CANADA needs a lobby in WASHINGTON
consistently drown the polite voices of our diplomats in the U.S. capital. So let's set up trade and business lobbies of our own, this veteran Washington Correspondent urges, and join in earnest the universal game winning friends and influencing politicians
C. KNOWLTON NASH
It's about time we Canadians stopped letting
ourselves be pushed around in Washington.
Our complaining of the last couple of years, sometimes shrill but frequently effective, has paid off by forcing a little awareness of Canada through the thick clouds of self-interest cloaking Washington's Capitol Hill. Now is the time to cash in on this new-found American knowledge that there is more above the 49th parallel than ice, snowand Mounties.
This is not a time to sit back gloatingly comforting ourselves with a “Well, we’ve told ’em” attitude. Now that we’ve at least partially breached Fortress America, we’ve got to educate ourselves to operate more effectively in Washington, using the tools of the trade as Washington knows them.
Putting it simply: Canada needs a lobby
No matter how frightful such a suggestion may sound to the more sensitive Canadian ears, lobbying is not a dirty w'ord in Washington. It may not seem to be in the hallowed parliamentary tradition of fair play known in Ottawa, but in Washington the legislative process frequently is a log-rolling, you-scratch-myback-I’ll-scratch-yours operation in which the lobbyist is a major figure. The cottonand peanut-state congressmen will vote for whatever the wheatand corn-state congressmen want, provided the reverse works, too.
Politics is a cynical game, especially the American style. Self-interest is a powerful factor in influencing the way a congressman votes. It’s time we learned to use this selfinterest to our own benefit.
And frankly, we’ve got to use their rules. We can make pleasant official representations from hell to breakfast in Washington, but so long as we can’t show them it’s in their
own best self - interest, we’ll get now'here.
We may not realize it, but we’ve got plenty of good cards to play in this Washington game. Perhaps it would not be polite for our diplomats to use these cards. They can’t lobby with Congress since they are accredited to the administration, not Congress. But a businessmen's lobby could do the job. It could be organized by a chamber of commerce, Canadian Manufacturers’ Association, the exporters. or any such group. And if Canadian sensitivity to the ugly word "lobby” is too great, then call it an "educational office” in Washington.
Actually, there is no reason why there could not be half a dozen or more Canadian lobbies in Washington. One could be there for defense industries, one for farmers, one for lead and zinc producers, one for oil, and so on. This is the way it’s done by the U. S. companies and industrial groups. They simply set up shop and openly go about their business of presenting special cases.
Everybody and his brother seems to have a lobby in Washington. Altogether there are 1,500 active lobbyists there, representing postal letter carriers, retired lighthouse keepers, public accountants, Apache Indians, turkey raisers, ice-cream manufacturers, banking
interests, lawyers, charities and even parents.
There is nothing sinister about these lobbies, nor would there be anything sinister about a Canadian lobby. Anybody in Washington who is hired to represent a company, organization or industry concerning planned, proposed or pending legislation must register with the secretary of the Senate and clerk of the House. Under the Lobbying Act passed about twelve years ago, failure to register could mean a stifl fine and a jail term. Once the lobbyist is registered, he must file quarterly reports stating by whom and how' much he is paid and how much he spent. These formalities over, the lobbyist is in business and can knock on congressional doors arguing for special treatment, testify before committees, and exert corridor pressure to his heart’s content.
The first thing we’ve got to learn is that it is Congress that gives Canada our worst economic headaches, not the administration. And to go one step further, it is congressional supersensitivity to both national and local lobbying that causes Congress to trample on our toes.
It is the farm lobby that pushed Congress into the present wide-open bargain-basement farm-surplus disposals that frighten and injure our farmers. The oil lobby was responsible for the import restrictions now' hemming in our oil industry. The minerals lobby is behind the lead and zinc quotas now restricting Canadian exports to United States. It also is trying to keep out Canadian uranium after current Canadian contracts with the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission are up in 1962. If it succeeds, that industry in Canada may be all but ruined. The fish lobby from New England constantly is chasing Canadian fish imports. The lobbies representing American defense industries are trying to continued on page 58
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Canada needs a lobby in Washington
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“We must know when people are our friends and when they are not” ,
prevent Canadian industry from getting any large slice of orders for continental defense, despite the administration’s wishes.
Even though we've given up our Arrow in favor of the U. S.-produced Bomarc, there is little chance of Canadian industry getting a major prime contract from Washington because of the pressure from the American defense industries. Well have to take the crumbs as doled out in subcontracts by the big U. S. companies. Already there are queries from Capitol Hill, spurred by the domestic industries, wondering about this defense - production sharing arrangement between United States and Canada, and if it might mean the loss of some business to American plants. Defense - industry lobbying is done to such a line degree in Washington that there is a mighty howl anytime plants in California get more business than plants on the east coast. And if the Pentagon dared to send any big contracts out of the country to Canada, the howl would be deafening and probably loud enough to call off the deal.
What’s happened up to now is that these lobbies have had clear sailing in Congress. Nobody has been there to fight them on their own ground with their own weapons. If we’re ever going to get anywhere in Washington, we've got to do a lot more than have diplomatic notes passed from pigeonhole to pigeonhole in the State Department. While our diplomats have done their job well within the strait jacket of protocol in which they must operate, our businessmen have failed to act. In short, until now Canadian business has been loud but lazy.
What is the job to be done?
Well, for example, we never have used the Florida delegation to Congress to our own advantage. Without Canadian tourists, and Canadian purchases of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and other products, the Florida economy would be in a mess. Therefore it is very much to their advantage to have a strong Canadian economy. And if Canada's econ-
omy is going to be hurt by oil import restrictions or lead and zinc restrictions, the Florida delegation to Congress, properly educated and stimulated, could become a strong ally in fighting the restrictions.
Senator Hubert Humphrey, a Minnesota Democrat, is a very good friend of ours when it comes to U. S. oil import quotas. He wants Canadian oil because his state can get it cheaper than oil from other sources. So do most of the congressmen from the upper midwest, and they want our natural gas, too. for similar reasons. It’s time we used this selfinterest to our own advantage.
Our tankers help Maine
Take, for example, our good friend in Congress — probably our best — Democrat Frank Coffin, Maine representative. Repeatedly he has taken up Canada’s battle against the oil import quotas. His motives are not purely altruistic. For one thing, he wants his state to get oil as cheaply as possible and that means imports. And here’s another reason for his interest you may never have heard: if the U. S. keeps out Canadian oil. about the only place our oil can then go is to the rich eastern Canadian markets. That would mean building a pipeline from the prairies to Montreal. If this were done, it probably would be accompanied by a tariff to keep out the Venezuelan oil now used. If Venezuelan oil were kept out. it would mean the roughly five hundred ships carrying oil between Venezuela and Canada each year would stop coming. It happens that these ships unload at Portland. Maine, where a pipeline runs to Montreal. And in Portland, each vessel spends something like five thousand dollars for supplies and repairs.
If Canada, disgusted with the U. S. import restrictions, builds that pipeline to Montreal there won't be any Venezuelan oil coming to Canada, hence no ships stopping at Portland, and hence a multi-million-dollar loss to Portland and the state of Maine.
There are many situations like this. It is all part of the over-all. usually known but seldom-appreciated fact that Canada is Uncle Sam’s best customer.
The point must be driven home to the politicians in Brooklyn, for instance, that the businessmen of their city sell more to Canada than Argentina does. Louisville politicians might be surprised to know their city sells more to Canada than New Zealand does. Chicago sells about as much to us as West Germany does, and Seattle sells almost as much to Canada as Norway does.
This kind of eye-opening knowledge, driven home regularly, can do us more good on Capitol Hill than all the aidemémoire, notes and speeches that tumble out of Ottawa. Canada means jobs and jingling cash registers for a congressman’s constituents. This means we have influence with the voters—and a congressman responds rather quickly to the whims of the voters.
While playing this lobbying game in Washington it is vital, of course, to
know when our friends are our friends and when they are not. Senator Humphrey of Minnesota is a real pal on natural gas and oil. but he’s no friend when it comes to agriculture and farm - surplus disposals. And while the New England congressmen may be friends on
oil, they’re not at all friendly about fish
Maybe all this does not sound too
gentlemanly, but lobbying is the way things are done on Capitol Hill. If we don’t play the game—and we have not so far—we will continue to get our fingers burned. Up to now, all we’ve done is yell “ouch.” It’s time for a little preventive medicine.
There is no reason for Canadians to take a sanctimonious, holier-than-thou attitude on lobbies. It’s part of life in Washington. Already we have benefited from some American lobbies which are grinding their own particular axes but also sharpening ours in the process. Fc instance, the St. Law'rence Seaway looby, working mainly for the Great Lakes region, has been a good friend of Can-
ada's. Or take the liberal - trade lobby, representing importers and some of the more enlightened American industrialists. It’s been good to us as well as to its own constituents.
Working on the scene in concert with these lobbying friends of Canada’s could give us tremendous advantages. And we need all the friends we can scrounge up in Washington these days, especially as the smell of protectionism is once again in the air.
Some of our businessmen already have begun delicately dipping their toes into
the turbulent waters of Washington lobbying and have found it most stimulating. So far, this has consisted largely of some mining men and exporters from Toronto and Montreal shaking hands around Capitol Hill and indulging in pleasant chitchat. But it has paid off. Rep. Hale Boggs, a Louisiana Democrat and a powerful voice on the House Ways and Means Committee—the committee that decides much U. S. trade policy—says he and his colleagues would like to see more and more Canadian businessmen coming to Washington to
tell their story. Here is an open invitation for us, and yet we bashfully continue to act the wallflower in this great economic ballroom wherein much of our financial future is being determined.
A session of Congress is like a gigantic poker game. Canada has something like three billion dollars in blue chips (the value of our exports to the U. S.) but we’ve never had the initiative to sit in and hold cards in the game. Whether we know it or not, a good hand of cards is waiting for us and people like Hale Boggs are simply asking us to
come pick up the cards and start playing.
Our real trouble is that, so far, all Canada has done in Washington is preach to the already converted. When we make an official protest on some American action, our ambassador runs over to the State Department, note in hand, and presents it to a smiling assistant or under-secretary of state. Frequently the State Department says it agrees with us, but charmingly confesses that after all, Congress did this or that, and the State Department simply can’t do anything about it, as much as it would like to. So, our protest is pigeonholed with the utmost charm and friendship. There is a desire to help us in the State Department, especially on the working levels. But this desire frequently is frustrated by higher levels. A major reason for the State Department hiding behind congressional skirts is that it wants support from Congress on policy matters much more important, it thinks, than a fuss with Canada on lead and zinc or oil. So, reasons the Foggy Bottom top brass, why anger congressmen by strongly pushing a Canadian claim of damage because of some U. S. trade restriction?
Probably the greatest single blow struck for our side has been the appointment of House and Senate subcommittees on Canada, which meet twice a year with similar groups from the Canadian parliament. Here is a direct avenue into the heart of Congress that we never have had before. Here is a way to put across our story directly to those who give us our economic headaches. But why just fire some Canadian awareness at the congressmen twice a year? A Canadian lobby in Washington could provide a continuing education for the representatives and senators and be of invaluable help to the subcommittees.
A congressman does not deliberately try to hurt the Canadian economy by pushing through a bill harmful to Canadian pocketbooks. Usually he does it through pure, blind ignorance. Several congressmen have reported they would never have done this or that if they had realized there would be a bad effect on Canada. In fact Canadian reporters in Washington are frequently the only people who tell congressmen what such and such a bill will mean to Canada. This is a job not for reporters, however, but for a lobby.
And while we sometimes run into a stone wall of charm in the State Department, it frequently is a wall of wellmeaning. glad-handing friendship on Capitol Hill. We’ve had enough, surely, of the after-dinner claptrap about that 3,()()0-mile undefended border. American history books tend to romanticize relations with Canada. Tell an American it w'as as recent as the 1930s that Canada still was figuring how to fight a military invasion from United States and he’ll be incredulous. Most Americans, like Senator Alexander Wiley, Wisconsin Republican, think Canadians are just “kinfolk” of theirs.
A lobby in Washington would help battle this biggest problem we have with Americans — convincing them we are different, and not “kinfolk.”
What we want and need now is not woolly, pleasant after-dinner speeches, but a hard look on Capitol Hill at our economic relations. This is where the real battle now lies. And since Capitol Hill is restricted territory for our able diplomats, private Canadian businessmen who have been doing a lot of talking but not much acting, must move in. And —as witness the comments of Rep. Hale Boggs—the welcome mat is out. ★