House of Commons, 6 February 1948, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland

940 The Address—Mr. Dorion COMMONS
The question of expense may be raised. Let me point out that the total amount paid by the Canadian National Railways out of its revenues in respect of pensions is only 2.6 per cent. I make this appeal to the minister. I ask him to give consideration to assuring the railway employees of the Canadian National Railways that degree of security after retirement which other classes in this country are receiving today.
Mr. FREDERIC DORION (CharlevoixSaguenay): I should like to take advantage of this debate to express my personal views on a matter which is of very great importance to the people of this country, and especially to the province of Quebec, namely, the question of the ownership of the Labrador territory. I have given some study to that question; I was particularly interested in it because I have the honour to represent the only constituency in the dominion that is bounded by the Labrador territory.
When the delegates of Newfoundland came to Ottawa last summer and met the representatives of the Canadian government to study the possibility of Newfoundland entering into the Canadian confederation, I endeavoured to follow as closely as possible the discussion which took place at the time. The reports given us by the newspapers failed to give us a full account of the discussions, and when we were called for the present session I was glad to have the opportunity of reading the report which was published by the government in two volumes entitled: "Report of meetings between delegates from the national convention of Newfoundland and representatives of the government of Canada."
I was also much interested in reading the letter written by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) on October 29, 1947, to the governor of Newfoundland, together with the "proposed arrangements for the entry of Newfoundland into confederation" which was annexed to the letter, and printed in a separate pamphlet, under the caption: "Terms believed to constitute a fair and equitable basis for union of Newfoundland with Canada should the people of Newfoundland desire to enter into confederation."
Notwithstanding the vote which was taken in the national convention of Newfoundland some days ago, I am sure that the question involved is not disposed of, and we may well rest assured that in the near future the question of the entry of Newfoundland into our confederation will be the subject of further discussions. That is the reason why I feel it is our duty to study as closely as possible the conditions under which the Canadian government would see fit to accept this new province in our confederation.
We must not forget either that our neighbour to the south seems to be very much interested in the settlement of that matter. Not later than last Thursday, January 29, we could read in the newspapers a dispatch from Washington as follows:
An unofficial, tentative proposal from Newfoundland for "closer association" with the United States is receiving scant attention here this morning. It would call for interference by the United States before the approaching plebisicite in the colony to the extent of a declaration promising support for an independent government and for help in developing a steel industry in Newfoundland and Labrador which, it claims, would save the United States from becoming dependent on Canada for iron or steel.
Everyone knows that when we speak of developing a steel or iron industry in that part of the continent we have in mind the territory known as Labrador on the mainland, much more than the island of Newfoundland itself. That is the reason why it is of the utmost importance to ascertain whether that territory belongs really to Newfoundland. In the course of my remarks I will endeavour to show, Mr. Speaker, that notwithstanding the report of the judicial committee of the privy council made in March, 1927, that territory still belongs to the province of Quebec. Mark you, sir, it must be noted that the privy council did not render a judgment, a judicial decision; it was no more than a report on a reference which, as I will show later on, was badly drafted, incomplete, not properly presented, and proper action on it has never been taken.
In reading the report of the conference which took place last summer, I noticed that quite a number of questions were asked by the Newfoundland delegation for the purpose of establishing the position of the parties in regard to the matters involved in the questions. I was quite surprised to read at page 158 of volume 2 of the report the following question regarding Labrador:
Question: If Newfoundland joined Canada, would. Labrador remain a part of the province of Newfoundland?
Answer: The Canadian government has always felt that it is bound by the award made by the judicial committee of the privy council in 1927 with respect to the Labrador boundary. The Canadian government assumes that, if Newfoundland became a province of Canada, Newfoundland Labrador would be a part of that province. Section 3 of the British North America Act of 1871 might also be consulted. It is clear from this section that the parliament of Canada cannot alter the boundaries of & province without the consent of the legislature of the province concerned.
FEBRUARY 6, 1948 The Address—Mr. Dorion 941
In reading that question it came to my mind that if the delegates of Newfoundland thought it advisable to ask it, it was surely because they were far from being convinced that the matter had been finally settled by the report of the privy council; otherwise I cannot imagine that they would have asked such a question.
I was also very much surprised to read in the proposed arrangements submitted to the government of Newfoundland by the Prime Minister the following paragraph, page 5 of the pamphlet, section 2:
The province of Newfoundland will include the territory of Labrador defined by the award of the judicial committee of the privy council in 1927 as Newfoundland territory.
And one may further notice that such statement comes right at the beginning of the proposed arrangements, as if it was one of the most important questions to be decided. We can surely infer, from the special care and the particular consideration given to that matter relating to the boundary between the province of Quebec and Newfoundland, that it has never been settled before, and that the interested parties are willing to take advantage of the entry into confederation of Newfoundland to settle the matter finally. But my contention is that the Canadian government has not the right, has not the legal power, to dispose of a territory belonging to the province of Quebec; and I will go as far as to say that even if there was an  agreement between Newfoundland and Canada to that eflect, it would be ultra vires of the powers of the government, and the problem itself would not be solved.
Since the Canadian government rely upon what they call the award of the judicial committee of the privy council for the purpose of admitting the rights of Newfoundland over the Labrador territory, I will endeavour, Mr. Speaker, to explain and to prove that nothing whatsoever has been finally decided by this report and that the province of Quebec still has jurisdiction over that territory.
To enable us to understand as clearly as possible this important problem, we must go back as far as 1763 and see what were the different measures which were passed by the imperial government as well as by the Canadian government in relation to that matter.
Everyone knows that in 1763, by the treaty of Paris, the French government ceded to His Majesty the King of England all the territories on the North American continent. In the same year a commission was issued under the great seal of His Majesty, by which Captain Graves was appointed as "Governor and commissioner in chief of the island! of Newfoundland and all the coasts of Labrador from Hudson strait to river St. John". This gave jurisdiction to the governor of Newfoundland over Labrador coast itself, and also over a part of the coast in the gulf of St. Lawrence as far as Anticosti island.
In October of the same year, 1763, the British government decided to form four separate governments in North America- Quebec, East Florida, West Florida and Granada.
The government of Quebec had jurisdiction over the territory adjoining the St. Lawrence river starting from river St. John. But in 1774, by the Quebec Act, it was enacted that all the territories on the mainland would form part of the government of Quebec. Therefore, in virtue of that act, the governor of Newfoundland lost his jurisdiction over all the territories included in the Labrador peninsula.
Later on, in 1809, the Newfoundland Act was passed by the British government, and then all the territories that were given to the government of Newfoundland in 1763 were restored to the same government.
Finally, in 1825, by an act called. "The British North America Act of 1825", it was decided that the part of the coast of the gulf of St. Lawrence from river St. John to Anse Sablon in Belle-Isle strait would form part of the province of Quebec.
One may observe that in each of these acts we find no mention of the inland territories; they all deal with the coast itself.
We now come to 1871, when the British North America Act of 1871 was passed by the British government. We find it in chapter 28, 34 Victoria, and it is entitled, "An act respecting the establishment of provinces in the Dominion of Canada". Section 3 of that act enacts:
The parliament of Canada may from time to time, with the consent of the legislature of any province of the said dominion, increase, diminish, or otherwise alter the limits of such province, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed to by the said legislature, and may, with the like consent, make provision respecting the effect and operation of any such increase or diminution or alteration of territory in relation to any province affected thereby.
I should like here to draw the attention of the government to the principle clearly established by that statute, to the effect that the parliament of Canada cannot do anything regarding the boundaries of a province without first obtaining the consent of the province concerned. The government of today should 942 The Address—Mr. Dorion COMMONS take note that in virtue of that statute there are provincial governments and that in many matters these provincial governments must have their say before the parliament of Canada takes any decision.
In virtue of that same principle, the statement I read a few minutes ago, made by the Prime Minister in connection with the proposed arrangements concerning the territory of Labrador, should not have been made without the consent of the province of Quebec. Furthermore, the same principle is in accordance with the British North America Act of 1867, section 92, paragraph 5.
Not only do we find the enactment I have just mentioned in the British North America Act of 1871, but we see that in 1898 this principle, regarding the consent of the province concerned in all matters pertaining to the alteration of its boundaries, was applied when an act respecting the northwestern, northern, and northeastern boundaries of the province of Quebec was passed by chapter 3 of 61 Victoria, statutes of Canada.
A similar act was passed by the Quebec legislature in the same year 1898, and therefore, in accordance with the principle enacted in the British North America Act of 1871, the Canadian government, with the consent of the Quebec legislature, decided that the boundaries of the province of Quebec should be extended to James bay, and then to the east Main river and further to the Hamilton river, as far as Hamilton inlet, on the Atlantic coast. By this statute, the northern boundaries of the province of Quebec were limited to the Hamilton river, which, as everyone is aware, is within the territory known as Labrador.
In the year 1912, by chapter 45 of 2 George V, the parliament of Canada decided to extend once more the territory of the province of Quebec together with the territories of Manitoba and Ontario. By section 2 of chapter 45 it was enacted that the new boundaries of the province of Quebec would include what was called at the time Ungava territory; and it was clearly established that the new boundaries would include the territory north of Hamilton river, that is to say all the Labrador territory.
As we have just seen, the two Canadian statutes giving expressly to the province of Quebec the territory claimed by Newfoundland were passed in 1898 and 1912, that is to say, at a time when the imperial government had the right to disallow any act passed by the Canadian government. Therefore, these two statutes, having never been disallowed, must have their full force and value. It has been contended that they were ultra vires, but if such had been the case, why is it that the government of Newfoundland did not ask the British government to disallow them? We must therefore conclude that they were tacitly confirmed by the British government and tacitly accepted by the Newfoundland government. That is the reason why I said at the outset that the territory known as Labrador peninsula belongs to the province of Quebec.
In 1920, after discussions had been started between the government of Newfoundland and the government of the province of Quebec regarding the issue by the government of Newfoundland of a licence for cutting timber in the neighbourhood of Hamilton river, the Canadian government decided to refer to the privy council the question of the boundaries between Quebec and Newfoundland.
A first memorandum of agreement between Canada and Newfoundland was signed on November 11, 1920, but it was later amended and replaced by a new agreement dated November 20, 1922. We must notice here that by this agreement the two political parties which existed at the time—the Conservative and Liberal parties—did not hesitate to violate, one after the other, the principle enacted in the British North America Act of 1871. Everyone is aware that in 1920 we had a Conservative government here in Ottawa, and that in 1922 we had a Liberal government. In fact on behalf of the Canadian government the first agreement was signed in 1920 by Mr. Charles J. Doherty, and the second one in 1922, on behalf of the same government, was signed by Sir Lomer Gouin.
It is worth reading the main part of that agreement, which is as follows:
In the matter of the boundary between the dominion of Canada and the colony of Newfoundland in the Labrador peninsula:
The government of the dominion of Canada and the government of the colony of Newfoundland having mutually agreed to submit for reference by His Majesty to the judicial committee of His Majesty's Privy Council, for their decision, the following question, viz.:
"What is the location and definition of the boundary as between Canada and Newfoundland in the Labrador  peninsula under the statutes, orders in council and proclamations?"
And it is signed by the Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of Newfoundland.
However, we must take note that the real dispute was not between the Canadian government and the Newfoundland government, but between the latter and the government of the province of Quebec. How is it that the province of Quebec was not a party to the reference made to the privy council? We see that the proceedings for the Canadian govFEBRUARY 6, 1948 The Address—Mr. Dorian 943 ernment were signed by four attorneys general, one of them being Charles Lanctot, then attorney general of the province of Quebec; but officially and legally the province of Quebec was out of the case. The least that could have been done would be for the Canadian government to submit the proposed agreement to the Quebec legislature in accordance with the British North America Act of 1871, and obtain the consent of that legislature.
I must add that in signing such an agreement in 1922 the Liberal government discarded an engagement that had been taken in 1908 by their leader, the then prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. In fact, on July 13, 1908, in introducing in this house a motion for the bill that was passed in 1912 regarding the extension of boundaries of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, we find, at column 12,789 of the Hansard of that year, a statement made by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Speaking of the dispute which had arisen between Newfoundland and Quebec, he said:
We have taken the precaution to ask the province of Quebec to be a party to that arbitration because it is interested in the boundary where- ever it may ultimately be decided to be.
And further on he says:
In 1881, when the act was passed extending the boundary of Manitoba to the frontier of Ontario, the contest was removed from Canada to Ontario and Manitoba; they were the parties who fought the issue. In the same way, if we allow this territory to go to Quebec, Quebec will become interested in the question; then, though we retain. our sovereignty, I think they should have a say and become a party to the question.
Notwithstanding that engagement, as I said a few minutes ago, when the second agreement was signed in 1922 by the Liberal government it does not appear anywhere that it had been signed with the consent of the Quebec legislature. And today the present government goes much further in putting aside the directions given by its ex-leader, and does not hesitate to dispose finally of the same territory without consulting the province of Quebec. That is the reason why I contend that this offer by the Canadian government to the government of Newfoundland is not worth the paper on which it is written, and I am sure that the province of Quebec will never assent to such an agreement. That is also why the present government should refrain from offering to Newfoundland a territory over which it has no jurisdiction, so as to prevent a regrettable misunderstanding which would result in a real conflict between the Canadian government and one of the provinces. 
Let us now make an analysis of the value of the report of the privy council and see if we can find in it some final solution to the problem. It is interesting to note in the reading of the report itself that Their Lordships clearly show that the question submitted to them was not properly and completely presented. If we refer to page 2 of their report we read:
But the duty of the board is not to consider where the boundary in question might wisely and conveniently be drawn, but only to determine where, under the documents of title which have been brought to their notice, that boundary is actually to be found.
Further at page 11 of the same report, the Lord Chancellor states:
In these circumstances the question to be determined is not whether Newfoundland possesses territory upon the peninsula of Labrador, but rwhat is the inland boundary of that territory. Is it to be defined by a line following the sinuosities of the shore at -a distance of one mile or thereabouts from high-water mark, or is it to be found at the watershed of the rivers falling into the sea on. that shore? No third alternative has been suggested by any person.
And at page 14:
The case for Canada admits that it may be found impracticable to lay down such a line upon the land, and suggests that, in order that neither party may suffer by reason of this difficulty, the boundary should be drawn along the coast at a distance of one mile from high- water mark; but Their Lordships cannot think that in- adopting such a proposal they would be performing the duty cast upon them by the terms of reference to determine the boundary "under the statutes, orders in council and proclamations."
Then we come to the conclusion of the report, which we find at page 23, the last words of which are: "and they will humbly advise His Majesty accordingly." Therefore that report shows not only that the question was not properly submitted to the privy council, but that there was no binding decision rendered. In fact we must ask ourselves what was done after and as a consequence of that report. Was there any legislation by the Imperial, the Canadian or the Newfoundland government? There was none. Was there any treaty or any agreement embodying the findings of the privy council? There was none either. Then I believe I am right in contending that the Whole matter still stands as it was decided by the Canadian statutes of 1898 and 1912.
  Furthermore I contend that this matter should never have been submitted to the privy council because it was a tribunal of one of the parties. I must however emphatically declare that I would not for a moment cast any reflection on the integrity and honesty of the members of the privy council; but as a matter of fact I do not think we ever saw in the history of the world a case of delimitation of boundaries being submitted to the tribunal of 944 The Address—Mr. Hazen COMMONS one of the interested parties. My contention is that the question should have been submitted to an international arbitration in which all the parties, and especially the province of Quebec, was represented. There is no doubt that the whole matter is still wide open, and I hope that someone will find some way of arriving at a final settlement of the question.
Mr. D. K. HAZEN (Saint John-Albert) : Mr. Speaker, this debate affords me an opportunity for which I have waited some time, to bring to the attention of the house a matter which concerns the maritime provinces. I refer to the shipping of Canadian goods through Canadian ports. I believe I would be remiss in my duty as the representative in this house of the seaport of Saint John if I did not say something about that matter at this time, as certain acts of the Canadian government railways in recent months have been detrimental to the development of Canadian trade through Canadian ports and the cause of deep resentment in the maritimes.
To give the story from the beginning I want to refer to an Associated Press dispatch from Portland, Maine, dated July 23 last, which quoted Mr. R. C. Vaughan, president of the Canadian National Railways, as saying in an interview that the C.N.R. has "a big stake" in Portland, and that "we're going to do everything we can for the port of Portland."
This statement did not pass unnoticed in the maritime provinces. It was regarded there as a reversal of government policy and a betrayal of maritime workers and maritime interests.
The Canadian ports of Saint John and Halifax, which are washed by the waters of the Atlantic ocean, and are open both summer and winter, look to the officials of the Canadian government railways to use their utmost endeavours to promote the use of those ports in the national interest and in furtherance of government policy, or what has been government policy in the past.
The workers of the ports of Saint John and Halifax, who rendered great service during the war years and who are harassed now by a steadily increasing cost of living, look to the Canadian National Railways to provide them, as far as it is possible, with continuous employment. They know that everything the C.N.R. does for the port of Portland is done at their expense, and that the trade sent through Portland takes dollars from their pockets.
In an editorial on July 25 last the Saint John Telegraph-Journal said that Mr. Vaughan's statement —
-is a clear threat to Saint John and Halifax, for whatever is done for Portland by the nationally-owned railway system will be done at our expense.
Continuing, the editorial said Mr. Vaughan's statement was-
——an open admission that the objective of the C.N.R. was to build up ports of the United States, even though it means destroying the business of the national ports of Canada.
The press of Halifax was also quite outspoken in condemning Mr. Vaughan's alleged remarks.
On July 25 of last year Mr. J. D. McKenna, mayor of the city of Saint John, wired the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) protesting Mr. Vaughan's alleged statement. After quoting it he said:
I hesitate to believe that Mr. Vaughan was guilty of any such indiscretion—If Mr. Vaughan made the remark credited to him I think be displayed bad judgment, and I am quite sure he cannot be voicing your views or those of the government. To suggest that the money of the people of Canada be used to develop Portland, at a time when Saint John and Halifax are in dire need of additional port tonnage, is suggesting a policy which, it was generally understood, ended in Canada over twenty years ago.  I know that no member of the government is more interested than you in maintaining the earnings of Canadian ports. Just how this can be done by sending this business to United States ports is beyond my comprehension, and the understanding of any real Canadian. If Mr. Vaughan made the suggestion, I think that some announcement should be made at once to assure Canadian ports that their interests will be safeguarded and at the same time disillusion the people of Portland as to any such promise.
In reply to the mayor's telegram the minister wired as follows:
I have your telegram referring to statement alleged to have been made by R. C. Vaughan, president of Canadian National Railways, which I have not seen. Please let me assure you that statements of policy always emanate from the government or one of its ministers. The policy of the government is to encourage and assist its national ports to the fullest extent, further, to use the facilities of our national ports to the maximum and to increase those facilities when required. In evidence of this the government has spent from 1936 to 1946, for capital and reconstruction of our national ports, approximately $18,000,000. This year's estimate for the port of Saint John contains initial appropriations which will mean eventual expenditure within a year or two of approximately $3,000,000. National harbours board informs me surveys are under way for further expansion. All of which is an indication that government has very much in mind the development and expansion of facilities at the port of Saint John.
The mayor of Saint John replied to this wire as follows:
Thanks for your telegram of the 26th instant. Interpret it to mean first that even if Mr. Vaughan made the alleged statement it carries no weight; second, that your answer is a definite contradiction that Portland will be developed and it is also an assurance that Canadian [...]


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1875-1949. Provided by the Library of Parliament.



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