Mr W.L. Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 21 OTTAWA, 10 November 1939, 11.15 p.m.


We have received circular telegrams D.73, 75, 76 [1] and proposed reply to the Netherlands and Belgian appeal and have sent the following reply begins:

(1) His Majesty’s Government in Canada concur in the suggested procedure of a reply by His Majesty on the advice of His Majesty’s Ministers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as well as His Majesty’s Ministers in the United Kingdom.

(2) As regards the substance of the draft reply, we concur except as to paragraph six which we consider should be revised somewhat as follows- The immediate occasion of the decision to enter war was Germany’s aggression against Poland. But this aggression was only a fresh instance of Germany’s policy towards her neighbours. The larger purposes for which my peoples are now fighting are to secure that Europe may be redeemed ‘from perpetually recurring fear of German aggression so as to enable the peoples of Europe to preserve their independence and their liberties’, and to prevent future resort to force instead of to pacific means in the settlement of international disputes. These aims have been amplified and enlarged on a number of occasions, including statements made by my Prime Minister in the United Kingdom [2] in the House of Commons on October 12th and by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs [3] in the House of Lords on November 2nd.

(3) The reason for the suggested revision as regards the substance is that the aims indicated appear to be too exclusively confined to Europe and may be held to justify the States outside that Continent refraining from intervention in the present war. They do not adequately set forth the reason for intervention of Canada and presumably the other Dominions. Further the paragraph as drafted is confined totally to statements made by His Majesty’s Ministers in the United Kingdom.

(4) Copies of this telegram are being sent immediately to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


1 Documents 345, 346 and 347.

2 Neville Chamberlain. See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, Vol. 352, cols 563-8.

3 Lord Halifax. See House of Lords, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 114, cols 1690-3.


[AA: A981, WAR 45B, ii]