Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address Before a Joint Session of the Parliament of Canada.

November 14, 1953

Mr. Speaker of the Senate, Mr. Speaker of the House, Mr. Prime Minister, Members of the Canadian Houses of Parliament, distinguished guests and friends:

Mes salutations s'adressent egalement a mes amis canadiens qui parlent le francais. Je sais que je fais preuve de grande temerite en essayant de m'exprimer, si peu soit-il, dans cette langue; aussi fais-je appel a votre indulgence pour les erreurs d'expression et de prononciation que je peux commettre en vous faisant part personnellement et directement de mes sentiments d'amitie et de haute estime. Je vous salue egalement pour la part importante que vous avez prise, de concert avec vos freres de langue anglaise, au developpement de ce grand pays.1

1 The following translation appears in the White House release of this address:

I include in my salutation my Canadian friends who speak the French language. Although I am more than bold to attempt even this slight venture into the speaking of that tongue, I ask your forgiveness for errors both in expression and in pronunciation as I take this means of conveying to you personally and directly my sentiments of friendship and high esteem. Likewise, I salute you for the great contribution you, together with your English-speaking brethren, have made to the growth of this great country.

Mr. Prime Minister, for the very great generosity of the personal sentiments expressed towards me, I am humbly grateful. For the reception Mrs. Eisenhower and I experienced here throughout this city, we should like to extend to all your citizens--all your people--our very deep appreciation, especially for the honor of being received before this Body. I assure you you have given us distinction that we shall never forget.

Since World War II, I have now been privileged, three times, to visit this great country and this beautiful city.

On my first visit, more than seven years ago, I came to express to the Canadian people a field commander's appreciation of their memorable contribution in the liberation of the Mediterranean and the European lands. On my second, I came to discuss with your governmental leaders your country's role in the building of Atlantic security. Both visits, in the warmth and spirit of a great people's welcome, were days that I shall remember all my life.

This day, I again salute the men and women of Canada.

As I stand before you, my thoughts go back to the days of global war. In that conflict, and then through the more recent savage and grievous Korean battles, the Canadian people have been valorous champions of freedom for mankind. Within the framework of NATO, in the construction of new patterns for international security, in the lengthy and often toilsome exploration of a regional alliance, they have been patient and wise devisers of a stout defense for the Western world. Canada, rich in natural gifts, far richer in human character and genius, has earned the gratitude and the affectionate respect of all who cherish freedom and seek peace.

I am highly honored by the invitation of the Parliament that I address it. For your invitation is rooted in the friendship--the sense of partnership--that for generations has been the hallmark of the relations between Canada and the United States. Your country, my country--each is a better and stronger and more influential nation because each can rely upon every resource of the other in days of crisis. Beyond this, each can work and grow and prosper with the other through years of quiet peace.

We, of our country, have long respected and admired Canada as a bulwark of the British Commonwealth and a leader among nations. As no Soviet wile or lure can divide the Commonwealth, nothing will corrupt the Canadian-American partnership.

We have a dramatic symbol of that partnership in the favored topic of every speaker addressing an audience made up of both our peoples our unfortified frontier. But though this subject has become shopworn and well nigh exhausted as a feature of after dinner oratory, it is still a fact that our common frontier grows stronger every year, defended only by friendship. Its strength wells from indestructible and enduring sources"identical ideals of family and school and church, and traditions which come to us from the common past.

Out of this partnership has evolved a progressive prosperity and a general well-being, mutually beneficial, that is without parallel on earth. In the years ahead, the pace of our mutual growth will surely be no less.

To strive, even dimly, to foresee the wonders of Canada's next generation, is to summon the utmost powers of the imagination. This land is a mighty reservoir of resources. Across it, at this moment, there moves an extraordinary drama of enterprise and endeavor--Canadians, rapidly building basic industries, converting waters into hydro-electric energy, scrutinizing your soil for new wealth, pushing into the barrens of the North for minerals and for oil. You, of Canada, are building a magnificent record of achievement. My country rejoices in it.

More than friendship and partnership is signified in the relations between our countries. These relations that today enrich our peoples justify the faith of our fathers that men, given self-government, can dwell at peace among themselves, progressive in the development of their material wealth, quick to join in the defense of their spiritual community, ready to arbitrate differences that may rise to divide them. This Parliament is an illustrious symbol of a human craving, a human search, a human right to self-government.

All the free legislatures of the world speak for the free peoples of the world. In their deliberations and enactments, they mirror the ideas, the traditions, the fundamental philosophies of their respective nations.

On the other hand, every free nation, secure in its own economic and political stability, reflects the responsible leadership and the wise comprehension which its legislature has brought to the management of public affairs.

Now, this continent uniquely has been a laboratory of self-government, in which free legislatures have been an indispensable force. What is the result? It is a mighty unity built of values essentially spiritual.

This continent, of course, is a single physical and geographical entity. But physical unity, however, broken by territorial lines, fortress chains and trade barriers, is a characteristic of every continent. Here, however, independent and sovereign peoples have built a stage on which all the world can see:

First--Each country's patriotic dedication to its own enlightened self-interest, but free from vicious nationalistic exploitation of grudge or ancient wrong.

Second--A joined recognition that neighbors, among nations as among individuals, prosper best in neighborly cooperation, factually exemplified in daily life.

Third--An international will to cast out the bomb and the gun as arbiters and to exalt the joint search for truth and justice.

Here, on this continent, we present an example that other nations some day surely will recognize and apply in their relationships among themselves. My friends, may that day be close, because the only alternative--the bankruptcy of armament races and the suicide of nuclear war--cannot for long, must not for long, be tolerated by the human race.

Great has been our mutual progress. It foreshadows what we together can accomplish for our mutual good.

Before us of Canada and the United States lies an immense panorama of opportunity in every field of human endeavor. A host of jobs to be done together confront us. Many of them cry for immediate attention. As we examine them together in the work days ahead, we must never allow the practical difficulties that impede progress to blind our eyes to the objectives established by principle and by logic.

With respect to some aspects of our future development, I hope I may, without presumption, make three observations.

The first is: The free world must come to recognize that trade barriers, although intended to protect a country's economy, often in fact shackle its prosperity. In the United States, there is a growing recognition that free nations cannot expand their productivity and economic strength without a high level of international trade.

Now, in our case--yours and ours--our two economies are enmeshed intricately with the world economy. We cannot risk sudden dislocation in industry and agriculture and widespread unemployment and distress, by hasty decisions to accomplish suddenly what inevitably will come in an orderly economic evolution. "Make haste slowly" is a homely maxim with international validity.

Moreover, every common undertaking, however worthwhile it may be, must be understood in its origins, its application, its effects by the peoples of our two countries. Without this understanding, it will have negligible chance of success. Canadians and citizens of the United States do not accept government by edict or decree. Informed and intelligent cooperation is, for us, the only source of enduring accomplishment.

To study further the whole subject of United States foreign economic policy, we have at home appointed a special commission with wide representation including members of the Congress as well as spokesmen for the general public. From the commission's studies will come, we hope, a policy which can command the support of the American people and which will be in the best interest of the United States and the free world.

Toward the strengthening of commercial ties between Canada and the United States, officials of our two governments have for some months been considering the establishment of a Joint Economic and Trade Committee. This Committee, now approved, will consist of Cabinet officers of both countries. They will meet periodically to discuss in broad terms economic and trade problems and the means for their equitable solution. I confidently believe that out of this process, the best interests of both our countries will be more easily harmonized and advanced.

The second observation is this: Joint development and use of the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes Waterway is inevitable. It is sure and certain. With you, I consider this measure a vital addition to our economic and national security. Of course, no proposal yet made is entirely free from faults of some sort. But every one of them can be corrected--given patience and cooperation.

In the United States, my principal security advisers, comprising the National Security Council, favor the undertaking for national defense reasons. The Cabinet favors it on both security and economic grounds. A Committee of the United States Senate has approved a measure authorizing it.

This measure provides for United States participation in a joint development by both countries. The proposal now awaits action by the United States Senate which, I am confident, will act favorably on it or some similar measure. The ways and means for assuring American cooperation in this great project will, I hope, be authorized and approved during the coming session of the Congress.

I have noted with satisfaction the New York Power Authority's acceptance of the Federal Power Commission's license. With this act the stage is set for a start on the St. Lawrence Power Project which will add materially to the economic strength of both countries.

My third observation is this: You of Canada and we of the United States can and will devise ways to protect our North America from any surprise attack by air. And we shall achieve the defense of our continent without whittling our pledges to Western Europe or forgetting our friends in the Pacific.

The basic threat of communist purpose still exists. Indeed the latest Soviet communication to the Western world is truculent, if not arrogant, in tone. In any event, our security plans must now take into account Soviet ability to employ atomic attack on North America, as well as on countries, friendly to us, lying closer to the borders of the U.S.S.R. Their atomic stockpile will, of course, increase in size, and means of delivery will increase as time goes on.

Now, each of our two nations seeks a secure home for realization of its destiny. Defense of our soil presents a challenge to both our peoples. It is a common task. Defensively, as well as geographically, we are joined beyond any possibility of separation. This element in our security problem is an accepted guide of the service leaders, government officials and legislatures on both sides of the border. In our approach to the problem, we both realize that purest patriotism demands and promotes effective partnership. Thus we evolve joint agreements on all those measures we must jointly undertake to improve the effectiveness of our defenses, but every arrangement rests squarely on the sovereign nature of each of our two peoples.

Canada and the United States are equal partners and neither dares to waste time. There is a time to be alert and a time to rest. These days demand ceaseless vigilance. We must be ready and prepared. The threat is present. The measures of defense have been thoroughly studied by official bodies of both countries. The Permanent Joint Board on Defense has worked assiduously and effectively on mutual problems. Now is the time for action on all agreed measures.

Steps to defend our continent are of course but one part of the world-wide security program. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, for example, is an essential defense of Ottawa, and of Washington, and of our neighbors to the South, as well as of communities thousands of miles to the eastward. Implicit in the consultations and detailed studies which must continue and in the defenses which we have already mounted is the need for world-wide vigilance and strength. But the purpose is defense. We have no other aim.

In common with others of the free world, the United States does not rely on military strength alone to win the peace. Our primary reliance is a unity among us forged of common adherence to moral principles. This reliance binds together in fellowship all those who believe in the spiritual nature of man, as the Child of God.

Moreover, our country assuredly claims no monopoly on wisdom. We are willing--nay, anxious--to discuss with friends and with any others all possible paths to peace. We will use every means--from the normal diplomatic exchange to the forum of the United Nations--to further this search. We welcome ideas, expressions of honest difference, new proposals and new interpretations of old ones--anything and everything honestly offered for the advancement of man's oldest aspiration.

There are no insoluble problems. Differences can be resolved; tensions can be relieved. The free world, I deeply believe, holds firmly to this faith, striving earnestly towards what is just and equitable.

My friends, allow me to interpolate here merely an expression of my own personal faith. I call upon all of those who are in responsible position, either in civil government or in the military world--in the dark days of 1940 and 1941 and 1942, there seemed no place from which to start to conquer the enemy that bid fair to enslave us all. Already he had put most of Europe under his heel.

When I stop to think of the bewilderment of our people--the fears of our people in those days, and then how in a few short years we were coming home to celebrate that great victory that we thought could at last mark the end of all wars, we see how fast human affairs, human outlooks can change, from one of despondency-almost of despair, in many quarters--to one of exultation.

Now today, as we fail to understand the intransigence that we feel marks others, as we try to color every proposal we make with what we believe to be reason, understanding--even sympathy, as we are nonplussed as to why these offers are never taken up, let us never despair that faith will win through.

The world that God has given us is, of course, material in its values, intellectual and spiritual. We have got to hand on to those who come after us this balance--this balance of values, and particularly the certainty that they can enjoy the same kind of opportunity in this spiritual, intellectual and material world that we, who will then be their ancestors, enjoyed before them.

That, it seems to me, is the real problem that Canada and the United States today have to meet. And it is the one reason I get such a thrill every time I come to this country, because here I sense in the very atmosphere your determination to work in that direction, not acknowledging defeat, certain that we can win because there are values that man treasures above all things else in the world that are now at stake.

The free world believes that practical problems can be solved practically; that they should be solved by orderly procedure, step by step, so that the foundation for peace, which we are building in concert with other nations, will be solid and unshakable. I deem it a high privilege to salute, through this their Parliament, the Canadian people for the strength they have added to this faith--and for the contribution they are making toward its realization.

Beyond the shadow of the atomic cloud, the horizon is bright with promise. No shadow can halt our advance together. For we, Canada and the United States, shall use carefully and wisely the God-given graces of faith and reason as we march together toward it--toward the horizon of a world where each man, each family, each nation lives at peace in a climate of freedom.

Note: The President spoke in the House of Commons in Ottawa at 11:13 a.m. His opening words referred to the Honorable Wishart Robertson, Speaker of the Senate, the Honorable Louis Beaudoin, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address Before a Joint Session of the Parliament of Canada. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232412

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives