Newfoundland National Convention, 12 September 1946, Debates on Confederation with Canada


September 12, 1946

Mr. Job Mr. Chairman, I rise with much pleasure to move a vote of thanks to His Excellency the Governor for his very fine opening address yesterday to the National Convention, a momentous occasion in the history of our beloved country.
We are now passing a landmark which I sincerely hope and believe will be the commencement of a period in which the people of all classes and denominations in Newfoundland will make a new start. Where this journey will end no one can at the moment forecast, but at any rate it would seem likely to eventuate at some not far distant date in an encouragement to every individual of voting age to take a much wider and deeper interest than they have done in the past in the management of their country's affairs.
I am not going to review our past errors of omission and commission at this juncture; but it will be necessary during our deliberations to refer September 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 5 to errors of the past in order to learn from them, and I most earnestly hope that in doing so we will all, myself included, be able to make our criticisms constructive and helpful, and that we will not waste our time merely in venting or airing grievances with destructive criticisms. We will all have to weigh very carefully the possible effect of our words before uttering them, especially in the heat of debate.
I believe that we have a great and glorious opportunity of showing not only to the people of Newfoundland who have elected us, but to the whole British Commonwealth, those of our neighbouring Dominion and the United States, upon all of whom we are so greatly dependent for our future welfare, that we are capable of discussing in a frank but dignified and friendly spirit the somewhat involved problems of our future status. Let us not forget, however, that true as it is that we are largely dependent upon others, and particularly upon the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, for our future welfare, it has been clearly demonstrated during the past strenuous six years that the many millions of people in these great countries are to a considerable extent dependent for their protection upon the territory of our island, our Labrador territory, and our resources. This fact alone should assure us of sympathetic interest from the people of all these countries in our endeavours to maintain a decent standard of living here, under as independent an administration as this Convention and our electors may eventually decide to be the best for our circumstances. These neighbours all have an interest in seeing a happy and contented people here, and will not forget that the Atlantic Charter was solemnly negotiated in Newfoundland waters. Do what we will, our future prosperity is dependent upon our economic relations, especially our customs tariffs with the mother country, Canada and the United States, and upon our co-operation with all three of these great nations. I regard this as the most important sentence in my address.
The wide scope of our duties is shown by the opening paragraph of our National Convention Act,[1] which reads as follows:
Whereas it has been decided that provision should be made for enabling the people of Newfoundland to examine the future of the Island and express their considered views as to suitable forms of government for the Island, having regard to the financial and economic conditions prevailing therein, and that this provision could most appropriately be the holding of an elected National Convention of Newfoundlanders.
Some of us have come here with more or less fixed ideas as to our future form of government, but the majority of the delegates will agree. that however rigid these ideas may be in some minds, it is our duty to be ready to modify or change them in accordance with the weight of evidence which will be produced as the result of our investigations and deliberations.
I feel sure that unless this National Convention is conducted (as I hope and believe it will be) in an open-minded way, and that unless we grasp this opportunity of showing to those who have elected us that we are capable of that "quiet calm deliberation which disentangles every knot", we will not be able to convince the electorate of this country, or of any other country, that we are qualified to revert in the immediate or even the distant future to the management of our own affairs. I think that most of us will probably agree that the goal at which every true Newfoundlander must eventually aim is self-government in some form or another, with or without restrictions, but whether the time for this has yet arrived, is a matter upon which no one should venture a definite opinion until there has been an exhaustive investigation into our current position.
I think that the electorate might justifiably reject any recommendations this Convention may make for self-government, or any other form of government, if we fail to discuss our future problems in a thoroughly searching manner. Unless we can furnish an intelligent, well-reasoned report, there would be very poor hope that these recommendations would be adopted upon submission to the electorate. An intelligent well reasoned report cannot be made without an exhaustive debate upon the pros and cons of any changes favoured, after first securing every particle of information we can gather to shed light upon our future economic position. There will no doubt be some expert advice offered to us. We should give such advice very careful consideration, but will have to use our own judgment as to 6 NATIONAL CONVENTION September 1946 whether the advice is sound as applied to our own particular problems.
Careful compliance by members with whatever rules of procedure may be adopted and utmost respect for the Chair and the rulings of our distinguished and experienced Chairman, will help create a pleasant atmosphere inside the Convention chamber and gain respect and confidence outside of it.
There is in my opinion one regrettable feature about the composition of this National Convention, and that is that our returned service men, especially of the younger generation, are not represented in a desirable proportion. The same remark may apply to the women of Newfoundland, both those who have served abroad and those who have worked so hard for the common good at home, during the past six years.
I suggest that this defect might be partially remedied by our inviting or requesting the GWVA[1] and indeed any other large association not adequately represented in this Convention, including one of the ladies organisations, such as the Jubilee Guilds,[2] to submit their considered views in writing, or to send a deputation to present them during the session of the Convention.
I feel quite incompetent to express in adequate terms our good fortune in being able to welcome His Excellency Sir Gordon Macdonald, KCMG, in his position as the representative of His Majesty and also as Chairman of the Commission of Government to open the proceedings of this Convention During the few months in which he has resided with us, His Excellency has displayed such amazing energy and such charming tact that he has already endeared himself to our people of all classes. His delightfully sympathetic radio addresses, and more especially his personal contacts with the people residing in the very large number of places which he has visited, have definitely reached our hearts. It augues well for the future of this country that we have at this critical time as the nominal chief executive of our little Dominion (or should I say ancient. colony) one who has already shown such deep and intelligent interest in our problems, and one who has travelled already thousands of miles over our country, underby no means luxurious conditions, to see for himself the surroundings and especially the standards of living of our most important primary producers, namely, our fishermen, woodsmen, miners and farmers. His Excellency can rest assured that thanks to his fine addresses and evident sincerity, he has impressed the people of the capital as much as those of the outports, and can count on their full support.
During the period in which the government by Commission in its present form continues to exist, I think we will most of us be happy to feel that the Chairman of the Commission is one who has wide experience in the management of public affairs, and is one who has shown the qualities of a statesman. With all due respect to the other members of the Commission of Government, we may perhaps be permitted to hope that His Excellency's influence during the continuation of the government in its present form will he more than merely nominal.
The wise words and sound advice of His Excellency the Governor are on record and speak eloquently for themselves and need no comment from me; therefore Mr. Chairman, I now have the honour to move:
That the chairman of this National Convention be requested to appoint a select committee to draft in suitable form two resolutions, one of which will be to the effect that the members of this National Convention, elected by the people of Newfoundland, desire to place on record, as their first act, an expression of sincere loyalty to His Most Gracious Majesty King George VI; and the other resolution to the effect that the Convention wishes to express its sincere thanks to His Excellency the Governor, Sir Gordon Macdonald, K.C.M.G., for his inspiring and forceful address on opening the proceedings of this National Convention.
Mr. Harrington Mr. Chairman and members of the National Convention, it is with no little awareness of the momentous significance of this assembly that I rise to second the motion made by the Hon. Mr. Job, that an address of loyalty be presented. to His Majesty the King, and an address of thanks be presented to His Excellency the Governor in reply to the gracious speech with which he has been pleased to inaugurate the sessions of the National Convention; and that a September 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 7 select committee be appointed to draft such address in reply.
In supporting the motion I cannot but help make note of the fitness of the previous speaker for this occasion in view of the epoch-making nature of this unique constitutional assembly. For history is being made today as well as yesterday, and Mr. Job is very much a part of that history. He is one of the few living members of the former Legislative Council, which in this very building less than a score of years ago made laws for Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders. Furthermore, two or three years past, when comment on our confused status was frequent, Mr. Job in communications to the daily press suggested a body somewhat similar to the present National Convention to discuss our affairs; and it must be a source of pride and satisfaction to him now to realise that his suggestions undoubtedly had some, if not considerable bearing on subsequent developments Finally, Mr. Job comes from a family long associated with the life of this country in all its phases and aspects; he himself speaks with the wisdom of many years of the same experience and the sincerity of his words on this occasion cannot be questioned.
For myself, I speak as a young man relatively unexperienced and untried in politics and government, but willing to learn and eager to serve to the best of my ability the land in which I was born. My family too has had long associations with Newfoundland. Their part may have been less spectacular, but nonetheless heroic. They were the good fishermen and farmers, tradesmen and sailors, the good wives and the good mothers. They worked hard for what they got; they loved this land for the work it gave them, and the freedom which in time they won because of their work and their zeal. The family antecedents of each man here fall into one of these two groups. Now the wheel has come full circle and we are here to serve their memory.
The Governor's speech, as indeed was expected, fully lives up to the forthright, energetic and sincere individual whom we have met and heard in recent months. Being appointed to his responsible position at such a critical time, he has made every effort to acquaint himself first-hand with the country and the people, and not even Mercury, the winged messenger of mythology, could have travelled as fast and so far in the interests of a better understanding, than Sir Gordon has since his arrival. He has spoken of the honour and the responsibility that is ours, and the great opportunity we have for selfless patriotism. And he has refreshed our memories concerning the ancient glories of this, the people's house, and the honourable giants of men who in the past rendered noble service in the cause of their fatherland. In truth, I may say, as many other Newfoundlanders are saying, we are glad that Sir Gordon Macdonald, "a man's man", is amongst us at this hour.
A moment ago I said history is being made today. It prompts me to wonder if men who make history truly realise it at the time. I doubt if they do for such a realisation is almost enough to unman them. Still, whether we realise it or not, history is being made and it will continue to be made when this Convention has been disbanded and dispersed; and our names are on the records of history, for good or ill, and for the inspiration or dismay of those who come after us.
Newfoundlanders have lived under many administrations and many forms of constitutional assemblies, but search as we may, we can find no precedent for the present body of which we are members. Yet that fact which may have been a concern to some of us, need not be a deterrent; for even the most conservative man will admit there must be a first time for everything. Inasmuch as a man, according to Warburg, "cannot be a conservative until he has something to lose," I might say, perhaps, that a man cannot be other things until he has something to gain. And I say, let no man in this house be swayed by the thought of what he may lose or gain at this most critical juncture of our history.
There are older men here with a first-hand knowledge of days that are past, and young men like myself, whose knowledge for the most part is confined to what we have read and heard. There are men here who have been in government, and men who hope to be in it in the future. There are men here who cleave to certain ideas and turn away from other beliefs, and Walter Lippman remarks that "Men are much more likely to see the truth in that which they love than in that which they hate." Therefore there is need for calmness and unprejudice; for patience and tolerance. What we need to bring to this Convention, more than an open mind, is a fair mind that will respect 8 NATIONAL CONVENTION September 1946 each and every man's opinion, whatever our own beliefs or determination.
Let every man too, be fearless and outspoken, within the bounds of the agreed rules of procedure, and with due respect for the Chair. Let no man be awed by the glib and prolix amongst us; each of us has his convictions and it is imperative that we express ourselves. Let us do so with directness, remembering at all times to preserve the dignity of this assembly in the face of the country and the outside world.
No government in this country has ever undertaken so grave a responsibility as that which weighs on this assembly: to recommend a constitution or constitutions for the choice of the people of Newfoundland. We are told that the people want this or that, when in truth what the people want, simply, is a guarantee — a guarantee of good government and a guarantee that capable and honest men will not be lacking for the conduct of affairs. Given that guarantee, the present indecision about self-government will be swept away.
Too much time is devoted to talking about the problem of Newfoundland and not enough energy applied to finding a solution. The prophets of gloom assert we are eternally on the edge of an abyss; that nothing can be done; that we have no future — as though no other country ever had a problem. What is this fantastic problem of Newfoundland? We speak the same language; we enjoy religious freedom; we have no persecuted minorities; we do not want to make war on anybody to gain more living space. In this modern day our fishery resources are virtually untapped; we have forests; we have minerals; we are a hard-working and good-living people. Where then is the problem? It is nothing more or less than ourselves; we will not trust ourselves to ourselves and so we trust ourselves to others. That is not a problem — it is a state of mind that only mutual trust and a belief in our own integrity can overcome.
Part of that state of mind is our readiness to take the line of least resistance. It is so much easier to assume that nothing can be done than to actually try to accomplish some end. It brings to mind the phrase of an anonymous writer: "The reason some men do not succeed is because their wishbone is where their backbone ought to be." Is that part of our problem? Do we spend too much time wishing for something to happen instead of working to make things happen? Is that why we feel we cannot run our country, because we haven't the backbone, and so we turn it over to others who have the backbone, but unfortunately for us have not the same ends in view? I think that the root of our problem is spiritual; not in the religious sense, but in the sense that means enthusiastic, mettlesome, animated with a belief and a flaming desire to make Newfoundland a better home, and Newfoundlanders a name to conjure with among all men. We are still a pioneer country, and we need the pioneer spirit, unafraid to blaze new trails, cross new frontiers, and look ahead to far horizons of achievement.
In closing my remarks in connection with the seconding of the motion proposed by the Hon. Mr. Job, I address a special word to the people of Newfoundland, by whose faith in us we are here. Your responsibility did not end with the elections in June, for the most important vote you will ever make will be cast on the recommendations of this Convention in a future referendum. You must keep informed, and we will see to it that you are kept informed by radio and newspaper so that you will be enabled when the time comes to make the right decision. And in urging you to follow the proceedings of the Convention with all your attention, standing here in this chamber peopled with the ghosts of many public-spirited men, I warn you that no system can guarantee self-govemment to a people too indolent, too ignorant or too indifferent to cherish and fight for its own freedom.
It is in this spirit, Mr. Chairman and members of the National Convention, that I second the motion made by the Hon. Mr. Job that an address of loyalty be presented to His Majesty the King and an address of thanks be presented to His Excellency the Governor from this Convention.
Mr. Chairman Does any other member wish to speak to the motion? If not, is the Convention ready for the question?
It has been proposed by Mr. Job and seconded by Mr. Harrington that the Chairman of this National Convention be requested to appoint a select committee to draft in suitable form two resolutions, one of which will be to the effect that the members of this National Convention, elected by the people of Newfoundland, desire to place on record, as their first act, an expression of September 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 9 sincere loyalty to His Most Gracious Majesty King George VI, and the other resolution to the effect that the Convention wishes to express its sincere thanks to His Excellency the Governor, Sir Gordon Macdonald, K.C.M.G., for his inspiring and forceful address on opening the proceedings of this National Convention. [The motion carried unanimously]
The committee on the address of loyalty to His Majesty the King and of thanks to His Excellency the Governor will be:
Hon. Mr. Job, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Ballam, Mr. Crununey, Mr. Hickman, Mr. Fowler, Mr. Fogwill, Mr. Newell, Mr. Cranford, Mr. Jones, Mr. Dawe, Mr. Keough, Mr. Penney, Mr. Goodridge.
I would suggest that Hon. Mr. Job might be the convenor of this committee. As I said to you yesterday, I submit for your consideration the necessity of the immediate appointment of a committee on rules and procedure. I need not stress the special importance and necessity of this. I suggest that the committee be immediately appointed to take up this all important matter.
Mr. Brown I have much pleasure in moving that the committee be appointed from the Chair.
Mr. Figary I second that motion.
Mr. Chairman Proposed by Mr. Brown and seconded by Mr. Figary, that the appointment of a committee on rules of procedure be in the hands of the Chairman.
[The motion carried unanimously]
Mr. Chairman The committee will be:
Mr. Brown, Mr. Butt, Mr. Figary, Mr. Higgins, Mr. Bradley, Mr. Smallwood, Mr. Crosbie, Mr. Fudge, Mr. Ashbourne, Mr. Hollett Mr. Starkes, Mr. Miller, Mr. Job, Mr. Cashin
I suggest that committee meet with all possible dispatch, and that while awaiting the report the rules of the House of Assembly, as we once knew them, should apply as far as possible to these proceedings of the Convention. When the committee has completed its task and made its report and you have accepted it, these rules will supplant the old rules. Perhaps one of you will propose and second the application of those rules to the Convention whilst awaiting the report of the committee.
Mr. Bradley In the interim, and while awaiting the report of the committee, I quite agree with you that we cannot do better than adopt the regulations and rules of our House of Assembly. You are very familiar with these and they might form a basis for our draft of rules to be submitted to this house.
Mr. Brown I second the motion.
Mr. Chairman Is the house ready for the question? It is proposed by Mr. Bradley and seconded by Mr. Brown that pending the report of the Committee on Rules and Procedure and the adoption of that report, that the rules of the House of Assembly mutatis mutandis should apply to this Convention.
[The motion carried unanimously]
Mr. Chairman There is no further business- at least, on the agenda. But if any member wishes to speak, he may do so.
Mr. Smallwood On the matter of seeking and obtaining information from the government that the Convention may find necessary, would individual members have the right to submit questions or requests for particular information? And such requests having been made, would they be deemed to be going to the party concerned as from an individual, or would they be vetted by the Convention and then come to the government as a whole? And should they be directed to the government as a whole, or to individual department heads or commissioners? On these questions I am very vague in the absence of rules governing them; but I imagine that a great amount of information will be sought from the government. No doubt, the procedure for doing so will be laid down in the rules, which may take two or three weeks and in the meantime many members may have questions on which they desire authentic information. I do not know whether members will submit questions verbally or write them and hand them in.
Mr. Chairman I see no objection to following the rules of the House of Assembly. I may say that all questions were submitted in writing. Each member has the right to give notice of a question. 10 NATIONAL CONVENTION September 1946 For example, Mr. Smallwood asks the Commissioner for Education to table certain reports. Having given notice the question will be passed to the Secretary. Then as in the old days, it will be required that the Speaker find whether the question is relevant. In the meantime I see no objection to any member saying that on tomorrow he will pass to the secretariat a question, and the question in turn will be passed to the department concerned. I do not see how the members can get information in any other way.
Mr. Smallwood You have not made it clear as to whether questions asked by an individual member go to the government automatically, or whether they go from the whole House and must be adopted by the House.
Mr. Chairman I thought I made it clear that by passing them to the Secretary they will then be passed to the department concerned.
[Mr. Smallwood then read a series of questions concerning Gander airport]
Mr. Hollett It appears to me that if we are going about this inquiry into the state of affairs of our country, and if we are to be delayed by each member's asking any question as might occur to him overnight, we are not tackling the matter in the best systematic manner. We have a factual statement of affairs in the Amulree Report[1] up to 1934. Our business is to find out how things stand now; what has happened between 1934 and the present time, and whether or not we are financially and economically sound or self-supporting. If we are to tackle it in the proper manner, we ought to take it subjectively: take finance, deal with it and be done with it; take fisheries, deal with each matter under its own heading. I referred to the Amulree Report. I think that report is pretty near correct. We ought to deal with one department of Newfoundland affairs at one time and be done with it. What makes me speak of this is that I saw a communication in the press where one of the delegates had received a letter from the Governor's private secretary relative to the departure of the Commissioner of Finance.[2] It was thought that the commissioner ought not to be leaving at this particular juncture. We had the assurance given us that the Commissioner for Finance would be here for two weeks. Therefore, we ought to tackle the problem of finance first.
Mr. Hillier The object is to inquire into the future forms of government.
Mr. Fogwill After listening to the two previous speakers, I am of the opinion that there has not been enough provision made, and it would now appear that the best thing would be to appoint a special committee to draft a plan of action....
Mr. Chairman I had in mind, subject to the wishes of the Convention, a steering committee, that would have the setting out of the rotation of business and plan of campaign. If my suggestion is agreeable, the committee will meet with all possible dispatch....
Mr. Bradley It is not, I take it, intended to limit the right to ask a question.
Mr. Chairman In the old days we had the order paper, and the order paper was the daily agenda. We will have to have the same method to enable us to know what is going to be discussed and by whom.
Mr. Brown As perhaps the oldest member of this House, I might say that I do not see how we can progress without some line of procedure. I move that this house will adjourn until such time as the Committee on Rules and Procedure has drafted a plan and it is adopted, so that the House can be guided by that line of procedure in the right way.
Mr. Cashin I am inclined to agree with Mr. Hollett. One of the commissioners is leaving Newfoundland; he holds a most important position in the government in regard to finance. Whilst I agree with Mr. Brown that without certain rules we cannot proceed, I feel we should take advantage of the commissioner's presence and direct financial questions to him. I would suggest that these questions be put on the order paper and that Mr. Wild come here and be further able to answer questions that are not quite clear. You will remember, Mr. Chairman, what happened in the old days. A member placed questions on the paper directed to the finance department and the next day the department tabled the information; and if the inquisitor wanted any further information, the minister was there and he got up and said "I want to know something else." The only way to get information is to have the Commissioner of Finance here and whoever wants to ask a question, the Commissioner is here to answer it.
Mr. Chairman In the old days the asking of questions was not the time for debate. The answers could not be debated, but any explanation necessary could be made; then further questions asked if the answer was not clear.
Mr. Job I take it the idea of the Chair is that this committee should deal with the question of a programme. In view of the great importance of this finance matter, I suggest that this committee meet tomorrow and that the first item would be the question of finance, and that would enable us to meet and go ahead with that question. The setting up of a programme, as stated by Mr. Fogwill, is very important indeed....
Mr. Chairman It is evidently desirable to take these matters up.
Mr. Smallwood I agree that it is desirable to plan a programme. I agree also with Major Cashin in what he said regarding the presence of the Commissioner for Finance. But why wait for the Committee on Rules and Procedure? Decide now. If we are to get information from the finance department, then that is that.
Mr. Crummey Does it come within the rules to draft the agenda?
Mr. Chairman We can give the committee special instructions, it does not follow that they have to make the agenda.
Mr. Crummey Can the House form the agenda?
Mr. Chairman Of course, but it requires some study... I thought the committee might meet this afternoon if they wish to expedite matters.
Mr. Crosbie I think the committee should meet this afternoon. It seems to me we are going to lose a great deal of time if we do not invite the dif~ ferent heads of the departments here. If we are going to send questions to the departments they might be consigned to the waste paper basket.
Mr. Smallwood The questions I have submitted are typical of those that might be submitted and it would be a waste of time to ask a commissioner to come up until he had the question, and had replied in writing. When he has produced the documents then he could be here for supplementary questions arising out of his answers. Not that I have any objection to their being here, but there are times when it is much more practical to write your question.
Mr. Chairman All that would come within the purview of the committee.
Mr. Hollett Do we know what powers we have to summon anyone, whether it be a commissioner or not? We should define our authority.
Mr. Chairman The Convention has no power to compel attendance or to compel him to answer questions. In the old days the statutory rules did not cover this and they were amended in 1890 by laying down what is known as statutory authority to subpoena witnesses and a committee would take evidence on a particular point. This was found not only desirable, but the only practical method. The witness on a particular point would attend before a select committee. They had statutory authority and these witnesses were required to answer. I am not giving a judicial opinion, of course. There is no express authority in the Convention Act giving the Convention power to subpoena witnesses.
Mr. MacDonald if we are going to discuss matters, we must have evidence. If we have no power, then our attendance seems useless. If you would point out to us where we can get such authority, it would be helpful.
Mr. Chairman I take it requests might be made by the Convention for all necessary information or for the attendance of witnesses.
Mr. Job It seems to me that it will be time for that when we find they will not attend. I think they will give us the information.
Mr. Jackman I understood that this Convention would be a fact-finding board; now I hear from you that whilst we are a fact-finding board, we are that in name only.
Mr. Chairman I did not say that. I pointed out to you, that my reading of the act did not disclose the authority to compel attendance.
Mr. Jackman If we are going to find our facts it is going to be necessary to have outside opinions, and I would like to know if it is possible for this Convention to protest to the government, if necessary, the lack of having that power, and the necessity on behalf of the electorate of Newfoundland that we should have that power.
Mr. Bradley I can quite understand the desire of every member of this Convention to have all available information and I am in accord with that idea, but there is not the slightest evidence that we are going to be refused any information. We cannot enforce it, it is true; but I do not see that there is anything to suggest that any department of the government will not have the slightest desire to refuse any legitimate information. If we 12 NATIONAL CONVENTION September 1946 should meet it, then we have other methods of getting that information.
Mr. MacDonald If the old House of Assembly found it necessary to have special laws so that they could call evidence, then there must have been some reason for that.
Mr. Chairman The Convention has no legislative power it is true, but perhaps we might cross that bridge when we come to it.
Mr. Bradley With your permission, I would suggest that this power of a select committee was in connection with private bills on which they wanted evidence or private rights being interfered with.
Mr. Hollett I was not insinuating that any department would refuse to disclose facts; I was thinking more of the people outside the departments to whom we may have to go for necessary information relative to, say, the fisheries. It would be a terrible insult to our people if this body sent a request to John Jones to give us some information and he said, "I will not attend." I take it we could request the Commission to consider a slight amendment giving the Convention power to subpoena witnesses if we so desire. I would rather have the necessary power to ask a person to come here with the feeling we would not be turned down.
Mr. Smallwood I do not want to prolong this discussion, but this happens to be a popularly elected body in Newfoundland, the first elected body since 1932; His Excellency has conspicuously graced it and appealed to the public for support of it; also he has graciously come and opened it and there exists all over the country tremendous approval and sympathy with the Convention, and the last thing on earth the Commission would dare to do is refuse information that we must have. There is no industrial concern, no commercial society which would not be happy to come here or write us in response to any request we make.... They dare not refuse it. With all due respect, it is anticipating a most unlikely thing to happen and if it does we will know how to deal with it. There is a matter I would like to mention in regard to the attendance of visitors Would this be a matter for the committee - could it be arranged through the issuance of tickets or through delegates, so that anyone who wishes to attend a particular session may do so? A member may have three or four constituents who might wish to attend and they should not have to stand outside and take a chance on getting in.
Mr. Chairman I think that can be arranged; but the general question is how the proceedings are to be conducted. There may be an occasion when you want to have a private session; that is a matter for yourselves. I think the committee will deal with the various matters.
Mr. Jackman As a member of this Convention I am not satisfied with the authority we have. In regard to summoning, say, government witnesses, I do not think they would refuse, but we may have to go to England yet. We may have to go to Canada. If we are a fact finding board, and suppose we want to bring back Sir John Hope Simpson, or Sir Wilfrid Woods, we have no authority whatever to summon them.
Mr. Chairman Usually a writ of subpoena does not run outside the country. You have the right to summon people only within your jurisdiction.
Mr. Brown Some time ago I made a motion.
Mr. Crosbie I second that motion.
Mr. Chairman Mr. Brown made a motion that the Convention adjourn and that a committee appointed draft rules and report back to the House and that motion, was seconded by Mr. Crosbie.
Mr. Job It is indefinite. I wonder if we could adjourn until, say, Monday; the committee might make an interim report.
Mr. Brown I submit that there is no committee going to hang up longer than necessary the work of the Convention. I have no reason or desire to delay the Convention or the work, but the committee cannot decide it in 24 hours. It will take time to discuss, deliberate and decide on what line it will take.
Mr. Smallwood Have we not adopted the rules of the House of Assembly? We have rules.
Mr. Job I do not think they could possibly get through all the business of the committee by Monday, but I thought they would get enough done to enable the House to continue meeting There is a lot of work for the committee to do. It would give us dme to make a report on the progress.
Mr. Brown If you will pardon me, I take it for granted that my honourable friend means that this committee will continue in office during the life of the convention, because after all there will be necessity for new miles or lines of procedure to be made every week as long as this Convention remains open.
Mr. Chairman There is one difficulty that appears to me — difficulty of getting in touch with the members and it would be better to know now the date, then we would know exactly when we were to re-assemble.
Mr. Hollett I fail to see how it can adjourn indefinitely. It may take some time for the committee to draft the rules but we should meet every day; we were not sent here for indefinite adjournments. Another thing, I do not think the public should be admitted where rules and regulations are being made relative to the business. I do agree that the committee should be allowed time.
[The Convention adjourned until September 16]


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



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

Notes de bas de page:

  • [1] Volume II:1. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] The Great War Veterans' Association.
  • [2] A community service and self help group formed in 1935.
  • [1] Newfoundland Royal Commission 1933, Report, Cmd. 4480, 1933.
  • [2] K. Macdonald to P. Cashia in Evening Telegram, 10 September 1946, p. 3.

Personnes participantes: