House of Commons, 7 February 1949, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland



Monday, February 7, 1949

The house met at three o'clock.



Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister): At a recent sitting the leader of. the opposition (Mr. Drew) asked when there would be an opportunity for answering of questions that are on the order paper, and for dealing with notices of motions for production of papers. If for that purpose we can have the unanimous consent of the house, as in previous sessions when there was delay in disposing of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, we will answer questions and deal with notices of motions on Wednesday of this week and once a week thereafter until we return to the usual application of the standing orders.



Hon. L. B. Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs): I desire to lay on the table English and French copies of a report and documents relating to the negotiations for the union of Newfoundland with Canada. Copies in English have been distributed to all hon. members today. Copies in French will be on their desks tomorrow.



On the orders of the day:
Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver South): I should like to direct a question to the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply. Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation is carrying out a building project in Vancouver, known as the Fraserview project. Apparently the corporation has expropriated the property of certain residents who already live in this particular district. Over the week end I have received complaints about bulldozers tearing up gardens without warning, and other alleged high-handed procedure on the part of the corporation. There would seem to be undue interference with the present residents. Can the minister make a statement on this ques— tion? If not. will he have an immediate investigation made?
Hon. Robert H. Winters (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply): The hon. member was good enough to give me notice of his question, and I have looked into the matter briefly. The Fraserview project is in accordance with an agreement between the city of Vancouver and the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The development is a veterans' rental project involving some 300 acres of land immediately west of the Fraser golf club. Most of this land was owned by the city of Vancouver as tax sale land, but some parcels are owned by individuals. It was considered desirable to replan the area. For this reason, possession of all the land was required. Expropriation has taken place in respect to both privately-owned vacant land and privately- owned buildings.
The planning has been arranged so that, as far as possible, existing buildings will remain undisturbed. A number of houses may have to be moved, although by arrangement of the planning it is hoped to keep this number to a minimum. The situation has been explained to individual owners in the area, and every effort is being made to cause as little inconvenience as possible. An official of the corporation is devoting his whole time to dealing with individual owners. The vacant land is now being cleared so that an early start may be made upon the 1,200 houses for veterans.
Mr. Green: Will the minister have a further investigation made to see if there is not some way in which those who already live there can be protected against interference with their property?
Mr. Winters: I shall be glad to do that. As I pointed out, an official of the corporation already is working, on a full-time basis, with individual owners.



On the orders of the day:
Mr. T. L. Church (Broadview): I have a suggestion to offer the Minister of Public Works, though I do not ask that he reply today. My suggestion is that the government [...]
FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 283



On the orders of the day:
Mr. F. E. Lennard (Wentworth): I should like to ask the Minister of Veterans Affairs whether the rumour is well founded that the government intends to increase war veterans' pensions by the amount recommended by the last house committee on veterans affairs, namely, 33 1/3 per cent.
Hon. Milton F. Gregg (Minister of Veterans Affairs): I have not heard the rumour referred to by my hon. friend.
Some hon. Members: Answer.
Mr. Lennard: I did not ask the minister if he had heard the rumour; I asked if the rumour is well founded.
Mr. Gregg: The answer is no.



On the orders of the day:
Mr. J. G. Diefenbaker (Lake Centre): I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Commerce whether he can give us a report on the negotiations that have been going on between the dominion government and the three prairie provinces with regard to the marketing of oats and barley through the wheat board.
Right Hon. C. D. Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce): I know of no recent negotiations on the subject. I am informed that a delegation will come to Ottawa later, but I have not been advised of the date of their visit.
Mr. Diefenbaker: Were they not here last week?
Mr. Howe: No, not so far as I know.



Mr. E. D. Fulton (Kamloops): Has the Minister of Public Works received any report from the Fraser river control board? If so, will he make it available immediately?
Right Hon. C. D. Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce): I believe the Fraser river control board reports to me, and I shall be glad to table a report shortly.
Mr. Fulton: It has been received, has it?
Mr. Howe: The government receives weekly progress reports, and from these can be com piled a report suitable for the house. I shall be glad to have that done and the report tabled.



Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution:
That it is expedient to present a bill for the approval by parliament of the terms of union of Newfoundland with Canada. The implementation of these terms will involve a charge upon and payment out of moneys in the consolidated revenue fund of Canada.
Mr. Coldwell: Is the minister not going to make his statement with the Speaker in the chair?
Mr. St. Laurent: I am prepared to make the statement at the time which might best suit the convenience of hon. members. I can make it now on the motion that the Speaker leave the chair, or I can make it as soon as the Speaker leaves the chair, when we are in committee. I had thought it might better suit the convenience of hon. members, since no doubt more than one will be speaking on this resolution, to have everyone speak under the same conditions, where questions may be put and answered, if hon. members should find it desirable. I am quite prepared to go on now, however, if it is the wish of hon. members that I do so while Mr. Speaker is in the chair.
Mr. Drew: I think it would be appropriate that the Prime Minister proceed with his explanation now, while the Speaker is in the chair.
Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I think all hon. members will be of the view that the measure with which the house is now called upon to deal is of an epoch-making character. This fifth session of the twentieth parliament has the historic task of considering the addition to Canada of the last segment in the original plan of the fathers of confederation. The bill to follow the resolution will ask parliament to give approval to the terms of union with Newfoundland which were signed in Ottawa on the 11th of December last.
Of course this is not the first time that the project of the fathers of confederation has received serious attention from the Canadian parliament and the Canadian public. It is well known to us all that two of the original members of the Quebec conference in 1864 were from Newfoundland. They participated in the resolution which ultimately proved to be the basis upon which the British North America Act was drafted, submitted to the parliament of the United Kingdom, and 284 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS passed, though in a good many respects in a form which departed rather substantially from the terms of the original resolution. Nevertheless Newfoundland was not represented at the conference at Westminster when the draft of the British North America Act was being considered by the conferees and the law officers of the parliament of the United Kingdom.
Provision was made, as all hon. members know, for the entry of Newfoundland on the same terms as were made for the entry of Prince Edward Island. Prince Edward Island did enter the confederation, but not Newfoundland. In 1869 there was an election in which the proponents of confederation with Canada were decisively defeated. The matter was dropped and remained quiescent for a long period of years. In 1895 it was brought up again. Serious financial difficulties had been facing the government of Newfoundland. One of its commercial banks was forced to suspend its payments. At that time there were negotiations with the Canadian government looking to union, but it proved to be impossible to agree upon tentative terms that the participants in the negotiations would undertake to recommend to their respective parliaments.
During the first war, Newfoundland, as we all know, made a magnificent contribution to the cause of the allies. Concurrently with the activity resulting from this contribution to the war a certain amount of prosperity came to the island. However, the world-wide depression of the early thirties again created a serious situation for the people of Newfoundland, who depend so largely upon world trade for their prosperity. An investigation was made by a commission appointed, at the request of the government of Newfoundland, by the government of the United Kingdom. The commission recommended that the constitution of the island be suspended and that the government of the United Kingdom make itself financially responsible for the obligations of the government of Newfoundland. It was also recommended that the government be replaced by a commission of government, made up of a governor appointed by the United Kingdom and six commissioners appointed by the dominions office, three of whom were to be chosen from residents of the United Kingdom and three from residents of the island. It was also provided that when the financial difficulties had been overcome the constitution might be restored, but nothing was done about that during the period of the war.
In the second world war the Newfoundlanders repeated their most generous contribution to the cause of the allied nations. The activities carried on in the island, and the amount of money that had to be spent to make the island the outpost of defence of the North American continent and the jumping-off place for convoys to Europe brought about a situation of unparalleled prosperity. The commission of government was able to increase materially the public services provided by the government, and in addition to accumulate a surplus of some $70 million.
Following the cessation of hostilities, to ascertain the wishes of the people of Newfoundland a national convention was called to consider the future form of the government of the island. Forty-five elected representatives met in a national convention early in 1946, considered the economy of the island, its financial position, and dispatched delegates to interview the British government as to what that government's intention might be with respect to the future of the island. The convention also considered the dispatch of delegates to Washington to see what arrangements might be possible with the government of the United States of America, but decided against it. The convention sent an important delegation to Canada to discuss with us the possibility of bringing about the completion of the original scheme of the fathers of confederation.
The delegation arrived here early in June, 1947. It was headed by Mr. F. G. Bradley, and the other delegates were Mr. T. G. W. Ashbourne, Mr. Charles H. Ballam, Rev. Lester L. Burry, Mr. P. W. Crummey, Mr. G. F. Higgins, K.C., and Mr. J. R. Smallwood. Exploratory talks and investigations with a committee appointed by the Canadian government extended into September, 1947. As a result of those studies and discussions the Canadian government prepared a statement of terms believed to constitute a fair and equitable basis for union. This statement was forwarded to the governor of Newfoundland by the then prime minister, with a covering letter. It set forth the terms the Canadian government would be prepared to recommend to this parliament if the people of Newfoundland decided they really wanted to become partners in our union on substantially such terms.
These terms were placed before the national convention in Newfoundland and were discussed at great length. The national convention passed a resolution to the effect that there be submitted, in a referendum to the people, two questions as to the future form of government: (1) the restoration of responsible government, and (2) a continuation of the commission of government. There was a motion before the national convention to include on the ballot a third question: whether or not the people wished union with Canada on substantially the terms expressed in the statement which had been submitted. This FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 285 motion was defeated in the national convention by a vote of 29 to 16.
Mr. MacNicol: What were the numbers for and against?
Mr. St. Laurent: Twenty-nine against and sixteen for the inclusion of that third alternative on the ballot to be submitted.
In newspaper reports it has been stated that following this decision, widely signed petitions were submitted to the governor asking that the third question be also included in the ballot to be submitted.
The government of the United Kingdom, which still had the final responsibility for the affairs of the island, decided that the question would be included as one of the three to be submitted to the electorate of the island. The secretary of state for commonwealth relations, in a dispatch to the governor of Newfoundland, said in part as follows:
The terms offered by the Canadian government represent . . . the result of long discussions with a body of Newfoundlanders who were elected to the convention, and the issues involved appear to have been sufficiently clarified to enable the people of Newfoundland to express an opinion as to whether confederation with Canada would commend itself to them. In these circumstances. and having regard to the number of members of the convention who supported the inclusion of confederation with Canada in the ballot paper, His Majesty's government—
That is, the government of the United Kingdom.
—have come to the conclusion that it would not be right that the people of Newfoundland should be deprived of an opportunity of considering the issue at the referendum . . .
This first referendum took place on June 3, 1948. Out of a total of 176,297 registered voters on the list, 155,777 votes were cast. For responsible government there were 69,400 votes cast, or 44-55 per cent; for confederation, 64,066 or 41-13 per cent; for the continuation of the commission government, 22,311 or 14-32 per cent. As there was no over-all majority, and as had been announced before the referendum took place, a second referendum was arranged to decide between the two forms which had received the larger number of votes, namely, the restoration of responsible government or confederation with Canada. The second referendum took place on July 22, 1948. At that time 6,000 fewer votes were cast than in the first referendum. The total number of votes cast at the second referendum was 149,657. Of this number, 71,334 or 47.66 per cent were for the restoration of responsible government and 78,323 or 52-34 per cent were for confederation with Canada, a majority for confederation with Canada of 6,989 or 4.68 per cent.
In this second referendum, confederation received a majority in eighteen out of the twenty-five electoral districts from which members had formerly been elected to the legislature of Newfoundland. Following the announcement of the result of that vote, Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King, then Prime Minister, stated that the result of the referendum was clear, and beyond all possibility of misunderstanding an expression of opinion of the people of Newfoundland for confederation, and that he believed the people of Canada would welcome the result. Mr. King went on to state further:
The Canadian government is now consulting with the governments of Newfoundland and the United Kingdom in the working out of appropriate constitutional procedure for implementing the decision taken by the people of Newfoundland. The government will also be glad to receive with the least possible delay authorized representatives of Newfoundland to negotiate the terms of union on the basis of my letter of October 29, 1947. to the governor of Newfoundland, and the documents transmitted with it. In these negotiations any special problems which may arise in connection with the entry of Newfoundland into confederation will. I am sure, receive most careful consideration. Before final action is taken, the government will recommend the resulting agreement to the parliament of Canada for approval.
Following that letter, the government of Newfoundland appointed a delegation to come to Ottawa to negotiate the final terms under which the entry of Newfoundland might be brought about. The delegation was headed by Hon. A. J. Walsh, K.C.—now Sir A. J. Walsh, K.C.—commissioner of justice and chairman of defence in the commission of government. The other members of the delegation were Mr. F. G. Bradley, KC. and Mr. J. R. Smallwood who had been members of the first delegation and with them were Mr. Chesley A. Crosbie, Mr. Philip Gruchy, Mr. J. B. McEvoy, KC. and Mr. Gordon A. Winter. Negotiations with this delegation were opened at Ottawa on October 6, 1948, and ended with the signing of terms of an agreement on December 11, 1948. Copies of the terms have been distributed to hon. members, as well as a statement of questions raised and answers given by the representatives of the Canadian government in the course of the negotiations, and also a report and documents relating to the negotiations for the union of Newfoundland with Canada, in which hon. members I think will find practically all the pertinent information that was before the representatives of the Canadian government and the delegation from Newfoundland. On examining it, I noted that there was one omission which is not substantial but which I regret, and which I hope will be rectified when there is a reprint of this historic document.
When we met in the senate chamber on December 11 to sign the terms of the agreement that had been arranged, I made a few remarks before the actual signing took place. 286 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS I took that opportunity to pay what I considered, as I am sure did all those who had participated in the long negotiations, was a well deserved tribute to the former Prime Minister who had had the responsibility for initiating the proceedings. I venture to take the time of the house to read into the record of Hansard what I said then:
I am sure the Newfoundland delegation will be as pleased as his former colleagues that Mr. Mackenzie King is present on this historic occasion. Mr. King had the main responsibility on the Canadian side for the beginning of the negotiations which we have now completed. We have reached an agreement for the entry of Newfoundland as a province of Canada. The agreement is now to be signed on behalf of Newfoundland by the members of the delegation and on behalf of Canada by the Acting Secretary of State for External Affairs and by myself as Prime Minister.
There was a rather agreeable incident to which I called attention at that time in the following words:
I should like to ask those who are to sign the agreement between Canada and Newfoundland if they would use the inkstand which has been placed on the table for the purpose. Perhaps I might explain why this request is being made. The inkstand was left to the Canadian nation by the late Major R. A. C. Kane, V.D., who inherited it from his grandfather, Sir Etienne Pascal Tache. The inkstand was used at the famous Quebec conference in 1864 by the original fathers of confederation, and was subsequently presented to Tache. who presided over that conference. It is particularly fitting, therefore, that it should be used at the signing of the agreement to complete confederation.
I also mentioned the following:
It is also of interest that this inkstand was lent to Mr. Mackenzie King at the time of the Quebec conference of 1943 with the late President Roosevelt and Mr. Winston Churchill. and that it was also used on that occasion.
It may be of interest to hon. members to know that the inkstand will be placed in the library of parliament, which is visited by thousands of Canadians and of visitors from other lands each year, and where it is more apt to attract attention than if it were deposited in the museum, or in the archives or in some other of those places where we have so many interesting things which so few see.
There are still certain stages required to complete this matter of the entry of Newfoundland into confederation as a tenth province. The target date has been set as March 31, and the agreement requires that to come into effect it must first of all receive the approval of the Canadian parliament and of the Newfoundland government, and must also be confirmed by action of the parliament of the United Kingdom.
As hon. members know, in order that there may be passed by the parliament of the United Kingdom any law affecting Canada, it must be stated in the preamble that it is done with the acquiescence and at the request of the houses of the Canadian parliament. That is one of the express provisions of the Statute of Westminster. In order to finish the work that is being done to bring about this completion of the original scheme of confederation, it will be necessary that there be passed by the parliament of Canada a statute ratifying the terms of the agreement and that they be also ratified by the government of Newfoundland, and that they be confirmed by a statute of the United Kingdom. All this must be done before March 31 because the terms of agreement are conditional. The words used in section 50 are as follows:
These terms are agreed to subject to their being approved by the parliament of Canada and the government of Newfoundland: shall take effect notwithstanding the Newfoundland Act, 1933, or any instrument issued pursuant thereto; and shall come into force immediately before the expiration of the thirty-first day of March, 1949, if His Majesty has theretofore given his assent to an act of the parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and northern Ireland confirming the same.
That is the condition upon which these terms can come into force, and if the condition were not fulfilled these terms could not come into force.
The passage of an act of the parliament of the United Kingdom will require joint addresses of this house, and of the other place, to His Majesty, asking him to submit to the parliament of the United Kingdom the appropriate legislation. I would imagine that this house will wish to consider very carefully, and perhaps debate at some length, the terms of union of Newfoundland with Canada. However, if this parliament comes to the conclusion that these terms should be approved by a statute of the Canadian parliament, the adoption of the addresses to His Majesty the King will become a mere formality, because the matter is already covered by the terms of union, which by that time will have received the sanction of the parliament of Canada by a Canadian statute. Therefore I would hope that there would not need to be much debate upon the joint address. After the parliament of Canada has come to the conclusion, as I hope it will, that these terms of union should be accepted, there will also be required—but it need not, in my view, give us very much concern at the present time—to be passed before March 31 a bill making changes in language in the general Canadian statutes which will be appropriate and which will after the union be designed to apply to Newfoundland.
The terms of the union provide that the legislation of Newfoundland will remain in effect until it is repealed or modified by the appropriate body having jurisdiction under the division of powers provided for in the FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 287 British North America Act, and that the Canadian legislation will come into effect upon dates to be fixed by proclamation of His Excellency the governor in council. That was requested by the delegation from Newfoundland because they said it would be inconvenient to have the whole body of statute law of Canada come into force at one given moment. Nothing can be done to bring that body of law into force until the union has become effective the last minute of March 31, 1949. They felt that there should be a proclamation immediately bringing a certain portion of these laws into effect, but that there were others for which preparation for proper administration would have to be made, and that it would be desirable to provide that they might be gradually brought into effect as the proper administrative machinery had been set up to enable them to be followed and carried out.
Perhaps the question may arise as to why it is necessary to have a statute passed by the parliament of the United Kingdom to confirm the entry of Newfoundland into Canada. There are two reasons for that. One is that this does in fact, though it may not in form, amount to an amendment to, or a derogation from, the terms of the British North America Act in so far as Canada is concerned.
Hon. members will recall that under section 146 of the British North America Act it was provided that Newfoundland might be admitted into the confederation upon joint addresses of the houses of parliament of Canada and of Newfoundland by order made by, then Her Majesty, on the advice of her council of the United Kingdom. This time it was not possible to comply, even if it had been desirable to do so, with the exact terms of the procedure set out in section 146, because there were no houses of parliament of the colony of Newfoundland; and secondly, it might not have been desirable to have that procedure resorted to because, since the enactment of the Statute of Westminster and as a consequence of constitutional developments, His Majesty, on the advice of his ministers responsible to the parliament of the United Kingdom, no longer exercises the prerogatives of the crown over Canada.
His Majesty now, by reason of the situation or development which brought about the Statute of Westminster, and which is registered in the terms of the Statute of Westminster, exercises the royal prerogative in respect of Canadian affairs upon, and only upon, the advice of his ministers responsible to this parliament.
The second reason is that at the present time the government of the United Kingdom, responsible to the parliament of the United Kingdom, still has the ultimate responsibility for the affairs of the colony of Newfoundland. And though it might be thought that Canada, on the decision of its own parliament, should be entitled to add to its territory, and though under the Statute of Westminster the parliament of Canada has the same rights, recognized internationally, to make laws having extraterritorial effect as has the parliament of the United Kingdom, a law of the parliament of Canada would hardly reach out and gather in a territory that was subject to the legislative and administrative jurisdiction of another autonomous nation. And whatever may be the fine points of technical procedure in that regard, the relations between Canada and the United Kingdom are not such that anything which would appear so discourteous would be considered on either side.
It was felt therefore that the most expeditious procedure might be to follow the precedent which had been established when changes were made with respect to natural resources in the possession of the western provinces. There the entry of the western provinces into confederation had been accomplished in accordance with the terms of the British North America Act. However, it was found that when it became advisable to modify those terms, their modification would constitute a derogation from the express provisions of the British North America Act. In order to bring that modification about in such a manner as to leave no doubt in any mind that it was done in a form beyond successful contestation before the courts, agreements were made between the government of Canada and the governments of each of the western provinces. The agreements contained clauses very similar to this section 50 which I have read to the house. Those agreements were to be subject to the approval of the Canadian parliament and the approval of the legislature of the province concerned, and confirmed by an act of the United Kingdom.
That was the procedure adopted at that time. It is a procedure which operated in a manner that no one has been tempted in any way to test. It is a procedure which requires short bills, in the case of the Canadian parliament, expressing, more or less, only that the terms of agreement of Newfoundland with Canada annexed to the bill as a schedule are ratified and, with respect to the parliament of the United Kingdom, that those terms shall be a schedule to the act which will be introduced before the parliament of the United Kingdom, if and when this parliament sees fit to proceed further with the matter.
The result will be that everything contained in the terms of union will have the effect of law for all the Canadian people, those who now constitute the inhabitants of the nine present provinces and those who, by 288 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS virtue of that confirmation, will become the Canadians of the tenth Canadian province.
I do not think I should attempt at this time to deal with the terms of union. They will have to be dealt with at some length, I am sure, by hon. members. Perhaps however I may be permitted to refer in a general way to some aspects of the problems we had to consider. We found at the outset that those problems were perhaps even more complex than the ones with which the fathers of confederation had to deal in 1867, and in the months which preceded the adoption of the British North America Act.
The colonies represented at the Quebec conference in 1864 were similar in their development, and similar in their financial and tax structure. It required no great change to divide powers which were practically the same in all the colonies which were coming together—that is, to divide them between the central authority, which would exercise one portion, and the provincial legislatures which would have jurisdiction over the other.
But between Canada and Newfoundland in 1948 there were great differences in the system of taxation and in the administrative structure. Those differences had to be harmonized with the existing fundamental basis of our constitution, the British North America Act. And I may say that there have been no substantial departures from the provisions of the British North America Act. There has been one in connection with education. In the British North America Act provision is made for certain guarantees for denominational schools. But the sanction of those guarantees is an appeal to the governor in council, if anything is done in violation of them.
The experience of the years has been that an appeal to the governor in council over matters which become highly controversial, when they involve the religious beliefs of honest people of diverging views about the way they should worship their Maker, is not an effective safeguard.
With respect to this agreement the delegation from Newfoundland was told that of course we did not pretend to exercise or to ask for any control over their school system. We had none; and we were not going to make it a condition of their entry into Canada that they should give us some control in the central authority as to their education.
The situation was not the same as it was when new provinces were created out of the territories. When the new provinces were created out of the territories this parliament had legislative control over the educational system, and it was turning over that legis, lative control to the new bodies. It was felt to be fitting at that time that it should retain some portion of that control to ensure respect for the constitutional safeguards which were being written into the constitutions of those new provinces.
But with respect to Newfoundland, they had at the time of the negotiations, and they have today in their legislative body, full and exclusive control over their educational system. But we said to them, "If, for the satisfaction of your own people, you do wish to have constitutional safeguards written into the terms of union, we will be quite prepared to consider those you will suggest." The treatment they suggested was constitutional safeguards, but constitutional safeguards the application of which will be left to the courts of justice.
It is provided that the legislature will have exclusive control over all educational matters, but must not make any laws that would prejudice what is described in the terms of union as the rights of the denominations which comprise the people of Newfoundland. The legislature has no power to do anything prejudicial. Review will be a matter for the courts. If there ever should be an attempt by the legislature to do anything that would contravene the terms of the union it will not be a matter of appeal to His Excellency the governor in council. It will be a matter for resort to the courts of justice of the island of Newfoundland in the first instance, and then to the ordinary courts administering the laws of the country.
The other departure had to do with oleomargarine. In Newfoundland the dairy industry is very small, and over the years the people of Newfoundland have been using oleomargarine produced from raw materials available in their own economy. At the time of the negotiations the Supreme Court of Canada had not decided that this parliament has no juridiction to deal with oleomargarine in the form set out in the Dairy Industry Act. We agreed that there would not be any attempt by this parliament to prevent the people of Newfoundland from continuing to use oleomargarine, because they are not in a position to get the article which many of us regard as more desirable, butter produced by the dairy industry. But it was also provided that, unless and until the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine ceases to be prohibited in the other parts of Canada, they would not ship any of their oleomargarine into the other provinces. Perhaps we would not have felt it was necessary to talk about that problem at all if the judgment of the supreme court had been available at the time negotiations were proceeding. There was a feeling that it was somewhat undesirable to have this special FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 289 situation with respect to Newfoundland, but after all I think the completion of the scheme of confederation is of more concern to the general Canadian public than is the question of determining whether Mr. John Jones or Mr. Tom Allen, residing in one of the villages or towns of Newfoundland, shall have the right to use oleomargarine instead of having to use butter.
I think those are the only departures from the general scheme, because in a general way it was the desire of those people of Newfoundland who favoured entry into Canada to become Canadian citizens, subject to the same laws and entitled to the same great privileges that are the heritage of Canadian citizens of the nine other provinces.
I come now to the matter of financial terms. That was a tough one. The people of Newfoundland did not want to become a province of Canada under conditions which would not make it reasonably probable that they could carry on successfully, and participate in the advantages which appertain to Canadians generally. We on our side wanted to provide financial terms which would make it reasonably probable, if not certain, that the addition of Newfoundland to the economy of Canada would ultimately prove to be beneficial to both partners, to the older Canadians and to the newer arrivals. It was found, after more precise and careful study of the administrative problems that would be faced by the government of the province of Newfoundland, that the terms suggested in the offer submitted in October, 1947, would not be sufficient at the start to enable the provincial government to provide for its people on a basis comparable to that which is provided by the other Canadian provinces. It was felt there had to be quite substantial provisional grants, extending over a period of twelve years on a diminishing scale, to bridge the transition from the present economy of the island to the kind of economy which would make it possible for the provincial government to provide the people of Newfoundland with substantially the services that are provided for the rest of the Canadian people by their provincial governments, without resorting to a burden of taxation heavier, having regard to capacity to pay, than that which bears upon the people of the maritime region. The section of the Canadian economy generally described as the maritimes was felt to be the one which would be most nearly comparable to the situation which would be apt to develop in Newfoundland. It was felt that for a transitional term the government of Newfoundland had to be provided with sufficient funds to establish and develop services comparable to those available to the people of the maritime region, and that it had to be able to do so without imposing upon the people of Newfoundland a burden of taxation heavier than that prevailing in the maritime region.
After long negotiations it proved possible, I think, to arrive at the scheme which is set out in the terms of union, and which is apt to achieve that result. Human foresight, however, is never as good as hindsight. It was also provided that within eight years from the coming into force of the terms of union a commission would be set up to examine the situation anew, and to report as to whether or not the terms provided are working satisfactorily and are sufficient to bring about the object of equalizing the lot of the people of the new province with that of the people of the older provinces. There is no undertaking to implement any terms of recommendation that may be made at that time by a royal commission. It was felt by the Newfoundland delegation, and by the representatives of the Canadian government, that this was something that was being entered into in a spirit of fairness on both sides, and that it was not necessary to make binding stipulations about what would happen with respect to the report of a royal commission. It was felt if there was an investigation and a report by a commission, in which the public at that time would have confidence, the legislators of that day could well be trusted to do what would prove to be right in order to make this enlarged nation a united nation continuing on its path of progress toward its great destiny.
At the time many people in Newfoundland felt that the government of the United Kingdom should have proceeded in some other way; should have at once restored responsible government and left it to a responsible government to discuss and negotiate a possible union with Canada. The government of the United Kingdom chose to call together a national convention of elected representatives, to have them advise in respect of the future form of government. After that commission had made its investigation the government of the United Kingdom decided to submit directly to the public of Newfoundland the question whether they wished to have responsible government restored or whether they wished to join us in our march toward the future. The people of Newfoundland, by a substantial majority, decided that instead of having responsible government restored they wished to have confederation with Canada immediately implemented.
As far as we were concerned, of course, it was not our business. All we had to do— and I think we did that with the most scrupulous care—was say that we would be glad to have them join with us, but that it was 290 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS something which was their concern, and that if they decided they wished to become Canadians we would be glad to welcome them and to extend just as fair terms as we could hope to have ratified and confirmed by a Canadian parliament animated by the same sentiments. And it was in that spirit that the negotiations were carried on.
From what I have been able to read in the press since the agreement was signed, there appears to be almost complete unanimity on the part of the Canadian public that this was a good arrangement to make, and that it is a good thing in this year 1949 to complete the original project envisaged by the fathers of confederation in 1864. From what I have seen of the editorial comment in the newspapers of the island, there are still those who would prefer to have had responsible government re-established and the terms of confederation discussed by and through that responsible government. In the referendum the majority decided otherwise, however; and even among the objectors I think there are now large numbers who feel there has been a sincere attempt to make a fair proposal, and that confederation with Canada has been made inevitable both by the Almighty in the distribution of the lands and waters of this northern half of the North American continent, and by the historic development of the people who have inhabited these two parts. They are not strangers to each other. They come from the same stocks. They have developed under the same system of responsible government, of love of individual freedom, of respect for the human being as more important than the state. They have developed in the view that the state exists for the individual, and not the individual for the state. It is my hope that this arrangement will commend itself to the Canadian parliament, to the vast majority of the Canadian people and also to the vast majority of the people of Newfoundland. We are here now considering a matter of great moment. In the last two wars we realized how close we were to each other and how close we had to be in order to survive. In this troubled world I think we, both in Newfoundland and in Canada, feel that in this way our risks are more apt to be successfully met and any dangers overcome than was possible even with the non-constitutional union of spirits and hearts that united us during the last two wars. I earnestly hope it will be the view of this house that this union of Canada and Newfoundland is desirable in the interests of the people of these two lands, and as a lesson to the whole world of what can be accomplished by men of good will.
Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, following the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) it is not my intention today to deal with the terms of the agreement in any detail, because the agreement will be under discussion when the bill is before the house. I shall simply discuss the resolution before us, which will have the effect of bringing before hon. members the bill the government intends to introduce. For this reason I shall defer any comments I might make about certain references made by the Prime Minister to some features of the agreement, which to me suggest that careful consideration should be given to its full effect.
Perhaps I might go so far as to suggest that, before the bill is formally introduced and the agreement accompanying it is placed before the house, the government give consideration to the desirability of removing the section in regard to oleomargarine, for reasons which have nothing to do with the use of oleomargarine itself. The Prime Minister said the completion of confederation is more important than the question whether or not Tom Jones in Newfoundland is to eat oleomargarine. The balance of importance unquestionably is in accordance with what the Prime Minister said; but there is a very important question that may be involved in the inclusion of that section, to which I think the government should give some attention before we are asked to discuss it.
It is true that the section to which I refer was included in the draft terms of agreement before the Supreme Court of Canada had reached its decision as to the constitutional authority of the Canadian parliament to deal with restrictions on the use of oleomargarine. The provision that the manufacture of oleomargarine should be continued in Newfoundland related to the fact that already it was being manufactured there.
I am not concerned with the circumstances which led to the inclusion of this provision. What I am concerned with is that a principle is put forward which, if accepted, might apply with equal force to other matters of trade and commerce, and with serious consequences. It suggests that it is an acceptable principle to create trade barriers between provinces of Canada. Serious consideration should be given by the government and by the house to the principle involved in the acceptance of this provision of the agreement, even though the Supreme Court of Canada by its decision may to some extent have made this discussion academic,
There is one other interesting provision in the agreement which should not be disregarded by some of those who have found FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 291 occasion to avail themselves of the absence of any similar limitation upon their discretion. The Prime Minister referred to the terms of the agreement which relate to financial arrangements. Without going into them in detail now, I wish to point out another question of principle which is important. Having placed before the appointed representatives of Newfoundland certain proposals in regard to a tax agreement, the following provision is then included:
The subsequent entry into a tax agreement by the government of Canada with any other province will not entitle the government of the province of Newfoundland to any alteration in the terms of its agreement.
The present Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson), while he was premier of Manitoba, the premier of New Brunswick and other premiers who succeeded in obtaining adjustments when other adjustments were made, would have felt themselves greatly injured if they had been subject to any such limitation as this. It seems unusual that the only province, among those accepting agreements in respect to the payment of subsidies in return for taxing powers, to have any limitation placed upon its subsequent right to ask for readjustment should be the new province of Newfoundland, to which we should be extending every courtesy and offering every encouragement. These, however, are details, but I suggest they are worthy of consideration and will be given consideration when we are discussing the precise terms of the agreement.
As has already been pointed out by the Prime Minister, the union of Newfoundland with Canada will represent the fulfilment of the great and challenging vision of those who met in Charlottetown on September 1, 1864, in the hope of bringing together the whole of British North America as one united nation. It will give reality to the dream of Sir John A. Macdonald, whose proposals to Newfoundland for confederation were not first made at the time of the Charlottetown conference but were in fact put forward to Newfoundland in 1858. It is well to remember the significance of the fact that these proposals which were put forward to Newfoundland in 1858 brought the first favourable official response to his contention that steps should then be taken to create a federal union.
When I had the privilege of visiting the confederation chamber in Charlottetown not long ago, I was greatly impressed, as I am sure all other members were who have visited that beautiful room, by these words on the memorial tablet which commemorates that historic meeting. On the tablet are these words: "They builded better than they knew." They built so well that we are seeing before us the fulfilment of the vision of those who sat there in 1864 and pictured this great union of free people embracing all the territory then known as British North America and extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Macdonald, Cartier, and those associated with them, were disappointed that Newfoundland did not become part of Canada in 1867, but they never despaired of ultimate success. Macdonald's renewed proposals of 1888 gave convincing evidence of the continuing hope that Newfoundland would join with the rest of Canada. Again in 1895, as has already been pointed out, another attempt was made to find a satisfactory basis for union, but again without success. It is not without interest to note that on these earlier occasions the renewed discussions related to the difficult financial conditions in Newfoundland. The present discussions, on the contrary, have taken place in a period of greater prosperity than has ever before been experienced in the island's history.
From those earlier days up to the time of the discussions which have led to the agreement which will be before us for consideration, there has been a continuing hope in the minds of a great many people in Newfoundland and Canada that the vision of the fathers of confederation of one great nation from sea to sea would ultimately be fulfilled.
The motion now before the house calls for a decision whether the bill to bring about the union of Newfoundland with Canada is to be introduced. In fact that is the only issue before us in this motion. Speaking on behalf of all the members of the Progressive Conservative party in this house, and with their unanimous support, I wish to welcome, personally and on their behalf, the introduction of such measures as will complete this union upon terms satisfactory to the people of Newfoundland and the people of Canada. It is neither appropriate nor possible at this stage to discuss any details of the procedure, because we are still to be told what the provisions of the bill will be and the course which is to be followed in the discussion. We are now simply discussing a resolution which, in effect, asks us to express our opinion as to whether or not this house should proceed to deal with such legislation as may be required to bring about the effective union of the sister dominions of Newfoundland and Canada. On that simple question it is difficult to believe there can be any division of opinion, and I join in expressing the hope that the proposal for union, made by Sir John Macdonald so long ago, may soon become a reality. I trust that in the years ahead the people of Newfoundland will be given every reason to have, in ever-increasing measure, confidence in and good will 292 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS towards those with whom they will be associated within the boundaries of one great nation.
Newfoundland has a great and unique history. It was the first part of the area of North America to be discovered. While other explorers were taking back to Europe reports about and later actual cargoes of gold from the newly discovered Americas, John Cabot, who discovered the island in 1497, carried back to England and to Europe, not tales of gold but tales of immense shoals of fish off the Newfoundland banks, which revealed a new form of wealth. That wealth challenged the adventurous of those days, and it has continued to be the main concern of those who have settled and built Newfoundland during the past three hundred years.
Great new industries have been built to use the forest resources of the island and now, in recent years, Newfoundland has added to its many achievements that of becoming one of the most important centres of international air travel in the world. It is a fascinating picture, one to arouse and to stimulate the imagination of every young Canadian as well as of every young Newfoundlander, to see the movement, from every part of the world, of people whose paths cross at Gander or at Goose Bay. I recall seeing only a few months ago, at the great airport of Gander, one plane which had just arrived from India on its way to New York and another from New York putting down just afterwards on its way to the Mediterranean. There were also passengers who were already there from planes moving both ways between Britain and the United States and between Britain and Canada, and also between this continent and France and Italy. It is one of the most challenging pictures of the immense changes which have taken place within these past few years, and it gives the youth of Newfoundland and of Canada as a whole some suggestion of what the expanding use of air transportation means to this country in the years ahead.
Mining also has long been an important industry on the island, and there is every reason to hope that further exploration and development, which undoubtedly will be greatly stepped up with the new associations that will be formed, will greatly increase the value of these resources in Newfoundland itself as well as in Labrador.
The Newfoundland we know today is the result of the hard work and the fortitude of a great people who have at all times retained the highest standards of personal integrity and public service as well as those simple virtues of thrift and hard work which are today perhaps more important than they ever were before. With improving transportation facilities, more and more Canadians have come in contact with the people of Newfoundland and know how justifiably proud the people of that island are of what they have accomplished, often under great difficulties.
Not only have our contacts with Newfoundland been extremely close during the long years of peace, but in the years of war there was an increasingly close relationship which laid the firm foundation of admiration and respect upon which has been built a widening confidence, in Newfoundland and in Canada, in the advantages of confederation.
In two world wars the people of Newfoundland wrote some of the greatest pages in their long island history, and I should like to refer to that contribution because it has a direct bearing on the subject we have under consideration today. In 1914 Newfoundland had the distinction of being the first of the dominions to commit itself to that vast struggle for freedom which ultimately enveloped the whole world. On August 4, the very day on which war was declared, Newfoundlanders who had voluntarily joined the royal naval reserve were called to the colours. On August 7, only three days after the outbreak of war, the Legion of Frontiersmen, the only military unit then organized in Newfoundland, volunteered for overseas service; and that unit became the base of a wider enlistment which ultimately took the form of the Royal Newfoundland regiment. On October 4, 1914—a day that will be recalled by many hon. members of this house—the first Newfoundland contingent sailed on the s.s. Florizel from St. John's to join the first contingent of the Canadian expeditionary force off the island of St. Pierre. I happen to know that there are in this chamber those who will recall that significant union of forces when the s.s. Florizel joined the other ships which were then lying at anchor. On arrival in England the Newfoundland contingent was brigaded with the first Canadian division on Salisbury plain.
In August, 1915, the Royal Newfoundland regiment, as it had then become, sailed from England for Egypt and joined the 29th imperial division, landing at Suvla bay in the Gallipoli peninsula on September 20, and it took part in the terrific battles which followed at that time, when we who were then opposed to them learned to respect the fighting powers of the people of Turkey, as others fortunately have come to respect them today. After the historic evacuation of Gallipoli, this regiment was transferred to France and on July 1, 1916, fought at Beaumont Hamel in the tremendous battle of the Somme. On that occasion the Royal Newfoundland regiment was engaged in one of the really Homeric FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 293 battles of history. It took part in one of the most desperate and tragic attacks of the whole war. Seven hundred and forty officers and men went over the top that morning to attack that key position in the enemy defences, and they suffered 684 casualties. Of this action, Sir Douglas Haig said in his dispatches:
The heroism and devotion to duty they displayed on the first of July has never been surpassed.
Their own corps commander said in his dispatches:
The assault only failed because dead men could advance no further.
May I say, Mr. Speaker, that it is with people such as those who wrote that imperishable page of history that we now join hands in the great enterprises of peace.
The Royal Newfoundland regiment had one of the finest records in the whole war. When it was demobilized in St. John's on November 25, 1918, 5,046 officers and men had passed through the ranks of that one unit, whose establishment in the ordinary course of events would be only approximately one thousand men.
Thousands of Newfoundlanders also served with great courage and distinction in the army, the navy and the air force units of Canada, Britain and the United States. All who saw them in action or learned of their achievements knew the stout hearts and great spirit of these splendid people who are about to unite with us in confederation.
In the second world war the association between Newfoundland and Canada was very much closer. The changing character of global warfare placed Newfoundland in a central position in that great struggle. Its strategic importance was highlighted in the early days of the war when Churchill and Roosevelt, with their military and official staifs, met in one of its many bays to draft and sign the Atlantic charter which pledged the people of the commonwealth and the United States to join forces in restoring freedom to the people of Europe who had been engulfed in the flood of nazi power.
With the increasing role of long-range bombers and aircraft of all kinds, Newfoundland became a focal point in the efforts of Canada, Great Britain and the United States through the years which followed.
During the whole of the war, Newfoundlanders served side by side with Canadians in different parts of the world and also in their own country. Because of the threat to the Atlantic coast by German submarines and aircraft, it was necessary to provide for the actual defence of Newfoundland as a very real contingency which might be faced. For that reason many Canadians served in Newfoundland throughout the war.
In the spring of 1940, the Black Watch of Montreal were dispatched to Newfoundland to protect the great airport at Gander, which was then being expanded as an operational base for the Royal Canadian Air Force and the air-ferrying services of Canada, Britain and the United States—the United States, of course, indirectly at that time. Because our common interests had become so closely linked, the defence forces in Newfoundland were brought under the Canadian Atlantic command in 1940.
Canadian coast defence batteries and antiaircraft units were stationed at the airports at Gander, Goose Bay, Torbay and also at the loading piers at Conception bay, the mines on Bell island, as well as the fuel tanks and docks at Lewisporte and Botwood. A Newfoundland coast defence battery manned the defences at Bell island while Canadian batteries were stationed at St. John's.
I mention this to indicate the close military association which existed between the people of Newfoundland and Canada under the Canadian Atlantic command. In due course the Queen's Own Rifles of Toronto relieved the Black Watch at Gander and, as the war progressed and increased in intensity, units from every part of Canada were moved to different points in the island. These included the Chaudiere regiment, the Royal rifles, the Edmonton fusiliers, the New Brunswick rangers, and other well known regiments.
The Royal Canadian Air Force operated bases at Botwood, Torbay, Gander and Goose Bay. Thousands of our young men and women served in these units at these various bases. Extensive communication systems were also set up under Atlantic command signals. Other Canadian services included the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, the ordnance corps, medical depots and other special units.
In addition to those who served in their own units, many Newfoundlanders served in the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy. They also served in all branches of the Royal Canadian Air Force, including the women's division. Those with Canadian units wore the Newfoundland badge on their shoulders and won friendship and respect from all with whom they served in every part of the world.
Because of these many contacts, thousands of Newfoundlanders trained and served in Canada while thousands of our own young men and women saw service and made warm friendships in Newfoundland.
I have mentioned these details at some length because that history of the participation of Newfoundlanders in two wars, and particularly that association between the young men and women of Canada and Newfoundland in the second world war, 294 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS convey an impression of how close our natural friendship really is, and undoubtedly greatly increased support in both Newfoundland and Canada for this idea of union, which has been before us for so many years. These young men and women, the very finest of our youth, were our ambassadors in this great cause; and no nation ever had better ambassadors than we had. Their efforts on our behalf, whether or not intentionally carried out for that purpose, have had much to do with what we have under consideration today.
The spirit of unity and wholehearted cooperation between Newfoundlanders and Canadians, which was so apparent at the Canadian army, naval and air bases established in Newfoundland during the war, offers a happy augury of the spirit of understanding and good will which can be established between the peoples of these two dominions when we become part of one nation.
I have touched only briefly on the many reasons why Canadians will welcome Newfoundland into confederation, as was intended under the original provisions of the British North America Act. But it would be folly for us to disregard the criticism which has been directed to the methods which have been employed in bringing this about. It is not only in Newfoundland that very severe criticism has been directed against the way in which this has been done. Many Newfoundlanders who are in favour of confederation, and strongly in favour, have been insistent that legislative authority should be restored to the people of Newfoundland and that elected representatives of such a legislative body should negotiate any terms which are to bring Newfoundland within confederation. They contend that the commission of government, appointed by the government of the United Kingdom, has no right to negotiate such terms either directly or through appointed representatives.
Newfoundland is not a colony. Newfoundland was accorded the full status of a dominion in the Statute of Westminster. It is argued, and in many cases argued with much bitterness, that it is inconsistent with democratic practices that any group short of the representatives of a fully constituted legislative assembly should be empowered to decide the terms under which Newfoundland will join Canada.
How strong that criticism is outside of Newfoundland, as well as within its boundaries, is shown by a letter published recently in the Manchester Guardian from Mr. Thomas Lodge, who was one of the first members of the commission of government appointed in 1934. Denouncing in the most vigorous terms the procedure followed, Mr. Lodge describes the whole transaction as an "unholy deal." And those are his words, not mine. The same attitude is reflected in the press and in many public statements in Newfoundland. There is also much public criticism of the procedure in Canada, so far as Newfoundland is concerned, and the method which has been followed.
When the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) met the Newfoundland delegation appointed to discuss the terms of union, he said to them, "One thing is sure, the objective itself is more important that the approach." It seems to me that the approach is very important. It is essential that the union of Newfoundland with Canada be something much more than a mere legal union. It is essential that the union be one which appeals now, and will appeal in the years ahead, to the people of Newfoundland and to the people of Canada as something which united them in spirit and in friendship even more than it did in statutory form.
We have no way of knowing what discussions took place between the government of Canada and the government of the United Kingdom or the appointed representatives of Newfoundland. We do know that there is widespread discontent and dissatisfaction, and that this will not contribute to the spirit of harmony and good will which should be the main consideration of all those who welcome Newfoundland as a part of Canada.
It must however be remembered that in the house we are called upon only to deal with the steps which Canada will take to bring about confederation. Except for any action by the Canadian government which has not been disclosed and is therefore not known to the members of the house, the procedure so far as Newfoundland is concerned is one which affects the people of Newfoundland in their direct relationship with the government of the United Kingdom. We may well regret that appropriate steps were not taken to assure that there would be no cause for any widespread feeling of bitterness or dissatisfaction, but it is not for us to tell the people of our sister dominion what course they should follow in their own dealings or in their dealings with the government of the United Kingdom.
I hope I shall be forgiven for indicating that I have some personal sentimental feelings toward the transaction we have under consideration. It happens that my father's mother was born in a fishing village in Newfoundland, and that as a young boy I was constantly impressed with the stories of the hardy life of those fine people who lived by FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 295 their daily efforts, chiefly from their ships at sea.
I was imbued in my early youth with the feeling of justifiable pride which those born in Newfoundland have in their great traditions and the great background of that island. Knowing even by that indirect contact, as well as by more direct contacts in later years, something of the feeling of the greatness of their own island's history and all it stands for, I hope that everything possible will be done to avoid the discontent and misunderstanding which does exist, and which is reflected in the press and in public speeches being made in Newfoundland and elsewhere today. For we want to see the splendid people of Newfoundland joining Canada in a spirit of real satisfaction and friendship and with a certainty that it is to the interests and advantage of all of them.
This is an historic occasion. The proceedings which carry into effect the purpose of this resolution will of necessity be debated in detail, and there will be discussions in relation to those details. But in regard to the principle of carrying into effect the vision of those great men who met at Charlottetown in 1864, I find it difficult to believe that there can be any difference of view anywhere in the house as to the hope that this will be carried out to the complete satisfaction of the people both of Newfoundland and of Canada.
For the reasons I have indicated, we will support the resolution before the house.
Mr. M. J. Coldwell (Rosetown-Biggar): Mr. Speaker, this is not the stage at which to discuss any of the details of the agreement and therefore I do not propose to do so. May I say at once that members of the C.C.F. throughout Canada join with other people in welcoming into confederation the island of Newfoundland.
When in 1867 the fathers of confederation succeeded in uniting this great land which we call Canada, Newfoundland remained aloof. Now, after eighty years, what we may term the oldest British colony in North America joins this great undertaking, the nation of which we are a part. I say therefore there can be no wonder when, in discussing the resolution, we are filled with a sense of its historic importance.
Newfoundland, by reason of her strategic position, to which reference has been made this afternoon, her wealth and, Mr. Speaker, most of all, the sterling qualities of her people, is indeed a welcome addition to the country in which we live. She, may I add, has resources which have never been adequately and thoroughly surveyed, and about which in many instances very little is known.
Her people are descended principally from those hardy seafaring folk who crossed the stormy Atlantic in little cockleshells of boats from places like Bristol, Bideford, Plymouth, fishing villages along the Devon and Cornish coasts, and from places on the shores of Brittany, Normandy and Scotland.
If I might interject a personal note: In the district where I was born, in the county of Devonshire, our parish registers record how in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century fisherfolk who crossed the Atlantic paid their church tithes after having returned from fishing expeditions on the grand banks. When they came back, this great reservoir of new food for a hungry continent of Europe was more valuable to the people of Europe than all the treasures Sir Walter Raleigh hoped to find farther south. It was his brother adventurer, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who concentrated upon Newfoundland. I believe it was Francis Bacon who said that the fisheries of Newfoundland were more valuable to posterity than all the mines of Peru. I believe that is true.
So the beginnings of Newfoundland were laid by hardy fisherfolk who, perhaps, had no thought of settling so far across the stormy ocean. But it was the wealth of fish which laid the foundation of Newfoundland, just as it may be said that the fur trade laid the foundation of New France. And just as in the seventeenth century Canada was typically French in its origins, characteristics and customs, so it may be said that Newfoundland is typically British in its origins, in its customs, and in its general outlook upon life.
So that once again, within this North American confederation we call Canada, the two great races who have laid the foundations of this country, together with the many hundreds of thousands who have come to us from many lands and who, too, have made their contribution, are engaged today in laying the foundations of a Canada greater than we have known, making it a nation stretching at last in every sense from sea to sea.
But just as the gentlemen adventurers into Hudson bay tried to keep the settlers out of what was then known as Rupert's Land and is now the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, so the fish-dealing merchants of the west of England tried to keep settlers from landing and taking root in Newfoundland. They wanted to keep the harbours and coves for the curing of fish, and to add to their own profits thereby. But settlers came, and in spite of the gentlemen adventurers they remained and they fought their way through. I mention this because I think it tells us something of the type of people and their background, and indicates 296 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS clearly the sturdy stock from which they sprang, and their determination to see things through. The settlers had to fight repressive laws, and literally they were under a star chamber jurisdiction.
Just before I came into the house I looked up a reference to this repression in our history. In 1633, in the reign of Charles I, the star chamber laid down a number of rules by which the people of Newfoundland were to live, and they were repressive indeed. Then in 1660, in the reign of Charles II, the preamble was altered and confirmed. Let me read you a paragraph from it:
All owners of ships trading to Newfoundland are forbidden to carry any persons not of the ship's company, or such as are to plant or do intend to settle there, and that speedy punishment may be inflicted on offenders.
I can recollect no similar provision touching any other British colony, or indeed any other colony elsewhere.
In 1832, if I may take a jump, representative government was granted by the parliament of the United Kingdom, but it was not responsible government. True, it was representative government, but the governor and the executive were not responsible to the legislature. A few years later there was great friction in the colony, and the British government was asked to intervene. They did so, and the constitution, such as it was, was suspended for a time. It was not until 1855 that the country followed Canada in obtaining responsible government.
I do not propose to traverse the checkered story of the island's political and economic history up to 1931. That was done in part this afternoon by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), and to a certain extent by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew). In 1931, when the. loss of markets and world-wide depression brought into bold relief the desperate financial plight of the island and the terrible suffering among its people, something had to be done. In response to appeals from the people of Newfoundland a royal commission was set up under Lord Amulree. I am not going into the details of its report. I am going to say, however, that I have read very carefully the report of that royal commission, which I think was published in 1934, and I was shocked at the conditions which were revealed in it.
As we have heard this afternoon, the result was the suspension of the constitution again, and the setting up of a commission government, which was also described this afternoon. That is where the matter rests today. I agree with the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition that what we are about to consider is an agreement into which Canada is entering, and it is our duty to see to it that that agreement is in the best inter ests of Canada. It is none of our business to discuss other matters in relation to it. It is the business of the government of Newfoundland, which at the moment is the government of the United Kingdom, to protect the interests of the people of Newfoundland both in the agreement and in the manner of its making.
Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I hope and trust that the agreement when consummated will prove mutually satisfactory and advantageous to Canada and Newfoundland. Therefore our first duty is to see that the terms of the agreement we are about to discuss are fair and satisfactory to our own country. As I say, I hope that as time passes both countries will find the agreement satisfactory and mutually advantageous.
I think another matter we have got to be clear about is that we are not taking into confederation the stricken country of 1931. I believe it was the Prime Minister who said this afternoon that a financial surplus has been piled up, and that the country is now relatively prosperous. It has accumulated a substantial surplus. Indeed, the reason why we are discussing this problem at the present time is that it has emerged from the slough of despond which afflicted it in the hungry thirties.
In September, 1944, the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis), the hon. member for Melfort (Mr. Wright), and I attended a conference of the British commonwealth labour, co-operative and socialist parties held in London. We had the opportunity of meeting Lord Ammon and of hearing from him quite a long and interesting report. He had been appointed in 1943 by the coalition government to head a good-will mission to inquire into the situation as it then existed on the island of Newfoundland. The mission visited every part of the island and held discussions with representative people of all types, from the fishing people along the coves and coasts to the people of the towns and in the city of St. John's, on economic conditions, the political future of the island, and all those matters which are very much under discussion today.
Subsequently the Fabian society published a pamphlet much along the lines of the address which Lord Ammon made, and which I, and my hon. friends who attended the conference with me, heard. I want to quote from it a few words which express his appraisal of the people of Newfoundland. He said:
I should record my appreciation of the integrity, shrewdness, and high level of intelligence of the Newfoundlanders. They are, on the whole, a kindly, hospitable people, hardworking yet easy-going, well- mannered but outspoken, thrifty but generous to strangers. Living in close contact with nature, employed for the most part on hard and often dangerous manual work. they have an ingrained healthy contempt of danger; an easy—perhaps too easy— FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 297 philosophy that tomorrow will look after itself, and an ability to turn their hands to anything from boat building to home construction. Their aptitude as seamen is well known, and their contribution in manpower to this war requires no comment. It would be hard to find a more loyal and delightful people.
I thought that was worth putting on the record this afternoon. The leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) has spoken at length in regard to their war record, and I think we all appreciate what the island did during the war. But Lord Ammon also found that conditions on the island were deplorable. He noted that the people depended for their livelihood mainly on fish, timber and the land, with fishing quite the predominant industry. He said that much of the poverty was due to the long-established methods pursued by the old-style salt and dried cod industry, in which the fishermen went from one debt sheet to another through the operation of what is known as the truck system, now illegal in the United Kingdom and in many other places. On this his comment was interesting, and again I want to quote it:
The uncrowned kings of the settlements are the "planters" or outport merchants, who supply the fishermen, buy their fish and in their own lights act as "guides, philosophers and friends" to the settlements. All of them take heavy risks in advancing money on the probable out-turn of the fishery. If it fails, they fail heavily; if it prospers, they prosper. Many are honest men who have helped hundreds of fishermen through hard winters, others are unscrupulous. All profess to abhor the truck system, but none seems willing to help the fishermen out of the net of debt in which they are constantly enmeshed; and all hold surprising views on the profit an honest trader is permitted to make in a normal year.
He also noted something else; that wherever co-operatives had been established—and the establishment of co-operatives has proceeded apace, very largely under the leadership of the university of St. Francois Xavier in Nova Scotia—or where the fisherfolk received cash for their product, the condition of the whole community had greatly improved.
As I said before, at this stage it is not proper to discuss any of the fifty sections, and I do not propose to do so. That will come when we are discussing the legislation. However, I do want to say something about the necessity of our working together in an effort to develop the material resources of the island for the purpose of raising the standards of living and preventing further exploitation by monopolistic and selfish interests, from which the masses of the people of Newfoundland have suffered from the very beginning. We should consider Newfoundland and Labrador as part of the whole maritime region, which incidentally is a region that cries aloud for a new deal. We believe the federal authority, of course in co-operation with the provinces, of which now Newfound land will be one, should institute a policy to encourage the location of industry and investment so that the whole maritime region will be protected from further exploitation by powerful interests with head offices in central Canada or elsewhere.
The other day we heard a great deal about the centralization of government. In my opinion the real danger of the loss of provincial independence, yes, of individual independence, is not in the dominion-provincial tax arrangements made by this parliament with seven of the provinces, but in the concentration of financial and economic power in the hands of a few wealthy individuals or corporations in one or two of the provinces of Canada. Not many months ago the present leader of the opposition, then premier of Ontario, stated that 52 per cent of all industrial and military production during the war came from Ontario. Granted, that was a fine record for the managers and workers in industry in this province, a record of which they can be very proud. But is it not an indication of the tremendous concentration of industry in one province, if the hon. gentleman's figure is right, especially since the bulk of the remainder of Canadian industry, 48 per cent, is concentrated in one other province? It is all very well to argue that Canada has grown strong because the provinces control certain resources which make for national strength; but to say, as the leader of the opposition did on January 28, that—
—the strength of this country has been built upon the combined strength of all the governments . . .
—is unfortunately simply not in accordance with the facts. The fallacy of that statement is that some provinces are weak, not because they signed tax agreements but because of the concentration of industry, wealth and power in a steadily diminishing number of corporations located in a few places, and mainly in two provinces. Yet it should be noted that the masses of the people of Ontario by and large are no better off than the masses of the people in the other provinces of Canada.
We welcome Newfoundland, then, on another count; because it will tend to strengthen the position of the maritime provinces and the other "have not" provinces, and to highlight their problems. Indeed, the addition of another "have not" province will assist all the other provinces similarly situated. If I may once more use the phraseology of the leader of the opposition the other day, this will help provide further checks and balances, not only against over-centralization of power in this parliament but against over- centralization of financial and economic power anywhere in Canada. Indeed, in my 298 HOUSE OF COMMONS Newfoundland opinion the tax agreements represent the only attempt yet made in Canada to decentralize this vast power in our country by effecting some redistribution of public revenue among them.
But more than a policy of financial decentralization is essential. Already since the war we have seen serious unemployment affecting Halifax, Trenton, Cape Breton, and other maritime industrial centres. When the closing of the Trenton steel works and its removal to Montreal was being investigated, the president of Dosco defended it on the ground that to continue or expand the industry in Trenton would be uneconomical. Well, it is all very well to say, as the leader of the opposition said, that—
—the great developments that have taken place in the nine provinces have very largely been the result of the wise and intimate guidance of the provincial governments in each of those provinces.
But the function of the national government surely must be to give wise guidance to the national economy, so that all parts of the country may share in the development of our resources and the benefits derived therefrom. In other words, this parliament should have a positive economic policy for all Canada. What is needed is a national policy to provide the maritimes, now including Newfoundland, with the means to supply opportunities for maritime youth in the maritime region, just as we should have a policy to provide opportunities for prairie youth in the prairie region and for Pacific youth in the Pacific region. The centralization trend, economically and financially, can be reversed only by the national government, which must have both the financial resources and the power to achieve a positive development program.
I suggest to the house that we might find some inspiration in what has been done in the United Kingdom since the war to reverse a similar trend and to assist the depressed areas of England, Scotland and Wales. Indeed it is not only socialist theory but economic necessity which has caused the Labour government to nationalize some facilities and to propose the nationalization of some others, including the steel industry. By controlling the banking and credit policies of the Bank of England and by directing national investment, as well as using its power of granting priorities on things in short supply, since the war the British government has encouraged the building of more than seven hundred new and important factories, more than four hundred of which have been built in depressed areas. Last evening I was talking over the telephone with a gentleman, not a resident of Canada but from New York, who has just spent six months in Britain; and he told me that the transformation in the depressed areas was nothing short of miraculous. He mentioned particularly conditions in Cumberland, where before the war some thirty to forty per cent of the people were continuously idle and unemployed. He went on to say that within a month or two that area will have a shortage of labour.
Some delegates to the parliamentary conference last September and October visited South Wales, for example. I was not one of that party, but they told of the tremendous industrial expansion and mounting level of employment in that depressed area, where for years before the war misery, poverty and unemployment dominated the countryside.
The effect of this is also improved housing, improved health and a tremendous drop in the death rate, particularly the infant mortality rate. Taking as an illustration the northern city of Jarrow, which Ellen Wilkinson once described as the city that was murdered, in 1934 the infant mortality rate was 95·82 per thousand, far above the national average of 61·92. Last year, because of the relocation of industry and employment, it fell below the national average, to 39·68 per thousand.
Side by side with the decentralization of industry, requiring for our own country, incidentally, a program of housing, the expenditures on ill-health will drop sharply. The effects of malnutrition and overcrowding are minimized or largely prevented when you have industry, employment and all that goes with it. I say, then, that the entry of Newfoundland into confederation should be an occasion when this parliament should be considering policies that will give new hope to the maritime area. The problems of Newfoundland are similar to those of the maritime areas; transportation, economic development and the marketing of products. I say this is a challenge presented to this parliament at the present time, a challenge to adopt a really imaginative national policy.
It is my contention that no single province, no matter how rich, can alone undertake this kind of thing successfully, for it requires a careful survey of the primary products and resources of the country so that a decision can be reached as to the types of industry which should be located in the several areas that are under-industrialized or depressed. Then, of course, an intelligent national plan for the utilization of our resources is required. Along with that a conservation policy should be formulated, adopted and indeed put into effect. I know that, when Newfoundland comes into this confederation, Newfoundland as well as our other provinces will need a policy of that description for the conservation and intelligent use of resources. Along with that should go a national transportation policy which would serve the nation instead FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 299 of emphasizing the discrimination in facilities and rates which now exists. All this would have a great psychological and material effect, not only on the maritimes but on the whole country.
When I was speaking last week on the address, I noted that there are difficulties ahead, difficulties which have been obscured, postponed or minimized because of the postwar demands and the European recovery program. Our whole economy is, indeed, very vulnerable. An imaginative plan for the development of Canadian resources, including Newfoundland, in the interests of all parts of Canada and particularly in the interests of the depressed or potentially depressed parts of Canada, should be formulated and begun. As I have said before, I think that is a challenge to this house and an opportunity which the entry of Newfoundland into confederation brings forcibly before us. So far as we in this party are concerned, we are prepared to co-operate in accepting that challenge and trying to do something effective about it.
Is there any other reason, Mr. Speaker, except that of the economic policy of the financial and industrial monopolies which have located in the central Canadian provinces, why the prophecy of Sir Leonard Tilley should so long have remained unfulfilled at least in part? Speaking in this house in 1879 Sir Leonard Tilley said this:
I am not, I think, over-sanguine when I say the day is not far distant when the population in the western country will be greater than in Canada and when the maritime provinces with their coal, iron and water power will be the manufacturing centre for this vast dominion.
Perhaps he was over-optimistic so far as the maritimes and the western part of the country are concerned. But, in large part, the vision should have materialized, because the resources are there.
Those of us who can look back on the war years can remember a discussion before the war expenditures committee of this house when the late member for Vancouver- Burrard, Mr. McGeer, the present member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid), the present member for Victoria (Mr. Mayhew), myself and others urged there should be some decentralization of the steel industry. We urged that if at all possible steel should be produced where the plates were being used, and that the valuable deposits of coal and iron on Vancouver island might form the basis of a Pacific coast steel industry to supply British Columbia shipyards. We were told categorically by the steel controller of that day that no such development would be permitted because the steel industry was already well located; and, when the war was over, expanded production might be an embarrass ment to the steel industry as established owing to a falling-off of demand or the import of foreign steel.
While Sir Leonard Tilley may have been too enthusiastic in his vision, yet there are no reasons, other than those I have given, why industry should be centralized or why it should become concentrated more and more, not only in one or two provinces, not only under the control of one or two corporations and individuals, but under the control of industries which have become monopolistic in their character and in their methods. To my mind, at least, the partial fulfilment of this vision of Sir Leonard Tilley lies largely in the hands of the present members of this House of Commons.
Newfoundland will come into confederation with her great resources, many of them unsurveyed and many of them unknown. Not long ago, I read a statement by a Roman Catholic prelate who had spent many years on the island, Monsignor Sears, who spoke of the fine agricultural possibilities in western Newfoundland. Again, the problem of conservation enters because that is where lumber is being cut. If we are going to have agriculture, as we are finding out in many parts of our country, we have to conserve our trees or reforest the slopes when they are denuded.
I am very glad that this resolution gives us an opportunity of thinking not only of the great historic event of the entry of Newfoundland into confederation, but also of her sterling people with their interesting history, people who have fought against great odds in the past and are fighting against them now. They will add much to our Canadian nation. It offers us too the opportunity to think not only of the future of Newfoundland but of the future of the maritime region, and indeed of that of all of Canada, and to impress upon us that we must do our part in the building of a far greater nation than even the fathers of confederation visualized when they planned complete confederation of the scattered colonies over eighty years ago.
Mr. Solon E. Low (Peace River): Mr. Speaker, it is not my purpose to take a great deal of time this afternoon, because I feel that the ground has been quite adequately and well covered by the speakers who have already taken part in this debate. I feel, however, that we would be remiss in our duties and responsibilities if at this time we did not say something to indicate that we too, in our great movement across Canada, support the principle of this resolution without any qualification. The social credit movement rejoices that the process of confederation, which started more than eighty-five years 300 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS ago, seems now to be entering its final stages. We join in welcoming Newfoundland into the Canadian community of provinces, the Dominion of Canada. To her, if she should choose to ratify the agreement which will be brought before us in due course, we extend the warmest possible welcome. At the same time we express the sincere hope that divine Providence will set His seal upon the greater Canada to the end that she may go forward and realize fully her great destiny.
I hope that the terms of agreement between our two countries, as finally approved, will be so satisfactory to both the people of Canada and the people of Newfoundland that it will stand unchallenged for many years to come. I confess, though, that I have felt some misgiving arising out of the fact that, when the second referendum took place on July 22, 1948, only 44 per cent of the electorate voted for confederation. It is true, I admit, that, of those who voted, a majority voted for union. I do not suggest at all that anyone was at fault except the electors themselves, in that they did not get out to the polls. I believe, however, that we all could have felt more secure and happier about the result if sufficient interest had been taken by all the electorate in Newfoundland so that, when the vote took place, there would have been an undoubted, over-all majority of the electors supporting union. I hope of course that the great majority of the people of Newfoundland will eventually come to understand and appreciate the step that is being taken and that they will eventually give to it their wholehearted support.
Much has been said this afternoon about the people of Newfoundland and about their great country. Thus far all the speakers have extolled the virtues of Newfoundlanders, and quite rightly so. I share in the admiration that has been expressed for this great people and for what they have accomplished under, as we all understand, great difficulties. If the Newfoundlanders confederate with us, they will definitely enrich the sum total of the qualities of the people of greater Canada. Their spiritual, moral, physical and cultural qualities are certainly no less than our own. We know of course that their country possesses resources and strategic values of great importance. We appreciate all of these; nevertheless the advantage will not be all on one side. Let me say that if we are fortunate enough to have Newfoundland join with Canada, Canada will gain much. At the same time, let me say that Newfoundland also will gain much. We have here the greatest country on the face of the earth, and I say that in full realization of the magnitude of the statement I am making. I believe, and have always believed, that Canada has a great destiny. I believe that in the years to come Canada will prove to be the real bulwark of the whole of America, not only materially, but spiritually and morally as well.
I have always appreciated the fact that Canada is the one part of America that retains by statute observance of the Sabbath day. That fact gives to our country a moral strength which cannot be found in any other part of America. It may not be appreciated now, but I am strongly hoping that certain forces in our country, who today are moving to repeal that statute and to throw open the Sabbath day to the same activities that take place on week days, will forget their aims and objectives and join with us in maintaining in this country the Sabbath day as it should be.
When Newfoundland comes in, if she chooses to approve this agreement, I express the hope that she too will join with us in trying to defend what we consider to be one of the fundamental strengths of our great country. We have in Canada, in my opinion, a people second to none anywhere in the world. We have a country which, if properly developed on sound economic lines, can yield to its people a standard of living unequalled in any part of the world. We also have in our country, and it is a fact we all appreciate, a forward-looking people who, though they are sometimes given to inertia, when they are moved gather momentum and in due course, I think, find the right path and do what is right.
I say these things for the reason that I do not want it said at any time that, on this historic occasion, we did not point out to our friends from Newfoundland who may join with us, as we hope they will, that they are fortunate in the opportunity that confederation offers to them, just as we are fortunate in having them join with us. When our country, in very fact, reaches from sea to sea, Mr. Speaker, let us express the hope that, from one end of that greater Canada to the other, our people will join hands and march forward determined to make this country the finest place in the world in which to live; to build the happiest people it is possible to find anywhere on the face of the earth; and indeed to build here for the western hemisphere a real bulwark, spiritual, material and moral.
Hon. Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence): The speakers who have preceded me have all referred in the most fitting and eloquent terms to the importance that the entry of Newfoundland will have in the consummation of the dream, the work and the achievements of confederation. One newspaper said that this is one of the great historic developments of the year. This, sir, FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 301 will have been one of the great historic developments of any year in the history of Canada. And what is more, its importance transcends even our own national interests and our own national hopes, because this is one of the few occasions in recent years on which it is possible to speak of union rather than disunion, of construction rather than destruction. And when we see, as we have seen around the world, disunion, revolution and disorder, it is a great forward step that we in Canada and our neighbour Newfoundland should be able to point to this as a constructive achievement in the completion of confederation. But further, too, it is significant that this union should be coming at a time when we are looking forward to the consummation of a pact—also a union— of north Atlantic nations in the proposed north Atlantic security pact.
It is something more than a coincidence that these two great events in the history of our country should be brought about at the same time and for reasons which contribute one to the other. We can point to this work of union, this work of good will, this work of construction. The only other kinds of unions that have been consummated in recent years are unions whereby country after country has been brought under the domination of the soviet union by coercion, by force and by revolution. Our union today is being brought about by co-operation of men of good will, of men who have the same traditions, the same historical background, the same racial origin, and who also, as long as there has been any knowledge of North America in Europe, have lived on this continent beside each other.
It is interesting, too, that we should consider this proposal against the background of the act of confederation itself; for union will be the final achievement of what was begun in 1867. Confederation was brought into being in consequence of the discussions between the representatives of the various colonies in British North America, begun at Charlottetown in 1864 and continued at Halifax, Saint John and Fredericton, and then carried on again at Quebec with representatives there from the colony of Newfoundland. It is greatly to be regretted that it was not possible at that time to consummate this union. But it was possible there to make the beginning of the great nation of Canada, and so we saw added to the original group under the provisions of section 146 of the British North America Act or other legislation Manitoba in 1870, British Columbia in 1871, Prince Edward Island in 1873 and Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905. They formed the original nine, and we are now completing this union of the colonies of British North America of 1867 to form the nation of Canada of 1949.
The Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) referred to some of the differences in the nature of the problem that faced the representatives of the governments of Canada and of Newfoundland when we sat down in 1947 and again in 1948 to discuss the terms together. Just imagine how conditions have changed since 1905. This brings into focus the new factors that have to be determined, the additional complexities and the new and greatly extended functions of government. In 1905 there was no social security, there were no old age pensions or pensions for the blind, there was no unemployment insurance, there were no family allowances and there was no veterans charter. On the material side there was no civil aviation and there was no broadcasting, nor was there any income tax.
These matters that I have mentioned represent the immense change that has taken place in the functions and in the scope of government, but they also show an immense increase in the complexity of the subjects that had to be dealt with in the discussions with representatives, first of the convention, and then of the government of Newfoundland. These discussions started, as has been said by the Prime Minister, in 1947 when representatives of the cabinet met for several months with a committee representing the convention. In consequence of that discussion a proposal was produced headed "Proposed arrangement for the entry of Newfoundland into confederation". The subheading is very important. It reads as follows: "Terms believed to constitute a fair and equitable basis for union of Newfoundland with Canada should the people of Newfoundland decide to enter into confederation." It is dated October 29, 1947. By a letter dated the same day it was forwarded to His Excellency, Sir Gordon Macdonald, K.C.M.G., governor of Newfoundland, by the then Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. W. L. Mackenzie King. These terms for proposed arrangements had been worked out by the committee representing the convention under the chairmanship of Mr. F. G. Bradley, K.C., and by the Canadian government under the then Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King.
These terms were made available to the governor and the government of Newfoundland and then they were tabled in the house and released to the press. The terms were before the people of Newfoundland when on the second referendum they decided to enter confederation. I would submit that those who have some difficulty over the fact that the terms of union have been negotiated with 302 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS representatives of the government of Newfoundland, rather than with those appointed to represent a responsible government in Newfoundland, must take into account the fact that first it was the British government which decided to put the question as to whether they wished to enter confederation on the plebiscite which was put before the people of Newfoundland; and, secondly, that at the time, when a majority of the people answered yes, they had these terms before them, and those terms had been explained by representatives of the people, including the members of the convention who had sent representatives to discuss the terms here.
That having been done, I submit this government had no choice but to proceed to meet the representatives of the government of Newfoundland. Once there was a plebiscite on whether or not Newfoundland should enter confederation, once the people with the terms before them had decided in favour of entering confederation, then this government could not do other than express its willingness to entertain negotiations and to discuss the terms of union with the representatives of the Newfoundland government. It really is as simple as that. Once the British government had allowed the question of joining confederation to be put before the people, then this government had no choice whatsoever in the subsequent course it followed. In consequence, the government of Newfoundland, acting through the commission of government, appointed the seven gentlemen, whose names were given by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), to come here to enter into negotiations.
They arrived and were met; and I should like to tell the house something of the course of those negotiations. We recognize that this is an historic occasion, and it may be useful for our own people, yes, and perhaps for future generations, to have a note placed on Hansard as to the way in which negotiations were carried on. As a member of the cabinet committee, I had something to do with those negotiations and as deputy chairman, when the Prime Minister could not attend, it was my responsibility to preside at the conference, and to do a good deal of the work of preparation and discussion at all stages.
My experience in conferences includes the dominion-provincial conferences of 1941, 1945 and 1946, and conferences with representatives of the provinces dealing with different matters at different times, as well as conferences with other nations dealing with various aspects of international affairs. Thus far, no conference at which it has been my privilege to represent the government or the country has been conducted with closer attention to the sole interests and welfare of the people concerned—in this instance, the people of Canada and the people of Newfoundland than was this conference.
I should like to pay tribute to the delegation representing Newfoundland, under the chairmanship of a most distinguished lawyer, citizen and statesman, in the person of Sir Albert J. Walsh, K.C. As chairman of the Newfoundland delegation he showed great capacity—and tenacity, too—in explaining the position and rights of the people of Newfoundland. He put forward those views he felt it his duty to express, and did so with a courtesy and fairness as well as a frankness which inspired the whole proceedings.
That was the atmosphere in which the work was carried on. There was no bickering; there was no backbiting; there were no recriminations; there were no leaks, either accidental or inspired; there were no occasions when there was a lack of frankness; there were no charges. There was the steady and competent effort by well-meaning people to see if they could not arrive at a fair and equitable basis upon which our two countries could enter into union and partnership.
At six o'clock the house took recess.


The house resumed at eight o'clock.
Mr. Claxton: The conference began to meet on the 6th of October of last year, and was continuously in session until the terms of union were settled. The conference had its final plenary session in the Senate chamber, as it did its opening session, on the 11th December. Thus some two months were occupied in arriving at the terms. In addition to the plenary sessions of the conference, a number of subcommittees were set up. They are enumerated on page 81 of the report and documents which the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) tabled today. They included subcommittees on drafting, finance, fisheries, transport and veterans affairs, which met in practically continuous session from the beginning to the end.
The subcommittee on drafting, in addition to considering the form which the terms of union and the bill should take, also considered the Canadian statutes and the Newfoundland statutes that might be affected, as well as the procedure that might be adopted in making a submission to the parliament at Westminster. Altogether the subcommittee on drafting produced not less than fourteen drafts of the terms of union after they had begun to be submitted to the plenary conference, and also a number before. This work, as I say, continued night and day throughout FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 303 the more than two months from the 6th October until the 11th December of last year. On the llth December the terms of union were signed by representatives of Canada and Newfoundland at the ceremony in the Senate chamber.
In addition, a number of points had been raised by the Newfoundland delegation in the course of the proceedings. Many of these were put in the form of written questions, and others were raised from time to time throughout the deliberations. It was decided in the end that they should be dealt with in a document accompanying the terms of union and headed, "Statements on questions raised by the Newfoundland delegation during the negotiations for the union of Newfoundland with Canada." These were transmitted by the Right Hon. Louis S. St. Laurent as Prime Minister of Canada in a letter dated December 11, 1948, addressed to Mr. Walsh, chairman of the Newfoundland delegation. He said in the letter:
During the course of our negotiations covering the final terms and arrangements for the union of Newfoundland with Canada, a number of questions concerning government policy were raised by your delegation and answered by the Canadian government. In addition a number of temporary administrative arrangements were settled in order to facilitate the union.
It would not seem fitting to include in formal terms of union matters of this kind, since they are scarcely of a constitutional nature. I am therefore sending you the enclosed memorandum covering these various items. While these will not form part of the terms of union, they contain statements of the policy and intentions of this government if union is made effective by the approval of the parliament of Canada and the government of Newfoundland, and confirmed by the parliament of the United Kingdom.
These statements in reply to the questions raised by the Newfoundland delegation were forwarded to the Newfoundland delegation and constitute a statement of government policy or administrative intentions on the various points that they cover.
I am sure hon. members will realize that this result was made possible by the assistance of very competent officials. Both the Newfoundland delegation and the Canadian representatives were fortunate in that respect. On the Canadian side a number of officials participated, representing every department, agency and activity of the government. I should like to refer particularly to the work done by our high commissioner in Newfoundland, Mr. J. Scott Macdonald, who was succeeded at the time of these negotiations by the Hon. Charles J. Burchell, K.C., who returned to Newfoundland for the purpose, and who assisted in the discussions by securing information for the government, and also by facilitating the Newfoundland government in obtaining information about the situation in Canada. Through this instrumentality and also through other officials such as Mr. J. R. Baldwin, who was secretary of the conference and of the Canadian delegation, and Mr. R. A. MacKay of the Department of External Affairs, there was the freest possible interchange of information, and at every stage the work was facilitated in consequence of the public spirited service of these officials.
The Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew), the member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), and also the member for Peace River (Mr. Low), in their speeches this afternoon, referred to the character and the characteristics of the people of Newfoundland. Our experience during these negotiations extending over a period of a year and a half completely confirms everything that has been said in praise of the people of Newfoundland. Our experience could not have been better. It is also confirmed by the experience of the Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen who served in Newfoundland during the war. The Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition referred to the great part played by Newfoundland in the first as well as in the second world war. It appears that in the first war a total of more than ten thousand residents of Newfoundland served in their own forces and in the forces of Great Britain, Canada, and the other allied countries. In the second world war a total of more than ten thousand served overseas, and in addition some 1,500 men and 600 women served in the Canadian armed forces. Altogether a total of something like 13,000 saw service of one kind or another. In his book "The Canadian Army, 1939-1945" Colonel C. P. Stacey, director of history, has this to say at page 43:
There was close co-operation between the Canadian and Newfoundland governments from the outbreak of war. Newfoundland afforded all facilities to the R.C.A.F.; Canada provided Newfoundland with equipment including some coast defence guns; and when France collapsed in June, 1940, steps were immediately taken to safeguard the great airport at Gander and the seaplane base at Botwood. An infantry battalion and a flight of bomber reconnaissance aircraft, now hastily despatched, were only the vanguard of larger forces.
Then Colonel Stacey goes on to describe the very close co-operation at sea, on land and in the air between our armed forces. In a book to be published shortly under the authority of the Minister of National Defence, on naval operations during the war, written by Joseph Schull, this is said:
St. John's was a hospitable and storied capital where few men lacked a home to go to for a meal. There were friendly hostels. provided, stocked and operated by Canadian service organizations; and there was a St. John's hospitality committee which could receive and fill without blinking the request of an incoming ship for a hundred girls and a dance "tonight" . . .
304 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS
Perhaps nowhere in the world was there a garret exactly like the Crow's Nest; fifty-nine steps from street level up the outside of an old store building— officially named the Seagoing Officers' Club and open to officers of the allied fighting ships and the merchant navy. Reminiscences went round the world, and doubtless are still on the wing, of that loud and smoky room where ships' crests and bells and trophies hung thick on every wall.
It is true to say that, in the hearts of the officers and men of our navy and our merchant marine, St. John's occupied as large a place as any Canadian port. It was regarded as the home port of a large part of the Canadian fleet. On this account, as well as the others that have been mentioned, we shall be especially glad to welcome Newfoundland into confederation.
But this story of working together in our common defence is not a recent one. It is reported that five companies of the Newfoundland regiment were sent to Upper Canada during the war of 1812; and I am glad indeed that, in the terms of union, reference is expressly made in paragraph 44 to defence establishments, as follows:
Canada will provide for the maintenance in the province of Newfoundland of appropriate reserve units of the Canadian defence forces, which will include the Newfoundland Regiment.
So if union is consummated it is our intention to see that this great regiment is perpetuated, with its name and its traditions, as one of the components of the Canadian armed forces. By joining the military traditions of Newfoundland and Canada, we will be enriching both.
Mr. MacNicol: Would the minister add just a word about the distinguished record of the Newfoundland Regiment in Upper Canada during the war of 1812? In Toronto we have a monument erected in its honour.
Mr. Claxton: I shall be glad to. I referred to the regiment a moment ago.
Mr. MacNicol: I heard what the minister said, but I did not hear any reference to the Victories of this regiment in Upper Canada.
Mr. Claxton: That is what I was referring to. Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland forms part of the geographical pattern and formation of North America. This island with a population of 330,000 has an area of 42,000 square miles, larger than Ireland and amounting to 84 per cent of the combined area of the maritime provinces. But in addition Labrador, which since 1927 has been found to form part of Newfoundland, has an area of another 110,000 square miles. Newfoundland is situated at the mouth of the gulf of the St. Lawrence; and those of us who have come home from abroad, on coming within sight of Newfoundland going through the strait of Belle Isle, have felt that if we were not at home, at least we were getting close to it. It will be a source of the greatest possible satisfaction to us in the future if, when we reach the island on the way home, we really can feel that this is part of our home, our native land.
Then, sir, the resources of Newfoundland have been referred to. They have great fisheries. They have two great pulp and paper plants, one of them, Bowater's, being the largest paper mill in the world. There are seventy—five firms constituting secondary industries, with some 3,500 employees; and in addition to the iron ore mines of Belle Isle there are various other mineral deposits. Our belief is that, properly explored and developed, these resources of Newfoundland will soon establish the soundest possible economic as well as historical, racial and geographic reasons for union.
Our conviction is that it is in the interests of both countries that we should join together. Common experience is that generally speaking a marriage between fairly mature adults is likely to be successful, because they have gained something in the way of tolerance and understanding. Our hope is that that understanding will help us over the difficult times, because there will be difficult times, in working out the terms of our union. On the basis of our separate experiences, we will be able to build a better common life than either of us can separately. There is every reason for our supporting this measure. I am sure it will be a matter for the utmost gratification to the people of Newfoundland, as well as to the people of Canada, that the debate on this subject should have been carried on in a way which recognizes to the full that this is an important occasion in the life of Canada.
At the time of confederation, Mr. Speaker, D'Arcy McGee, who then represented part of the constituency I have the honour to represent, said this:
I see, in the not remote future one great nationality bound, like the shield of Achilles, by the blue rim of the ocean. I see it quartered into many communities, each disposing of its internal affairs, but all bound together by free institutions, free intercourse and free commerce. I see a generation of industrious, contented. moral men, free in name and in fact—men capable of maintaining, in peace and in war, a constitution worthy of such a country.
I believe that that hope, Mr. Speaker, and that aspiration of D'Arcy McGee is now being realized in the union of Newfoundland with Canada, for the good of both our peoples and, we believe, to the benefit of the people in other countries as well.
Mr. A. M. Nicholson (Mackenzie): Mr. Speaker, I should like to endorse the opinions expressed by all the members who have preceded me in this debate in their references to the good will which has prevailed between the people of Newfoundland and the people FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 305 of Canada during so many years. The right hon. member for Glengarry (Mr. Mackenzie King), in welcoming the delegates to Ottawa on June 25, 1947, expressed, I believe, the sentiment of all Canadians when he said:
In welcoming you, we welcome neighbours and kinfolk who, with us, owe a common allegiance to the crown and whose countries are members of the British commonwealth. History and geography have given us much in common. We enjoy with you the heritage of British freedom and the even older heritage of Christian civilization. We have shared together the perils and sacrifices of two world wars. Side by side, we face the uncertainties of the postwar world.
The leader of this group this afternoon mentioned some of the common problems we must face along with the people of Newfoundland. The people in Newfoundland will be a long distance from Ottawa. They will experience the difficulties which others, who are also a long distance from central Canada, have experienced since confederation. I believe this parliament must be very sure the acquisition of Newfoundland should not be regarded as a new empire to be exploited by vested interests.
I should like to discuss this evening a problem which so far has not received very much consideration during this debate, namely, the point of view of the 71,334 or the 47·66 per cent of the people in Newfoundland who voted for responsible government. Very frankly, I admit I cannot pose as a competent authority on Newfoundland's history or problems. I did, however, spend a week in Newfoundland in December. It was something of a shock to me to find so much bitterness there over the question of confederation. This is a problem which the rest of us in Canada would do well to consider carefully. I realize it is not primarily a Canadian problem, but we must face the fact that 47·66 per cent of the people voted for responsible government. Here is a minority coming into confederation feeling that they have real grievances.
I should like to take a little time tonight to present a point of view which I found in Newfoundland. I might say I was rather surprised to find that Newfoundland is so isolated from Canada. I happened to be there the day after the terms of union were signed. The following day, when the by- election was held in the constituency of Digby-Annapolis-Kings, I was curious to ascertain the outcome of the elections, and I checked with the only radio system there, as well as with the newspapers, to find out what word there was from Canada. I was told that news from Canada had to reach Newfoundland via London and the people of Newfoundland would not expect to hear any news of the by-election on the radio until the fol lowing day. It was a matter of surprise that we had not had Canadian Press service in Newfoundland during these years. You will recall, too, that during the years we in Canada have had very little information concerning events in Newfoundland. .
If I had not spent that week in Newfoundland, I would have allowed this resolution to pass without raising the point I plan to discuss with the members of the house tonight. I should like to remind you that, as has already been pointed out, Newfoundland played a very active part in world war I. They added to their national debt to the extent of over $50 million and then, in the years following the war, found themselves in a difficult financial position. In 1931, Newfoundland appealed to the British government for financial assistance, but was not satisfied with the terms offered by the British.
In 1933, Newfoundland consented to the setting-up of the Newfoundland royal commission, better known as the Amulree commission. The king's warrant sets out the objective of this commission.
—to examine into the future of Newfoundland and in particular to report on the financial situation and prospects therein.
The recommendations of the commission are well known, but it might be mentioned that, in producing the papers relating to the report of the royal commission, it was pointed out that:
His Majesty's government in the United Kingdom would think it a little less than a disaster if the oldest colony in the British empire were to default in its obligations. On the other hand it is clear that the present burden of the debt is more than the people of Newfoundland can, for the time being, discharge unaided despite the utmost effort.
The recommendations were as contained in the report of the Newfoundland royal commission, one recommendation being as follows:
The existing form of government would be suspended until such time as the island may become self-supporting again.
A second recommendation, found in the report of that commission, reads as follows:
It would be understood that, as soon as the island's difficulties are overcome and the country is again self-supporting, responsible government, on request from the people of Newfoundland, would be restored.
Since 1933, the people in this important island have been denied the right to elect their members to transact the business of the country. As I stated, it was clearly set forth in 1933 and 1934 that this was a temporary arrangement and that, when the economic position of the island improved, the democratic rights of the people would be restored.
The war years brought prosperity to Newfoundland, as they did to many other parts of 306 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS the world. The Canadians, British and Americans made large expenditures in Newfoundland, and by 1941 it seemed as if the economic position had improved to the point that the island might consider getting responsible government. In 1943 the then secretary of commonwealth affairs went on record as follows:
The arrangements made in 1933 included a pledge by His Majesty's government that as soon as the island's difficulties had been overcome and that country was again self-supporting, responsible government, on request of the people of Newfoundland, would be restored. Our whole policy is governed by this undertaking.
Mr. Diefenbaker: What date was that?
Mr. Nicholson: That was December 2, 1943, In 1946 the commission of government passed the Convention Act, which was referred to this afternoon, and this national convention was in session for about a year. I believe the Prime Minister reported this afternoon that the convention sent a delegation to London, to Ottawa and to Washington. My information was that a proposal was made to send a delegation to Washington to consider the question of linking up with the United States but that the proposal was defeated. Delegations went, however, to London and to Ottawa. While the delegation was in London, I am informed, the question of the type of plebiscite to be presented to the people was discussed with Lord Addison, who was then secretary of state for commonwealth affairs, and he was asked this question: If three forms of government were recommended to be put on the ballot by the convention, would all three go on? His reply was:
If you recommend it, I should think so; but I should be bound to be advised by the convention.
Later he said:
If a substantial majority of the convention said "we would like these questions put to the people," I feel pretty sure I should be most anxious to give effect to their wishes.
As was mentioned this afternoon, there was a proposal that, in addition to putting on the ballot the question of the continuation of commission government and the question of restoring responsible government, public opinion should be tested on the question of confederation with Canada. That proposal was defeated, 29 to 16. I have been interested in reading the information which was tabled this afternoon by the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson). At page 10 of the document I find the following:
The national convention, before concluding its sessions, resolved by unanimous vote to recommend that two questions, restoration of responsible government and continuation of commission of government, should be included on the referendum ballot; but by a vote of 29 to 16 declined to recommend that confederation with Canada should also be included. The United Kingdom government concluded, how ever, that "it would not be right that the people of Newfoundland should be deprived of an opportunity of considering the issue at the referendum." since the terms offered by the Canadian government had been the result of long discussions with a body of Newfoundlanders elected to the convention . . .
Then later on in this report, at page 71, there is a copy of a letter from the commonwealth relations oiiice discussing this question, and I am not at all convinced by the reasoning. Mr. Noel-Baker, in paragraph 4, says:
His Majesty's government in the United Kingdom appreciate that there has been a feeling amongst some members of the convention that the entry of Newfoundland into a confederation with Canada should only be arranged after direct negotiations between a local responsible government and the Canadian government. The terms offered by the Canadian government represent, however, the result of long discussions with a body of Newfoundlanders who were elected to the convention, and the issues involved appear to have been sufficiently clarified to enable the people of Newfoundland to express an opinion as to whether confederation with Canada would commend itself to them. In these circumstances, and having regard to the number of members of the convention who supported the inclusion of confederation with Canada in the ballot paper, His Majesty's government have come to the conclusion that it would not be right that the people of Newfoundland should be deprived of an opportunity of considering the issue at the referendum and they have, therefore, decided that confederation with Canada should be included as a third choice on the referendum paper.
I think it is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, in view of the clear decision in the first vote of 29 to 16, and later on after a unanimous vote by the convention, that the British government decided to disregard the considered opinion of the convention. I submit that this is a grievance that will be remembered in Newfoundland for a great many years. As an impartial observer, I cannot see any good reason why the people of Newfoundland should not have had the first opportunity to decide whether or not they wanted a continuation of the commission government or wanted to have responsible government. I refer to the large number, 71,334, who voted for responsible government as compared with 78,323 who voted for confederation. I am well aware of the argument that in the first referendum there was quite a small vote for the continuation of the commission government namely 22,311. But let me remind you, Mr. Speaker, that of those voting, the largest number voted for responsible government. There were 69,400 votes for responsible government and 64,066 for confederation.
In the interval between the two votes, a great deal of propaganda was put out by those who wanted responsible government and by those who wanted confederation. When I was in Newfoundland I was given a copy of a "memorandum to the common FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 307 wealth prime ministers now assembled in conference in London from the responsible government league of Newfoundland". I am sure a great many members of parliament have received copies of this memorandum. It draws attention to the fact that, after the decision had been reached by the most democratic process that the people had had for many years, those who were in the minority used the publicly-owned radio there to get signatures to a petition and to get telegrams sent into the British government to the extent of some 50,000. On the other hand, the responsible government people point out that while they wanted to present their point of view in connection with appealing their case to the British parliament, they have been denied access to the radio, and that they have not been given the same advantages as have those who were supporting confederation. The charge was made in this brief that large sums of money came from outside Newfoundland to influence the voting in connection with these plebiscites. These are extremely serious charges, and I think that the people of Canada are entitled to information as to whether the charges are well founded or not. I think the Canadian government should profit by the experiences we had in Canada following the signing of confederation in 1867.
For years we have had regional problems in Canada as a result of the tactics used in bringing about confederation. If in connection with bringing about confederation between Newfoundland and Canada there have been practices which should not be approved, the people of Canada should have full particulars.
In summing up their grievances, the responsible government league mentioned that in 1876 letters patent were granted. These were suspended in 1934 on the recommendations of the royal commission of 1933, when a firm undertaking was given that this was a temporary arrangement and that eventually, when economic conditions improved, responsible government would be restored. I do not accuse the Canadian government of being guilty in connection with these grievances. But our representatives who were negotiating should have gone out of their way to see that this commitment was fulfilled if at all possible.
The British North America Act of 1867 sets out specifically that the people of Newfoundland have rights which should be respected. Section 146 of that act reads as follows:
It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the advice of Her Majesty's most honourable privy council, on addresses from the houses or the parliament of Canada, and from the houses of the respective legislatures of the colonies or provinces of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island. and British Col umbia, to admit those colonies or provinces or any of them, into the union, and on address from the houses of the parliament of Canada to admit Rupert's land and the northwestern territory.
It is clear to me that this important provision of the British North America Act is being disregarded in the negotiations which are taking place, because the people of Newfoundland have not been able to express themselves through a representative legislature, and those who have negotiated for them have not been elected by the people and are not responsible to them. As far as we are concerned, we should have been more anxious that this provision of the British North America Act should be given some attention by the British government and by the negotiating members of the representatives from Newfoundland.
In their representations the responsible government league point out that while a majority of 7,000 was secured in support of confederation, some members of the commission government ignored their obligations and duties by participating in this controversial question, and they pointed out, that when the people in Newfoundland did vote on the question, the terms that were proposed to them were later found to be unsatisfactory.
If the negotiations could have been carried on by the elected representatives of the people after they had full information on the problems that were being discussed we would not have had that dissatisfaction.
When I was in Newfoundland on December 20 my attention was drawn to a telegram which was posted in the post office in Grand Falls, a notice asking people to fill in their application forms for family allowances. I was later sent a form. At that time a great many people in Newfoundland were unwilling to accept the fact that Newfoundland was to be a part of Canada. They said to me: "By what authority are you Canadians coming into Newfoundland and distributing your propaganda?" A good deal was said about what family allowances were going to mean to Newfoundland, but while they were taking their case to the courts they thought it was quite unfair that Canadian family allowance forms should be circulated through the mail in Newfoundland, further aggravating the problem. I am aware of the justification for this conduct. We had given a commitment to make family allowances payable after March 31, but some consideration should have been given to the feelings of the 71,000 people who felt that circulating the family allowance forms and literature was disregarding their constitutional rights while they were trying to get the British government to reverse the decision or trying to carry their case to the highest possible tribunal.
308 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS
In conclusion, I should like to plead with hon. members in all sections of the house to face up to the fact that here is a minority problem that will embarrass us for some considerable time. I am familiar with the comment made by a great many that in this point of view I am expressing the case of the wealthy people in the Avalon peninsula. I need not tell the house that my contacts were not with the millionaires in St. John's. I tried to find a fairly good cross section of opinion in Newfoundland, and we must try to recognize that an injustice has been done in the methods which have been adopted in the negotiations. I do not suggest for a moment that all the wrong is on one side and all the right on the other. I do not propose to take sides in what is really a Newfoundland domestic problem, but it does vitally affect Canada and it is the duty of all hon. members to admit frankly that there is a problem there and that together we must try to solve it.
I have no doubt that eventually the people of Newfoundland will be happy members of our larger Canadian family. I agree with the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton), who suggested that marriages which take place between mature adults can result in a happy future for the participating parties. There are also adjustments which have to be made by people who marry late in life. The negotiating parties should have full information regarding all the details which have occurred in connection with the arrangements leading up to the marriage. I should like to express the hope that people in all parts of Canada will co-operate with our friends from Newfoundland, who will become a part of the country, and that we shall see to it that we can all work to establish a better Canada than we have ever known before.
Mr. G. H. Castleden (Yorkton): I wish to endorse what has been said by the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Nicholson). I do not think that any hon. members will misunderstand the stand that we are taking in this particular situation. Most Canadians will welcome Newfoundland and the people of Newfoundland as a sister province of our great nation. Surely nature intended that the north half of the North American continent should be joined together economically and by blood. What has happened quite recently is the discovery of great material wealth in ore in Labrador. This seems to have had something to do, at any rate, with the sudden interest which we Canadians and Americans have taken in recent months in the development of that great area.
Mr. Adamson: Nicolet-Yamaska has been conceded to the Progressive Conservatives.
Mr. Castleden: The reason we object to this resolution is based on the fact that we feel there has been some miscarriage—
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Castleden: —of some of the basic principles of democracy. We are here as the representatives of the Canadian people, having before us an agreement the terms of which this government has entered into with a delegation from Newfoundland. The basis upon which we are making our decision is that we, for the Canadian people, believe that on the basis of these terms Canada should form an agreement and an alliance to go into confederation with Newfoundland. But the sad fact about this whole arrangement is that no similar legislature in Newfoundland, elected by the people, ever had any opportunity to discuss this matter.
In a few weeks, if this measure becomes law, the parliament of Great Britain will similarly be deciding the fate of Newfoundland on the basis of an agreement of confederation between it and Canada. I say there is a very serious lack here, when the people of Newfoundland are denied that right. Surely they are the people more concerned than any others.
Definitely, there should be an opportunity for the people of Newfoundland, through a legislative body democratically elected by' the people of that country, to take the terms of the agreement, place them before their representatives, have those elected representatives discuss the matter and decide it in a proper democratic way, as should be done by a real parliament. Surely this should be done in any country among the democracies of the British commonwealth of nations.
But what have the people of Newfoundland had? They have had no responsible legislature for a number of years. A commission has been governing that country since 1934, I believe. This commission carried on its work, and suddenly it was decided that a convention should be held. Under the authority of the British government they sat in convention. In that convention there were some forty-five representatives who, under their terms of reference, were instructed, I believe, only to investigate the matter and make recommendations. But instead of that, they have gone ahead with some kind of referendum—a referendum which has not given a very large or clear majority. Even those people who voted for confederation did not represent one-half of the voters on the voters' list, though, it is true, they represent 52 per cent of the people who voted.
But what did they vote for? Did they vote for some agreement? No; the agreement was brought into being after the vote.
FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Newfoundland 309
Mr. Gibson (Comox-Alberni): They knew it would be fair.
Mr. Castleden: I do not think it is our problem. I do not think there is any question that the people of Canada would be fair with the people of Newfoundland; that is not the question at all.
Mr. Gibson (Comox-Alberni): They trusted us.
Mr. Castleden: It is their legislation. It is the right of a people in a democratic country, through their legislature, to have some say about the terms of an agreement which they are to enter into. That, it seems to me, is not right, and Canada's parliament should not be a party to an agreement under which such fundamental, basic, democratic rights are denied to a people who some day will be welcomed, as I know they will be, if they decide to come in. Let Newfoundland feel that we have stood here and fought for her democratic rights. Let her feel that we welcome her as a sister in a great dominion. Let her be convinced of our belief that fundamentally her people should have the full and proper democratic right, the basic right, to some say as to whether or not they accept the terms of agreement.
I hope I have made our position clear. We certainly would welcome Newfoundland, if she could come in. I think we could do it more wholeheartedly if we felt that all the people of Newfoundland and of Labrador had had a proper democratic part in making the decision and in drawing up the agreement.
Mr. Clarence Gillis (Cape Breton South): Mr. Speaker, I did not intend to take part in this debate, because I thought this afternoon that the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) stated very clearly the case for members of this group. But after listening to the last two speeches I have felt that members of the House of Commons, or the public generally, may think that there is a division in this group over the entry of Newfoundland into confederation.
Mr. Rowe: Better have a caucus.
Mr. Gillis: Such is not the case. This afternoon the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) and the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar did an excellent job in placing the facts of the matter before the house. Moreover, they gave, I believe, a comprehensive historical background, and the reasons why Newfoundland should enter confederation.
I rise at this time to say that I know something about Newfoundland and its problems. From where I have made my home for a good many years it is only ninety-six miles across the gulf. I have known many Newfoundlanders, and there are perhaps more of them in my constituency than in any other constituency in Canada.
Mr. MacNicol: There are over a thousand in mine.
Mr. Gillis: I believe the step now being taken to bring Newfoundland into confederation is one which should have been taken many years ago. My understanding is that Newfoundlanders are now being emancipated from a small group of fish merchants who have exploited them for the past three hundred years. As I said before, this is a step in the right direction.
Let me now say something which has not been said before. For many years the people of Newfoundland were allowed to enter Canada freely and to take employment here. During the winter months when they were not able to fish—and that is about the only industry on the island—hundreds of Newfoundlanders would come to Cape Breton island to work in the coal mines. They would find employment there during the winter months, and then return to their fishing industry when the season opened.
Since about 1931 that has not been permitted. The coal mining regulations in Nova Scotia were amended so as to preclude them from going into the mines and taking employment as coal miners. Consequently our immigration laws were amended so as to prohibit the entry of Newfoundlanders into Canada. They were treated almost as Europeans, or others coming from foreign countries. I thought that was a great disservice to the people in my part of the country because, as has been suggested by one hon. member, they are good workers and good citizens. Not many of them are to be found on relief, and they can turn their hand to almost anything. They have had to develop that technique because of the conditions under which they have lived in their own country. They had to be jacks of all trades.
Having said that, let me add that I am not quarreling with what happened in Newfoundland. I believe that those who argue along the lines of responsible government are dealing with a misnomer. It is not responsible government they are looking for, because that is exactly what they are getting now.
Mr. Gibson (Comox-Alberni): They never had it before.
Mr. Gillis: Arguments were made for the setting-up of a national government, and remaining out of confederation. In the last fifty years they have had governments of that 310 Newfoundland HOUSE OF COMMONS kind which have failed twice. In each case when the national government failed they had to turn to Great Britain for a commission government to administer the affairs of the island. Having failed twice with that kind of thing, I think it is unreasonable to ask the people of Newfoundland to go back to it. If it is responsible government they are looking for, in my opinion they are getting responsible government now for the first time in the history of the island. Two votes were taken, and after they were taken there was still a majority of approximately 7,000 in favour of entering confederation. I do not think anyone can say that is undemocratic, because the whole population of the island is only equal to about three constituencies. After a lot of propaganda and educational work two votes were taken, and the majority of the people of Newfoundland who voted said they wanted to come into confederation with Canada. I think that is democratic. I think the processes employed in elections in Canada were followed in Newfoundland. The argument has been raised, what are you going to do about the 71,000 people who voted the other way? I should like to ask any member of the house, what are you going to do with the large number of people in your own riding who voted against you in the election? Whether they like you or not, they accept you as their representative. That is exactly the situation in Newfoundland. There was a 45 per cent vote in favour of union. Under the circumstances, where the use of the franchise had been out of the hands of the people of Newfoundland since 1934, and where very little educational work had been done in the matter of the ballot, to get a 45 per cent vote in favour in a vote taken under the conditions that existed reflects a good deal of credit on the people who turned out to vote.
I do not see any reason to quarrel with that. As I see it, it is our duty now not to confuse the matter any further by raising those arguments which arise from sectarian sources. On this question I have seen certain briefs which have come from Newfoundland, and which I would be ashamed to introduce in this house. It is a straight sectarian appeal that is being made to the people of Canada and to the members of this House of Commons in order to offset what, in my opinion, was a democratic vote of the people of Newfoundland.
I live close to them and have worked with many of them. I know the disabilities which handicap them at the present time; but I believe that, if we handle the matter sensibly and do not fan the flames any more than they have been fanned, if we put this agreement into effect, install good administra tive machinery, have members from Newfoundland in this House of Commons, and let the people of Newfoundland set up their own provincial government, the union will be successful. That is responsible government.
In my opinion they are being fooled, by a lot of propaganda they are getting now, into the belief that they are going to be dictated to and legislated for by Ottawa. The reverse is true. They will have their own government similar to our provincial governments. They will work out their own problems in the provincial field. They will have their members in this national forum to carry their message further. They will benefit from much of the social legislation for which we have had to fight over the years. I am in favour of this agreement and I think it should be carried into effect. I intend to go to Newfoundland and say what I am saying here tonight, only a lot more so. I got up on the spur of the moment because I felt I had to say these things in view of what was said by the last two speakers.
Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Golding in the chair.
Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. St. Laurent thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 11, to approve the terms of union of Newfoundland with Canada.
Mr. Graydon: May I ask the Prime Minister whether the bill which is founded upon this resolution is now available for distribution?
Mr. St. Laurent: It is available. It consists of one clause, and of the terms of agreement as hon. members have now had them for some considerable time. The bill is ready for distribution and will be distributed immediately.
Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.



Hon. Stuart S. Garson (Minister of Justice) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution:
That it is expedient to present a bill to amend several statutes to make them applicable to or otherwise conform with the Canadian confederation as and when Newfoundland becomes a province of Canada.
Mr. Gordon Graydon (Peel): I presume we shall follow the procedure that was followed on the previous resolution. I take it the Minister of Justice will want to make a statement now while the Speaker is in the chair.
FEBRUARY 7, 1949 Statute Law Amendment 311
Mr. Garson: The statement in connection with this resolution must necessarily be an extremely short one. As hon. members know, there are on the federal statute books of Canada a number of statutes which refer to the various provinces of Canada by name. They have to do with a variety of subjects. The only purpose of the bill, to which this resolution is the introduction, is to amend those various statutes by inserting the word "Newfoundland" in the appropriate places in order to make all of those statutes now upon the books apply to Newfoundland in the same way as they do to every other province of Canada. When the bill goes into committee anyone who is interested may follow, section by section, the explanations which are given opposite, and tie them in, but all of these provisions without exception are what lawyers term consequential in that they arise out of the fact, and as a consequence, of Newfoundland being brought into confederation. They are the amending provisions that have to be made in a number of federal statutes.
Mr. A. L. Smith (Calgary West): I am not attempting to speak on this, but I should like to learn from the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) what method has been adopted. Have you gone through all the statutes of Canada with a view to finding the particular ones that need to be amended, or will your bill be in somewhat general terms, saying that where so and so is mentioned it shall be deemed to include Newfoundland? I am merely asking for information. For example, I can think of a number of places in the criminal code where there are specific provisions relating to certain provinces which do not apply to other provinces. Will the bill when we get it, with the explanations, call attention to the individual statutes to which the bill may have reference, so that we can understand it without doing a great deal of research on our own?
Mr. Garson: The answer is yes, that it will call attention to the specific statutes. The bill will contain a number of sections, and each section will refer to some section of an existing statute which will be amended. It will not be just a general statement of a rather indefinite character.
Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Golding in the chair.
Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Garson thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 12, to amend the statute law.
Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister): I may say it is not the intention to ask the house to proceed with this bill until we have made substantial progress with the other one. The last section of the bill will provide that it would come into force on March 31, 1949, and would not be sanctioned unless and until the previous bill approving the terms of union with Newfoundland had been sanctioned.
Mr. Graydon: Then may I ask the Prime Minister when it is intended to move the second reading of the first bill introduced tonight?
Mr. St. Laurent: It is hoped to go on tomorrow with the second reading of the first bill and to allow this bill to stand until the sense of the house has been taken on the first one.
Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.


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



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