Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation


In light of recent remarks made by US Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, it is worth revisiting what we now know about the US-backed "regime change" that happened in Canada 40 years ago.

1962-1963, 'Knocking Over' "Dief the Chief":

How the U.S. Ambassador Helped Engineer “Regime Change” in Canada

by Richard Sanders

www.globalresearch.ca 31 March 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/SAN303D.html

Cellucci's Statements Speech by U.S. ambassador to Canada A. Paul Cellucci to the Economic Club of Toronto MARCH 25, 2003


 “George Ball and I knocked over the Diefenbaker government by one incautious press release.” (McGeorge Bundy, J.F.Kennedy’s National security advisor)

“My brother really hated only two men in all his presidency. One was Sukarno [President of Indonesia] and the other was Diefenbaker.” (Robert Kennedy)


In 1962, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Livingston Merchant and his Second Secretary Charles Kisselyak, fuelled a plot among the Canadian Air Forces, Canadian journalists and others to dispose of Prime Minister Diefenbaker. Kennedy hated Dief largely for his anti-nuclear stance. Merchant and other U.S. embassy officers with extensive espionage backgrounds, met at Kisselyak's home in Ottawa to feed journalists with spaghetti, beer and anti-Diefenbaker/pronuclear propaganda. Among the many participants in these off-the-record briefings was Charles Lynch of Southam News.

Diefenbaker later denounced these reporters as "traitors" and "foreign agents." He lashed out against Lynch on a TV program saying, "You were given briefings as to how the Canadian government could be attacked on the subject of nuclear weapons and the failure of the Canadian government to do that which the U.S. dictated."

Merchant and Kisselyak worked with RCAF Wing Commander Bill Lee and NORAD's number two man, Canadian Air Marshall Roy Slemon. Air Marshall Hugh Campbell and the chair of Canada's chiefs of staff, Air Marshall Frank Miller also approved Lee's campaign. Diefenbaker's avidly pronuclear Defence Minister, Douglas Harkness, also knew of Lee's effort.

As head of RCAF public relations, Lee went to Washington twice a month to confer with U.S. authorities. "It was a flat-out campaign," Lee later said. "We identified key journalists, business and labour, key Tory hitters, and...Liberals.... We wanted people with influence on members of cabinet. In the end the pressure paid off."

In 1962, new U.S. ambassador, William Butterworth, continued what Lee called the "flat-out campaign" by holding discrete meetings at the U.S. embassy to exert influence on Canadian journalists.

Lester Pearson was the President's choice. Kennedy gave the go-ahead to his friend and America's leading pollster, Lou Harris, to become the Liberal's secret campaign advisor in the 1962 election. Diefenbaker survived with a minority government.

The plot to bring down Canada's government came to a head in January, 1963. On Jan.3, top U.S. Air Force General Lauris Norstad held an Ottawa press conference. Prompted by questions from Lynch, and other reporters briefed by U.S. intelligence, Norstad criticized Canada's antinuclear stance. On Jan. 12, Pearson announced his new policy of supporting U.S. nuclear weapons in Canada. In protest, Pierre Trudeau called Pearson the "defrocked priest of peace" and refused to run for the Liberals.

The coup's final blow came when the U.S. State Department issued a press release which called Diefenbaker a liar on nuclear issues (Jan. 30). This tactic was suggested by Willis Armstrong, head of the State Department's Canada Desk in Washington. Butterworth added his suggestions and sent his senior embassy advisor, Rufus Smith, to Washington to draft it. "With Armstrong chairing, half a dozen officials from State, the White House and the Pentagon...shaped...the rebuke." The draft was polished by Under Secretary of State George McGhee and approved by acting Secretary of State, George Ball, and national security advisor, McGeorge Bundy.

The Canadian media had a heyday attacking Diefenbaker. Fights broke out in Cabinet. Diefenbaker recalled Canada's ambassador from the U.S. On Feb. 5, Defence Minister Harkness announced his resignation and Pearson called for a non-confidence vote. Dief's minority government fell, or rather, it was 'knocked over.'

Kisselyak was the U.S. embassy's contact to Pearson's election campaign. The Liberals had the strong advantages of a friendly media and Harris' state-of-the-art, computerized polling tactics. Diefenbaker, facing a primed hostile media, ran a stridently anti-U.S. campaign. Pearson's victory was hailed by newspapers across North America. Within days, the new External Affairs Minister, Paul Martin Sr., was approached by Butterworth to negotiate the acceptance of U.S. nuclear weapons. The warheads were deployed in Canada on New Year's Eve and there was partying in Washington.

Key Quotations on the events of January 1963

Trudeau's summary of the events of January 1963

"Do you think General Norstad... came to Ottawa as a tourist?... Do you think it was by chance that Pearson... quoted the authority of Norstad? Do you think it was inadvertant that on January 30 the state department gave a statement to journalists reinforcing Pearson's claims and crudely accusing Diefenbaker of lying? You think it was by chance that this press release provided the Leader of the Opposition with the arguments he used abundantly? You believe it was coincidence? Why [should] the U.S. treat Canada differently from Guatemala when reason of state requires it and circumstances permit?"
(Pierre E. Trudeau)

On General Norstad's Media conference, Jan. 3

"[Norstad's] purpose was to establish a basis for Pearson's conversion to U.S. nuclear policy."

"Kennedy sent Norstad to do this hatchet job on us. It was American imperialism of the highest order."
(Alvin Hamilton, Agriculture minister)

"This was another American turn of the screw to bring down the Conservative government."
(Charles Ritchie, Canada's ambassador to the U.S.)

On Pearson decision to reverse Liberal Policy and accept U.S. nuclear warheads into Canada (if elected), Jan. 12

"Kennedy achieved his dearest Canadian wish. Pearson progressed... to embracing the U.S. position on arming with nuclear weapons the Bomarcs and, no doubt, yielding to U.S. demands for storage of all manner of nuclear devices in Canada."

"A pure example of Pearson's willingness to accept the leadership of the U.S. on any vital matter."

Liberal policies were "made in the U.S."
(Tommy Douglas, NDP Leader)

On the U.S. press release, Jan. 30

"It was as deliberate an attempt as ever made to bring down a foreign government."
(Ed Ritchie, former under secretary of state for external affairs)

"This action by the State Department of the U.S. is unprecedented...it constitutes an unwarranted intrusion in Canadian affairs... [Canada] will not be pushed around or accept external domination or interference in making its decisions." "President Kennedy was going to obliterate us. I dared to say to him that Canada's policies would be made in Canada by Canadians."

"An absolute outrage, the most blatant, heavy-handed, intolerable piece of bullying."
(Charles Ritchie)

"Like a bombshell"
(a Diefenbaker aide)

"Brazen interference."
(Howard Green, External Affairs Minister)

"The U.S. should know from this Parliament that they are not dealing with Guatemala...or Cuba."

"Kennedy decided the government had to go...[I] wouldn't put it past him to say, 'Get rid of the bastards.'"
(R.Bell, Immigration Minister)

"Very useful. Highly beneficial in advancing U.S. interests by introducing realism into a government which has made anti-Americanism... practically its entire stock in trade."
(William Butterworth, U.S. ambassador to Canada)

"For God's sake, it was like tossing a match into dried hay."
(Rufus Smith, senior advisor to Will Butterworth)

Source: From K.Nash, Kennedy and Diefenbaker: Fear and Loathing Across the Undefended Border, 1990.

CIA Fingerprints:
The Americans behind the Plot to Oust John Diefenbaker

Willis Coburn Armstrong
He was a translator at the U.S. embassy in Moscow (1939-1941); Minister-Counselor (ambassador's "right hand man" (1958-1962) and interim charge d'affairs in Ottawa (1962). At least six of the U.S. diplomats that he selected for Canada had espionage backgrounds (Lisee, p.31). Armstrong told Lisee, that he had been an advisor to the CIA (p.175)1 As Director of the State Department's Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs, he attended secret meetings on the Vietnam war with U.S. and U.K. heads of state and their top intelligence officials (1964)2
1. Floyd Rudmin, U.S. "Ambassador Spies: 1960-1980," Jul.6, 1995.
2. www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/vol_i/28_69.html

George W. Ball
He was director of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, London (1944-45); served in JFK's successful campaign (1960) and became Deputy Secretary of State under JFK and Johnson.1 Ball was a friend of Mike Pearson.2 He was stationed in Cuba (1962), Brazil (1964) and Iran (1978).3
1. Obituary by R. Curtiss, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July/Aug. 1994
2. Nash, p.241-242.

McGeorge Bundy
He was a boyhood classmate of JFK. As a WWII intelligence officer, he helped plan the invasions of Sicily and France. Bundy's brother Bill "scaled the ranks of the CIA and held senior posts in the Defense and State departments.".1 As Special Assistant for National Security Affairs under JFK and Johnson, M. Bundy forcefully advocated expanding the Vietnam war and was a principal architect of U.S. foreign policy. He played a major role in the invasion of Cuba, the Cuban missile crisis, the escalation of the Vietnam War and the U.S. military intervention in the Dominican Republic.2 He was posted to Chile (1964).3
1. Book Review of The Color of Truth, McGeorge and William Bundy by Kai Bird, Biography Magazine, Sept. 1998
2. Encyclopædia Britannica www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/3/0,5716,123343+1+113090,00.html and

William W. Butterworth
During WWII, he was an economic warfare specialist in Spain and Portugal and was one of two Office of Strategic Services (OSS) contacts with German chief of military intelligence, Walter Schellenberg.1 The other was future CIA director, Allen Dulles. After the war, he was posted to China.2 Butterworth was the U.S. ambassador to Canada (1962-1968). At least six espionage officers joined his staff in 1962. Source: Floyd Rudmin, "Questions of U.S. Hostility Towards Canada."
1. A.C.Brown, Body Guard of Lies, Vol.1, 1975, p.507; Who's Who in America, 1965, p.300.
2. Biographic Register, 1968, p.78.

Louis Harris
In 1960, J. F. Kennedy was the "first national candidate to make important use of polling.1 "As his personal contribution toward the defeat" of Diefenbaker, Kennedy "gave his unofficial blessing to Lou Harris - the shrewd public opinion analyst - to work for the Liberal Party. Using a pseudonym [Lou Smith] and working in such secrecy that only half a dozen key people were aware of his activities, Harris...conducted extensive studies of Canadian voting behavior. They were key contributions to the Liberal victory of 1963."2 Harris' "in person" polling was conducted by 500 women.3 David Moore, author of The Super Pollsters, cites Harris as "the biggest most flagrant example" of polling manipulation.4 Likewise, Professors L. Jacobs and R. Shapiro argue that the way Harris used polling during Nixon's campaign for presidency "violated professional standards of conduct."5
1. Theodore Roszak, The Cult of Information, 1994, p.213.
2. Peter Newman, Renegade in Powers, 1963, p.267.
3. Knowlton Nash, Kennedy and Diefenbaker, 1990, p.167.
4. Interview by B.Lamb with D.Moore, Booknotes Transcript, May 10, 1992.
5. "Presidential Manipulation of Public Opinion: The Nixon Administration and the Public Pollsters" (September 1995)

Livingston Tallmadge Merchant
He worked on war production issues for the State Department (1942). As the U.S. exerted efforts to support the Nationalist forces, he was counselor at the embassy in China (1948-49).1 He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Far Eastern Affairs (1949-51) and State Department's liaison to the CIA's covert action arm, comprised of former OSS staff (1950). He initiated counter-insurgency operations in the Philippines (1950);2 was Assist. Secretary of State for European Affairs (1953-56, 1958-59) and U.S. ambassador to Canada (1956-58, 1961-62). His First Secretary (1961) was Louis Wiesner, a former OSS officer. At least eight espionage officers joined his staff in 1961. He was U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs (1960-61).3
Source: Floyd Rudmin, "Questions of U.S. Hostility Towards Canada."
1. W. Blum, The CIA: A Forgotten History, 1986, pp.15-20.
2. Z. Grant, Facing the Phoenix, 1991, p.89
3. Who's Who in America, 1964.

Merchant attended top secret meetings with J.F.Kennedy and top intelligence officials to destabilize Cuba.1 He suggested the assassination of Fidel and Raul Castro and Che (1960).2 He was posted to the Congo (1960).3
1. www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/frusX/01_15.html
2. Thomas Powers, Strategic Intelligence www.strategicintel.com/dirty1.htm
3. www.pir.org/quickie.html

Lauris Norstad
He was Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of General HQ Air Force (1940)1 and was responsibility for planning the nuclear bombing of Japan.2 He was director of the War Department's Plans and Operations Division (1947). He helped draft the National Security Act that created the CIA and the National Security Council.3 He became Commander in chief, USAF Europe (1950); Commander in chief, U.S. European Command (1956-1963).4
1. www.af.mil/news/biographies/norstad_l.html
2. unitedstates-on-line.com/minnesota/norstad.html
3. CIA historian Arthur Darling, The C.I.A.
4. www.af.mil/news/biographies/norstad_l.html

John Diefenbaker's "Made in Canada" Policies

"Diefenbaker promoted Canadian independence with evangelical zeal... 'We are a power, not a puppet,' the Chief thundered during the controversy over the placement of U.S. nuclear warheads in Canada. 'His rampant nationalism alienated the entire ruling class: Bay Street, Wall Street, his civil service and politicians from all parties. [George] Grant credited the Chief with the strongest stance against satellite status ever attempted by a Canadian. This stance came at a high price."
Source: Laurence Martin, Pledge of Allegiance, The Americanization of Canada in the Mulroney Years, 1993.

Cuban Missile Crisis:
When U.S. spy planes showed missile sites being constructed in Cuba, Kennedy decided to blockade Russian ships en route to Cuba. Despite NORAD, the Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Board on Defense and NATO, Kennedy neither consulted nor informed the Canadian government until [two hours] before his TV speech on Oct. 22, 1962.
The U.S. asked the Canadian government to move our military to an advanced state of readiness. Diefenbaker did not comply. Nonetheless, Canada's military moved immediately to advanced readiness without the Prime Minister's authorization. Canada's chief of naval staff ordered the Atlantic fleet to sea. Canada's Minister of Defense ordered the military's Chiefs of Staff to special preparedness.
General McNaughton's 1941 remark is painfully relevant: "The acid test of sovereignty is control of the armed forces."1 Howard Green, Canada's anti-nuclear External Affairs minister, pleaded that cabinet reconsider "blindly following the U.S. lead, particularly since the President had not kept the commitment to consult Canada over the impending [missile] crisis.
'If we go along with the U.S. now, we'll be their vassal forever.'"2


1. C.P. Stacey, Canada and the Age of Conflict, Vol.2, p.349.
2. Peter Newman, Renegade in Power: The Diefenbaker Years, p.337, p.337.

: Robin Mathews, Canadian Foundations web site www.ola.bc.ca/online/cf/module-4/usrel.html

The Avro and the Bomarcs:
Diefenbaker cancelled the Avro Arrow fighter plane program (1959) because the U.S. wouldn't buy any of them. Although then expected to arm Canada's Bomarc missiles with U.S. nuclear warheads, Diefenbaker refused.

Operation Sky Hawk:
Dief cancelled a U.S. nuclear war-related training exercise over Canada (1959).

Diefenbaker refused U.S. demands to stop trading with Cuba, and instead increased Canada's trade (1960).

At a Commonwealth conference (1961), Diefenbaker was the only white leader to support the African and Asian members against allowing South African membership.

After Diefenbaker's Bill of Rights (1960), the government reduced immigration restrictions based on racial grounds and began to accept more Asian and black immigrants.

Dief appointed the first women cabinet minister and senator.

First Nations:
Native people allowed to vote for the first time (1960).

Dief resented JFK's speech to Parliament urging Canada to join the Organization of American States, because Dief had already refused (1961).

Diefenbaker refused U.S. requests to cut off wheat supplies to China if they continued supporting Vietnamese independence efforts (1962).

Nuclear Test Ban:
Kennedy pushed for opposition to the treaty, but Canada voted for it (1962). The U.S. and most NATO countries abstained.

Sources: Knowlton Nash, Kennedy and Diefenbaker, 1990 and www.canschool.org/relation/history/7turbu-e.asp

For further reading on this US plot to Oust Diefenbaker:

Kennedy and Diefenbaker, 1990 by Knowlton Nash,

"Is the Sky Falling, or What?," Feb. 20, 1995. by Floyd Rudmin

Lament for a Nation, 1982 by George Grant

The Fight for Canada: Four centuries of Resistance to American expansionism by David Orchard, 1993, 1998

The Chief, 1968 By Thomas Van Dusen

Renegade in Power: The Diefenbaker Years, 1963 by Peter Newman

This Game of Politics, 1965 By Pierre Sevigny

Articles by Professor Floyd Rudmin:

"Questions of U.S. Hostility Towards Canada: A Cognitive History of Blind-Eye Perception"

"U.S. Ambassador Spies: 1960 to 1980" 1995



The above material was originally published in Press for Conversion! magazine, December 2000.http://www.ncf.ca/coat/our_magazine/links/issue43/issue43.htm Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) (A network of individuals and NGOs across Canada and around the world) Email: [email protected]  Web:http://www.ncf.ca/coat

Press for Conversion! Read the Jan. 2003 issue of our quarterly magazine on "Going to War: The American use of War Pretext Incidents"

Read the Oct. 2002 issue online: "Real Reasons for the Invasion of Iraq" http://www.ncf.ca/coat/our_magazine/links/issue49/issue49.htm
Our next issue will focus on U.S.-backed regime changes, wars, military and CIA operations in the Middle East & North Africa since WWII.
To join our list serve on the Afghan and Iraq wars, the war on terrorism and the criminalisation of dissent, send the message: subscribe no_to_nato     to     <[email protected] > To see the archives at http://www.flora.org/coat/forum/

Endorse COAT's online Global Appeal/Pledge of Nonviolence. About 17,000 people, from 122 countries have signed so far. The appeal/pledge is available in 18 languages. http://www.flora.org/coat/appeal/

 Copyright R. Sanders  2003.  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .