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Newfoundland National Convention, 13 November 1947, Debates on Confederation with Canada

714 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1947

November 13, 1947

Mr. Cashin I give notice thatI will on tomorrow ask the Honourable the Commissioner for Home Affairs to obtain as soon as possible from the United Kingdom government the answers to the following questions:
(a) Does the United Kingdom government regard the legislation known as the Newfoundland Act, 1933, whereby the constitution of Newfoundland was suspended, as being at present valid, subsisting and legally effective?
(b) If the said legislation of 1933 is at present regarded by the United Kingdom government as valid and effective, is the United Kingdom government prepared to comply with the provisions as set forth in the annex to the said act, wherein it states in section 4, subsection (g), "it would be understood that, as soon as the Island's difficulties are overcome, and the country is again self- supporting, responsible government on the request of the people of Newfoundland would be restored?"
(c) If the United Kingdom government intends to carry out the provisions set forth in the annex to the 1933 legislation, sub-section (g), what manner and what methods do they propose using to obtain the wishes of the people?
November 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 715

Report of the Finance Committee: Economic Report[1] Committee of the Whole

Mr. Fudge ....I do not know of any human document, including the Bible itself, that has not been criticised, and consequently I was not at all surprised when certain delegates set themselves up as being greater authorities than the compilers of the Economic Report. We have witnessed this in the case of every report which has come before us. I regret this, because whilst I consider a certain amount of honest criticism healthy, at the same time a policy of opposition in an assembly such as this cannot be a good thing, either for ourselves or for the country at large. Constructive suggestion and bitter opposition are worlds apart. On Tuesday past we had an exhibition of the sort of thing I have in mind β€” a verbal storm was raised when one delegate spent hours saying that we are not self-supporting....
I listened attentively to those criticising this report, hoping I might hear something that would throw a new light on the facts presented. I heard the member for Bonavista Centre put his personal construction on many items but in no case was he able to change these facts. I heard a great deal of hair splitting, for instance, the report states that our Railway is valued at $72 million, and the member for Bonavista Centre says no one would pay this amount for it. No one suggested that our railroad should be put up for sale or that anyone should be asked to buy it. The report simply states that the Railway is valued at $72 million, a figure which Mr. Smallwood endorses himself in the report furnished by the Ottawa delegation. I give this as an example of the extremes to which critics will go to get something to say. Again he bewails the fact that our highroads do not earn any revenue. If this is an argument against highroads, then it would appear to be Mr. Smallwood's argument that North America has made a grave mistake in building roads.
Again he is not satisfied with the limited nature of the scope of the report. He says we should know what the condition of this country is going to be beyond three years from now. I suggest he discuss this matter with the governments of the United States or Canada, or any government. I imagine he would be surprised at what they would say to him. He says that we should not plan to build a local merchant marine. If he honestly thinks this, then it simply means one of two things, either we should continue to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to foreign shipping companies, to pay the wages of hundreds of foreign sailors, or we should stop bringing goods to the country. Mr. Smallwood said many other things, but as they amount to nothing more than carping criticism, I honestly do not think that I am justified in taking up the time of this House in dealing with them. Since he has dismally failed to show that this country is not self-supporting, has been unable to prove that Newfoundland will not be self-supporting in the foreseeable future, I contend he has failed in everything, except to show how easy it is to attempt to tear down the things which other men build up.
Coming back to the report itself, the most interesting thing I found was the fact that it officially shows the things which I had always felt to be so, but which I was not in a position to prove. The first was my belief that Newfoundland could always look after itself if given a square chance to do so.... If Newfoundland had been allowed to do what she should have done in l933, declare a moratorium on her debts, we would never have known a depression such as we had. The report states that we are self-supporting, and this fact is so self-evident that a dozen critics cannot change it. The second fact it shows is that we are in a position where we can look to our future with confidence. The report limits its view to three years. Mr. Chairman, my own view goes far beyond this. When I review the stable nature of our industries, I say that our future is assured not for ten years, but for the next 50 years, until the last ton of ore is dug from the limitless iron beds of Bell Island; the last ton of paper comes from our mills, and the last cod's tail comes out of the ocean. No man in this chamber will live to see the exhaustion of our main industries, and to prophesy the failure of these sources of wealth is a blasphemy against a bountiful Providence.
I am leaving out of the picture altogether that great possession of ours on the Labrador β€” 110,000 square miles of potential mineral, timber and water-power riches. Was there ever any country on God's green earth that could look to the future with such hope and confidence? The 716 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1947 very air of this country is breathing with the expectancy of the great things which are to come. And that knowledge of our happy position seems to have reached the notice of those far from our shores, who are already casting their covetous eyes on our little country. Mr. Smallwood, with others, would make much of the fact that we owe our present prosperity to war conditions. I submit that we are looking at the picture upside down. If they said our prosperity began with the war, they would be more correct. The question is not what caused our prosperity, but will it continue? Is it stable? What we have to deal with here are not causes, but effects. If the discovery of oil in a territory makes that place rich, are we going to say that she is not really rich because she owes her prosperity to the lucky discovery? If America based her start to greatness on a war of independence, are we going to charge her with having obtained a false independence and prosperity? If something like a war happens in this country, which gives a new life to our industries, are we going to concern ourselves with the cause, does not the fact remain that we are prosperous and promise to remain so? Is not that the whole question? If things were bad in the past, is that to be a proof that they must also be bad in the future?
Anyone who has given any intelligent survey of Newfoundland conditions knows that we cannot base our present ideas on the past economic history of this country. Because the clear fact remains that our primary industries, fishing and pulp and paper, are in a vastly different position than before the war....
The annual payrolls of the pulp and paper industry in 1939 were approximately $6,500,000. In 1949 they will be about $25 million. The total value of the exports of the industry in 1939 was $14 million. In 1949 the value of the exports of pulp and paper will probably be between $45-50 million. The whole trouble with our paper industries a few years ago was not the price but rather the market, and the market is assured for ten years for our total output of paper. To satisfy those who are doubting, let me suggest you get the total exports of our paper from 1909 to 1946. You will find that it averaged $60 per ton. The figures covering our cod fisheries show similar increases, and it must be remembered that in connection with our paper industries that full time operations are assured for the next ten years.
In Mr. Starkes' remarks the other day with reference to the marketing of our salt codfish, he drew to our attention that in some sections of the country a substantial quantity of salt codfish could not be disposed of. This is not the failure of the markets to absorb the fish, but is actually and unfortunately the responsibility of those people who did not carry out the instructions of the Fishery Board, who, at the beginning of the season gave definite instructions to the effect that shore fish caught in any section of the country should not be cured as heavy Labrador cure. This is the type of fish that goes pink, and therefore the article is spoiled before arriving in the markets. Surely, Mr. Chairman, the people who buy our fishery products are entitled to receive the actual product for which they bargain, and not some other substitute. This, therefore, is sufficient proof that central curing stations should be established in selected centres to enable our fishermen to spend a longer period in the catching of fish.
Is Mr. Smallwood going to tell us that we are sending our rolls of paper to fight a war? Is the ore from Bell Island going out to make shells? Is our fish going out to feed an army? Is he going to try and tie in all the dollars we are to receive in the future with some war that is going on somewhere that none of the rest of us knows anything about? I do not think I have ever listened to such a silly argument since I came to this chamber as that used by Mr. Starkes in trying to back up a weak cause, for he himself looks to the bright economic future for Lewisporte. To prove my statement, Mr. Starkes is at this very moment building one of the largest buildings ever to be erected in our outports, costing in the neighbourhood of $40,000. If codfish, lobsters, wood etc., fail, where are the dimes coming from to buy tickets to see the movies at Lewisporte? Who does he think he is bluffing?
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman is that strictly in order? Is that parliamentary practice? That is just a bit low there, isn't it?
Mr. Chairman Members must refrain from using any language which may be regarded as offensive, and if members would confine themselves to addressing the report rather than comments which other members have made, I am sure we would not go very far astray.
Mr. Starkes I would like Mr. Smallwood to November 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 717 understand that words do not affect me like that.
Mr. Fudge With reference to the market for our salt codfish, he was trying to fool or bluff the Canadian government.
Mr. Smallwood Point of order. I demand that Mr. Fudge withdraw that remark.
Mr. Chairman I do not think that is a fair inference, Mr. Fudge, but I must sustain you on the point that Mr. Smallwood did leave the impression that he was representing the optimistic, and therefore perhaps not the realistic view of the Newfoundland Railway. Beyond that you are not entitled to go.
Mr. Higgins Might I suggest that the quotation from Mr. Smallwood's speech be read?
[A recess was called to obtain the transcript. The Chairman read an extract from Mr. Smallwood's speech delivered on November 4, 1947]
Mr. Chairman The inference that I draw from the remarks I have just read is this: that the member for Bonavista Centre stated that the valuation of $72 million was obtained from the Newfoundland Railway management and that he personally did not believe the Railway to be worth $72 million; so that when the figure of $72 million was handed over to the Ottawa delegation he was of the opinion that it was an inflated figure.
Mr. Higgins The inference I got from what Mr. Smallwood said was that Mr. Smallwood, myself and the other members of the delegation did give incorrect figures to the Canadian government. It is not true as far as I am concerned.
Mr. Smallwood What Mr. Higgins said was I had used the words "fooling the Canadian government". I asked him to withdraw that and he withdrew it. Now Mr. Fudge has repeated the statement and I ask him now to withdraw it. Mr. Chairman I must sustain you on that. But in fairness to Mr. Higgins and to Mr. Fudge, I have to hold to my interpretation that you personally believed the figure of $72 million, handed to the Canadian government, to be an inflated figure.
Mr. Smallwood That is correct. The Railway management was asked for an estimate of the value of the Railway and from that moment to this moment, I have never changed my mind. I did not think and I do not think the Railway to be worth $72 million.... But the Ottawa delegation received it, passed it over to the Canadian government, along with other figures about the Railway without a word of comment whatever.... At no time have I ever said we were trying to fool the Canadian government....
Mr. Chairman You have not made the statement here, and it is not a fair inference to draw that you were trying to fool the Canadian government.
Mr. Hoilett I distinctly remember the speech made by our friend.
Mr. Chairman I read the extracts.
Mr. Hollett You read an extract. Mr. Smallwood spoke from two to three hours, and that matter came up more than once.
Mr. Chairman If you wish I shall adjourn the house until we get the full transcript.
Mr. Hollett I do not wish that. I do remember his saying, "We are not going to fool ourselves." However I am not concerned with what was said β€” I would like to ask if the information gathered from the Railway is in the possession of that delegation, in writing from the Railway management? Did Mr. Russell or Mr. Ryan submit the figure of $72 million in writing, or how was it obtained?
Mr. Smallwood It was obtained by submitting to the Railway a typewritten list of questions. The Railway answered with typewritten replies, and these replies were handed to the secretariat of this Convention to be mimeographed and the mimeographed copies were supplied to the Government of Canada. I am 99.99% certain I now have in my possession the original replies given to the Ottawa delegation. They were given to me as secretary of the delegation β€” they all came to me.
Mr. Chairman By whom in the Railway was this information passed over?
Mr. Smallwood The procedure was this: there were seven members of the delegation; we broke down under various headings the information we wanted. Each member of the delegation was given so many kinds of information to get; he had to go to the various government departments and get certain information. Speaking from memory, I believe I am the one who collected the information on the Railway, as I did also on a number of other departments. Mr. Higgins had to do with everything pertaining to law courts; Mr. Ashbourne gathered the information on fishery and marine matters, and so on. At all events, I have 718 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1947 the information now and if the Convention desires it, we will be only too happy to produce the original documents handed us by the Railway management and containing the Railway management's own estimate of $72 million as being the value of the Railway.
Mr. Higgins Mr. Smallwood did say that one of the questions we would be asked was what was the value of the Railway. The value was ascertained. Now he says, "Do not let us fool ourselves as to the value." Whom were we fooling then, was it ourselves or Canada?
Mr. Chairman I am not interested in that. I am asked to pronounce upon whether or not Mr. Smallwood has said he had fooled the Canadian government. He has not made that statement, he did say the figure of $72 millions was obtained from the Railway and that he personally believed it to be an inflated figure. That is as far as I am prepared to go.
Mr. Higgins What was the inference?
Mr. Chairman I am not concerned with inferences. The point of order raised was whether or not he had stated he had fooled the Canadian government.
Mr. Hollett You have seen only one small excerpt of a two hour speech.
Mr. Chairman I will adjourn the House until it is obtained.
Mr. Smallwood I do not suggest we adjourn, but I would ask that the transcript be produced β€” not today, but in a couple of days' time.
Mr. Chairman I will order the transcript produced.
Mr. Cashin I would suggest that since this information has been gotten from someone in their official capacity at the Railway, the original copies of these valuations with the official signature be tabled here for the information of the Convention.
Mr. Chairman These documents are Convention property and if they are in your hands, Mr. Smallwood, or in the possession of anyone, I must ask you to deliver them to the Secretary with all possible speed.
Mr. Fudge I am sorry to have caused so much confusion. I have not much left to say, but I would like to make this comment. Mr. Smallwood did say he was trying to convince the Canadian government that Newfoundland was sitting on top of the world. I put it to you, how many times has Mr. Smallwood said in this chamber that we were down and out, that we were serfs?
Mr. Smallwood I never said that.
Mr. Fudge You did. You also said we were a hundred years behind the times. If he told the Canadian government what he did not believe to be correct, how can we accept other things he might tell us?
Mr. Chairman He delivered over official figures which he personally believed to be inflated.
Mr. Fudge If these reports are incorrect in that respect, cannot they be incorrect in other respects? I am inclined to use the words of Mr. Smallwood himself regarding another report, "These Canadian reports are not worth the paper they are written on."
Mr. MacDonald After listening to the eloquent and sometimes somewhat lengthy speeches from the gentlemen who preceded me, it is with some hesitation I rise to speak on the report which generally speaking reflects great credit on the chairman of the Committee.... I may say it shows a certain amount of optimism which I cannot wholly share. Take as a precedent what happened after World War I β€” it may not happen again, I hope it will not, but affairs in the world at present do not tend to foster a wholly optimistic view. I hope you do not think I am not an optimist. They say the difference between an optimist and a pessimist is that the former sees the doughnut and the latter sees the hole. But there is always the little word "caution". I do not know what Mr. Smallwood would mean by realism, but I know it is a hard word to utilise in foretelling the future.
There are a few questions I would like to ask and a few points I would like to mention. Page 2, "Today therefore, we can definitely state that Newfoundland's capital account shows a surplus in cash of $35 million." In fairness to the Committee I want to call their attention to a statement made in one of the local papers asserting that for the year 1947-48 the accumulated surplus was $28,789,000. These are the figures according to the budget speech. May I ask Major Cashin to explain how the difference has arisen?
Page 6. With the establishment of a mercantile marine I am in full agreement. As far as I can ascertain millions of dollars are being sent out of this country in this connection. There must be some hitch somewhere or our shipping firms November 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 719 would surely be in this business before now. I cannot agree that the government should go into the shipping business themselves, as from what I have seen our government has never been successful in handling business affairs showing profit. Nevertheless the government could encourage industry by loaning money to some who had capital to put into the business. I have no reason to suppose it would be a paying venture.
Page 11. Might I ask Major Cashin where is his authority for saying that the world market is such that there is a possibility of a rise in price of newsprint from $90 to $100 per ton? I heartily agree with what has been said about the export of raw pulpwood. Immediate steps should be taken to put a stop to such a practice.
Page 24. We are told the products of the soil in this country should approach an estimated value of $20 million within the next three or four years. I hope sincerely so. But we must consider this as being 50% over the Agricultural Committee's report for 1946.
Page 25:
Records have proven that in ordinary normal times prices for our products of the sea have been based on the unwritten law of supply and demand. And so it was that in the year 1915 when the first World War was raging, when the German submarines were making efforts to starve the European countries, that the prices of our salt codfish soared to unprecedented figures. Never in our history have prices for our principal product been so high. And then once hostilities ceased and the world generally started its journey on the road back to normal, prices obtained for our primary products began to drop sharply, resulting in many cases in the bringing about of financial disaster to our fishing industry. And so we find it once again when normal conditions had been restored to the world generally in 1923 that the prices for our salt codfish product became more stabilised.
That is to say they dropped.
I am afraid I cannot agree with the assertions made on page 43: "... our present revenues cannot be something dependent on war boom," and, "... a great proportion of our present revenues is coming to us because of the growth of our main industries. No one can regard our present revenues as a result of war boom." I wonder if the Committee wants us to believe that if there had been no war from 1939-45 we would have had revenues as high as the present? Do they seriously believe that if there had been no war, paper would be worth $90 per ton; fish $10 or $11 per quintal; iron, copper and zinc at as high prices? Would the herring industry have attained such high proportions as it did? Do not the members of the Committee and the people of this country believe that as soon as these ravaged countries who manufacture paper and pulp get into full production again, it will have a tendency to lower prices on these commodities? They know the fishing industry in all its aspects will be affected. These are facts we have to face. In conclusion, with the exception of the observations I have made, I am prepared to accept the report....
Mr. Cashin I take it, as chairman of the Committee, it is my privilege to reply to Mr. MacDonald. I am glad the matter has been brought up. I take it everyone here has a copy of the Finance Report. Though we are dealing with the Economic Report, one relates to the other. I would ask you to turn to page 104.
From information received from the Department of Finance we find that as at December 31, 1946, the actual cash to the credit of Newfoundland was distributed as follows:*
Now, this man in the editorial highchair...
Mr. Chairman Major Cashin, I cannot allow you to say that.
Mr. Cashin He is my most cherished friend.... I wonder if the editor of the Telegram is aware of the fact that during that period we borrowed $8 million in cash. What happened to it? Was it not put into the bank? Did it not go into the consolidated fund? Add that on and you have $35 million. But they are trying to put out the idea that myself and the Finance Committee faked these figures.
720 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1947
Mr. Chairman I cannot allow you to say that.
Mr. Cashin My friend across the way there in a two-hour tirade said it was not an honest report.
Mr. Chairman He said it was optimistic and therefore not realistic.
Mr. Cashin If it was not honest, then it was dishonest; then those connected with it would be dishonest. We are going to have a show-down on this now. We have been accused of national treachery and everything else. I am not going to tolerate it anymore. Will anyone in this House take the signatures to this Economic Report - the first, Mr. Crosbie, who is not here this afternoon β€” will anyone say he is dishonest? Will anyone tell me that Mr. Crosbie, a big fish merchant, takes fish from the men and does not pay them for it?
Mr. Chairman I cannot allow you to go on in that strain. I refute any suggestion that you or any member of the Committee are dishonest. People have no right, because they find themselves in disagreement, to impute improper motives or dishonesty.
Mr. Cashin It has been imputed, I am not particularly stupid and I know that people went around this city and said they were coming up here for that purpose. In reply to Mr. MacDonald, that is how that $35 million was made up. Now that statement in the Telegram, in that they said there were $7,800,000 to the credit of our interest-free loans over on the other side. If they would turn to the report brought back by the London delegation in April or May (it did not take us three months either) you will find that report says $9,300,000 to our credit. What happened since? I have not got charge of the treasury. I realise, and I will prove it, that the treasury has been plundered during the past two, three or four years.
Mr. Chairman That is a dangerous statement.
Mr. Cashin I am going to prove it. I say it has been plundered and I make that statement before the House, before the country and before my God. The other day in connection with the sinking fund, I was asked about this $750,000. I am sorry I have not a blackboard here to work it out. If anyone doubts my veracity, I ask him to take it down. I am going to recite it. In 1937 Newfoundland paid Β£177,950 in sinking funds; at the end of 1937 we were due 3% by buying in our original stock. Consequently it was Β£183,288 that year; in 1938 we sent over Β£177,950 β€” add that Β£361,238; next year 3% on that β€” Β£10,837 and so on right down. If there is any gentleman in this House who doubts the veracity of this Committee, I am going to move a vote of lack of confidence and clean the thing up once and for all.
What do we find? We find the total sinking fund should amount to $10,189,391. We go to Ottawa to find out what it is β€” we find it is $8,342,000. A discrepancy as the editor calls it of $1,750,000 lost to the treasury of Newfoundland. I will say the treasury was plundered of that amount.
Mr. Chairman You ought to amplify it.
Mr. Cashin That is the only amplification I can make. Now the interest-free loans. We gave Britain $12.3 million interest free during the war period; we borrowed $8 or $9 million and paid interest on it. Why should we borrow money and give money away free? We did not have to borrow the money, to begin with. We lost $1,395,000 in interest. We paid interest on the money we borrowed, $700,000. That was about $2 million more we lost. About $4 million the treasury has been plundered of since 1941, and I say that advisedly and indisputably and no one will ever make me take it back either inside this house or outside.
The editor said we had $28.5 million surplus. We recite the figures for him. Turn to your revenues and expenditures, page 112. I realise that is the way some people would like it to be. These figures were proven before. I will call out the figures, you can check me.
Mr. Chairman I do not see why you feel you have to go into these things. They have been investigated by a committee.
Mr. Cashin Does the House accept them?
Mr. Chairman I do not see that the House has any other alternative.
Mr. Cashin I am going to make a motion.
Mr. MacDonald As far as my question is concerned, I am perfectly satisfied with the explanation.
Mr. Hollett Before Major Cashin puts that motion, turn to page 104. If you read the last three lines there, is it necessary to put any motion?
Mr. Chairman It has been accepted. I would remind members, in fairness to Major Cashin, these figures were investigated. An investigating committee was called by the Steering Committee and these figures were called over in my November 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 721 presence, with three scrutineers present and to the best of my ability, belief and knowledge these figures are critically correct. I have already ruled, after investigation, that these figures are critically correct.
Mr. Cashin I accept your position, but the words "critically correct" brings up another matter. In a budget speech of mine in 1931, I forecast a deficit of $1.3 million and it turned out to be $4 million; that was put forward as an argument, "Here is an individual who in 1931 made a budget that did not turn out. Can you believe him now?" We will tell them what happened in 1931. This is the place to clean our cloth. I was Minister of Finance. Our loan for $8 million was turned down. Myself and the Prime Minister[1] went to Montreal to discuss the position with the Bank of Montreal. Now I am going to tread on dangerous ground. The first thing I was told in the head office of the General Manager at the time was, "Cashin, you should have boosted up that budget speech and made it balance." My reply was, "Is that the way you run the Bank of Montreal?" I knew there was going to be a deficit and I budgeted for it. We were turned down by the Bank of Montreal. Eventually we made a deal; we were advanced $2 million to meet the interest. We came back to Newfoundland. We tore the civil service, everything abroad trying to cut down expenses, railway, schoolteachers, everything. We did everything. Most of us took our political lives in our hands. Revenues were still falling. The world was upside down. Newfoundland did not cause the world to turn upside down. Finally it was agreed that a delegation, another delegation should go to Canada. We went to see if we could get any money on the Labrador. Thanks be to God we did not get it. We were turned down. Canada was bankrupt herself; her banking institutions were on the verge of collapse. One of the banks was being run on while we were in Ottawa. We came back to Newfoundland and hardly had we set foot inside the House of Assembly when four managers of the banks were in to see us. For what? They came to us to save themselves; to go off the gold standard. They had an arrangement under the Banking Act whereby Newfoundland or Newfoundlanders, who had $24-25 million on deposit, could withdraw the money in gold. The Canadians did not have the gold to pay if called upon. They have $50 million between the four of them β€” 25 here and the other 25 would have to go against the deposits in Canada. Then what happened? The Bank of Canada was brought into existence. They came to us on their hands and knees, we discussed it for nearly two months. What was happening? Merchants here in this country who had money were buying goods in the United States and the Canadian dollar was at a discount of 20%; the pound sterling was $3.50 to $3.80. Some of the merchants said, "We are not going to pay this premium of 20%; pay out the gold and we will ship it to the United States and pay for the goods." They came like a crowd of children bawling and crying to the Newfoundland government to save them from bankruptcy. That is what happened. So on December 31 at midnight, 1931, Newfoundland went off the gold standard. The whole commercial structure of this country would have been down. The banks would have had to close their doors. The merchants owed the banks a lot of money. There was nothing else left but to go off the gold standard. That was the position in 1931. Now, 16 years later, I am accused indirectly of cooking up this report on the grounds that in 1931 I forecast a false budget. That is the position and I am not taking it. I think I have shown to the satisfaction of this house how that $35 million was made up. I make this comparison; the difference in my figures, one way or another, on the short or on the long side, would not be sufficient to stage a good cocktail party in St. John's East or a beer-guzzling party in St. John's West. Here is the statement given by the Finance Department. I think this Convention as it is today is not of the opinion that this Economic Report, compiled in four days, was deliberately cooked up or is false or dishonest; or that any gentlemen on that Committee is dishonest.
Mr. Chairman Nobody within or without this House is justified in saying it.
Mr. Cashin No one will be allowed to say it. I was the one who gathered the information and I owe it to the other seven members to make that statement this evening. I am glad Mr. MacDonald brought it up, although I intended to, and probably will deal with it at further length on Monday.
We were told this debate was going to last four days, we were going to be closed by Christmas.
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We are prolonging the whole Convention, deliberately prolonging it. It is about time we got down and did some work. When we started, we made mistakes. I am here today steering this through the committee; we should not be doing it, it is a report, not a piece of legislation. It is a waste of time, right from the beginning. When reports are made in this assembly, I take it these reports are solid. One report came in here, there were discrepancies in it and we have not heard anything about it since; hundreds of thousands lost to the government, dishonesty in some department. We were given a document to say "keep it mum" that is what it amounts to. There was supposed to be an inquiry. They are experts with the lime brush, covering up someone. I do not need to be covered up. Now as far as I am concerned, I think I have made it clear to Mr. MacDonald the situation with regard to the $35 million. I think I made it clear to the Convention. Is there any gentleman not clear on it?
Mr. Smallwood I am one.
Mr. Cashin I knew you would be.
Mr. Chairman I want to repeat, these figures have been investigated by the Steering Committee.
Mr. Smallwood Not the surplus.
Mr. Chairman The investigation revealed the figures to be correct; I ruled on it and I stand behind it.
Mr. Cashin If there is going to be any skullduggery started here...
Mr. Chairman We are not going to have any skullduggery.
Mr. Smallwood The chairman of the Finance Committee is explaining to Mr. MacDonald why there is a difference of $6 or 7 million in the figure in the Economic Report showing what our surplus is supposed to be, and another figure which he has just read from the Evening Telegram showing what the surplus is supposed to be. In explaining the difference in our surplus, he says, towards the end, he hopes everyone clearly understands it.
Mr. Cashin I rise to a point of order. I pointed out that the local surplus was $28 million, approximately. During that period we borrowed $7 or $8 million which has to be added on to the cash surplus. That makes $35 million. Now I am going to get you some more money. The Auditor General's Report, 1945-46 β€” Savings Bank surplus not included β€” $800,000; if we add statement of the Liquor Department, another half million; statement from Great Britain on Gander, add half million. You will find from the Department of Public Health and Welfare that Great Britain owes us, on account of pensions we have been paying on her behalf, probably $500,000. Add all that, that is $38 million or $39 million. Take from that $3.2 million to redeem stocks coming due in 1950 or 1952, and which we were told yesterday the Canadian government is going to take by cutting out the word "not". Take that off, and the difference either on one side or the other would be very small. And the excuse given, Mr. Chairman, was that they were being sent over to England. They were not being sent over to England. They were taken from our surplus every year and this money was thrown in the heap, and the Finance Department gave us the figures of $34 million on December 31 1946, and we have had a surplus of $3.5 million ever since.
Mr. Smallwood That's a rather long point of order. I still don't know what the point of order is. The comment I want to make is this: the Economic Report makes a very simple and a very plain statement, namely, that our surplus is $35 million. There is no other explanation given. We'll forget for the moment what the Evening Telegram said on Saturday last. As a citizen of Newfoundland, and as a member of this Convention, I made it my business to walk into the Department of Finance, suspecting, as I did, that $35 million was not a correct statement of the surplus. I asked them if they would tell me what, in their belief, in their belief, is the surplus of the Government of Newfoundland. They said yes, they would tell me. I don't mind saying I saw Mr. Marshall, the Secretary for Finance, and here's what they told me: that as at March 31 last, March 31, 1947....
Mr. Hollett I rise to a point of order. We have here an official document as to the surplus, given to the Finance Committee by the Finance Department. First hand information. Are we going to have to sit here and listen to third rate information?
Mr. Chairman I am glad you raised the point.... As far as I am concerned, I am not remotely impressed by any conversations which take place between any members outside this Convention, with people who don't belong to the Convention November 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 723 at all. I am not concerned with the expressions of opinion by newspapers, or any other individuals, beyond the members of the Convention, or me.... It is of absolutely no concern whatsoever what goes on outside of this Convention, and a lot of time would simply be saved if members would confine their remarks to the report itself. Whether members disagree or agree with the report in toto or in part is their God-given right, but in view of the fact that a motion to adopt this report will be placed before me, at which time you can register your approval or disapproval, aren't we wasting a lot of time in discussing this time and time again? We had better get on with the business of the House.
Mr. Smallwood When Mr. Hollett made his point of order I was discussing the accuracy of the figure given in the Economic Report of our accumulated surplus. I tell you now, sir, that the Secretary for Finance told me officially on Saturday past that our surplus is approximately $28 million.... Would it be in order for me to move that this Convention desires to ascertain officially from the Commissioner for Finance, or His Excellency the Governor, what is our surplus. Would that be in order?
Mr. Chairman ....If you direct to me any request for information to be obtained from the Governor, or any department of the government, it is my duty, Mr. Smallwood, to make that request. But you are putting the cart before the horse.... I have to sustain Mr. Hollett on this point, and say, Mr. Smallwood, that unless and until you obtain from the Finance Department, figures calculated, fully calculated to support any inference that you wish to draw from that Economic Report, I am afraid I can't allow you to go on.
Mr. Cashin Mr. Chairman, this does not come as any great surprise to me. This is not an attack on me; not an attack on the Finance Committee; it is an attack on the country, and I resent the whole thing. There has been a brazen, brutal attack on the economy of Newfoundland, and on Newfoundland itself. As only one Newfoundlander I say right here now that in 1941-42 and right up to 1945 when German submarines were lurking outside this harbour, that she was in no greater danger than she is at the present time. I may say that I am not prepared to tolerate it any more β€” there is a Quisling in this country today, and I call upon our returned men who are in this House tonight, and I am one of them, if they are going to tolerate that kind of stuff right in here. There's men here, Mr. Chairman, who nearly died for this country, and we are going to be told by one or two Quislings, because that's what I must call them....
Mr. Chairman No Major, you must not use that term.
Mr. Cashin Well, Judas Iscariot then.
Mr. Chairman I must request you to withdraw that statement.
Mr. Cashin I am not withdrawing anything.
Mr. Chairman Well, the committee will rise.
Mr. Cashin Right.
Mr. Higgins I beg to move the adjournment of the House.
Mr. Smallwood I beg to give notice of a question, Mr. Chairman. I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask His Excellency the Governor in Commission to inform the National Convention of the amount of the government's accumulated cash surplus, together with the details in the most recent date.
Mr. Hollett Mr. Chairman is that a notice of a motion?
Mr. Chairman No, notice of a question.
Mr. Hollett Mr. Chairman, is there any debate on that tomorrow?
Mr. Smallwood Not as far as I am concerned, sir.
Mr. Hollett In that case I would like to ask what in God's earthly world has the Governor got to do with it?
Mr. Smallwood The Governor in Commission.
Mr. Hollett But we have a Finance Department.
Mr. Chairman Give me rule 36, please: "Questions may be put through the Chairman of the Convention to any Department of Government, public body, or to any person, on any matter connected with the Convention. Save by permission of the Chairman, no questions may be asked without notice of at least one day...."
Mr. Hollett ...."Most recent date," that's the point I want to get. That Economic Report is bearing on that Financial Report, and the figures are dated December 31, 1946. I insist if we want to make any comparisons these are the figures we want.
Mr. Chairman On that question you had better address yourself tomorrow. I require 24 hours notice of the question, which I am entitled to 724 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1947 have, and I want to consider it too, Mr. Hollett, if you don't mind. You moved the adjournment, Mr. Higgins?
Mr. Higgins Yes, sir.
Mr. Job I would like to ask whether we are likely to be here for the next six months, or for how long? And whether we are going to still continue to meet for 2ΒΌ hours a day, and if we are, how long will we be here? I would suggest very strongly that some steps be taken to either meet in the morning for a couple of hours, or in the evening. I don't know what the views of the members are with regard to that, but I am convinced that we are getting through very little, and achieving very little, and the sooner we make up our minds to try and find a winding-up date the better....
Mr. Higgins I thoroughly agree with Mr. Job in every way that we will have to step up our discussions here. I think it might be better for all of us if, instead of having morning sessions, we decided we would have night sessions every day that the Convention is in session. I make the motion that, beginning Monday, we have night sessions on every day that we have a day session.
Mr. Chairman Does the House agree to eliminate the necessity for notice?
Mr. Smallwood I object.
Mr. Chairman In that case, with a single dissenting voice, you will have to give me notice.
Mr. Higgins If you will give me about three minutes I will deliver the motion, if that's satisfactory. I don't see why Mr. Smallwood must object.
Mr. Smallwood What I was thinking of is the fact that confederation has to be debated yet, and I want the people of Newfoundland to hear the debate, and if we have sessions every night...
Mr. Higgins I rise to a point of order. If we have this member objecting all the time, it's time we stopped sitting altogether.
Mr. Chairman Members will please remain silent. As far as I am concerned I am getting notice of motion. I can only waive notice by and with the universal consent of the House. That I have not got, together we will have to deal with Mr. Higgins' motion when it goes on the order paper, and when it comes before me.
Mr. Fudge Mr. Chairman, I agree with Mr. Higgins and Mr. Job that we are trying to get on with the job, but at the same time I feel that it is very unfortunate that two of the members disagreed. If that had not happened this debate might not have been as long as it has been....
[The committee rose and reported progress]
Mr. Chairman Mr. Bradley's motion β€” Mr. Smallwood?
Mr. Smallwood I move that that be deferred sir, and also number four.
Mr. Higgins I move the deferment of number three, sir.
Mr. Chairman The motions are that items two, three and four on the order paper will be deferred. [The motion carried]
Mr. Higgins I would like to give notice of motion. I will on tomorrow move that this Convention hold night sessions on every day that a day's session of the Convention is held.
[The Convention adjourned]

Source:

Newfoundland. The Newfoundland National Convention, 1946-1948 Vol 1: Debates. Edited by J.K. Hiller and M.F. Harrington Montreal: Memorial University of Newfoundland by McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995).

Credits:

.

Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

Footnotes:

  • [1] Volume II:425. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • *
    On deposit Bank of Montreal, St. John's $22,031,500
    With Crown Agents in London, Β£804,000 3,232,080
    Interest-free loans to Britain 9,310,000
    $34,573,580
  • Sir Richard Squires

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