Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks With Prime Minister Pearson Upon Proclaiming the Columbia River Treaty

September 16, 1964

THE PRESIDENT. I proclaim this treaty. From this day forth let it be observed in good faith by the Government and by the people of the United States of America.

PRIME MINISTER PEARSON. Mr. President, Premier Bennett, Governor Rosellini, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is raining, and I was going to make a speech, but I think the best thing I can do is to cut my speech short and let you get in out of the rain.

But before I do that, may I say how honored and privileged I am to be here, to participate in this impressive and moving ceremony with the President of the United States of America.

I think the signing of this treaty is an important accomplishment, not only because it will be of great material benefit to our two countries and our two peoples in the development of the resources of this continent, but because it is another illustration of friendship and good neighborhood, and the way two countries can and should work together.

Mr. President, we are grateful to you for coming to this border to make this possible. We are grateful to you for bringing with you distinguished Members of Congress and important men in the political life of your country. We want you to know that you have been very welcome to Canada on this first visit to our country. We would like you to come back.

If you come back you will see, Mr. President, that this treaty has indeed been a constructive one and that it is going to work to the benefit of both of our countries. For that we owe a debt of gratitude not only to the negotiators but to the Premier of this Province who worked with them to bring about this great day in the development of this part of North America and a great day in international cooperation between our two countries.

Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Premier, Mr. Prime Minister, distinguished guests on the platform, ladies and gentlemen:

There are many reasons why my first trip abroad as President should be to Canada. In 1839 J. Pinckney Henderson, the Representative of the Republic of Texas to France and to England wrote that Great Britain might delay its recognition of the new republic for fear of the impact in Canada. But Canada remained loyal. Great Britain recognized Texas, and that recognition helped open the door to American union for Texas.

Had that not happened, Mr. Prime Minister, had Texas stayed independent, classical diplomacy suggests that we might very well today be concluding a treaty of mutual defense against the American influence. As a Texan, I can sympathize with the problems of living beside a wealthy and powerful and pervasive neighbor. That is just how the rest of the United States feels about Texas.

More than 3 years ago President Kennedy came to Canada. He told your Parliament his trip was "an act of faith." He said it was faith in our capacity to meet common problems, and in our common cause of freedom.

Well, my trip today is a fulfillment and a renewal of that act of faith. It is both a resolution of a common problem, and a strengthening of freedom's cause.

Lord Durham, in the famous report that laid the foundation for modern Canada, spoke of the possibility of establishing "partners in a new industry, the creation of happy human beings."

That partnership is the purpose of this treaty that we have signed today.

It will supply new electric power to millions of my countrymen. It will supply revenues to Canada, although I was somewhat shocked when I heard you read that cable about receiving $253,999,884, and then to show you what the Canadians really went for, they went for that last 25 cents.

It joins common purpose to common interest in pursuit of the welfare of the free people who share our continent.

My country is grateful for the spacious spirit with which this generous design was conceived and with the way it was carried out, even down to the last quarter. It is another landmark in the history of one of the oldest and one of the most successful associations of sovereign governments anywhere in the world.

What is the secret of this success? It begins with a truth: The only justifiable object of government is the welfare of individual men and women. It is a simple truth. But had others shared it with us, the world would have been spared many dark years.

With this as the animating design, our partnership has been built on four pillars. And the success of that structure might well serve as a model to the world.

The first pillar is peace.

The second pillar is freedom.

The third pillar is respect. One of my predecessors, Woodrow Wilson, said "You cannot be friends upon any other basis than upon terms of equality."

We maintain with each other the relationship that we seek for all the world: cooperation amid diversity.

Pericles said of a state that was much smaller than yours, "We have forced every sea and land to be the highway of our daring."

In the founding of the United Nations, in the Middle East, in the Congo, in southeast Asia, the world has responded to Canadian daring. You have followed not the highway of empire which helped destroy Athens, but you have followed the more difficult path to peace which can save the world.

And you have been a principal architect, Mr. Prime Minister, of that profound achievement.

The fourth pillar is cooperation. This agreement is the latest in an impressive list. We have disarmed our border; we have shared the costs of defense; we have divided power at Niagara; we have built the St. Lawrence Seaway; we have resolved scores of other problems.

Difficulties that divide others have united us. The reason is plain. We share interest and we share purpose. We come to the council table advised by reason, aware of each other's problems, anxious to find final agreement. You told us, Mr. Prime Minister, "As good neighbors we must be able to sit down and discuss problems realizing that solutions will not be found without hard work and without give-and-take on both sides."

We both have problems we must solve within our borders. My country has a war to win on poverty. We must find justice for men of all races. We must crush the forces of division which gnaw at the fabric of our union.

You have your own difficulties. We watch, with friendly confidence in your capacity to merge differences in the grand dream of Canadian design.

But there is also much, Mr. Prime Minister, which we share.

In the world we seek peace, and mounting fulfillment for man. Here we work together, from ocean to ocean, in resources and science, to enrich the life of our two peoples to elevate the quality of our two societies.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "Democracy is the form of government which guarantees to every generation of men the right to imagine and to attempt to bring to pass a better world."

That has been the story of your life, Mr. Prime Minister. It is also the strength of our two countries.

And I believe that future generations will have cause for gratitude that two great democracies--Canada and the United States--shared the most generous continent which God has ever granted to man.

Thank you.

Note: The ceremony was held at the International Peace Arch, Blaine, Wash., on the United States-Canadian border. During his remarks the President referred to William A. C. Bennett, Premier of British Columbia.

On the same day the President issued Executive Order 11177 "Providing for certain arrangements under the Columbia River Treaty" (29 F.R. 13097; 3 CFR, 1964 Supp.).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks With Prime Minister Pearson Upon Proclaiming the Columbia River Treaty Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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