House of Commons Exchange About US Charges Against Norman


Friday, March 15, 1957


External Affairs


On the orders of the day:

Mr. J. G. Diefenbaker (Leader of the Opposition): I wish to direct a question to the Secretary of State for External Affairs arising out of a news dispatch from Washington to the effect that yesterday a United States investigating committee released evidence allegedly accusing a Canadian diplomat of being a communist and seeking to link him with one of the principals connected with the Canadian spy ring case of 1946. I do not want to embalm the name in Hansard, because after all that would perpetuate it.

This matter was up on one previous occasion and I would ask the minister whether, if it is found that there is no justification for these allegations, the strongest possible protest will be made to the United States against this attack which is detrimental not only to the Canadian diplomat but to Canadian international relations.

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs): Mr. Speaker, two other hon. members of this house have already brought this matter to my attention and indicated they would be asking me questions about it. I am very glad indeed that the matter has been brought forward, as it gives me an opportunity of making a statement in regard to it. During that statement, Mr. Speaker, I will, I am afraid, have to mention the name of the Canadian official concerned.

I have read the record of the internal security subcommittee of the United States Senate judicial committee which concerns Mr. E. H. Norman, our ambassador to Egypt, and which yesterday was given in Washington to the press, though not to the Canadian government, and has been mistakenly, and unfortunately, referred to in the press and radio as evidence. The best commentary I can make on this procedure is contained in the remarks of Senator Jenner, a member of the subcommittee, when he said at the end of the particular session of which this was the record, and I am quoting him from the record:

I will admonish everyone here that this is an executive session.

So Mr. Jenner and his counsel, Mr. Morris, whose methods of investigation we already know about and for which we have very little respect, gave this record of an executive session of this committee to the United States press before passing it on to the Canadian government, though it made serious allegations against a Canadian senior diplomatic representative. We shall be making strong protests to the United States government in respect of this matter.

This record contains a great many innuendoes and insinuations that Mr. Norman was a communist. We know all about these charges which were made years ago in Washington, as a result of which Mr. Norman was subjected, in his own interests and in the public interest and with his own approval and full co-operation, to a special and exhaustive security check, the results of which were announced in two press releases by our department on August 9, 1951, and August 24, 1951.

As a result of that check, Mr. Speaker, our confidence in Mr. Norman’s loyalty was not weakened in any respect. Nothing he has done since has affected—unless to increase—the confidence we have in him as a devoted, efficient and loyal official of the government, who is doing extremely important work at a very difficult post in a way which commanded my wholehearted admiration and deserves my full support. These slanders and unsupported insinuations against him contained in this United States senatorial subcommittee report we can treat with the contempt they deserve.

Source: House of Commons, J.G. Diefenbaker, L.B. Pearson, House of Commons Exchange About US Charges Against Norman, March 15, 1957, 2349-2350

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