Newfoundland National Convention, 16 September 1946, Debates on Confederation with Canada


September 16, 1946

Mr. Chairman The questions asked by Mr. Smallwood at the last sitting have been transmitted to the department concerned, but as yet no reply has been received.
Mr. Butt As it is commonly reported that during the deliberations between a deputation of the Commission of Government and the Dominions Secretary in London during the summer of 1944, the then Dominions Secretary, speaking with the approval of the Cabinet, offered to cancel the Newfoundland sterling debt, or alternatively to make annual grant for several years that would in total be the equivalent of this debt, I give notice that I will at the next meeting request the Commissioner for Finance or the department concerned to table the following information:
1. Is this report accurate in part or in full?
2. If so, has the decision or proposal then made been altered, amended or rescinded?
3. If it has been rescinded, has the commissioner any knowledge that it is the intention of the British government to make an alternative offer or financial or economic assistance to Newfoundland in any shape or form?
4. If any offer of assistance is to be made, what is its nature?
[Information on a variety of topics was requested by Mr. Bradley, Mr. Cashin, Mr. Vincent and Mr. Smallwood]
Mr. Harrington In the absence of the Hon. Mr. Job, I have to make a report of the work of the select committee appointed at the last sitting to draft an address of loyalty to His Majesty the King, and of thanks to His Excellency the Governor.
The select committee appointed on Thursday, September 12, 1946, to draft an address of loyalty to His Majesty the King, begs to submit the accompanying draft address for your approval, and if thought fit, adoption:
To His Excellency Sir Gordon Macdonald, K.C.M.G. Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland and its dependencies.
May it please Your Excellency:
We, the duly elected representatives of the people of Newfoundland in National Convention assembled do hereby desire to convey through you, as our first official act, an affirmation of our deepest loyalty to His Most Gracious Majesty King George VI, and our complete and lasting allegiance to the Crown.
The select committee appointed on Thursday, September 12, 1946 to draft an address of thanks to His Excellency the Governor, begs to submit the accompanying draft address for your up proval, and if thought fit, adoption:
To His Excellency Sir Gordon Macdonald, K.C.M.G., Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland and its dependencies.
May it please your Excellency:
We, the delegates of the National Convention in session assembled beg to thank Your Excellency for the gracious speech which you have been pleased to deliver at the opening session of the National Convention.
Mr. Chairman I would accept a motion for the adoption of these reports.
Mr. Harrington I move that these reports he adopted.
Mr. Ballam I second that motion.
[The motion carried unanimously]
Mr. Chairman Apropos of that, His Excellency is not in town at the moment. In the old days the procedure was for a delegation to proceed to Government House and to present to His Excel~ lency the address in reply. Similar procedure might be followed in regard to the address of loyalty and the address of thanks; but as the Governor will not return for a fortnight, do you wish that the delegation should go to Government 14 NATIONAL CONVENTION September 1946 House and present it to the Administrator, who is Hon. Mr. Winter, or would you rather you waited until His Excellency's return and deliver it to him in person? That would be about the second of October.
Mr. Bradley It seems to me that it would be more appropriate to wait until the return of His Excellency, and if in order, I make that as a motion.
Mr. Reddy I second that motion.
Mr. Chairman Proposed by Mr. Bradley and seconded by Mr. Reddy that the address of loyalty to the King and the address of thanks to His Excellency the Governor as received and adopted be presented to His Excellency on his return to the city. Carried.
When His Excellency comes I will ascertain what time will be convenient to him, and acquaint you accordingly.

Report of the Committee on Rules and Procedure[1]

Mr. Bradley The committee met on Friday morning and the report of the committee itself you will find on the second page which the members have before them now, and which is signed by the chairman. This is a motion to receive and adopt the report seriatim. I don't know whether the members of the Convention desire to have a chance to look over these, and for that reason I think I should confine the motion to the reception of the report for the moment.
Mr. Crosbie I second the motion.
Mr. Chairman Is the Convention ready? Proposed by Mr. Bradley and seconded by Mr. Crosbie that the rules of procedure be received. Carried.... I think the appropriate plan would be to have the Convention resolve itself into a committee of the whole... Carried.
[Sections 1-48 of this report approved]
Mr. Smallwood Would it not be a good point to repeat to the committee the whole statement you made at the meeting of the committee on Friday morning?
Mr. Chairman I am instructed to inform you that in so far as the Commission of Government is concerned, the members of the Commission and high officials, that they are most willing that the Convention should have all possible information that we should require, and that they are most willing that that information should be placed before the Convention. They are not willing to come before the Convention in public, but they offer to come before you at any of the committee meetings in private. However, there may be occasions when it may be more practical, because of the readiness with which they can get information from their departments, to call upon them. But in all other respects they will be happy and willing to give all possible information. It was never intended by the government here, or by the Dominions Office or the Secretary of State that this Convention should have power to subpoena the members of the Commission of Government or high officials. That I am also instructed to convey to you. You will understand that the absence of any rule or authority to subpoena witnesses does not apply merely to the officials of the government, but to anybody. We have no right at all, gentlemen, to compel any person to come forward. That was the right which the old House of Assembly had by statute in the statutory rules, but it is a right which we have not got.
Mr. Smallwood In regard to their willingness to appear before committees of the House, I think on Friday you made it clear that that might be a committee of the whole, so that instead of a commissioner, or anyone else who had been invited to come to be interrogated, attending only a small committee and at that committee giving certain information which would then subsequently be passed on to the whole Convention by the members of that committee, leaving the members of the Convention depending upon a second-hand report, all members of the Convention could hear it at the same time by forming themselves into a committee of the whole.
Mr. Chairman I don't think there is any objection to the size of the committee, because it would be held in private. There are occasions when it may not be possible for you to find out all the information you want, no matter how specific your intentions are. l have been instructed to tell you that it may not be possible to get the information by specific questions, but it may be necessary to have a personal interview with a September 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 15 commissioner, in which case the commissioners are not only willing but anxious to convenience you, subject to the conditions which I have been instructed to set before you.
Mr. Fowler Mr. Chairman, who gave members of the old House of Assembly the power to subpoena people?
Mr. Chairman Parliament. It was the old right of Parliament itself, that came down through the ages, and it was also a straight act. We have neither executive or legislative power to compel anybody to come before us. All our power is contained in the section of the act to which reference is being made in the National Convention. Well, gentlemen, shall we proceed?
[Sections 49 to 53 approved. The committee rose and reported progress. On the motion of Mr. Cashin the order of the day was deferred]
Mr. Burry In reference to the questions tabled — the word "Newfoundland" occurred all through in reference to our great territory. Would that also — in the questions of Major Cashin, Mr. Smallwood and others — apply to Labrador?
Mr. Chairman Technically or specifically?
Mr. Burry Will we get information regarding Labrador from these questions? I want to be clear on that.
Mr. Bradley It provides for that, and in future it will apply to Labrador all the time. There is one that refers to Labrador specifically,
[The Convention adjourned]


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:53. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]

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