Harbors Bill calling for the deepening of the channels of the Great Lakes and the Thousand Islands section of the St. Lawrence with the comment: "We shall support the present commerce of the Great Lakes and make preparations for ocean shipping by the ultimate deepening of the St. Lawrence."4 Now, with the spread of unemployment and social unrest, the prospect of setting thousands of idle laborers to work on an undertaking of such great national importance was particularly appealing. Furthermore, the people

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