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Newfoundland National Convention, 12 December 1947, Debates on Confederation with Canada

December 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1017

December 12, 1947

Mr. Hollett Mr. Chairman, I am sure we have all learned with deep regret the tragedy which has recently happened at Goose Bay, and touches every person in Newfoundland. I refer of course to the tragic loss of life of 23 American neighbours of ours here. In this connection, sir, I wish to make the following motion:
Whereas this house and the people of Newfoundland have learnt with profound regret of the recent tragic loss of life to the American army personnel on duty in this country;
And whereas many of these men of the 23 who have lost their lives in this heartbreaking disaster were neighbours of ours living at Fort Pepperrell with their families;
Therefore be it resolved that we of this house do tender our heartfelt sympathy to the Commanding General of Fort Pepperrell and through him to the bereaved families of the deceased; and that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the said Commanding General accordingly.
Mr. Hickman I would like to second Mr. Hollett's motion. I am personally acquainted with some of those who were lost. I think it is a kind gesture, and I have much pleasure in seconding the resolution.
Mr. Chairman You have heard the motion of condolence, gentlemen. Are you ready for the question? I think that when the motion is carried we might stand for a period of a minute to show our respect.
[The motion carried and the Convention stood in Silence]

Report of the Ottawa Delegation Proposed Arrangements for the Entry of Newfoundland into Confederation Committee of the Whole

Mr. Cashin Mr. Chairman, I presume that Mr. Hollett has the floor this afternoon?
Mr. Chairman He has, Major Cashin, for two reasons. First he did not finish yesterday; and second he was the first to catch my eye.
Mr. Cashin If Mr. Hollett was not going to speak, I presume I could speak, and if not, I would follow him.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, that is a little irregular. I propose to comment on Mr. Hollett's 1018 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1947 remarks, and as he had not finished when we completed yesterday, I was expecting too that he would complete his speech this afternoon, and that I would then reply to him.
Mr. Chairman I will not make a ruling on that point. I will simply rule that Mr. Hollett has the floor. First things first. If you are ready to proceed Mr. Hollett, I am ready to listen to you.
Mr. Cashin Mr. Chairman, if you don't mind, I am not trying to take the floor from Mr. Hollett, but it's been customary in debate in this House for any gentleman bringing in a report, or at least legislation, not to reply to every individual personally; he waits until the debate is finished and he has the privilege of replying then.
Mr. Chairman Except if there are questions put or implied, he has the right at the moment to reply to them, but he has to confine himself to that and that alone. I am not prepared, Major Cashin, at this time to rule on what Mr. Small-wood has to say until I first hear what he has to say. All I would say is that he has the final word, and the summing up. It is true, in the interim, he has the right to reply to any questions which may be addressed to him. As a matter of fact that is his responsibility and part of his duties.
Mr. Hollett Mr. Chairman, Mr. Smallwood has intimated that he wishes to reply to what I have said yesterday and what I will say today. I have not yet asked Mr. Smallwood any questions, and therefore I don't anticipate any reply from him on the point at all. If he wishes to, of course, that's another matter, but what I am trying to tell this House is a set of facts.
Yesterday I think I ended on a certain tax notice which I have in my hand, with reference to an amount of some $28.62, levied on the estate of a deceased person in Cape Breton. The estate was valued at $100, and the amount of taxes collected up to that time, at least the amount of taxes accrued in four years was $28.62, and that consisted of the county rate, school rate and poll rate of $7.13 per year. It has been intimated to me outside this House, that that is not the case all over Canada. I have also a notice which appeared in the Port Arthur News Chronicle on Thursday, November 6, dealing with the public sale of land because taxes and costs had not been paid....
I read that to show that in the provinces of Canada, as in Newfoundland when we are a province, monies have to be raised in order to pay for social services and the servicing of the debt, and all other things pertaining to government in any province or country. These monies have to be raised, and the point I am trying to make, which I think nobody in this House can deny, is that if we give away our revenue-producing taxes now, if we give up our customs duties, if we give up the monies which the Assessor collects from our people, we lose about $30 million in this country; and we still have to carry on the services for forestry, and various other things β€” justice incidentally has to be taken care of. So in order to raise the money we must tax. There is nothing left to tax except our land, homes, personal property, in other words real and personal property.
I think I have got almost as far as to say that, for the first three years of confederation, the Province of Newfoundland will have a revenue of $11,462,128. You remember I accepted the irreducible minimum, and not the $6,820,000, because, as I pointed out, your irreducible minimum is the only thing on which you can bank. The only guarantee from the Canadian government is that that will be paid and I showed you how, in one province in Canada, the irreducible minimum was last year all that could be paid, because the GNP and the population had altered to such an extent that it could not be increased. And so we go back to the beginning of union with a revenue of $11,462,128, or, for purposes of reckoning, let us add another $500,000 for the possible purpose of interest from our so-called surplus. Right here I must say that we are banking an awful lot on the surplus, $28 million apparently. Β£9 million of that is in Great Britain, in sterling. That is $15 million subtracted from $28 million. That leaves $13 million, if I am correct. There is no gainsaying that we may not have to do the same thing next year to market our fish or our iron ore. But let us say we have about $12 million in this country in dollar funds. One-third of that will go to Canada to be placed at interest there, which we cannot use for current expenditure, which will leave us only about $8 million. So don't let us bank on that $28 million too much, a surplus is of no value to this country unless it is liquid, unless you can obtain it. If it is in sterling funds in Great Britain it might just as well be in the bottom of a mine. It is of no value to us unless it is liquid, if you like to pay for our fish or iron December 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1019 ore and what not. These are troubled times, and if we have any surplus we ought to try and hold on to it for just such an emergency as happened this fall, when we could not sell our fish if we had not had this surplus. We should not use our surplus for current expenditure, which apparently is the intention of some of the members of the Ottawa delegation. Well, let us say we have $12 million revenue.
Now let's look at the other side of the picture. What will be our expenditure? See page 62 of the Black Book... Let us assume for a moment that these figures are correct. It would be a fair question to ask, but I am not going to ask it, where do they hope to place the taxes in this country in order to raise that $2.5 million? You can have no indirect taxes, you can no longer have taxes on the incomes of the individual and the corporations. Ottawa will be busy bleeding the resources. Where then will they get the $2.5 million? 1 have hinted where you are going to get it, and where you are going to place you taxes.
Let us take a look at the estimates of an expenditure of $14.5 million. Take a look at their proposed expenditure for Education. The estimates for Education this year in Newfoundland are $3,622,300. Now what has the Ottawa delegation done? Mind you, I suppose the people in Canada believe that they acted in good faith when they took this figure. What have they done? They have lopped off $5 14,000, and reduced the estimate to $3,107,700. Again it has been stated that the surplus will take care of the construction of these figures and education. In other words, they say, "We won't build these new schools, we shall stop all new reconstruction on account of education." Let education remain stagnant for the next three years, and indeed for the next 12 years if need be. Our whole education plans for the future are out. After all, are not our teachers already receiving much more than they are in Prince Edward Island? Gentlemen, as you know, our educational authorities were budgeting for $4 million next year in order to bring our teacher salary scale on a par with that in Nova Scotia. So if we are honest as to the needs of the education of our children, rather than take off $514,000 we must add on; and I submit a further $900,000 must be added to the $3.1 million suggested by the Ottawa delegation, and no doubt accepted in good faith by the Canadians to whom they talked.
Now take a look at what they have estimated for Natural Resources. You will note that the Ottawa delegation here again has cut reconstruction to the tune of $1,629,428. Do they mean to tell us that under confederation there will be no need of reconstruction with regard to fisheries, forestry, rural development, etc? Are we to remain stagnant in this field? I have studied this thing as much as I am capable of; I am sure that we, as a province, in making an estimate, must leave in the following amounts, that is to say:
Handicrafts $ 39,600
Fisheries 324,500
Forestry 79,800
Rural Development 682,000
Loans for Development of Fishing Industry 290,000
Making a total of $1,415,900
Which, I feel, must be added on to the estimates made by the Ottawa delegation if we are to exist at all as a province. But let us assume that under subβ€”section 8 of clause 5 of the proposed agreement, Canada will take care of fisheries. Canada will lop off the reconstruction of our fisheries. I put it to you, gentlemen, that is not generally done in the provinces of Canada today. but let us assume that, under this Grey Book, Canada is going to take care of our fisheries, let us lop off that $514,000, and we still have left $801,400 to take care of the most necessary reconstruction. Let us pass quickly over Public Works, but in passing I ask you to note that they have cut out $4 million of reconstruction, $3.5 million of which consists of the construction of roads, bridges and buildings These things are our responsibility as a province. Must we, for this union with Canada, forego all hopes of further extending our roads? 1 have pointed out the position of the surplus. I wonder how many people in this country today earn good money on road building and repairing? That would have to stop. Our confederate friends will deny them that. If it is right to build roads and bridges at this stage in our history to open up our country, then it is wrong for us, as individuals sent in here by our people, to consider these matters. It is wrong for us even to think of confederation at this time, for we shall not be able to get the money to do this work, to build the roads and other things. Suppose for a moment we listen to our financial wizards here and at Ottawa, and cease all 1020 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1947 further new road building to the extent of $3.5 million a year for years to come, a lot of which goes in for labour. Let us forget all that, and go on to Public Health and Welfare, and this too is our obligation as a province. One would have thought that since the Ottawa delegation had cut out $3.5 million road and building construction, they would have budgeted for an increase in the estimate for Health and Welfare. That, to me, would have been the obvious thing to do. But no, this is what they do: they cut out $235,000 on account of reconstruction, and $828,000 on account of assistance to the poor and allowance to widows and orphans, maintenance of hospitals and general public health services and reduce the estimate from $5,830,239 to $4,767,239 as the amount required. For the moment let us turn to page 60, book 2. They cut out assistance to indigents, $250,000; general public health service, $50,000. If I remember correctly it was intimated to us that $278,000 maintenance to hospitals was cut out by the delegation to Ottawa because under confederation supplies coming in for hospitals would cost less, and we would be able to reduce the amount by cutting off $278,000. They have intimated that. I see nothing in the estimates for the maintenance of servicing of the Corner Brook hospital. You cannot see where they cut out $50,000 except for nutrition for schools and child welfare. Why must we give up the proper servicing of our hospitals simply for the honour of being a province of Canada? I have the greatest respect for the Dominion of Canada for what she did in the last war. You may respect a person or a country, but that does not justify your cutting out services to your own people and reducing them to paup-erism. This is something we cannot pass over lightly, and so we must add to this estimate of theirs $1,068,000, even if we allow for no further improvements and allow no increase whatever by way of relief. That brings to my mind that they also cut out $10,000 for relief on Labrador. The minimum on account of expenditures with Newfoundland as a province would be:*
You cannot do it for less. I defy any man to prove to me he can. People have to be taken care of in this day and generation, and in every day and generation, I hope. Against this expenditure we shall have as revenue, as already pointed out, for the next three years, $12 million. Thus the balance sheet for Newfoundland for the next three years will look like this:
Expenditure $17,269,000
Revenue $12,000,000
Deficit $ 5,269,000
Thus by cutting out the following on reconstruction plans already envisaged on the following accounts, that is to say:
Fisheries $ 614,500
Public Works 3,500,000
In all $4,144,500
Cutting out all that, we shall still have a deficit of $5,269,000 per year for the first three years as a province of Canada. But were we to try to carry out the programme for fisheries and for public works, we should have a deficit of $9,383,500.
Figures do not lie; rather do they give us the lie if we do not heed them. Surely we, as a body of 45 men who should have the best interests of our people at heart, need no further evidence to prove that this so-called fair and equitable basis of union with Canada is nothing more than a financial and economic mirage, leading us on to the desert of economic stagnation and financial ruin from which we should never recover and from which we can never as a country return. Underneath a thick spread of oleo-margarine we find nothing but a crust of black bread in which rot and mould have already set in. What attempts have the Ottawa delegation and their wizard financial friends in Canada's capital made to make up this deficit of $5,269,000, not to say anything of our plans for reconstruction? Taking a leap in the dark they pounced on gasoline and stuck on a tax which they say will yield $750,000; and having got thus far they merely hinted at possible additional provincial taxation of$l million. What this taxation which will bring in $l million is, they do not tell us.
This is a plain fact, gentlemen. Under confederation, Ottawa will collect from our people December 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1021 more in taxation by way of income tax, corporation taxes and succession duties than are being collected now by our own government, and will leave us as a province to collect additional taxation to the tune of $5,269,000; or if you want to build roads and bridges, develop your fisheries, $9,383,000. How can these monies be raised? Let us turn to page 149 of the Black Book, vol. 1:
Taxes on corporations; income taxes on persons; succession duties; real and personal property tax; gasoline tax; fuel oil tax; tobacco tax; retail sales tax; amusement tax; etc.
They have to do it in order to get the revenue. These things are so numerous, it is impossible to put them all in the Black Book. It is important that our people should know where that money is going to come from. I refer you now to the Assessment Act of Nova Scotia. I believe I have the right to quote from it. Section 3, property liable to taxation...
[Mr. Hallett read sections from the Nova Scotia act listing all provincial taxes]
That is our hope. That is the basis of our hope for running this province. Unless the Dominion government changes its mind and gives us $5 million - we say it must be $9 million β€” and that is how it has to be collected. These are facts and truths that are indisputable by even the most ardent confederate. I do not remember any confederates yet having gone out of their way to mention any of these things.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, for the glories of confederation are we to abandon that position of governmental prosperity which we have enjoyed since 1940; that enviable peak from which we have been budgeting for surpluses and still more surpluses, even though there has been a gradual lessening of taxation? Are we, I say, to freely and of our own volition abandon this position, enter into union with Canada and budget for a deficit of $5 million and thereby have to tax still more? Are we mad? There can be no other answer, otherwise we would not waste the time we have on this thing. Of what use a baby bonus if we are to be taxed still more? Taxes on our land, our homes, our cattle, our boats, our nets, our everything, possibly your fur coat.
The delegation to Ottawa was asked to find out if there existed a fair and equitable basis of union with Canada at the present time. Thank God that at least two members of that delegation have been able to look at the whole question in its true perspective and have said openly that no such fair and equitable basis of union exists. As for myself, Mr. Chairman, I have never believed there was a basis at all at this time. But heretofore I looked at it only from the economic viewpoint, from the point of view of our exports of fish and fish products, our ore and the products of our forests. Looking at it thus. I am compelled to say that the closer we can get to the USA the better will it be for the welfare ofour people. Last year Canada took from us $7 million worth of products - but how much fish? How much paper? The United States took $20 million worth of fish, of ore from Buchans, and of paper. I say therefore, and I repeat, that the closer we can get to the USA the better will it be for the welfare of our people, and I advocate such a policy.
Mr. Smallwood and Mr. Cashin together Mr. Chairman...
Mr. Hollett What point of order? Don't fash yourself, laddie. May I finish, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Chairman Certainly.
Mr. Hollett What shall I say. Mr. Chairman? What shall I say now when I look at it from the financial angle? What must we all. as responsible men say, I ask you? Only this, that there is not now, and l doubt if there ever can be, having regard to what we live on, our fish, our ore, our paper, our natural resources, a fair and equitable basis for union with the Dominion of Canada, unless she can buy more of our goods. Never mind your baby bonuses, tell them the truth. How do they live? By the sweat of their brow, by digging out the ore and catching fish in all kinds of weather, and cutting down the trees. Those countries which take our products will make it possible for them to live and support their babies without any handouts from anyone else. I am not talking about baby bonuses at the moment. Yes, gentlemen, I call upon each and every one of you to tell our people the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and then, Mr. Chairman, we need have no fear whatsoever. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, I would like to reply to Mr. Hollett.
Mr. Chairman There seems to be a marked competition for the floor this afternoon, and I am compelled at this time to speak. so that members may understand the position in which I find myself. I remind members that we are in commit 1022 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1947 tee, and the object of committee is to relax the rules of debate, in particular the rule which restricts any member when in Convention to speak more than once, and then for not more than one hour, unless extended for a further 15 minutes by the indulgence of the House.
Under standing order 45 it is specifically provided, "In committee members may speak more than once to the same question." Now as to the number of times he may speak, how long he may speak, there is no restriction. That is in the discretion of the Chairman in committee and there is no appeal.... Under standing order 54 it is provided, "Whenever any matter arises which, in the opinion of the Chairman is not covered by the standing orders, reference shall be made to the rules and regulations of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, and the matter decided in accordance with those rules, save that where the said rules are silent upon the matter, the question shall be decided in accordance with the rules of British parliamentary procedure"
There is nothing in the rules of the House of Assembly covering this course. I have to take recourse to established parliamentary procedure, and in May, 14th edition, pages 570-571, the author says that "Order in debate and in committee is enforced by the Chairman, as he is responsible for the conduct of business therein, and from his decision no appeal can be made to the Speaker or the House." On page 571 it says, "The Chairman is permitted to check irrelevant or tedious repetition." Now in this particular instance, Mr. Smallwood, I am not permitted to prescribe a time limit as such.... I cannot abridge your right, or the right of any member to speak more than once ... but I will have to ask you to confine yourself to strictly relevant matters, and to matters of a novel origin which may have been raised by Mr. Hollett; I don't want any repetition of matters to which you have already referred.... I will have to ask you, if you don't mind Mr. Smallwood, to make your remarks as brief as you possibly can, please.
Mr. Smallwood Yes sir, I will certainly do that, as I always do.
Mr. Hollett Point of order. I might point out that in summing up this matter I asked the person who is supposed to be piloting this thing through no questions whatsoever.
Mr. Chairman That is not the point. He is per mitted to speak more than once. There does not have to be any question at all....
Mr. Smallwood Yes sir, I will attempt to cover all or nearly all the points raised by Mr. Hollett in his speech. I made a number of notes as Mr. Hollett went along, and I intend to refer to those notes.
Mr. Hollett paid a tribute to the Dominion of Canada for the very great part that Canada had played in this war, and he made use of this phrase: "Canada, united in war, divided in peace." Sir, the Dominion of Canada is a federal union of nine self-governing provinces, just as the United States of America is a federal union of 48 self- governing states, just as the Commonwealth of Australia is a federal union of, I think, six self- governing states, and in every case in this world today that I happen to know about, where you have a federal union, what you find is difference of opinion, of conception, little grievances, little quarrels between one state or province and another. or between a number of states or provinces and the federal government on the other side.
Mr. Chairman My attention has been called to the fact that at the moment I have not a quorum.
Mr. Smallwood I may inform you, sir, if it is of any interest to you, that the idea was that I was not to be allowed to speak today, and that is why there is no quorum at the present time, but if there is a quorum I will speak.
Mr. Chairman (to Secretary) I will have to ask you to call the members again.
Mr. Smallwood Yes, sir, we are adjourning today and they want the last word to the country to consist of a lot of poison that can't be answered, but I am going to answer this. I know all about it. I have known it for a week.
Mr. Chairman Fifteen members of the committee constitute a quorum. We are sitting in committee.
Mr. Smallwood Is it a quorum now?
Mr. Chairman Yes.
Mr. Smallwood Well, sir, I will proceed. It has been said by Mr. Hollett that Canada is a nation united in war but divided in peace, and the reference came while he was describing the Dominion-provincial conference that was held a couple of years ago.... At that conference they had their differences of opinion, the various premiers stating their viewpoints and the Government of Canada stating theirs, and he December 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1023 gave that as an illustration as to how divided Canada was. It is only fair to point out that while it is perfectly true that in many matters these nine provinces have their disagreements between themselves on the one hand, and sometimes between a group of them and the federal government on the other hand, that the same thing happens in other federal unions.
Mr. Chairman I am sorry, Mr. Smallwood, but we have not a quorum.
Mr. Smallwood Cat and mouse, so that it will be kept just below a quorum Well, the country will know all about it. The plot that misfired. Well, the country will know.
[At this point there was a wait of several minutes]
All right, we have a quorum again. Now, I will give you an example of how a country that is a federal union rather than a unitary state can have its serious disagreements. its squabbles, its weaknesses, and yet be a great country. Let us take United States as an example. There you have had, since the days of Thomas Jefferson, a continuing dispute over the question of states' rights.... That has rent the United States on more than one occasion. Then again, you have the great question of child labour. They have not got a federal law in the United States forbidding child labour, and you get young children working in mills and factories, because there is no American law for the whole nation that forbids it. In the individual states they do have their own state law, but because of this dispute they still can't get a federal law to forbid child labour generally.
Then again in the United States you have the racial question, the negro question. You know, the whole world knows. and has been shocked by the trouble caused in the United States by this question of the negro. We know the stories of lynchings, and miscarriages of justice, of the Jim Crow policy, of the way the negro is treated. And you have anti-semitism in the United States. The country is made up of all kinds of nationalities, and again you always have trouble coming for that cause. We know the story of the Ku Klux Klan, and we know that all these and similar troubles ended in the United States with a civil war, and yet...
Mr. Hollett I rise to a point of order. I see nothing in order about a Ku Klux Klan or anything else...
Mr. Chairman What is your point, Mr. Hollett?
Mr. Hollett My point is that the remarks are irrelevant...
Mr. Chairman Except insofar as he intends to show that arising out of your statement that the Dominion of Canada is united in war but disunited in peace, disunity on questions of national importance is not confined to Canada alone. But I quite agree with you, I think, Mr. Smallwood, that you are getting a little bit far afield, and I would like you to come back.
Mr. Smallwood Yes, sir, I was just about to clew up on that one point.... To reply thoroughly and adequately to Mr. Hollett it would be necessary to speak for about two or three days, which I have not got time to do, and in fact the House is adjourning this afternoon. So to sum up that one point, while it is perfectly true that there are differences of opinion in Canada between one province and another province, or between two or more provinces on the one hand and the federal government on the other, so you have it in the United States, Australia, South Africa, and wherever you have a federal union. Nothing surprising about it. You might only describe it as the growing pains of a great nation, and Canada is one of the great nations of this world today.
Yesterday Mr. Hollett made this remark. I jotted it down. I don't guarantee that it's the identical words he used because I don't write shorthand, but he said that if we become a province of Canada, everything we import into Newfoundland which is not imported from Canada, we will have to pay duty on. Well, I don't know if Mr. Hollett has taken the trouble to look through the tariff of the Government of Canada...
Mr. Hollett I have.
Mr. Smallwood Well if he has, sir, I say that a lie is something said intending to deceive, knowing that it is a lie and untrue, and if a man knows it is untrue and then says it, it becomes a lie.
Mr. Hollett I rise to a point of order. Is that man insinuating that I am a liar? If so I want him to take it back.
Mr. Smallwood I was hinting that.
Mr. Chairman If you have made that statement, Mr. Smallwood, I must ask you to withdraw it.... He must be presumed to be honest in the expression of his opinion for the same reason, Mr. Smallwood, that you must be presumed to be honest in the expression of your opinion. I don't care if your ideas are so diametri 1024 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1947 cally opposite as to be impossible of reconciliation, that has nothing whatever to do with it. You are not justified in imputing dishonesty or any intention on Mr. Hollett's part to convey a misleading situation to this House, or a lie, and before I can allow you to go on I will have to ask you to withdraw that statement.
Mr. Smallwood I will withdraw it β€” unqualifiedly.
Mr. Chairman Now please be a little more....
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Hollett made the statement yesterday that whatever we import from Canada, whatever else we would import we would pay duty on. I say that is not so, that about half of all the things that Canada imports come into Canada duty free; and if we become a province of Canada and we import goods from countries other than Canada, whatever came in from Canada would be duty free (that would be the bulk of it); but if we still imported things from other countries we would pay the customs duty according to the Canadian customs tariff....
Mr. Hollett Everybody understands that.
Mr. Smallwood Well, if everybody understands it, why did Mr. Hollett make the remark yesterday that if we become a province, except for the things we would import from Canada itself, we would pay duty on the rest?
Mr. Chairman That is Mr. Hollett's opinion.
Mr. Hollett On dutiable goods, yes.
Mr. Smallwood But I am trying to show that his opinion is wrong.
Mr. Hollett That I am a liar!
Mr. Chairman In matters of opinion a man may reasonably differ. Mr. Hollett is entitled to his opinion for the same reason that you are entitled to yours.
Mr. Smallwood He expressed his opinion and I am expressing mine. My opinion is based on the fact that about half the imports that come into Canada come in duty free.
Mr. Chairman ....I am trying to preserve to members the dignity and respect to which they are entitled. No member can afford to disregard what each needs for his own protection.... Now I suggest to you Mr. Smallwood, I think it is in the best interest, if you would please refrain from personalities. If you want to discuss the merits of Mr. Hollett's speech and to express yourself in agreement or disagreement that is your inalienable right, but please, in so doing, do not identify your observations with personal discrimination, and if you do that I am sure we will get along very well.
Mr. Smallwood Yes sir, I will certainly attempt not to do so. I have a note here which I wrote yesterday while Mr. Hollett was speaking, and the note I have made was that he said such and such, and that is his right to express that opinion. Now I am now offering my opinion, which is the exact opposite.
Mr. Chairman Which can be offered offensively or inoffensively, depending on the manner and language employed.
Mr. Smallwood Well now, since I withdrew the thing I did withdraw have I been offensive, sir?
Mr. Chairman You are on very thin ice, but however, Mr. Smallwood...
Mr. Smallwood Yes, I say if we become a province of Canada everything that we import from Canada would come in duty free β€” everything. If we import anything from other countries then we will pay duty, if there is a Canadian duty on it.... Half the value of all they import into Canada comes in duty free, and the rest of it comes in at a lower rate of duty than our own present customs duty.... We know if we become a province of Canada, anything we do import into Newfoundland not from Canada would come in at much lower rates of duty on an average than we are paying now in our own customs tariff. Now that's that.
I have another note here. Mr. Hollett said that, "If Newfoundland goes into confederation Canada will man the American bases, probably with skeleton crews, and in that case 3,500 Newfoundlanders will lose their jobs." I presume he means the 3,500 Newfoundlanders that he assumes are now working on these American bases. That is a remarkable statement for a man to make. No one has brought any evidence, still less brought any proof. It is just a statement of a personal opinion, that if we become a province the Americans will be forced out of Newfoundland, out of these bases that they occupy now, and that therefore the Newfoundlanders that are working on the bases will lose their jobs because Canada would occupy those bases with her own soldiers.
Mr. Chairman That is not strictly correct. The conclusion arrived at by Mr. Hollett was based upon a communication received from the December 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1025 Secretary of the Commission....
Mr. Smallwood Yes, but a conclusion, I hold, utterly without foundation.
Mr. Chairman That is another matter.
Mr. Smallwood We had a reply here which Mr. Hollett read yesterday, a reply from the Newfoundland govemment...that in case we became a province, the principals in the bases' treaty would be the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States. That of course is true, because defence is a federal matter. There is a Joint Defence Board of the United States and Canada, and all defence matters relating to Canada and the United States come under that Board β€” they are acting together as partners in western hemispheric defence. But from that can it be inferred, can it be presumed that Canada would request the United States to withdraw from these 99-year bases? Can it be argued that they would order the United States people to leave Newfoundland so that Canada could place her own troops on that base? And above all can it be presumed that Newfoundlanders working on the bases would lose their jobs? I have a little something here to back up that. If Mr. Higgins or any of the members of the delegation are in the House they will either affirm or deny it. I raised that very question in Canada and we were assured by the Government of Canada that no such thing would happen.
Mr. Hollett Is it in the Books?
Mr. Smallwood It will be better than in the Books within a matter of weeks. Every Newfoundlander will be assured definitely and finally that under confederation they will go on being employed on the bases as if confederation had never come at all. That will come out.... I have down here a note I made while Mr. Hollett was speaking.
Mr. Chairman I am not bound to take notice of your notes; please refer to remarks made by Mr. Hollett in the course of his address.
Mr. Smallwood All right, Mr. Hollett in the course of his remarks said that under confederation the town councils would have the right to attach your house, your land, your boats, your fishing gear, even your fur coat.
Mr. Chairman He said, "possibly your fur coat".
Mr. Smallwood Very well, but the other statement was pretty categorical.... Mr. Hollett has spoken here this afternoon along the same line. He read from the municipal tax act of Nova Scotia. He might have gone a step further and sent to the various other provinces and found out what powers the provincial legislatures have given the town councils.
Mr. Hollett I have.
Mr. Smallwood He might have found out what powers the town councils act of Newfoundland gives the town councils. He might have gone still further and found out what powers are given under the municipal charter of St. John's β€” what authority the municipal council has in St. John's β€” the taxes on houses, homes, land, shops, goods in the shops and taxes on property generally in the City of St. John's. No, not a word about that. Not a word about the taxes on property in the Windsor area, although he must have known quite a bit about it. He might have found out what the town council in Corner Brook West is permitted to collect. We have 20 town councils β€” not all functioning yet....
[Mr. Smallwood gave a list of there town councils]
And there are ten others in various stages of preparation.
If Newfoundland becomes a province of Canada, Newfoundland will be subject to three governments β€” some will be subject to two governments. All Newfoundland will be governed in some things by the Government of Canada; in other things it will be the Government of Newfoundland; and they will also be governed by the town councils. When has the federal government of Canada ever collected a dollar or a cent on any kind of property? Never has it collected any taxes on land, houses, property or cattle.
Mr. Hollett I did not say they did.
Mr. Smallwood I know you did not say it. You had your say, now it is my turn. Never since it began in 1879, never has the federal government collected a cent on farms, homes, or buildings, or boats, or schooners or fish stages.
Mr. Chairman There is not a quorum in the House.
Mr. Hollett I move we have a recess for five minutes.
Mr. Smallwood You cannot make a motion when there is no quorum present.
[The Secretary summoned members to return, 1026 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1947 but none did so. As a result Mr. Smallwood moved that the committee rise and report progress. The Convention adjourned until January 5, 1948]

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:

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

Footnotes:

  • *
    Amount suggested by the Ottawa delegation $ 15,400,000
    Extra on account of Education 900,000
    Extra on account of Natural Resources 801,000
    Extra on account of Health and Welfare 1,068,000
    Making a total of $17,269,000

Participating Individuals: