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Newfoundland National Convention, 26 January 1948, Debates on Confederation with Canada

1362 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948

January 26, 1948

Mr. Cashin Eventually we have been successful in eliciting from the Canadian government after a period of over three weeks a reply in connection to my questions on the Newfoundland Savings Bank. Again I will read the question:
1. I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask the Commissioner for Finance and/or the Commission of Government that, in the event of Newfoundland's becoming a province of Canada, what would happen to the deposits now laying in the Newfoundland Savings Bank?
2. Would the Newfoundland Savings Bank continue as at present and would the depositors continue to receive the same rate of interest on their deposits as they now receive?
The Canadian government in their generosity sees fit to send us the following reply:
1. Monies on deposit in the Newfoundland Savings Bank at the time of union would remain the property of the depositor.
2. While Parliament has legislative jurisdiction over banks and banking, inclusive of savings banks, there is no federal statute pur porting to affect provincial government savingsinstitutions and the Province of Ontario has for a great many years operated a savings bank similar to that of Newfoundland without any interference by the federal authorities.
That is not a reply to my question. My question was, "Would the Newfoundland Savings Bank continue as at present and would the depositors receive the same rate of interest as they receive now?" Therefore that question is not answered yet, and this Convention is drawing to a close. I can put only one construction on it β€” they are net going to receive the same rate of interest. I know they will say the Province of Newfoundland will have to look after it, but will the depositors receive 2.7% interest which they are receiving today? There has been no reply. And there is not a statement that it will continue, even.
Mr. Penney Mr. Chairman, I never expected to live long enough to see a bunch of Newfoundlanders trying to barter away...
Mr. Smallwood Point of order. What business is now before the House? Is he rising to a point of order or moving a resolution or what?

Motion to Place Confederation with Canada on the Referendum Ballot

Mr. Chairman The motion before the Chair is, "Be it resolved that the National Convention desires to recommend to His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom that the following form of government be placed before the people of Newfoundland in the forthcoming national referendum, namely, confederation with Canada upon the basis submitted to the National Convention on November 6, 1947, by the Prime Minister of Canada. I take it you are speaking to the motion?
Mr. Penney Yes, sir. I was going to say when interrupted, that I never expected to live long enough to see a bunch of Newfoundlanders trying to barter away their country under such a barefaced pretence...
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Penney has already in the first sentence imputed dishonourable motives to those of us who believe in confederation. Do I have to stand for that?
Mr. Chairman I do not think you ought to say that. They may be bartering away their country; but I do not think you ought to say "under barefaced pretence".
Mr. Penney I never expected to live long enough to see a bunch of Newfoundlanders trying to barter away their country, but lo and behold, that very thing is on us now. It is not my intention to delay the work of this Convention in its final stages with a long-winded address, no more than I have done heretofore. Rather, I prefer to let it die in peace. There are, however, a few remarks I would like to make in regard to forms of government and the confederation issue in particular, and in doing so I will confine myself chiefly to an aspect of the confederation proposition that to my way of thinking at any rate, has not been sufficiently stressed, and is one of the key points to the question.
First of all, however, may I take you back to October and November 1946, when the confederation issue was first raised through a motion suddenly thrust upon this assembly to send a delegation to Ottawa to seek terms of union. That January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1363 was at a time when we had not gotten anywhere in our studies of our own country's affairs, but which up to that time we were all endeavouring to do, calmly and dispassionately. So it seems clear now, if it was not then, that there was something behind that move that certainly was not helpful to this Convention, because it definitely split us into two groups, and the gap created then has opened wider and wider through continuous confederation propaganda, until we find ourselves today lined up in two opposing sides awaiting a final decision. In pointing to the reason and cause why this Convention has not been able to perform the duties assigned it sooner can be definitely attributed to confederation propaganda, no matter what may be said to the contrary, I have come to believe that there was a planned scheme to try and sell out our country to Canada from the very beginning.
Mr. Smallwood Point of order. "Planned scheme to sell out the country to Canada from the beginning." Every time this man gets off that kind of insulting remark, I am getting on my feet. I am a member of this Convention. I was elected here. I have the rights of a member. These rights say I shall not be insulted by a member's imputing dishonest motives to me, even by a man such as this man.
Mr. Chairman I am cognisant of the fact that you are a member of this Convention. I am compelled to rule that you are not permitted to use language that is calculated to impute dishonesty, and which is offensive in character, to any member of the house. I have to rule that Mr. Smallwood's point is well taken and I have to rule you out of order, Mr. Penney.
Mr. Penney Could I be permitted to use the word "barter"?
Mr. Chairman I do not think you ought to use language to impute dishonest motives. You may disagree with his motives or his politics, but I do not think you are entitled to impute he is dishonest in his beliefs simply because of the fact that you do not agree with his beliefs.
Mr. Penney I was trying to follow down the history of confederation and to show it was a planned move in this Convention.
Mr. Chairman Please do so, but do not impute dishonesty to any member of the House.
Mr. Penney The one thing I cannot understand is that when a motion was moved that we send a delegation to Washington, we were turned down flatly. Having opposed the first attempt (I was home with the flu when the second attempt was made) to force confederation over and above all else on this Convention, I feel it my duty to say I am opposed to all attempts to make terms with Canada at this time, until at any rate the people of Newfoundland have been given a fair chance to elect their own government and initiate trade talks with Washington, in the belief that no true- blooded Newfoundlander would dare consent to barter away β€” is that all right, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Chairman Yes, that is all right in that sense.
Mr. Penney Before making absolutely sure that the price is the very best obtainable and nothing less than the best, if and when we should be obliged to sell at all.
The so-called terms as contained in the Black and Grey Books are most certainly not the best obtainable for Newfoundland, notwithstanding the persistent and sustained efforts of the confederate-in-chief and his supporters to try and make you believe otherwise. The pros and cons of these so-called terms have been debated since November 1947, so that now all are wise to their implications. The able addresses of delegates Job, Higgins, Cashin, Crosbie, Harrington, Butt, Fudge, Hollett, Reddy, Hickman, Cranford and others, have shown clearly what is involved in this proposition, while one could, I was going to say, smell the scent of senators' seats in some of the supporters of this scheme.
Mr. Smallwood Point of order. Is this man permitted under your guidance and under your control to make these remarks, and then having made them, force me to a point of order after they are made? Is he going to defy your ruling? You have ordered that he is not to impute dishonesty. Now he has made the remark imputing dishonesty, that we who are advocating confederation are doing it for senatorships. Is that honest on his part? Is it parliamentary? Have I got to stand for it? Have Mr. Ashbourne and Mr. Burry to stand for it?
Mr. Chairman Never mind Mr. Ashbourne or Mr. Burry. You take your seat. I am compelled to remind you of the provisions of standing order 21, "No member may use offensive or unbecoming words." This is the third time I have had to remind you. You are not to use any more offensive language. If you do I will definitely have to rule you out of order, and I will not be prepared 1364 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 to permit you to proceed with your address.
Mr. Penney I would like to say that you are the only person, as Chairman of this Convention, that I am afraid of in this Convention.
Mr. Chairman I do not like my job here anymore than perhaps you like the way I am doing my job. If I am appealed to, I have to enforce order as best I can. I do not think you are entitled to use unbecoming language.
Mr. Penney I accept your ruling. I do not intend to use any personal remarks, nor do I think I have done so, to this time.
Mr. Chairman Certain gentlemen are well- known to be ardent confederates by this time β€” that is an inescapable conclusion. I do not want it to be misconstrued that you are speaking under my guidance. I have not seen your address. I can only deal with the points as they are delivered.
Mr. Penney Since I cannot convey the meaning I intended to convey, I will have to do the best I can. Now that we have reached the crossroads, surely it is a time when self-respect alone should compel us to stand firm. It is your country and mine, where in the outports every man and woman is comparatively free from special taxes; where we can obtain our living from land and sea unhampered by periodic calls from tax collectors. Why then give up your life-long freedom because champions of confederation ask you to do so? When you must feel in your heart and soul there is something behind the move? I dare not do anything or say anything to knowingly harm our future prospects, for posterity will eventually determine whether we are right or wrong. Believing this, I cannot be a party to selling out our country.
Mr. Smallwood Point of order. That is once he has offended since you gave your ruling.
Mr. Cashin I rise to a point of order. Mr. Penney stated he cannot tolerate the selling out of our country. What is this? We are making a deal; they are taking over our national debt, consequently we are handing them over something for something. Therefore it is a sellout.
Mr. Chairman I will deal with the point. I see nothing wrong with the word "sale" when it is employed in this sense. After all, if we go into confederation, it is a contract of sale and there is no stigma to be attached to the sense in which you have employed the word "sale"....
Mr. Penney Do I understand you right, there is no objection to the word "selling"?
Mr. Chairman If you want to describe it that way.
Mr. Penney It is, in effect, to me a sale and the price is those terms we have been discussing.
Mr. Chairman You are at perfect liberty to refer to it as such.
Mr. Penney Thank you. I have some words here you may not permit me to use β€” I had better not use them. I want to tell this Convention to act warily. Elect your own government first and foremost, controlled by the people of Newfoundland, and represented by a body of selected Newfoundlanders, so that you may control the keys. Good men and true with adequate control of our treasury. The form of government we now have β€” am I allowed to refer to that?
Mr. Chairman Not at this stage. You had better confine yourself to the form contained in the motion.
Mr. Penney I will end it up this way. There are four days to go before this Convention dies, and I have no regret about that whatsoever. But I will not likely have another chance to talk to this Convention as a body, so I want to make a few remarks concerning the history of the Convention, in closing. Now that our term of service here is approaching its end, for which I have no regret because it has lasted many months longer than it should have, and has been swerved from its path of duty because of the projection of controversial political questions in the early stages of our studies of Newfoundland affairs. This, however, is past history. Now as we come to the end of our service here ... may I say in closing that it was a great privilege to meet and know the delegates of this Convention, most of whom I had not met or known before.
The sad side of this get-together was almost at the very beginning of our Convention sessions when our revered and respected Chairman, in the person of the late Judge Fox, was claimed by death. The suddenness of his passing shocked us all, for we knew we had lost a Chairman of outstanding fitness for the tasks ahead, an eminent judge, whose guiding hand and sound judgement was recognised in the loyalty and respect of all delegates. May his soul rest in peace as his revered memory lives on. Then, too, this Convention lost another outstanding public leaderin the person of Mr. K. M. Brown who was January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1365 taken suddenly ill while addressing this Convention, and who has not recovered sufficiently to return to his service here. No member of this assembly can truly estimate what this Convention has suffered in this way, for we all know Mr. Brown had much experience in the public life of his country, was and is a father of the fishermen, a man of great leadership and ability. May I send him our greetings and best wishes for an early recovery, so that he may be able to participate in the testing days for this country ahead. To all delegates (I almost want to say friend and foe alike), may I wish good health, good luck in your service for the future generations of Newfoundland. To our Chairman also who, I believe, holds the respect and goodwill of all, may I wish better health as soon as freed from honourable service here. You have, sir, in my opinion, served faithfully and well under difficult testing conditions during heated debate.
I go on record as opposed to the confederation scheme to barter Newfoundland to Canada at this time, believing our future safely lies in the election of our own government as a first step on a plan suggested by Mr. Hickman, and for a better deal for Newfoundland.
Mr. Hillier When last I rose, I rose to support a previous motion which had been brought to this house, with the understanding that these two political set-ups which were then introduced would be placed before the people of Newfoundland; because I was fully convinced that the people wished that to be so. They do wish it in the district which I happen to represent. They wish to have these political set-ups which I rose to support under those conditions at that time, placed before them. I again rise to support a motion. This time it is the motion which is at present before the Chair...
During my time in this Convention I have never committed myself to any political view. I felt that I was not called upon to do so. I had made up my mind that I wanted to see the whole picture. I wanted to weigh matters thoroughly. I realise to the full that any political view which I might have might not be shared by all those I represent, and they could very properly say to me that they did not send me here to champion any particular form of government. We are going to decide that when that day comes. We came here to inquire into the general position of New foundland, to find out all the facts possible, and to place these facts before the people in plain, simple language, as a means whereby they could be assisted when the day comes for making a grave decision. We came here to consider forms of government, and we were supposed to inquire as to the possibilities for Newfoundland under these respective political set-ups, and pass it on to the people. The people were to make the final decision, and any help we could give them, it was our bounden duty to give it....
It is quite possible in this world of ours to think independently. We live and move and have our being, as it were, in a certain political atmosphere, and because we live in that political atmosphere it is quite possible that we are going to be influenced thereby, and not at all times think and act completely independently. The influential powers around us will often take us out of the track into which we at first started. It is my personal feeling that this is one time in our history when we should think independently; for the question before us today is one which will concern us individually, and we should think independently after weighing the whole situation from every angle, and, having decided that we are on the right track, then it is an honourable thing for us to carry on.
As we look out upon world conditions, and as we consider Newfoundland's general position, we consider the lack of industries in this country, and the irregular earnings of a large number of our people, that no one year compares with the other, that there is no section of our country in which in some year there is not a failure from a fishery point of view. I understand that three- quarters of our people are fishermen. Having therefore in mind this one burning question and looking back on this Convention and what we have learned, and weighing matters in general in Newfoundland β€” there is this burning question: for what shall I vote in the national referendum? And it is a reasonable question. It is a question which I ask myself, and I know of lots that are asking the same question... I am fully aware ... that whatever form of government Newfoundland may have in the future, our path will not be strewn with roses. There is the possible aftermath of war. What shape it will take I know not, but history usually repeats itself. We had a great depression after the last war, and it is pos 1366 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 sible that we may have another, I do not know.
To me, sir, it is a very serious question. I don't know if any person thinks the same as I do, but it is a question which has been tormenting me considerably ever since the first day I stepped into this assembly, and it will be a serious thing until the time comes and I go from this assembly and look about on the whole scene and weigh the matter from every angle, and then finally make a decision. When that decision is reached I shall vote as I then think, conscientiously, rightly or wrongly, to be in the interest and general welfare of Newfoundland.
It seems to me, sir, with my little knowledge of public affairs in Newfoundland β€” I own I have not the experience which some of my good friends have in business and politics; I admit my shortcomings in that respect. I have never before come out in public or spoken in public, and this has been my first time speaking in this Convention, and it is an honour which I shall never forget, and it is something which I shall take with me to the end of my days. But I feel, Mr. Chairman, that β€” and I believe there are others who feel the same β€” whether now or in two or five years time I do not know, the people have to say, but I feel, sir, that Newfoundland will at some time or other be obliged to unite with some larger power for her general welfare and progress, and as I think of that I ask myself this question β€” I do not make a definite statement, but I ask myself this question β€” would it not be as well to do that now? I say we probably might do worse than unite with the Dominion of Canada.
The question, I realise to the full, rests with the people of Newfoundland. I must be one of the many, as I remarked just now, not one of preliminary experience, not one who has been connected with public life in this country as some here, or greatly associated with the business life of this country as many gentlemen on the other side. The question rests with the people, sir.
This, Mr. Chairman, will be my last time appearing in public. It will be the last opportunity I shall have of standing in this assembly, but I have this to say, that I shall take back with me happy memories of association with fellow delegates from all over Newfoundland. It has been a great privilege and a great pleasure to meet these men, because I have from them gathered much valuable information. I have gathered something of what life is like in Newfoundland as a whole. I have been able to draw comparisons, and I find there is a great similarity all around Newfoundland. To all my listeners, sir, I say a cheery good luck, and good luck to Newfoundland!
Mr. Job Mr. Chairman, I want to make a few remarks. They will only take a few, perhaps five or six minutes. I feel that I am one of the juniors here, that have not to speak too long, while the bigwig on my right, and the two bigwigs on my left will have a good deal to say, I expect. But I want to deal with this motion before the Chair. I am not at all opposed to giving our people the opportunity of expressing their views in connection with the well-considered plan for confederation with the great Dominion of Canada, and I want to make it absolutely and completely clear that I am not against confederation in principle, and on terms which would ensure justice to Newfoundland. But I am definitely and positively opposed to the motion before the Chair for the following reasons. Now one of these reasons has already been dealt with quite nicely and extensively by the member for Carbonear, Mr. Penney, and I am not therefore going to go over that ground again, except that I feel that if we should enter into confederation before endeavouring to utilise our great strategic position as a basis for seeking joint help or assistance in some way from Great Britain, Canada and the United States on the lines I have advocated on several occasions, I think we would be casting away a most valuable bartering opportunity for seeking something which might be very much better for the future of this country than anything we can gain from confederation with Canada. I feel that if we conclude arrangements with Canada on the basis of the terms indicated, without trying for something better, we shall live, or some of us will, to regret it, as the opportunity for expansion of our own resources, especially those of the fisheries on the basis of trade with America, will be lost forever.
I believe it is entirely wrong in principle to place before the electorate, for a decision which will be irretrievable and irrevocable, terms which have not been the subject of negotiations in any form whatever, but which are simply the ideas of one of the parties as to a fair and equitable basis for union. And I further believe that the terms indicated can be improved upon, and unless they can be, we should be inviting future financial January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1367 trouble or financial discomfort by deliberately accepting a position which will leave us with a deficit in our financial budget. No reliable figures have been produced to show that under the terms indicated there would be sufficient revenue left to carry on our provincial duties on a reasonable scale without running into debt. I believe that with incomplete information to work upon, the people of Newfoundland will not be in a position to fulfill the condition imposed by the Government of Canada, as expressed in the letter dated 29 October last from the Right Hon. the Prime Minister of Canada, to the effect that before finalising any arrangement for union, "the people of Newfoundland should indicate clearly and beyond all possibility of misunderstanding their will that Newfoundland should become a province of Canada." How can they come to a well-considered conclusion with incomplete information before them? I ask also whether Canada's expression of views mentioned in the same letter has been carried out, namely, "that it is essential to have a complete and comprehensive exchange of information and a full and careful exploration by both parties of all the issues involved."
I believe that the issues to be placed before the people in the forthcoming referendum will be seriously befogged and confused if this Canadian issue is included in the referendum. By excluding it, the people of Newfoundland will be much better able to come to a definite choice between responsible government and Commission government, and later on will have an opportunity of considering the confederation issue. If the confederation issue is on the referendum paper it can definitely be dealt with at some not far distant date, perhaps within six months from the date of the referendum, as it should then be put before the people as a single issue, instead of being mixed up with two real forms of government. These two forms of government, if unsatisfactory, can at some future date be discarded, while acceptance of confederation would be an irrevocable and irretrievable step. If this motion is turned down by the majority of this Convention, as Ibelieve it will be, it must be remembered that the British government still has the option, if they deem it wise, of keeping the confederation issue in some form on the referendum paper. I hope that if they do so they will see that it is simply not common sense to place on the paper for final decision, for final decision, a scheme which has not received the approval of any Newfoundland government or assembly, and which is almost certainly capable of improvement.
Just a few words more, sir, and I am finished. I must refer to Mr. Smallwood's statement that the whole truth should be put to the people, a point with which I entirely agree. In his, shall I say fiery speech of a few day ago, he made the statement, which I think was afterwards confirmed by Mr. Ashbourne, that confederation with Canada would not be an irretrievable step, and in fact Mr, Smallwood indicated that it would be comparatively easy to get out of it should Newfoundland find that she has made a mistake. I don't fear to state definitely that this is simply not true, as it has been definitely decided that the only way in which provinces can secede, or be expelled, is through an act of the United Kingdom Parliament. In actual fact a select committee of Lords and Commons decided in 1935 that Parliament was, by constitutional convention, not competent to deal with such a matter upon petition of a single province or state. Their decision emphasised the fact that in practice, as well as in law, no right of secession rests with any state or province acting alone. If there is any doubt on that point, and if Mr. Smallwood would like confirmation, I have quoted almost from the views of our own constitutional adviser, Professor Wheare, who issued a textbook on federal government and very strongly pointed that out, quoting the actual case on which I have based my views. I hope that Mr. Smallwood will correct his statement, before we "marry in haste and repent at leisure." I thank you.
Mr. Cashin Mr. Chairman, the question now before the Convention, as I see it, is simply this: is this Convention, having reviewed the terms and conditions of confederation as contained in the Black Books and the Grey Book, of the opinion that union with Canada should be recommended to our people as a possible form of government in the forthcoming referendum? On this we are, as representatives of the Newfoundland people, asked to make a decision. For myself, my conclusion in the light of all the information at my disposal is, that it would be neither wise nor profitable for us to recommend such a form of govemment to our people; and I 1368 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 propose in my remarks to give my reasons for saying so. I will as best I can explain to you why I believe that the so-called proposals are not alone without the virtue of being properly negotiated terms, but that they fail to present either a true or complete picture of the real position. Indeed, for myself, I find them more remarkable for what they conceal than for what they actually tell us; that instead of being possessed of the dignity or standing of a legitimate contractual agreement between two countries, they resemble more the brief of a slick salesman trying to sell a defective bill of goods to a gullible people. In short, Mr. Chairman, I regard them as an insult to the intelligence of this Convention, and a reflection on the sound common sense of all the people of Newfoundland.
I have said, sir, that these terms are more remarkable for what they do not tell us than for what they do, and the glaring instance of this is given in the manner in which they deal with taxation. Some weeks ago I told this Convention that in the event of confederation with Canada the people of Newfoundland had better get out of their heads any idea that we were going to get lower taxation. I went further, and I said that instead of any decrease in taxation we would suffer from even a higher and much more oppressive burden under confederation. We have all witnessed Mr. Smallwood's failure to satisfactorily balance the budget which he brought in here some weeks ago β€” his own personal budget, made to order, which contains his own chosen figures. Now I ask you, when this budget could not be balanced even in theory, how can we expect to measure up when the real thing comes along? And remember too, that in addition to this provincial budget we will have to pay, I say have to pay, our definite share of taxation to the federal government. In commenting on this matter I estimated that the people of Newfoundland would be called upon to find a total annual sum for taxation of nearly $80 million annually. I said that some weeks ago, and I am still waiting for someone to prove to me that my estimate was not correct. I have heard, as you have heard, pro-confederates make somewhat feeble attempts to indicate how our provincial budget might be balanced, but not one of them gave us a satisfactory answer. Mr. Smallwood indeed seems to realise the awkwardness of his position in this respect, and so in the past whenever he is faced with an issue with which he is unable to deal he starts to duck, he dodges, he evades, and failing everything else he sends out a smokescreen, as you have heard him do when he tried to distract us from the issue by an attack on or vilification of those engaged in the business of this country.
Now, no one has ever yet accused me of being champion of Mr. Smallwood's local millionaires, and I am not concerned with them as such in this debate, but I do realise, as everyone with intelligence must realise, the value of free enterprise. A11 democratic peoples know that capital and labour depend upon each other for existence. I know and you know, that without the so-called capitalists the great United States would not be where she is today. Canada, the much vaunted Canada, had her resources developed and her railways constructed, and their country opened up only through and with the driving power of capitalism, and the same thing applies to the British Empire, and if we look at our history we find that the same thing applies to this country. I know and you know, that today the country which is the envy of all the world, whose people enjoy the highest standard of living, is also the country which has the greatest number of rich individuals per square mile than any country on earth. Must we put two and two together? Do we not also know what happened to those countries in which agitators arose to turn the people of the country against those possessing money? Yes, these people destroyed the capitalists, but at the same time they destroyed their own country β€” a Hitler, a Mussolini, and a Stalin replaced the banker and industrialist and the merchant. Would anyone want that sort of thing to happen here? Listening to the heated abuse which Mr. Smallwood directed at the successful business organisations of this country, and the businessmen, the same businessmen who furnished the fishermen with their ships, the men who built the factories, the men who started new industries, the men who employ thousands of our people at union wages, the men who, is estimated, pay large annual sums to our treasury by way of annual taxation. Listening to his unreasonable attacks on these people on Friday, I somehow got the idea that for the first time a new and unsavory and even alien note had been injected into the proceedings of this Convention. It January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1369 seemed to me that a foreign influence was loose: the spirit of Trotsky, the virulent harangue of the soapbox orator playing on the discontent of an unthinking and innocent people. If patriotism, it has been said, is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then it seems to me to be equally true that the setting of class against class is the last refuge of the political demagogue. When all else fails, when his case can't be won on its merits, there is always available the red banner with the words inscribed upon it, "Down with the rich."
Political history shows that there is only one worse thing, and that is the setting of creed against creed. Let us hope that such a foul thing will never be allowed, as I am sure it will not be, to raise its ugly head in this country. The people of Newfoundland, in spite of Mr. Smallwood's words, were always ready to put their trust in our businessmen. It has always been so in the past and it is just as true today, for have we not here in this very chamber many of them β€” prominent and well-known businessmen, some of them even representing Mr. Smallwood's hated corporations? These men were selected by the people to represent them and to protect their interests, and I know, and our people themselves know, that these men will do their jobs as best they know how. Certainly, I admit that our businessmen and our Newfoundland corporations have made money, just as similar businessmen all over the North American continent have made money, and this applies, as I will show later on, even in that place of perfection, the Dominion of Canada. Many Newfoundlanders are well aware of that because we send them each year some $40 million. But let us be fair about this matter. Let us see if our wealthy men are the evil characters that Mr. Smallwood would have us believe. Is it not to these same individuals that a great portion of our people must look for wages? Union wages, sir, based on a mutual agreement between the worker and employer. Must we not also give them credit for keeping money in this country, circulating amongst our people instead of it being drained off by foreign corporations?
I admit that in some cases the prices charged our people are too high, but whose fault is that? Is it not the fault of the present Commission of Government which, in order to get higher taxes, refused to put any ceiling prices on during the war years, and who incidentally, in order to increase the amount they could bleed from our business people and the people generally, passed a law practically forcing businessmen to charge higher prices than they wished to charge? Mr. Smallwood seems to forget that every single, solitary thing which he says about our local businessmen also applies, even to a greater extent, to the businessmen in his beloved Canada, and even further, he is throwing these charges, he is launching these slurs upon the very men who are sitting in his own confederate camp. To this extent he is fouling his own nest. Let us take a glance, sir, for a moment, at some of the things he said. He went to great pains, and probably thought he was scoring a point, when he said that in 1945, 105 business concerns in Newfoundland made a total profit of $15 million (and I think paid taxation of $5 million out of that), but did he also tell you, this Convention and the country, that of these concerns by far and away the greatest individual profits were made by the local branches of Canadian corporations and other foreign corporations, and that it follows that the greater part of these profits were shipped out of the country to Canada and other places? And did he tell you, or did he conveniently forget to tell us, that in that same year of 1945, 29 companies doing business in Canada β€” 29 β€” made a total profit of what? $250 million.
Canada cannot afford to dissipate her revenues much longer. I have already told you that Canada is in an unhealthy financial position, and that the time is not too far distant when a general cutting down of expenditures will take place if Canada hopes to remain solvent and continue its ambitious march to nationhood. Then again, did not Mr. Crummey, who was a member of the delegation to Ottawa, tell us in windingup the debate on this confederation issue, in committee of the whole, that the delegation was told in effect that it should not have gone to Ottawa when it did, that it was interfering, so to speak, with the political mood of the Canadian government at that time, and that it had been intimated that the delegation should return to Newfoundland and come back to Ottawa again in September? What does this indicate? It conveyed to me that it might be part of the plan of Dominions Office to stave off, as it staved off successfully the holding of our national referendum last August; so that the United Kingdom government, through its local 1370 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 agents, the Commission government, might further expend the monies of our treasury, which they have done and are continuing to do at the present time. Did not Mr. Crummey tell us that the Ottawa delegation was told that in case Newfoundland could not successfully balance its provincial budget under the present Canadian proposals, that it would be necessary to impose additional taxation on our people to do so? Did not Mr. Crummey tell us that under the present laws of Canada there did not exist any legislation which would permit our Fishery Board to carry on as it is doing at the present, and that consequently it would be abolished, and that our fishery products would then come under the federal authorities, and that the present system of our marketing would cease to exist? Is it not a fact that some members of the Ottawa delegation advocated a subsidy of $8 million instead of the $3.5 million transitional grant, and were turned down? Other matters of great national importance were also given attention and were not reported to this Convention because it does not suit the plan of the pro-confederates. I have stated in this assembly that the estimate of possible revenues which the Canadian experts made that Canada would derive from union of our two countries, amounting to slightly over $20 million annually, are fraudulent; that in my opinion the amount they would receive would be over $30 million. And this does not take into consideration the possible increase in revenues that would accrue from the development of the Labrador iron ore project. I repeat that statement today, Mr. Chairman, I repeat that the deficit on the proposed provincial budget would be not less than $9 million annually, and that in order to balance that account increased taxes would have to be placed on our people in the way of further sales tax, hospital tax, property tax, educational tax, municipal tax, and God knows how many other kinds of taxes.
I know that the advocates of confederation do not look at this matter in the light of what would accrue for provincial administration. Their sole ambition is to stress to our people the advantages to our people that would accrue from the payment of baby bonuses, and the vilification of our merchants, etc. I know that is their policy, but I tell them now that knowingly or unknowingly they are traitors to their country. Some of us have been accused of national treachery...
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, isn't that hitting a bit below the belt? If I were to tell Major Cashin that he was a traitor to his country he would not like it.
Mr. Cashin No, I would drive you through the window.
Mr. Smallwood Well now, you are 50 pounds heavier than I am, and if I weighed as much as you do, and if it was the other way around, maybe I could throw you out the window. I think that's hitting below the belt.
Mr. Cashin Well that's my opinion, and I am entitled to express it.
Mr. Smallwood Is he entitled to express that opinion, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Chairman No, I don't think you are entitled to that, Major Cashin.
Mr. Smallwood All right, don't hit below the belt.
Mr. Cashin All right, I throw that insult back in the ocean. I will take it back if you like. "Some of us have been accused of national treachery." How is that?
Mr. Chairman No one has any right to impute treachery to any person simply because they are divergent in opinion.
Mr. Cashin I would throw that back at the faces of those who so accuse us, and tell them that the proposals contained in the Grey Book sent us by His Excellency the Governor by Prime Minister King are not such as would constitute an equitable basis of union of our two countries, and should not be submitted to the people at the coming national referendum. I tell those that would accuse us of national treachery, and who would advocate such proposals, that they themselves can by their very own actions claim the first right and title to this dishonourable name. To me sir, it seems that any Newfoundlander, or group of Newfoundlanders, who deliberately set out to pass all that they are and have across the traitor's counter, I say such people owe an explanation of their attitude.
I have yet to hear them give us that explanation. To trifle with a people and a country, to compromise the lives of future generations, are no small things. Yet that is the very thing that is now being attempted, to the end that we shall cease to exist as an independent country, and that Newfoundlanders shall be no longer Newfoundlanders. I would go on at much greater January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1371 length than the time allotted to me in showing why this country of ours should not and must not allow itself and its nationhood to be absorbed by the dominion to the west of it, but I think that I should avail of the short time left to me in attempting to boil this whole thing down to its broad outlines, and see the thing at its proper worth. Does not all this confederation business come down to a matter of a cold, commercial business deal, whereby we were asked to sell out our country and our future to Canada for a certain sum of money? And speaking of this attitude, I confess it seems to me to be a terribly serious thing for any country or any people to place themselves in the balance against the pull of Canadian dollars. What is the price, or shall I say the bribe, they offer us? The prize bait seems to be that a certain number of our people will get this thing called the baby bonus. But do they tell us that this bonus is an unsubstantial thing, that it is something that we cannot depend upon? That it may vanish overnight, and that in the event of a depression in Canada it will die a quick death? Indeed, my own personal opinion is that it will not exist longer than two years. Do they tell us that when our babies reach the age of 16 they will spend the rest of their lives paying back to the Canadian government the amount of their bonus? Do they tell us that when our babies reach military age they will almost certainly be conscripted into the Canadian military forces? Do they tell us that in the event of confederation a big percentage of these young people will have to emigrate from this country to seek employment which cannot be found at home? Of course they do not tell us those things, because they know, and know well, that if we saw the truth of these things this baby bonus would be no longer able to bluff and deceive us.
Then they next offer us an enticement. Here again they cover the bitter pill with a thick coating of sugar. You don't hear them tell you that many of those who receive this old age pension will have to surrender their property to the state, and that in the final result all it seems is that the pensioner has to sell his property to the Canadian government with the hope of getting paid back in some small monthly installments. Then there is the matter of our industries. Do they tell us that if confederation comes to this country it will mean death to many of our small industries? That it will close the doors of numerous factories which cannot hope to meet Canadian competition, that hundreds, probably thousands, of our working people will find themselves jobless, and if they want work will have to get out of the country to find it? And that in many of our larger settlements our tradesmen or storekeepers will find that our dwindling population will do away with most of their customers and threaten them with bankruptcy?
Now we come to another matter, which means much to the religious and law-abiding people of our country. With us, the matter of our educational system is one of great importance, and we have evolved our own system of denominational schools, which time has found to be most suitable to the wishes and requirements of Newfoundlanders. In the event of confederation there is a threat that, as Mr. Crummey has pointed out to this Convention, is a most serious threat to the destruction and overthrow of that system. He has pointed out to us that if Canadians take charge of our country in every probability we will have imposed on us, even forced on us, the adoption of non-denominational schools. What right have we to jeopardise the moral and religious lives of the coming generations in this matter? Why, to my mind this particular thing in itself is sufficient to warn us that the road to confederation is the wrong road for Newfoundland. But it seems that our people are asked to regard this matter from the standpoint of dollars and cents. Well, if we talk of dollars and cents we must also talk of taxes. Are the people of this country ready to take on a burden of taxation, the like of which they or their fathers have never known? Are they prepared to chip in an additional $35-40 million because you, Mr. and Mrs. Newfoundland, you are the ones, out of your pennies and dimes, who will have to pay for Mr. Smallwood's baby bonus.
Now in this matter I am not speaking from hearsay. I have lived in Canada and I can speak from hard, actual experience, and I tell you that under confederation the people of this country will find themselves smothered and suffocated under an avalanche of federal, provincial and municipal taxation. I have heard Mr. Smallwood, when asked some embarrassing questions about taxation, evade the issue by saying, "Oh, the federal government will not impose such and such a tax. That would be a matter for our own 1372 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 provincial government." Now what difference does it make to us, Mr. Chairman, to whom we have to pay these taxes? We lose our money anyhow. Our dollars are taken from us. The fisherman, and I hope they hear my words, will have to pay taxes on every stick and article that he owns β€” his boats, his nets, his house, his barns, his cattle and his meadows. That is the price, or part of the price the Newfoundland fisherman will have to pay for the privilege of calling himself a Canadian. Mr. Chairman, it is no surprise to me that the people assembled in this Convention, representing every district, representing every man, woman and child in this country, are, the great majority of them, absolutely opposed to having this country confederate with Canada. The reaction and the attitude of intelligent and patriotic Newfoundlanders could not be otherwise.
I see that my time is running short, and that I will be unable to proceed at any further length in showing why I am not voting for this motion. I wish to explain that irrespective of any of the reasons which I have named, my main reason for being against it is because it is a violation of the 1933 agreement, and I refuse to be a party to the violation of that agreement. In one of the early sessions of this Convention, delegate K. M. Brown of the district of Bonavista South, told you he had in his possession a letter which, if published, would kill this confederation issue absolutely and forever. I too have had access to a document which, if I were at liberty to publish, would show this country that a concerted plot, an international plot, was being hatched as far back as 1941...
Mr. Smallwood Publish it!
Mr. Cashin To bring Newfoundland under Canadian control, by force if necessary. The question I ask you now, has that plot been put into effect? Are its agents in this country today, and are we witnessing the desperate attempts to force it though by the setting up of this Convention, and the frenzied attempts of those who are behind the scenes of this confederate issue? Soon I trust, Mr. Chairman, our people will be called upon to once again mark their cross upon a national ballot paper.
Mr. Chairman Five minutes to go, Major.
Mr. Cashin All right, thanks very much. That "X" will be written by every real Newfoundlander on a day not too far distant. It too will indicate, if correctly placed, our love and our affection for the land of our birth. I ask you gentlemen to ponder and hesitate before you make that little mark by which you, your children, and your children's children can be blessed or blasted. That cross must be the kiss of love given by every loyal citizen to our own mother β€” Newfoundland. Take care, I say, that it is placed with zeal and loyalty just where it belongs, just where she wishes it, and tremble like Iscariot ere you place it on your own shame and future despair, in the place that means your traitorous denial of your mother country's best interests. As Iscariot planted his traitor's kiss upon the Master's brow, once done it cannot be undone. It is final, irrevocable and unchangeable, if placed after "Confederation with Canada", should that be on the ballot paper. Incidentally, Iscariot had the decency to hang himself. Would that I could say to all traitors, "Go thou and do likewise."
In closing, I can think of no more appropriate words to say than that which I regard as having been prostituted for another purpose in this Assembly a couple of weeks ago, for this is the time, this is the hour, this is the moment when from the hearts of every one of us who love this country, who wish her, well the prayer should go forth: "God guard thee, Newfoundland."
Mr. Hollett Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak to the motion, but I would like an intermission if it is agreeable.
Mr. Chairman I would like a ten minute intermission very much if it is agreeable to the members. We will take a ten minute recess, the chamber is very hot.
[Short recess]
Mr. Hollett First and foremost I want to draw your attention to a statement made by Mr. Hickman two or three days ago referring to the Clarenville boats. You will remember he asked a question, and the reply came back, and Mr. Hickman stated how evasive that answer was. I would refer you to the BNA Act, 1867, and I think the answer is to be found there quite clearly and distinctly. Section 92: "In each province the legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to matters coming within the classes of subjects next hereinafter enumerated".... They go on to state the items on which the provincial government is empowered to make laws. Section 92 January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1373 sub-section 10:
Local works and undertakings other than such as are of the following classes:
(a) Lines of steam or other ships, railways, canals, telegraphs, and other works and undertakings connecting the province with any other or others of the provinces, or extending beyond the limits of the province;
(b) Lines of steamships between the province and any British or foreign country...
In other words, the Clarenville boats will be absolutely under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and therefore it will be up to the federal government to administer them and send them where they please. I want to point that out so that Mr. Hickman can rest assured that the answer was given in an evasive manner in order to cover up that particular point.
Now Mr. Chairman. Mr. Smallwood criticises what he calls "the responsible government majority" in this Convention for not wanting to recommend to the Commonwealth Office that confederation upon the basis submitted to the National Convention be placed on the ballot. I would point out to him that in addition to voting that responsible government go on the ballot, we have also voted to have Commission of Government placed thereon. We have done that because we are being consistent, and demand that the British government fulfil their pledge to the people of this country. After all, it was to the people that they pledged their word.
I shall vote against Mr. Smallwood's motion because I see in it a deliberate attempt to ignore all pledges and rush us into confederation regardless of the welfare of our people. Who makes this deliberate attempt? In my opinion, sir, the British government and the Canadian government, and they are aided and abetted by the Commission of Government and their servants. Certain individuals amongst the legislative and administrative bodies in this country are working tooth and nail to implement this high imperial policy.
Do you seriously think, sir, that either Great Britain or Canada is deeply concerned about our people? Were they ever so concerned in the past? Decidedly not. But why, you ask, are they so anxious now that we should confederate? The answer is quite simple. How else, I ask you, can they get American troops off British soil? Under confederation it would be quite simple, for under the mutual defence pact between Canada and the United States, it would be quite an easy matter.
Let Mr. Smallwood answer me a few questions if there is any doubt left in our minds about this imperial policy which the Commission of Government would assist. Why was the Convention Act worded as it is: "form or forms"? Why was Mr. Smallwood sent to Canada by someone shortly after the election?
Mr. Smallwood He is implying that I was sent to Canada. He has no right to do that.
Mr. Chairman Either he is implying it or making a statement, I do not know which.
Mr. Hollett It is an actual fact. Mr. Smallwood did fly from Gander. I ask him why was he sent. He can interpret that how he pleases. Why did he call together certain people to a meeting held here in St. John's in August 1946? This was held before the Convention met.
Mr. Smallwood It is a lie; a downright, dirty lie.
Mr. Hollett Why at that meeting was it decided to introduce a resolution to send a delegation to Canada as soon almost as the Convention was opened?
Mr. Smallwood It is a lie. A black and foul lie.
Mr. Hollett Am I to be interrupted in this way?
Mr. Chairman I will make a note to deal with these matters. I am not going to have these exchanges. I have already warned you. Now Mr. Smallwood, please. I have already warned you once today, and I am doing it the second time, and I hope I will not have to do it the third time.
Mr. Hollett Is that statement to be left on the record thatI am a liar?
Mr. Chairman That is a statement thatI am not prepared to deal with at the moment. I will investigate that, but I will not deal with it at the moment, because I have not the facts before me to make such an investigation.
Mr. Hollett Can Mr. Smallwood state that another delegate is a liar?
Mr. Chairman Now Mr. Hollett, don't give me any further trouble here this afternoon.
Mr. Hollett I will not, sir.
Mr. Chairman I will advise you not to.
Mr. Hollett I will ask Mr. Smallwood not to give me any further trouble.
Mr. Chairman I will deal with that later.
Mr. Hollett I will ask another question, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman I will deal with Mr. Small 1374 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 wood's statement, and I will deal with you, after I have investigated the facts. I have not the facts before me.
Mr. Hollett Why were the microphones put in this building? Why, sir, did the Commission of Government arrange the trip to Canada, the Ottawa delegation? Why, sir, were the so-called proposals of Ottawa not delivered to us by the delegation? Mr. Chairman, I can answer all these questions to my own satisfaction, and I am sure every man in this Convention can do likewise. Now sir, I may not be against union with Canada under certain conditions, but I certainly am under these unnegotiated terms, terms which I honestly believe would redound to the economic sabotage of the country's resources and the country's future. Vote against putting confederation on the ballot? Of course I shall, knowing full well I shall incur the displeasure of some people in this country, but also knowing this full well that I am doing my duty by the people whom I serve. If our people want confederation, in Heaven's name let them elect a government with a clear mandate to negotiate. The delegation had no power to secure proposals. Why then did Canada send proposals to His Excellency the Governor of Newfoundland, who afterwards passed them on to us? When the people elected us, did they authorise us to discuss proposals for union with Canada? No, they did not, and we exceeded our duty in discussing them at all. It seems to me that we have discussed nothing much else than union with Canada since this Convention met. Have we, I ask you, discussed any other form of government? Have we discussed the particular form of responsible government we may want? Have we discussed Commission of Government, or any amended form thereof? No, sir, we have not been allowed to.
Mr. Smallwood complained on Friday that he had never had a chance to bring the facts of confederation before the people in this Convention. I ask you sir, when has any other form but confederation been brought before the people in this Convention? Never, until Mr. Higgins brought in his motion the other week. Mr. Smallwood made much ado about monopoly and monopolists on Friday, and my friend Major Cashin has referred to that already. I agree with Mr. Smallwood, I do not like monopolists either. I know that monopolies exist in this country in connection with the sale of Canadian war assets, and particularly do I refer to 6,000 Canadian blankets which were sold in Gander. The man who put the corner on these 6,000 blankets, was he or was he not a monopolist?
Now Mr. Smallwood, on Friday, very magnanimously gave us an opportunity to say a few words on taxes on property, and I availed myself of that opportunity. He spent two hours last week replying to me, telling us that the federal government did not tax property. Whoever said they did? I did not, or that the provincial governments taxed real property. I now find out, however, that the provincial governments did tax real property. For instance, in Saskatchewan in 1943 the province collected altogether in taxes just over $11 million, and of this amount something over $3 million was collected on real and personal property. (These figures which I am quoting are taken from the Comparative Statistics of Public Finance). The Province of Alberta collected $1.25 million on real and personal property, and British Columbia $1.3 million, and the thought of the whole matter is that every province of Canada, with the exception of Quebec, collected some taxes from real and personal property. But the point I endeavoured to explain was that generally the provinces, having the power to tax real and personal property, delegate this tax collecting power under the BNA Act to the municipalities or town councils, and herewith I submit some figures to show the great extent to which the municipalities have gone in collecting their necessary revenues by taxes on land, buildings, farm equipment and fishing equipment, Mr. Smallwood, and other real property.
For instance, in the province of Nova Scotia 1943 the total municipal taxes were $10 million, and $7.5 million of this came from taxes on real and personal property. In New Brunswick the municipal taxes amount to $5.8 million. Now of this, $4,417,000 came from taxes on real and personal property. In Quebec province the total taxes were $75 million, and of this $61 million came from taxes on real and personal property, on such things as I have quoted there, that is to say on land, buildings, farming equipment, fishing equipment and other real property.
In Ontario the total municipal taxes were $114 million, and of this $104 million came from taxes on real and personal property. In Manitoba the January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1375 total municipal taxes were $19 million, and of this $17 million came from taxes on real and personal property. In Saskatchewan the total municipal taxes were $24 million, and of this $22 million came from taxes on real and personal property. They had to get it off of that, there is nothing else to tax. No customs, no income tax β€” the federal government has it all. In British Columbia the total municipal taxes were $21,677,000, and of this $21,306,000 came from taxes on real and personal property.
Now if anyone has any doubt in his mind on the system of taxation in Canada, which would and must be the system which would prevail in Newfoundland if we go into confederation, then I ask him to consider well these figures. These figures are correct, and only serve to show how largely the system of taxation in the provinces depends upon the taxation of land and buildings, farm machinery and fishing equipment, and other real and personal property. In the new province of Newfoundland there is being collected today, by means of such taxation, less than $600,000. In my estimate made a few days ago, I came to the conclusion that under the proposals forwarded to us by the Prime Minister of Canada we should find ourselves storing up deficits to the extent of over $5 million a year unless we resort to further taxation on real and personal property. I submit therefore, sir, that we shall find that within a period of two or three years under confederation anybody who is still living in this country will be able to find that the total municipal taxes were $5-6 million, and of this amount some $4 million or over will have been collected on real and personal property.
To show you how serious and how far-reaching this method of taxation in Canada is, I direct your attention to the Ontario Gazette of September 6, 1947, pages 1441 to 1462. You will find there listed some 542 lots of property which are listed under the heading "Treasury's Sale of Land for Arrears of Taxes." You remember, sir, last week I endeavoured to point out how the municipalities, and the provinces too for that matter, have the right to sell your property if you cannot pay your taxes. We have the right here in this country, but it has not been exercised. In the last 40 years here in the town of St. John's there has not been a piece of property sold for payment of taxes. That is an authoritative fact. Yes, they have the power, they must have the power, but they don't resort to it wholesale as they do in Canada. You will find listed some 542 lots of property under the heading "Treasury's Sale of Land for Arrears of Taxes." Now this is in the Province of Ontario alone. Here is one instance: "Widow, Frances M. Kelly, Lot No. 17, one half-acre of land, arrears of taxes $10.36 β€” cost $2, total $12.36." Now, sir, this widow, unable to pay $10.36, had her half acre of land sold by the municipality because she was unable to pay. And there were 542 pieces of a like nature in the said province in that particular quarter of the year. Yes, when our main sources of taxation have been taken over by the Government of Canada, Mr. Smallwood will have to resort very largely to taxation on such real and personal property as we have in this country. Let us point out, sir, that in the whole of Canada the total of their provincial and municipal taxes collected in 1943 was $649 million, and of this amount $274 million came from taxes on real and personal property. Now this is much more than one-third of the whole of the taxes collected by the provinces and municipalities. Apply this to the case of Newfoundland. I estimated a week or so ago that we would need some $17.3 million to run the country as a province, and I believe myself to be at least equally as capable as Mr. Smallwood when it comes to dealing with figures. I have pointed out that more than one-third of the taxes collected by the provinces and municipalities in Canada are derived from taxes on property. Is it not therefore reasonable to anticipate that we as a province would be collecting more than one-third of this $17.3 million, and that will make more than $5 million?
Now I quite agree with that. There are many people holding vacant and unoccupied land, and I have no objection whatsoever to their being made to pay taxes, but when the taxes affect the primary producers of this country, then I feel in duty bound to warn those primary producers, such as the fisherman, the farmer, the miner and the logger, of what they can expect.
Now I want to direct your attention to a question I directed to the Department of External Affairs at Ottawa as to the probable expenditure to be incurred by Canada in Newfoundland in the event of confederation. This item, you will remember, is found on page 16 of Annex IV of 1376 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 the Grey Book.[1] You will note there that under the tax agreement their estimate is $6,820,000. This amount, I pointed out, depended on the population of Newfoundland and the gross national product of Canada, and I as these two were variables the amount could not be guaranteed as being $6,820,000, but that it should be listed as $6,211,756.60. That is to say the irreducible minimum payment is the only amount which we can guarantee, or at least which the Canadian government can guarantee to us. Under the next item you will see that they have listed for old age pensions an amount of $2 million to $2.6 million. Now this is merely guesswork. They admit that themselves.
By the way, Mr. Smallwood has said very little about old age pensions of late, because he failed to point out in the first instance that the federal government demands that the Province of Newfoundland will have to assure it that the recipient of the old age pension has made over his property to the province, which on his death will be sold, the amount paid to the pensioner prior to his death to be taken therefrom and forwarded to the federal government. It is assumed, I take it, that the balance, if any, will be paid over to his heirs. But the main question in that particular item which I refer to was the sum of $9.4 million under the heading "Other Departmental Expenditures." You will remember that I asked the Canadian government to break down that amount under the heading of the various services on which it would be spent. They have done that, and the answer is before you in that memorandum. I won't go through it now, I will just refer to some items. You will note that they intend to spend $1.7 million on Veterans' Affairs. That is to say, if we become a province, Canada proposes to spend $1.7 million on Veterans' Affairs in Newfoundland. Now let us look and see what we spent last year under Veterans' Affairs. You will find by reference to the government's estimates that we spent the following sum, that is to say:
War pensions $722,200
Civil re-establishment 735,000
Land development 39,883
Travel 30,000
Construction land development areas 642,000
War pensions, administrative 24,331
Merchant Navy hospital 48,521
Making a total of $2,141,935 as against $1.7 million which they are to spend when they come here. How in the name of goodness can they expect to come in here and handle veterans' affairs in this country with $1.7 million? I don't know, and it's anybody's guess. Under the heading of Transport, Canada says she will spent $1,393,000; last year we spent $4.5 million. Take Posts and Telegraphs, Canada says she will spend $1,164,000, last year we spent $1,995,000. Take the Department of Fisheries, Canada says she will spend $600,000 when she comes in here (God forbid!). Our own government last year spent $1,031,000 as against $600,000. Finance, Canada will spend $275,000; last year we spent $507,000. Canada will spend $500,000 on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (I suppose they are expecting some trouble, some disturbance); last year we spent $726,000 β€” the Ranger Force cost this country $726,000. Under the heading of National Revenue, including income tax, Canada says she will spend $325,000. We ourselves last year spent $665,000. 1 am drawing your attention to these figures, sir, in order to show how very unreliable are the estimates which Mr. Mackenzie King received from his various federal departments of the cost of the existing services in Newfoundland, when they quoted the figure of $26.5 million.
I would also like to draw your attention to footnote no. 3, on the same page 16 of Annex IV, where they state: "That any cost in respect of the Newfoundland Railway or the auxiliary steamship services taken over by Canada are not included in this $9.4 million" β€” and yet in this reply you have $1,393,000 under the heading of Transport in the breakdown of this $9.4 million. The more one looks at these terms in the light of the financial experiences of the various provinces of Canada during recent years, the more one has to come to the conclusion that Prime Minister Mackenzie King surely thinks we are really too green to burn, and yet Mr. Smallwood has the temerity to tell his countrymen that these terms are generous! Well, a good many of his countrymen have heard him tell his fairy stories before. They have heard him tell his bedtime stories in the north, the south, the east and the west, and by January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1377 this time a good many of these people will know how to measure the credence or otherwise of this latest Superman thriller.
Has Mr. Smallwood told us what he is going to tax to make up for this deficit in the first or second year of confederation? He himself, sir, in the Black Book, admits there will be a deficit. This deficit he admits is $1 million. It is called "Additional Provincial Taxation β€” $1 million". Actually it is $1.2 million. Very well, what is he going to put his taxes on to get this? In the second year of confederation he will have to find a further $350,000. As you will remember the transitional grant is reduced year by year for 12 years by $350,000 a year until it gets down to nothing, and so on year after year, until at the end of the 12th year the Newfoundland people will be paying, mark you, $4.7 million in taxes more than they are paying today. They have to make that up. Very well. All I want to know, sir, from Mr. Smallwood is just what he is going to levy these taxes upon? It seems to me some indication ought to be given us. We enter confederation now with the prospect of having to raise more revenues year by year than we are raising now. Does this make sense? God knows we are taxed enough now. Most countries today are endeavouring to lower the taxation burden. We are told, however, "Oh no, you must be taxed more year by year if you desire this inestimable privilege of being a Canadian citizen." Any fool can see that according to these terms, ten years hence the Newfoundland people will have to raise nearly $5 million more by way of taxation than we are doing now. And all this makes no allowance whatsoever for new construction or repair to roads, schools, buildings and other construction, and makes no allowance whatever for increase in public health services, educational facilities or fishery improvement. Let us forget all this and merely ask Mr. Smallwood just how is he going to raise that money, that $5 million, say ten years hence? Is he banking on the possibility of having been gone by that time to his reward, eternal or otherwise? No, he won't tell us, but I have indicated a method to you, and I hope, sir, that you will be here to be witness to the truth of that which I have spoken. It may be, however, that by that time communism will have overrun the world, and that a suitable commissar will be found to rescue the Newfoundland people from the appall ing burden of taxation imposed through the machinations of present-day confederates. One thing I do know is that the present administration has set up such a huge spending machine, that whatever form of government the people decide on in the future, that government will be hard put to it to find the money necessary, for the greatest good to the greatest number of our people can only be achieved by the fullest development of all our natural resources.
In this development government must lend a hand, and more than that, a controlling hand. How necessary therefore is it that govemment should be truly representative of the people. The brightest hope I have seen so far for the future is the present organisation of labour throughout the country. I have watched its development for a number of years, and after close association with some of its leaders I believe it to be the only development in self-government that has come to Newfoundland during all her past history. With wise leadership I believe that labour can save this country and her resources for the benefit of all. If labour cannot make this country a better place in which to live, then nobody else need try. One thing is absolutely essential, and that is a very close co-operation between all the unions in every branch of industry. They must get together and put up a solid co-operative front with capital to the end that all may benefit.
Going back to the motion. I cannot support it. I would have supported Mr. Higgin's motion with Commission of Government included, had it not been for the pledge of 1933. That pledge still stands, hence our legal choice in the matter can only be one of two forms, and it should be put to the people in this manner: "Do you desire the return of responsible government β€”answer 'yes' or 'no'." If the majority say "no", then Commission of Government carries on. If the majority say "yes", then we get back our former status, and begin to put our house in order. Mr. Chairman, I put it to you that is of the very essence of the meaning of the word "referendum". The dictionary tells us that the meaning of the word is the "referring of some social or political question to the electorate, who will decide it by either a 'yes' or a 'no' vote". The introduction of this confederation issue at this time prostitutes the very language in which it is written. It makes confusion worse confused. It renders the Convention 1378 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 act ultra vires of law as handed out to us by the mother of parliaments, and its passing and implementation violates that which I humbly believe to be a sacred pledge.
Some of us, sir, have been accused of talking politics. Maybe we are. Mr. Bradley, in speaking to Mr. Higgins' motion a few days ago, said that before he was elected he regarded the Convention as a non-political party, but it had not turned out so. I am in accord with Mr. Bradley in that statement, but will the confederates get up and tell us about the secret gathering in St. John's in August 1946, after Mr. Smallwood's return from Canada, prior to the opening of this Convention? Will they tell us about the meeting of these 12 members of the Convention in the Newfoundland Hotel in 1946, shortly after the Convention opened? Will they tell us of their having Mr. Smallwood read them his speech which was to have been delivered on the introduction of the first confederation deliberation motion? Oh no! Do the 12 remember how he was advised not to give that political speech, and how he promised not to read it? But did he give that speech? I ask you gentlemen, did he give it? Oh yes, he gave it, and so brought into this Convention political controversy which has been present ever since. How futile, how silly, to now accuse some of us of playing politics. I wonder what you would call the speeches which the introducer of this motion made? Oh no, not political speeches, just little fireside chats, sir. Now I am not blaming Mr. Smallwood for talking politics. He is right in doing so. He believes in confederation I take it, just as I would deny it as being in the best interests of this country. As for me, I shall not be satisfied until every man and woman in this country is a politician, and then you may expect good government, whether it be confederation, responsible or Commission or some other form.
Now, although I cannot conscientiously vote for this motion, there is very little doubt in my mind but that it will be placed on the ballot. In fact, unless Commonwealth Relations Office has had a change of heartl feel sure that it will be on the ballot. Incidentally I believe Mr. Smallwood visited my constituency, if you might call it that, a couple of weeks ago, and I believe he was asked a certain question relative to that very point, if I can lay hands on it. No. At any rate I remember it very well. He was asked this question a few weeks ago in Grand Falls: "Do you not really believe that it was the intention of Great Britain and Canada to put Newfoundland into confederation when they drew up the Convention Act?" I am informed that Mr. Smallwood's answer was "yes".
Mr. Smallwood That's a lie, a black lie, whoever informed you.
Mr. Chairman Just a minute, Mr. Smallwood, Mr. Hollett did not say you made the statement. He says, "I am informed that you made the statement." Don't interrupt, Mr. Smallwood, please.
Mr. Hollett He said I am a liar.
Mr. Smallwood Well, whoever informed you, it was a lie.
Mr. Hollett I have no objection to confederation going on the ballot whatsoever. I have pointed out that in my opinion it is not legal for it to go there. That's my opinion, and I may be a liar on that too, but as long as I live I shall express my opinion, and let me say this: in answer to a nasty editorial which appeared in one of our evening papers on Saturday past, let me say that the Convention members who are lined up in favour of the restoration of responsible government have no fear for the results of the referendum; but let me also say that the Convention members who have lined up in favour of confederation are indeed a sorry, sorry group.
Now, sometime ago when discussing these proposals for union with Canada I outlined briefly the history of the tax agreement which the federal government was endeavouring to reach agreement on with the various provincial governments, and I wound up by referring to Canada as "united in war, but divided in peace", and that is undoubtedly a fact. Only the other day Premier Duplessis of Quebec hoisted his provincial flag with great fanfare. No longer will the Union Jack fly from the Quebec provincial legislature building. They will consent to fly it over a side entrance however, should the Governor-General consent to visit Quebec. Are these the people with whom we are to federate? I realise of course that this is a gentle hint to the federal government to keep hands off as far as Quebec is concerned, but even Quebec cannot break away from confederation is she wanted to, except by force of arms. Once we join up with Canada, we join up for keeps. We cannot secede. Mr. Smallwood will tell you that we can, but of course he spoke January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1379 out of turn.
Speaking of Quebec, both Mr. Duplessis and Mr. Godbout now wish to contest the Privy Council award of 1927 with reference to Newfoundland- Labrador. They both want our Labrador. Said Mr. Godbout in the Legislative Assembly of Quebec on January 21 of this year, "Newfoundland, logically speaking, should be annexed to Canada. We would be the first to bite our fingers if Newfoundland, with its possibilities of vast natural wealth and natural resources, especially in its Labrador section, one day passed into the hands of the USA."
Mr. Cashin I suggest that we adjourn until 8 o'clock.
Mr. Chairman Yes, it is 6 o'clock, Mr. Hollett. I will leave the Chair until eight.
[The Convention adjourned until 8 pm]
Mr. Hollett When we broke off for the day, I think I was saying something about Quebec. I would point out that any graciousness shown by Ottawa, Mr. Chairman, in the matter of confederation, has been with Quebec's interest paramount. I have it on first-hand authority that Quebec has been endeavouring to force Ottawa's hand. Mr. Chairman, it is my considered opinion that union with Canada under these terms would lose us all control over these resources in Labrador, and all control over where we may ship our products, and it would be only a matter of time before we would be reduced to the status of the Canadian Indians.
Believing this as I surely do, can I conscientiously vote to do anything which would help to put this country into confederation? If I were the only man in this country, sir, who was against confederation and believed as I do, I should vote against the motion. The same evening paper I referred to before, sir, states that we men of the Convention were not required to advise upon any one cause or the other. It definitely states that. I refer to this, because a good many people are lately thinking the same thing. I believe you will agree that section 3 of the act is quite clear on that point. I believe it states clearly that we are to make recommendations. How else can we make recommendations in an assembly of 45 men, other than by the vote? I will admit that London does not necessarily have to accept our recommendations. But I will submit that London would be creating a very serious situation did she ignore any recommendations which this assembly did make. We are a constituent assembly, elected by the people of Newfoundland to make recommendations on their behalf. We would not be worth our salt if we did not act on our own convictions, apart altogether as to whether or not these convictions were in accord with those held in the sanctum sanctorum of some newspaper. My blood boils when I see such editorials.
Mr. Smallwood may feel aggrieved that he finds himself in the minority. God knows he used every effort to gain a majority. That is democracy at work.
Mr. Smallwood Yes, I did.
Mr. Hollett We just have to accept that fact. If the dictatorial power at No. 9 Downing Street sees fit to ignore our recommendations, then, sir, we shall have to accept that too. For you see, as yet we are but the slaves of that dictatorial power, and we shall be the slaves of that dictatorial power just so long as we are governed under a regime like we are today.
I know of no other way to decide this issue here in this Convention than by the vote. How else can we do it? Suppose there were ten different motions brought in here, for as many different forms of government; obviously we could not recommend the ten of them. How then shall we eliminate what we consider the undesirables? How else than by the vote? That is exactly what we are doing now, and our whole desire is to point out the necessity for the restoration of our political liberties and the regaining of our self-respect.
I do not intend to take any more time, except a moment. We have been here 16 months. In my opinion we could have finished this job in four months but for certain things which happened. The country knows what happened. I am quite sure we could have finished the job in four months instead of dragging it on for 16 months. It just goes to show, one never knows.
We have in Newfoundland today a position of prosperity; and I say that having due regard to the numbers of people who today in this country find it impossible to make a living. We all know that is something that is present in every other country in the world today, and without reference to Europe or Asia, without reference to these parts of the world, I say it is true of this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Why, even in the Maritime Provinces 3,000 wage earners had to leave their 1380 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 homes and go to other parts of Canada and some to the USA, to earn a living. That is something which is apparently unavoidable. We are bound to have with us at all times, irrespective of our form of government, irrespective of our state of prosperity, a percentage of people who find it difficult to make a living; we have them today. And with that qualification, I say that Newfoundland today is more prosperous than ever in the past. The whole country is being developed slowly but surely. Her population has increased and is increasing, and I am quite sure that, given an opportunity, the people of this country can make the necessary industrial and commercial deals with other countries, whereby we can sell these things which we produce. We are producing today much more than our ancestors or forefathers. They stood up and fought like men for the privilege of governing their own affairs.
If we cast our minds back to those days of Dr. Carson, John Kent and many others β€” and, sir, I have heard what I consider disrespectful words used towards these ancestors of ours β€” I say they were brave men. They had nothing much to stand up for at that time, but still they believed in the right of mankind to have a say in the way in which they lived and the way in which they should be governed. They were brave men. God grant that this day and generation has produced enough Newfoundlanders to see that we shall regain our political independence and thereby enhance our opportunities to achieve our economic independence.
Mr. Vardy Mr. Chairman, the question now before the Convention is the one which is causing so much confusion in the minds of our people, and there are a very large number who cannot see why they should not, if they want to, vote for confederation with Canada in the referendum in the coming spring, and it is these very people who must be protected against themselves, for their fickle minds are their own worst enemies, for surely if such an important step is really good for this country, it is worthy of the closest study and negotiations between our two sovereign governments, who on our side would have full powers to argue for the best possible terms for Newfoundland. It is utter folly and nonsense for anyone to argue that Newfoundland has not got a much greater bargaining power today than ever before. It is also idle trash to argue that she is not in a better position today to take care of her own household, and for my part, if there is going to be any real serious outside bargaining done with the very thing we should value most β€” our liberty β€” it will be every step of the way with the power who will give the greatest liberty commensurate with the greatest amount of economic and social security.
If the federal government of Canada will equalise our debts in some way or other so that we can enter the union on equal terms, and with a guarantee of sufficient revenue to balance our budget as a province, then and only then would I feel justified in recommending to our people that they vote for confederation this spring. The people of Newfoundland elected us to do a job for them. We took it upon ourselves to study and place a value on a certain deal, the very serious matter of confederation. We have carefully studied this matter, and in the opinion of the great majority, the price or terms offered are not conducive to the best interest of our people. That being so, I would say to our critics, "Would it be honourable or honest on our part to advise our people to close the deal?" If Mr. Smallwood sent me out to look at a piece of land he was considering buying, and I considered the land worth $2,000, and the price was $5,000, would Mr. Smallwood consider me honest and honourable to advise him to pay the five, at the same time knowing in my opinion it was not worth over two? If he would pay the five, would he not forever after curse and abuse me for falsely advising him into a bad bargain?
We are the trusted servants of the people who sent us here. We have a serious duty to perform, and that duty is to honestly represent the people who have commissioned us to do an intricate, serious and responsible piece of work. We cannot be swayed by our emotions, or the emotions of anyone else who may be grasping for the shadows without counting the cost. It is not correct for anyone to even imagine that the majority of the members of the Convention are prejudiced against confederation, or even entertain one single hard feeling against Canada or Canadians, for it is an undeniable fact that as two separate countries, we are now the closest kin and the most united of any two countries on the face of the earth, and it is my considered opinion that unless the federal government is seriously lacking in January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1381 ordinary good sense, a union of the two countries can be finalised within two years. I feel positive, Mr. Chairman, that those who favour such an important step are not seriously considering the grave implications of what might be the result of a headlong plunge in the dark. Has the Hon. Mr. Mackenzie King not clearly intimated that the deal could only be finally negotiated with a sovereign government of Newfoundland? I am very, very doubtful that the British government would recognise a deal sponsored or negotiated by such an unauthorised and unofficial body as such matters, and we have no legal or moral right to attempt to bluff or pretend to our people that we have. In seeking a basis of terms for union, we have fully exhausted our rights in the matter and it now rests with the people who would favour union to elect a government to negotiate the best possible terms.
Mr. Smallwood has stated that 99 out of every 100 of our people want confederation. How low does he think the mentality of our people has fallen to believe such trash? There may be, and no doubt are, a lot of people who want confederation if they can get fair and equitable terms; but we all mix with most of the same people and we find that pretty close to nine out of every ten are a bit dubious about these so-called terms, and almost all feel we should have self-government restored, and the two parties enter the field and test the people fairly in a general election next fall. A lot of people wanted Commission, but cursed them less than a year after they were appointed. This business of confederation must be a matter put fairly on the shoulders of the people through their elected representatives, and if seven men can run the country by Commission, so can seven men run it by any other form of government. In my opinion the high number we have always had to run a one-man business has been responsible for many of our past ills.
Mr. Smallwood said our people are not going to be fooled again as they were in 1869, neither will they be fooled by the lies of 1948. I must agree with him. I give our people full credit of possessing good sense to judge fairly who is putting over the lies and false propaganda in 1948. On the whole our people are a wise, cautious lot. They have followed the proceedings of this Convention with a keen ear to every word, and they will judge wisely on what in their opinion carries wisdom or hot air.
We heard the best communistic speech here on Friday that was ever delivered in Newfoundland. In fact, it surpassed anything I have ever heard on a soapbox in Hyde Park, and I venture the opinion that if the same speech was delivered in Canada, the USA or Great Britain, the party delivering it would be convicted in court for such utterances. It was only a few days ago Mr. Bevin said, "We should not foist our system on Soviet Russia and they have no right to foist theirs on us." Mr. Attlee said, "We cannot have theirs without sacrificing human rights and liberty." Mr. Bevin said, "We are resolutely opposed to the Communist way of life." Britain, he said, was opposed to the Communist conception of uniformity. "The essence of democracy is difference of opinion, free discussion and tolerance of the other people's point of view. The world we want to see is one in which there are a number of diverse and different units as compared with the Communist world, in which, we might say they try to make Newfoundland a copy of Russia." Mr. Churchill supported both Mr. Attlee and Mr. Bevin in their views. I wonder what these gentlemen will think if they happen to drop in at the committee rooms to hear the recordings of the proceedings of the National Convention? Will Friday's proceedings not give them serious food for thought? I am all for co-operation. I am all for democratic socialism; but I am not for installing a communistic dictator in our midst; neither will labour or capital tolerate such an individual or group who attempt to foist it on an unsuspecting public. Canada is teeming with such soapbox orators, but now and then their activities are curbed.
Mr. Chairman, I am of the opinion that a number of people both in the Convention and outside it are favouring confederation going on the ballot paper because they conscientiously believe it would be the best thing in this country, and they are seriously trying to improve the standard of living for those around them. Their intentions are good, but their actions are premature. The Hon. Mr. Job asks this pertinent and pregnant question:
Does he honestly think it is right that terms indicated (not offered) by Canada, which have not resulted from negotiations between 1382 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 a government of Newfoundland and a government of Canada, should be placed before the people of Newfoundland for such a far-reaching decision as the complete change of the constitution of Newfoundland? Or does he not think it reasonable that any terms of union should first be discussed between the governments of both countries so as to make sure that the best terms have been obtained before submission to the people of Newfoundland?
That is the whole gist of the matter, and regardless of what Mr. Smallwood thinks, the average John Citizen in Newfoundland still regards the wisdom and advice of Hon. R. B. Job as being worth as much as his own. Who will finance the campaign Mr. Smallwood talks so much of putting on? Capital? To whom will he cater if he is successful? Capital?
Mr. Chairman I must request that you address your remarks to the Chair. You are addressing anything and everything but the Chair.
Mr. Vardy Mr. Chairman, one thing we are doing all the way through. We are underestimating the intelligence and statesmanship in both the Canadian and British governments. In my opinion they are capable of properly diagnosing our case. They may be influenced slightly by certain international complications, but I am satisfied that our case will be properly put to the people. For my part, I have endeavoured at all time to be fair to every issue brought before the Chair, to the Chair itself, to my district and the country as a whole. I have acted according to the dictates of my conscience, and regardless of the outcome I shall have no regrets. In closing, Mr. Chairman, I shall seek your indulgence to hear just one more verse written today:
It's a bleak cold day, as we shiver away, on a rock called Newfoundland, With a carefree roll our caribou stroll Through the brush of our hinterland. But our populace brave, tries our pride to save, Our appeal will soon be heard, The Lords and Peers of the British heirs will examine just what occurred. Two-thirds, they will say, must have their way, That's democracy simple and pure. Confederation is out, there is now no doubt, It must be settled next year on the floor. Then the terms we have scanned, will be improved grand, By our neighbours on Cabot Strait shore.
I am sorry if I put everyone to sleep.
Mr. Chairman I think they are intrigued by your poetic endeavours, like I am myself. I am forced to remind you that time is running out and the time limit for this debate is to expire in expressly 24 hours. I hope there is not going to be a last minute rush for the floor.
Mr. Spencer Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the motion before the Chair. I am strongly of the opinion that this Convention must recommend confederation to be put before the people in the referendum. I cannot see how even one member of the Convention can vote against letting our people decide this question. It is the solemn duty of every member here to give the people the chance to say if they want confederation, or if they do not want it. We all have the same duty, whether we personally favour confederation or not. We should not let personal likes or dislikes enter into the picture at all. After all, we in this Convention are not deciding which form of government our country shall have, for that is the people's right. If we of this Convention had the right to decide the question, then there would be no need for holding a referendum. We were sent here to recommend forms of government to be laid before the people for their choice. That is as far as we can go; and it is the plain duty of every man here to support this motion to place confederation before the people. I, for one, will be perfectly satisfied for the people to decide whether our future government will be confederation or not.
In seconding the motion, Mr. Banfield said he was voicing the feeling of the southwest coast. I know that is true. I also know that the people of the southwest coast want confederation to be on the ballot in the referendum β€” yes, and are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to vote for it. I do not suppose any man would stand in this Convention and say the people of the southwest coast are not Newfoundlanders. I think you would all agree that they are good Newfoundlanders, and that our fishermen are amongst the finest in the country. How can any member of this Convention vote to deny those thousands of Newfoundlanders the chance to vote for the January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1383 form of government they want? Would any member of this Convention say to those people of the southwest coast, "I do not care if you want confederation or not, I am not going to give you a chance to vote for it?" But that is exactly what you will be saying if you vote against this motion.
But it is not only the people of the southwest coast who want confederation to go on the ballot paper. There are thousands all around this country and in Labrador who want it; and right here in St. John's there are many people who would vote for it. Is any member of this Convention going to deny those people the chance to vote for what they want in the referendum?
If this motion is voted down in this Convention, it will only make confederation stronger in Newfoundland. Our people have a strong sense of fair play, and they will know what to think of members who vote to deprive them of a free choice in the referendum this spring.
The people of Newfoundland, sir, have learned a great many things in late years, and they have begun to realise that we are too small a country to stand alone. We have a small population scattered over a very large area. We do not have a large variety of natural resources. Our whole economy depends upon three industries β€” fishery, forestry and minerals. No doubt our fishery could stand further development, and we may some day see more mineral developments than we now have; but it is doubtful if we shall see any marked increase in our forestry development. Except for our paper mills, we have no highly developed industry. We are a country of primary production. We still have to depend too much on one industry, the fisheries, and when something happens to upset that industry our whole economy suffers. We still have too many eggs in one basket, so to speak. When one goes down, they all go down and our people are left penniless.
What we have to beware of, Mr. Chairman, is another depression. Some of our members here assure us that we need not fear another depression. They have told us that there are no shadows on the road ahead. Well, maybe they are right. I sincerely hope they are; but can we depend on our not having another depression? I do not think we can. That is one of the dangers we must keep in mind. For if another depression strikes us, and we are on our own trying to paddle our own canoe, where shall we be? Back where we were in 1933. Then we would be wishing we were linked up with a larger country, and that is one of the things we must bear in mind when the vote is taken on this motion. We all know what conditions were like in 1933 and up until the last great war. We have very vivid memories of our people trying to exist on six cents a day, and many who were unwilling to accept relief, working for almost nothing, to keep their families alive.
You may ask, would confederation guarantee that these things would not happen again? Perhaps it would not. But as part of a larger country, with free trade with that country, the lower cost of living would better fit us to meet a depression if it came; and if under confederation a depression did come, the Canadian family allowance would see to it that our children under 16 years of age have something better than six cents a day to look forward to; and the increased old age pension would guarantee our old people who needed it a fair share of the necessities of life. I am afraid the answer to all these questions is already known to our people. Our people have already asked themselves these questions, sir, and they have already answered them as well. And that is why so many thousands of them have made up their minds to vote for confederation. There is not a member of this Convention who will deny that there are many thousands of confederates in our country today. That being so, it becomes the duty of every one of us here to vote for this motion.
Mr. Chairman ....Again I have to remind members of the time schedule which this House handed me the Friday before last, and unless I receive directions to the contrary, I am bound to remind members that the debate on the business now before the House is scheduled to terminate tomorrow afternoon or evening.
Mr. Hickman I do not want to be premature if anyone else wants to speak, but I move we adjourn until three o'clock tomorrow. I do not wish to put that motion if somebody else cares to speak.
Mr. Chairman Would members care to give me some indication as to who would care to speak on this motion now before the Chair, so that we would have some sort of idea as to where we are? I am not side-tracking your motion, Mr. Hickman, but I would point out that a motion to adjourn the debate, under standing order 35, to 1384 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 which I direct your attention, is put only with the consent of the Chairman. I know you were only trying to assist me, but as the floor is now occupied by Mr. Cranford, I will defer putting the motion.
Mr. Cranford Mr. Chairman, for five weeks the proposals for confederation with the Dominion of Canada was debated in this chamber, and I wonder if the people of this country understand those proposals any better than they did when we began. There is one thing that I am sure of, and that is our people do not know how they are going to be taxed in order to finance a province if we decided to become a province of Canada. That is one thing I am sure of, as I have taken a very keen interest in this matter, and as yet I do not know, and the fact is it has not been outlined to us and it cannot be expected for any person outside of this chamber to know.
It has been said in Canada that we are a touchy and suspicious people, of which I plead guilty, in view of the goings-on in our political life. If we were not touchy and suspicious, it would be very little interest we would have in the support of our families.
Mr. Chairman, much has been said about direct and indirect taxes. Now let us consider for one moment which of the two is best for a fisherman. If the tax is direct, fishermen will have a yearly amount to pay, good voyage or bad voyage β€” that direct tax must be paid or charged against him. If the tax is indirect, it is the same as we are used to. The years of a good voyage we spend all our money on all necessities of life to replace the badly worn, and to buy extras that we were not able to buy when we have a bad voyage. In the years of a bad voyage we curtail our spending wherever possible and we mend and re-mend our clothing and make other things do us for that year, in order to try and balance our budget; and believe me, in years of bad voyages we do not pay much in the form of customs duty, when we consider the principal part of a fisherman's food is on the free list. Therefore Mr. Chairman, indirect taxes are better for a fisherman; because how is a fisherman going to pay a direct tax in a year of a bad voyage or even an average voyage, when he can just square his family account and try and find something to do in order to try and carry him through to the next season?
Mr. Chairman, I wonder if you can imagine how odd it sounds to me when a person asks the question about the political feeling in any district, when they ask how do the people take the confederation issue? To me, sir, this question sounds out of place, inasmuch as I am sure there is not a person in Newfoundland today who knows what confederation with Canada would mean to Newfoundland. On one hand we are offered family allowances and so on. On the other hand, we are asked to give our God-given rights together with an assurance that we will not use our surplus that will foster our industries that will be in competition with Canadian industries. Now, sir, that means we are asked to allow Canada monopolies that would be against us. The word "monopolies" stinks in my nostrils. I am a man that is against monopolies β€” we have had a few to contend with, and because we have had a few, will I for spite give the whole of our trade to another country to be monopolised? Sir, in view of this how can any person decide on confederation with Canada? I think, sir, the advocates of confederation should he held responsible for all the promises made, as I feel sure they are made to be broken.
Mr. Chairman, you may consider what I have just said to be in the nature of a joke, but I was never more serious in my life, as I consider this confederation issue of grave concern to all of us, since in the past we have been made into a political football without any consideration for the welfare of the people. It is time for us to hold someone responsible for their doings. As we all realise, all the changes that have taken place in our political life have been done by a few and not by the majority of the people, and I say it is high time we call a halt.
Mr. Chairman, I am not one of those who can be deluded by any flowery offer or promise of any person, and I would like to call the attention of this house and the country in general to the words of Mr. Smallwood when he polished off his address on Wednesday, January 14, when he said that $16 million would be given by Canada yearly to the province of Newfoundland if we should become such, and the Government of Canada regards that amount as mere chicken feed. Now, Mr. Chairman, I do not believe one word of that statement, not one word. And the fact is, that statement has caused me to take all that Mr. Smallwood has said on this matter with January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1385 a pinch of salt.
Mr. Chairman, during my business life I have had business dealings with Canadians, and I have found some of them to be as crooked as God is straight; and if we give them the monopoly of our trade that Mr. Smallwood advocates, I predict that within five years, if we can survive at all, the majority of Newfoundlanders will be obliged to leave their island home and seek refuge in some foreign land, or be no better situated than if we all lived on the most northerly part of Labrador. I really believe that. After all, Canadians, in the Canadian government or out, are only ordinary individuals and are as subject to taking advantage from monopolies as people from any other land. And I do not blame them, no more than I do the people who have the monopoly of trade in this country. I do blame the governments who give these monopolies to the people who enjoy them to the detriment of the people in general. If we go into confederation with Canada, and that country takes advantage of the monopolies given, which is only natural to expect them to do, I will blame it on the advocates of confederation, and on Mr. Smallwood in particular. No one in this chamber knows better than Mr. Smallwood how bitter I am against monopolies. I do regard them as parasites, because they are sure to eat into the life of any business into which they are allowed to apply. It is senseless, criminal, devilish and the worst thing to happen in any country. It is a scourge that everybody in this country should fight.
Mr. Smallwood Hear! Hear!
Mr. Cranford Talk about the TB scourge! Why the TB germs in this country are only angels compared with that monstrous parasite called monopoly, because there is no cure. It is protected by the laws of the land to devour us. It has been in the past, and if we the people do not crush it in its infancy, there is no hope for us. If there had been no monopolies in this country, I would have never been seen in this assembly. I am sure it is the root of all our troubles, and I would like to go on record in advising the advocates of confederation to be very careful in their offers and promises that may cause the people of this country to make a mistake by voting for confederation with Canada; a mistake they will make if that germ monopolies is given as outlined in the Grey Book. If that happens, and it turns out within a few years that the people have made a mistake, I assure these gentlemen there will be a reaction and Newfoundlanders will be fooled just once too often.
I intended to speak when the debate on the proposals for confederation was taking place and to ask Mr. Smallwood a few questions, but after hearing Mr. Smallwood's answers to questions put forward by other members, I took it for granted that Mr. Smallwood was on a political campaign and the Black Books were his manifesto β€” and a dirty one with that, as they can be subjected to deception, or in any light they would persuade the electorate to vote for confederation, without giving it any consideration if it was bad or good for this country; and I, not being interested in any party politics, did not feel inclined to take part in a political campaign at that time.
Mr. Chairman, as I said before, we Newfoundlanders were accused of being touchy and suspicious, of which I plead guilty. I will admit my suspicions have been greatly aroused during the past five weeks, and time alone will show me if my suspicions were well-founded; and the fact that monopolies have been introduced in the offer of confederation with Canada. I cannot support the motion. My not supporting this motion does not mean that I am taking away the privilege of the people from voting for confederation with Canada; because the advocates of confederation can vote for responsible government to be placed on the ballot paper in the referendum this spring, and if responsible government wins, they can place a party in the field and issue a manifesto setting forth just what taxes we will be called upon to pay if we become a province of Canada, and guarantee the electorate that we will not be called upon to give Canada the monopoly of all our trade; also that the province will not be called upon to pay any property tax, and no settlement will be forced against the people's will to form town councils, as promised by Mr. Smallwood β€” this will be giving the people something definite to vote for. If that is done, I will be one of the most ardent supporters of confederation in this country.
Mr. Chairman, in June 1946, in my radio address to the electors of Trinity Centre, I said that I was fully convinced that one of the pests that ate the prop from under our economic structure was monopolies, and this Convention has confirmed my conviction. I am sure that everyone 1386 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 in the hearing of my voice knows there was only a portion of our trade monopolised under responsible government, which can, at this enlightened age, be remedied by ourselves. But to give Canada, or any country, a monopoly of all our trade is ridiculous. What is behind it all? Are there any selfish motives? That is the question we may ask ourselves also. What do we see in the Canadian proposals that may cause us to throw in our all to them, and give them the monopoly of all our trade, and leave it to the Government of Canada to say who we shall deal with or who we shall not deal with? To me, the idea is ridiculous. I have come to the conclusion that the information that we now have is not conducive enough to cause us to leap in the dark by voting for confederation with Canada.
Mr. Chairman, maybe this is the last time that I may have the privilege of rising in this chamber to speak, but I am sure there are members here today who will be back. I would like to ask them that whenever anything arises that is not in the best interest of the country, such as monopolies, to think of me. Thank you and God bless you all.
Mr. Chairman There is a motion before the Chair that the debate be now adjourned. I have the discretion of withholding or putting that motion. I am reluctant to put it unless I am satisfied that no member wishes to address himself on the business before the Chair. But again, lest my position on this matter be in any way misunderstood, I am personally ready to sit here until seven o'clock tomorrow rather than have any suggestion subsequently arise that I was hindering directly or indirectly any member from addressing himself to the business before the Chair. But again I have to remind members that according to the schedule laid down for me by the members of this Convention, the debate on the motion is scheduled to end tomorrow evening.
Mr. Smallwood Could you ascertain how many members would like to speak? We have had ten speak up to now, that leaves 34 still to speak between three o'clock tomorrow afternoon and 11 tomorrow night.
Mr. Chairman That is why I warn members that there is a motion before the Chair to adjourn the debate.
[The motion carried, and 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:

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

Footnotes:

  • [1] Volume II:520. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]

Participating Individuals: