External Affairs Confronts Norman About Halperin
October 24, 1950.
1. Mr. N.A. Robertson and I saw Mr. E.H. Norman in my office today.
2. I had the unpleasant duty of telling Norman that the Canadian and United States authorities had discovered seven entries concerning himself in the Halperin Notebook. I pointed out that the notebook had taken a prominent place in security matters since the discovery in it of [atomic spy Klaus] Fuchs’ name. I said I was sure he would see the implications of those entries both for himself and the Department of External Affairs. It was for this reason that he was recalled, and that I decided, after he had made his first reports, that I would put the position to him directly, and hear what he wished to say.
5. I asked him if he had ever been a member of the Communist Party, and he categorically replied that he had not. He said that in university days at Toronto and Cambridge, he had associated with radical undergraduate groups, some of whose members were Red. He had been a member of the League for Social Reconstruction in Toronto, and of a social group at Cambridge, and he mentioned individual Communists in Cambridge he had known. These political interests and activities, he said, ceased with his undergraduate days, and his interests at Harvard were different. In any contacts with Halperin, or anyone else, after the time he entered Government employment, he was careful not to indicate the particular work in which he was engaged. He realized that that was very secret.
6. I said I was making no allegations, but he would recognize that the appearance of his name in the notebook, and his association with Halperin, and perhaps with others, raised most serious questions for the Department. I did not know when the matter might become public, and if it did so, both our position and his would be most difficult.
7. I asked him why, when the inquiry by the Royal Commission on Espionage was instituted, and Halperin’s name was known to be involved, he had not let the Department know of his acquaintance with Halperin. Norman replied that he had worried about this point a good deal, and had come to the conclusion, on the assumption that the Department would know from the evidence of his association with Halperin, that he should not himself raise the question. Robertson and I both pointed out that had he done so at that time, his position would be easier to explain now. Norman agreed that he had made a mistake, but added that since his conscience had been clear, he had not felt then that to mention the matter would be the wise course.
8. Norman said he fully recognized the embarrassing position in which developments placed the Department, and was most anxious not to harm the Department. He said he would be willing to resign if that was thought to be the right course. We made no comment on this suggestion. I told him that our intention was that, after seeing the Minister tomorrow, he should go on leave. In the meantime, both he and ourselves would consider what course should be adopted.