Newfoundland National Convention, 10 October 1946, Debates on Confederation with Canada


October 10, 1946

Mr. Chairman Before we proceed with the orders of the day, I regret to say that Mr. K.M. Brown has had to return to his home on his doctor's orders and will be away for perhaps another week. We do hope he will have a speedy recovery. I also regret to say that Mr. Fudge has had bad news to the effect that his daughter is very ill at home and he has had to return to Corner Brook. I received a telegram from him this afternoon that his daughter's condition was improved and that he hoped to return to the city by next Sunday's express.
I have also to inform you that Messrs. Job and Butt have been added to the Information Committee; and that Messrs. Job, Butt and Hickman have been added to the Steering Committee.

Fisheries Committee — Interim Report[1]

Mr. Job Mr. Chairman, in the absence of Mr. K.M. Brown, who is unfortunately incapacitated, I have been requested as acting chairman of the Fisheries Committee to present an interim report. This is not a complete report, but I fancy that the delegates will nevertheless find it both interesting and instructive, and, I hope, helpful to our deliberations. It will give them a general idea of the great importance of the cold storage industry in Newfoundland.
It gives plenty of food for thought, dealing mainly with our new industry. Many people in Newfoundland will agree with the Fisheries Committee's View that the future welfare and happiness of our people depend largely upon the future development of this industry. Delegates will find copies on their desks, and it has been suggested that it is not necessary to have the report read in full, as it can better be studied by the delegates at their homes or temporary quarters before being debated. I would however like to make a few comments in presenting it.
About five-sixths of the report deals merely with facts and figures of Newfoundland's cold storage industry. During the discussions of these facts it became evident to the members of your Fisheries Committee that the future prosperity of this industry, and indeed of our country, depended largely upon future tariff and tax arrangements for entries of our products, especially those of our fisheries, into the United States of America, and that until some long-term arrangements regarding tariffs can be made for years ahead, it may be difficult to further develop our fisheries and particularly our cold storage industry. People can hardly be expected to make large capital expenditures for expansion of an industry until reasonably certain that a definite market for their products is available, and that it cannot be suddenly taken away by the imposition of adverse tariffs. How vulnerable our country is as regards external tariffs is clearly shown by the effect of the so-called processing tax which was enacted by the USA some 10 or 15 years ago, and which has since then absolutely prevented exportation of our seal oil to the USA. Prior to this enactment something like 50 per cent or more of our seal oil production went to that market. The enactment discouraged, if it did not help actually to kill, a valuable industry. Today the world is literally crying out for fats, under which category our seal and herring oils come.
It naturally occurred to members that the USA might appreciate our need for some permanent tariff concessions, in view of the fact that she herself sought and obtained tariff concessions and long-term leases from us before erecting her permanent military and naval bases in Newfoundland territories. She did this mainly for the protection of her people, and incidentally for the people of Great Britain, of Canada, and of the comparatively insignificant population of Newfoundland. She asked for, or perhaps demanded, 99 year leases and also freedom from customs and other taxation of every sort. These concessions under the serious stress of war times were granted by our Commission of Government no doubt at the instance of Great Britain, probably at the personal request of that greatest of war statesmen, the Honourable Winston Churchill.
Can we blame him, or anyone else, for at that time overlooking the fact that they were asking us to concede without any actual consideration, long period leases of Newfoundland territory and other concessions which today Newfoundlanders consider should not have been conceded without some substantial quid pro quo for the owners? No doubt our little country, with her small popula October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 69tion amounting to about 300,000 persons, was looked upon as a mere pawn in the game, which must be sacrificed to win the war. But I most strongly affirm that we think differently, and that we consider we are entitled to some substantial and permanent consideration in return for the concessions yielded. Admittedly it was no time for argument when these bases and concessions were granted, as the enemy was literally at our own gates and all statesmen were concentrating upon the first essential, namely the winning of the war.
I do not suggest that we have received no benefit from the occupation of these bases by our American friends, but I do suggest that we have received only a temporary benefit and that we had, and perhaps still have, the opportunity of securing a permanent benefit by means of special tax considerations in the USA in return for the concessions granted by us. I think every fair- minded person will agree that some reservation for future consideration might have been made when the long-term leases of our territory and freedom from taxation were being conceded without consultation with the people of Newfoundland. For all we know, there may have been some reservations, but the bald fact remains that Newfoundland has so far received no quid pro quo for the valuable concessions granted.
It was with this fact in mind that your Fisheries Committee added to the factual portion of the report the summary which I will read verbatim, as it is regarded by the Committee as airing one of the most important matters affecting the discussions and recommendations of this Convention:
To sum up the position it seems clear to the Fisheries Committee that a very strong case can be worked up for special consideration in any negotiations for improvement in trading relations with the United States of America, as well as with Canada and Great Britain, on the following grounds:
1. The future welfare of Newfoundland is without doubt mainly dependent upon a free market for her export products, especially those from the fisheries.
2. The future ability of Newfoundland to secure and maintain for her fishermen and other inhabitants a fair and decent standard of living is largely dependent upon such free markets.
3. The strategical position of Newfoundland as disclosed by conditions arising out of the recent world war, is of the utmost importance to the millions of people in the United States of America and also to those of Canada and Great Britain, and all these countries have a definite interest in assisting the people of Newfoundland to improve their standard of living for the following reasons:
(a) In the case of Canada the importance of a prosperous Newfoundland is of special interest, owing to the fact that Newfoundland's imports from Canada amount to a very large percentage of the total imports into Newfoundland, whereas unfortunately she is not in a position to provide in her own country a market for Newfoundland's chief exports. It is therefore to the interest of Canada to help and encourage our export trade in other directions, in order to retain and increase her present exports to Newfoundland. Moreover Canada has already received important concessions from Newfoundland.
(b) Great Britain is obviously anxious to assist us. In recent years she has supplied grants-in-aid to Newfoundland, but it is quite likely she may not be in a position to continue these in future years. She can assist us in making better tariff arrangements not only with the United States of America, but with other countries. Moreover, it can be borne in mind that it was with her authority that sections of our territory have been ceded to the USA without any suitable quid pro quo for Newfoundland.
(c) In the case of the USA, leases of Newfoundland territory for military and naval bases for 99 years, and at the same time facilities for free entry without taxation of any sort of products imported into this country for use at these bases, were conceded without any direct quid pro quo for Newfoundland.
4. It would seem to be extremely important to the people of Newfoundland that negotiations should be initiated at an early date with a view to securing favourable trade arrangements for Newfoundland with the USA, not only on the basis of reciprocal tariff 70 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946 concessions, but also as a quid pro quo for the concessions already granted by way of 99 year leases and free customs entries.
5. Whilst this report deals mainly with the cold storage industry in relation to fisheries, sight must not be lost of other Newfoundland products which are, or may be, subject to duty and tax restrictions entering the USA, and which also have considerable bearing on Newfoundland economy. Among these may be mentioned:
(a) Herring and its by-products, such as herring oil and meal. (b) White fish meal. (c) Seal oil and seal skins. (d) Cod liver oil and common cod oil. (e) Salt codfish and all other fishery products including canned goods.
6. Recommendations contained herein must not be construed as limiting any views on the subject of tariffs which could be reasonably put forward in the interests of other Newfoundland industries, such as lumbering, pulp and paper, and mining.[1]
I cannot believe, Mr. Chairman, that great countries like the USA, Canada, and of course, Great Britain, will fail to realise our viewpoint and will deny us the opportunity to expand our important fishery, sealing and other industries to a point that will enable us to improve our standards of living, which have been the subject of so much destructive comment in the press of all these countries from time to time. They now have a chance to help us and I believe they will do so if properly approached with a direct appeal.
I cannot help believing that a round table conference between authorised representatives of these three great countries with Newfoundland representatives acting entirely in Newfoundland interests, could not fail to arrive at some arrangement which would give us the tariff and tax free concessions which we so urgently require, to secure for our people by their own effort a respectable standard of living. It may be that during our discussions at this Convention of the forms of government to be recommended, one of those put forward might be some form of responsible government sponsored or fostered by a joint advisory council consisting of representatives from Great Britain, Canada, and the USA, with or without some partial control by such a council over our financial and external policy, to help us to keep from running off the rails This idea is not entirely my own, and I merely mention it in passing.
I beg to move that the interim report of the Fisheries Committee be received and that the National Convention resolve itself into a committee of the whole for further discussion of the report.
Mr. Chairman Do you wish to have the report read?
Mr. Job Copies of the report were laid on the desks of the delegates, I thought perhaps they would rather take it home and consider it.
Mr. Chairman I think it would finish your address if the report were read by you or by the Secretary.
[The Secretary read the report]
Mr. Butt Mr. Chairman, I am not a member of the committee, but it is apparent that the committee wishes to give us the facts of the fishing industry in Newfoundland, and this very important question has been agitating the minds of many Newfoundlanders for some time. There are a number of very important separate questions involved in this wider one, and in order to deal with them properly I suggest that the members have some time to study the questions further. I would therefore move, sir, that we adjourn the debate until tomorrow afternoon at three o'clock.
Mr. Figary I second that motion.
Mr. Chairman You have heard the motion, gentlemen.
Mr. Smallwood There are ten members of the Fisheries Committee. Are none of them perhaps prepared to go on with the debate today? To them the report is quite familiar, and could we not hear from some of them today? I don't know if there is any other business that could be done today. This is the first session in two weeks, and to adjourn within an hour of meeting seems a little unnecessary if any of the other members of the Fisheries Committee are prepared to go on with the debate.
Mr. Chairman I invite the comments of any members of the Fisheries Committee on that point before putting the motion for adjournment.
Mr. Crosbie Speaking as a member of that committee, we have thrashed all this out in our October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 71 meetings, and I don't think we can continue this debate until the other members study the report and bring in their questions.
Mr. Chairman Mr. Job, you moved that the report be received and that it be referred to a committee of the whole. Mr. Butt's motion will not be superseding your motion in any way.
Mr. Job May I be permitted to meet the committee of the whole tomorrow?
Mr. Smallwood If I may speak again. Mr. Crosbie, for whom I have the profoundest respect, is not, I hope, going to be content with leaving us with this written report without some amplification from him on the report. I take it that the whole Fisheries Committee are not going to leave this written report of theirs as their only word, but that they will, participate in the debate.
Mr. Chairman May I point out that that original motion, which will be taken up tomorrow if we now adjourn, is that the report be referred to a committee of the whole. I take it that a full debate in committee will then follow.
Mr. Crosbie Mr. Chairman, that's only an interim report anyway. As far as the Fisheries Committee is concerned it is only an attempt at what we have to do. It is far from finished.
Mr. Chairman The debate will continue when the Convention goes into committee. Is the House ready for the question?
[The motion carried]

Report on the Financial and Economic Position of Newfoundland[1]

Mr. Chairman What is the wish of the Convention on the subject of the Chadwick and Jones report?
Mr. Reddy Mr. Chairman, with your permission I would like to trespass on the time of the Convention whilst I make a few general remarks about some of the subjects that have been before the Convention since its opening. It is, I think, expected that every member should make some contribution, no matter how modest it might be, to aid the Convention in its work. That is expected of us by the country which sent the Convention here, and by the people of the different sections who have chosen us to represent them and to speak for them as well as we can.
No matter what the outcome of the Convention may be, the section of the country that I come from will always have to depend almost entirely on the fisheries. For a great portion of the southwest section of Newfoundland the future economy is a matter of the development on progressive lines of the fishing industry. I think everybody will agree with Mr. Wild when he says "there is room for considerable development of the fisheries", and we hope that, no matter what form of government is to follow the Convention, the policy outlined by Mr. Wild will be carried out when he says that "a determined effort will be made to stabilise prices and to ensure that primary producers are given a fairer deal than they often were in the past." If we could feel that this would be really the policy of the future government of Newfoundland, no matter what it might be, it would be good and heartening news for large numbers of the fishermen throughout the country.
I would like to stress that the men from the district I represent are engaged largely in what we call the deep sea fishery. This entails greater hardship than the shore fishing. The men leave their homes in the dead of winter when storms are most severe, and the danger and hardship to which they are subjected earn for them a special place in our consideration, and a special recognition by the government in any future plans for the development of the fisheries.
There will have to be other means of work for the people in times outside the fishing season. We were glad to hear the remarks of the Governor the other day when he referred to the road from Burin Peninsula to Terenceville. The people of the peninsula have been looking forward to this main highway for many years. Some of the older people in the district still remember the first campaign of Sir Edward Morris when he came to the district nearly 40 years ago. Addressing the people of Burin, he spoke of the need for this road to help the development of the Burin Peninsula. Some people might be inclined to say this was done for political purposes, but however that may be, Lord Morris showed great insight into the future. We hope that in the reconstruction work of the next few years this important highway will have a foremost place.
Speaking of the election, I would ask that a date be selected which will enable every voter to 72 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946 avail of his privilege to cast his vote at this important time in our country's affairs, and not one at which many of the people would be absent from their homes and therefore deprived of this privilege.
In conclusion I feel that every member of the Convention will do his utmost to justify the hopes and the wishes of the people of the country who sent us here. It will not be easy to recommend the form of government under which future Newfoundlanders must live, but when the time comes for the people to make a choice, after hearing what the Convention has to say, I am sure the good judgment and the strong commonsense of Newfoundlanders will guide them to make a wise decision.
Mr. Chairman Any other member wish to speak on this motion?
Mr. Harrington Mr. Chairman, I have not as yet spoken to this motion on the Chadwick and Jones report. When this report was brought in first the Convention was more or less feeling around, trying to get its feet, and I imagine that this discussion was initiated to get things started here. We had the Chadwick and Jones report, and since then we have had the reconstruction plans of the Commission of Government, the financial report, etc., and now we have enough extraneous matter. We have the Fisheries Report now, the first real work that has been done by this Convention. The Education Committee, I understand, will have its report completed very soon, and other committees are ready to come forward too, so I would suggest that, if it meets with the approval of the Convention, we give the Chadwick and Jones report the six months hoist, and get down to our own work as soon as possible.
Mr. Chairman If the Convention wishes we could have a motion to have this report accepted.
Mr. Cashin I think it was in fact "to receive".
Mr. Chairman Then is the house ready for the question?
Mr. Job I take it this will be before the Convention again for adoption?
Mr. Chairman Not necessarily, but it will be laid on the table and reference can be had to it.
Mr. Job I think it would be a pity if it is not debated for itself.
Mr. Chairman Well then, it would have to be put before a committee of the whole, and it will have to be read item by item. Is that what you meant?
Mr. Job Well no, but I think we can go through it quickly without going over it item by item - just bring up the most important parts for discussion. There are several errors in the report as a matter of fact, and I think it would be a pity to shut off all consideration of it.
Mr. Jackman Mr. Chairman, I have not anything prepared to say in regards to this report, but what I say now is just the way I feel about it. I would say, sir, there is nothing in it we don't already know, and therefore I would say here that, as an individual, I am very much disappointed in the report. I remember when the Commission of Government was instituted in this country it promised two things — political education and economic development. There is no question about it this Convention is a political education, not only for us assembled here but for the country as a whole. In regards to the economic development of this country the Commission of Government has failed utterly. There has not been one major industry established in our country. There has not been one which was plugged. As regards the report I am against it because I see nothing in it that is of importance to us as a people — that is the economic development of our country. I would not vote in favour of its adoption.
Mr. Chairman The motion is not to adopt it, it is merely to receive it. Is the Convention ready for the question?
Mr. Miller It seems to me that shortly the several committees will be bringing in their reports, and I would consider it a nice way, when these reports come in, to take that section of the Chadwick~Jones report which deals with that particular report...
Mr. Chairman The Steering Committee will tanke up your very admirable suggestion, but perhaps it would be better to wait until the final report of the Fisheries Committee is presented to the Convention, for purposes of comparison. I think yours is a very excellent suggestion. It would be a pity to lose sight of the value of the Chadwick-Jones report and it is of great importance that the Convention should study it in detail, and perhaps have it debated in detail, in the way that Mr. Miller suggests.
Mr. Job I think it is a very good suggestion, but I would like to point out that it is better to await October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 73 the final report of the Fisheries Committee.
Mr. Chairman The Steering Committee will take your suggestion under consideration.
Mr. Hollett Before putting the question, I would like to ask what exactly is meant by a "motion to receive"? The only things I have learned from that report are that we are self-supporting; that the Commission of Government has done an excellent job under the circumstances; that the wartime economy has brought us temporary prosperity; but that we are going to have a pretty tough time. All of us here who are attempting to study Newfoundland have studied other documents besides the Chadwick-Jones report and if we are to receive it, I would suggest we file it away amongst other documents; put it up against some other documents, or some other facts which we have had in connection with the economic and financial condition of Newfoundland. Before I can vote intelligently on the motion to receive the Chadwick—Jones report, I would like to know what that motion means.
Mr. Chairman It means nothing more than the formal reception of the report by the Convention. Heretofore it was laid merely on the individual desks. It does not mean you accept it. Is the Convention ready for the question?
[The report was received]
Mr. Smallwood I would like to ask a question in regard to a rumour. Is it true that the committees are not getting replies to some questions asked the government departments, and that some departments have refused point blank to answer some of the questions?
Mr. Chairman From what I understand, the government departments are working assiduously on replies, and some questions have already been answered. In regard to others, all have gone to the various committees whose duty it is to investigate matters under question. I do not think it is true that any department has refused to give information.
Mr. Smallwood It is true of one department, at least.
Mr. Chairman If that committee will report the matter to the Information Committee it will be investigated.
Mr. Smallwood In reference to my questions, I have today received my first reply. It was merely the production of a pamphlet — a matter of reaching up in a cupboard and handing it down.
Mr. Chairman It is going to take some time to get certain answers. I want to tell you that the Information Committee is working continuously, and the committees themselves are not losing any opportunity of obtaining any information.
Mr. Smallwood The point I want to make is in connection with a question tabled in the house; referred then to the Information Committee; approved by the Information Committee; and sent forward to the government department concerned. With the result that an official of the government department concerned appeared before the committee concerned, and stated that the reply was not and would not be forthcoming.
Mr. Chairman We have heard nothing officially on that point....
Mr. Cashin I am speaking on behalf of Mr. Fudge, chairman of the Forestry Committee. There was one particular question we put to the government and which went through in the ordinary way: we asked if any applications were on file asking for certain leases or timber rights on the Labrador. As regards timber rights, we were told by Mr. Turner or Mr. McLellan who represented the department that these questions they were not permitted to answer. And I can tell you the reason. We know that two or three applications were in the hands of the government.
Mr. Smallwood Major Cashin knows. I do not know. If applications are now pending for grants, mineral rights, water power rights, I want to know it.
Mr. Cashin In reply to Mr. Smallwood, when we make our report, we will tell him...
Mr. Chairman Before the Information Committee, we had Mr. Walter Marshall, Secretary for Finance, and he assured us all necessary information would be supplied. The position is, as I explained some time ago when we presented the Report of the Steering Committee, that information necessary to the work of the Convention would be sought; and it was the intention that all questions should be submitted to the Information Committee, that this Committee would examine the questions to ensure that there was no duplication and that only relevant questions would be asked; that a certain restraint would be exercised in order that there would not be an undue burden placed upon the government departments. If every type of question has to be answered and answered in detail, not alone will it paralyse the 74 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946 work of the civil service, but it will have the effect of placing in a secondary position other very important questions.... We have no official notification that any requests for information were rejected.
Mr. MacDonald In the event of the Information Committee's turning down a question which to them is irrelevant, is the committee involved informed?
Mr. Chairman The plan adopted by the Information Committee is that where any doubt arises as to the relevancy of the request for information, the questioner is invited to come and discuss the matter with the committee. Again we found that for certain questions asked, the answers could be gathered from certain reports which we then placed in the hands of the questioner. Other questions are very difficult from the viewpoint of finding the source of information. Some have to be answered not by government departments but by members of the trade.
Mr. Bradley If the particular committee concerned has been refused answers relative to leases, it is a matter which should be reported immediately to the Information Committee and if we cannot get satisfaction, then we should report it to this house and let the house deal with it.
Mr. Chairman The Information Committee is meeting every day so that every opportunity can be availed of to obtain factual material essential to the Convention; but we must have reference to the terms of reference with regard to the relevancy of the question. We have to remember we are not a parliament. We cannot go into matters in the same way as a parliamentary government could be investigated by an opposition. We are a consultative body considering amongst ourselves the financial and economic condition of the country, and the information which the Convention seeks, of necessity, has to be information relevant to the work of the Convention.
Mr. Smallwood There may be a suggestion of faith and confidence in the executive and not for us to worry, but the fact remains there is a pos~ sibility the very future of this country is being determined today by the government, by the alienation of some of the resources out of which the country has to get its revenue. True we are not an opposition; we are not in opposition to the government. I do not know what we can do to convey the idea that even while we are meeting, perhaps some of the public domain in Labrador is being bartered away, making it thereby impossible for this country to be self-supporting in the future. Members of this house have been complaining and grumbling — I am doing the unpopular thing of voicing it. I have had it said to me in the dining room of the Newfoundland Hotel, "Sitting around you are five concessionaires seeking concessions in Labrador over and above those already given." Perhaps we can only talk about it, but we ought to let the country, the government and the press and radio know that we have lost the public domain of Newfoundland itself; tied it up irrevocably as long as concessionaires care, bartered away by this and former governments. What is left is being sought by hungry concessionaires — hungry like flies around a molasses puncheon — seeking the last vestige of territory.
Mr. Chairman We have no power or authority to make recommendations in regard to matters of policy. Our sole duty is within the four comers of section 3 of the National Convention Act....[1] That is the full scope of our authority. In reply to Mr. Smallwood, I have to advise you that we cannot interfere with matters of government policy.
Mr. Dawe What is the use in bringing in the report if we do not know what is happening?
Mr. Bradley If part of our duty is to examine the position of the country, it seems to follow that we have the right to know what assets this country has, and it follows upon that we have a right to know what is being done with the assets. I do not know what the Commission is doing. I know what they have done and I shall have something to say about it before this Convention closes. But I do not know what they are doing now. I want to know what assets are left, and whether any attempt is being made to dispose of them by what may be a dying government. The chairman of that particular committee should report to the Information Committee and if that committee cannot get satisfaction, it will be reported to the Convention.
Mr. Chairman That is the procedure to be followed...
Mr. Cashin As acting chairman of the Forestry Committee, I wish to report that we have been October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 75 refused information regarding the disposition of some timber areas on Labrador. We have been told that the government was not going to give that information. I am taking this opportunity of telling the Information Committee. I would like to back up what Mr. Bradley has said — we are here to find out facts as to the assets of the country and those very assets may be given away.
Mr. Bradley It would be better if we had it in writing.
Mr. Cashin I shall put it in writing after adjournment.
[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:21 1. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Volume II:213. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Volume II:16. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Volume II:1. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]

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