The Norman case is closed

Editorial, Vancouver Province, 17 August 1957

The United States has given Canada its belated reply to the strong note of protest sent to Washington last April by the then minister of external affairs, Mr. Lester Pearson, in the Norman case.

The reply is qualified —as it must be, because of the division of powers which makes it impossible for the executive branch of the United States government to guarantee what the legislative branch will do. But the assurance that security information supplied by Canada about Canadians will be “carefully guarded” has been accepted by Prime Minister Diefenbaker.

It is to be hoped that the Norman case is now permanently closed.

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Viewed in retrospect, this tragic affair may have left behind it, on balance, more good than harm. The almost unprecedented wave of Canadian anger that followed Ambassador Herbert Norman’s suicide in Cairo last spring after he had been hounded by the internal security sub-committee of the United States Senate was backed up by Mr. Pearson with one of the stiffest notes ever sent from Ottawa to Washington. He threatened to cut off all security information to the United States unless it was guaranteed that the information would not be disclosed without Canadian consent.

The intensity of this reaction surprised Americans, but it also caused them to look both at their neighbor and, to some extent at themselves with clearer eyes. They realized that they could not take Canadian agreement with everything they did for granted. And they were led into a public re-examination of the survival in Washington of a McCarthyism which most of them had presumed dead.

On this side of the border, the Norman affair may also have served a useful purpose. It acted as a purgative for the pent-up resentments which had grown up over the issues of sovereignty raised by the close co-operation, particularly in military matters, of a small country with a large neighbor.

All this is done now, and two countries which are fundamentally the best friends on earth can well forget the episode.

Source: editorial, "The Norman Case is Closed," Vancouver Province, August 17, 1957

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