The initial public expression of this thinking was that of Escott REID, Department of External Affairs (now FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE), at the COUCHICHING CONFERENCE on 13 August 1947. Other Canadians, including Reid's minister, Louis ST. LAURENT, picked up the idea, and it was soon being discussed in Washington and London. Secret talks between the British, Americans and Canadians followed, and these led to formal negotiations for a broader alliance in late 1948.
Canada's representative was Hume WRONG, ambassador to the US and a hardheaded realist. Wrong believed any treaty should be for defence alone, a view popular among the other participants. But Ottawa had grander visions, and L.B. PEARSON and Reid pressed him to argue for the inclusion of a clause calling for the elimination of economic conflicts among the parties. Despite misgivings, Wrong secured the inclusion of Article II, the "Canadian article." Regrettably, little came of it.
The treaty was signed 4 April 1949, but it was largely a paper alliance until the KOREAN WAR. That led the NATO states to build up their forces, and for Canada this had major consequences: a huge budget increase and the first stationing of troops abroad in peacetime. The Canadian contribution was small, but its quality was widely considered to be second to none. Nonetheless, high costs and the nuclear arms given the forces in 1963 worried critics.
After a major review of foreign policy, the Trudeau government decided in 1969 to cut the Canadian contribution drastically, reducing the army and air elements. Canadian commitment of arms and men to the alliance remained substantially lower than other NATO partners wished.