Newfoundland National Convention, 29 October 1946, Debates on Confederation with Canada


October 29, 1946

Mr. Chairman Orders of the day: Mr. Hollett, committee of the whole on the report of the Education Committee.
Mr. Hollett Before proceeding into committee of the whole, there was a point raised which was of very great interest not only to members of the Convention, but to the whole country generally, and which should be disposed of one way or another before we go into a committee of the whole to discuss the reports on education and forestry. If we could get around to discussing that particular matter and deciding the issue first we would probably make more progress. I move, therefore, that the discussion on the Education and Forestry Reports be allowed to stand over, and Mr. Newcll be allowed to proceed with his resolution, and that we resume the debate on the motion to send a delegate to Canada.
[ Debate in committee of the whole on the reports of the Education and Forestry committees was deferred ]

Motion to send a Delegation to Canada[1]

Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, before Mr. Newell proceeds would it be in order to ask you, or alternatively Professor Wheare, to express an opinion as to the propriety, or rather the authority of the Convention's sending a delegation to confer with the Govemment of Canada, assuming always that the Convention decided to send such a delegation? I think perhaps it would be quite helpful to the gentlemen here if we had some knowledge as to our authority, should the motion be adopted, to proceed...
Mr. Chairman Do you refer your question to  me as Chairman, or to Professor Wheare, Mr.   Smallwood? I will answer if you like.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, I would like an opinion from both of you.
Mr. Chairman You are not taking any chances!
Mr. Smallwood Quite, sir.
Mr. Chairman Insofar as my opinion is concerned, Mr. Smallwood, I think it is perfectly competent for the Convention, if it so desires, to send a delegation to Ottawa, if the Canadian government is prepared to receive such a delegation, to elicit information as to the terms and conditions upon the basis of which the Canadian government may be prepared to consider the October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 105 federal union of Newfoundland with Canada. In that way facts would be elicited, information obtained, as might be required in regard to any other factual matter or circumstances.
Professor Wheare I concur entirely with what the Chairman has said.
Mr. Newell Mr. Chairman, the question of whether or not this country should become part of the federal union of Canada is not a new one; though, until yesterday, it has not during the present century been a very live issue. It is nevertheless a matter on which there is a wide diversion of opinion; it is also, perhaps, inevitable that the matter should come before this Convention. This country is in a state of change. Sometime next year our people are going to be called upon to vote for the form of government they desire. Many of us have not given much thought to possible forms of government over the past decade. Others have, and perhaps have already secured sufficient information to make up their minds. Whatever conclusions these people have reached, and it is no secret that we have delegates here who have definitely made up their minds, we must see that they are given every opportunity to put their case before the Convention and the country, and that they are given a sympathetic hearing at the proper time.
Others among us, however, because we have not had the same opportunity to study the political and economic situation of the country, are not in the happy position of being able to subscribe without further study to this or that form of government. It is imperative, and I speak of this latter group, to assert our right to the consideration of our views however incomplete they may be; and further to make sure that we are guided in our deliberations by sound judgement rather than emotion, facts rather than sentiment.
The country has the right to expect certain things of us. It has a decided right to expect that we will get whatever facts — not propaganda - but whatever facts are necessary to enable the people of this country to choose wisely when confronted with a final choice. The country has the right to expect us to show some material evidence of that open mind which many of us claimed we had when we came here. It is not for me to question any man's motives, much less sit in judgement on him. It certainly is our privilege and our duty to insist that the widest inquiries possible be entered into before we make a final recommendation.
I feel that the majority of us here, who subscribe to the open-mind school, will require the case for confederation to be examined just as exhaustively as any other case. At the same time, the question is greater than the personalities involved. We must try to see it in that light. I feel, Mr. Chairman, that we. are capable of objective analysis, and just as objective decisions.
I have stated hitherto that I cannot conceive of any political democracy succeeding unless it is based on economic democracy. I hope to have an opportunity of enlarging on that thesis. I am therefore prejudiced, if you will, to the extent that before any form of government is adopted by this country, I want to see its economic implications worked out first. And that applies to confederation, responsible government or any other government that you care to name. There are businessmen here, representatives of labour and others who will stand with me on that.
Whether or not we discuss the possibilities of federal union with Canada now or later interests me but little. The issue cannot be evaded, if only because there are enough people in this country who want it discussed. There are a great many people in my own constituency who want it discussed — and they are as hardworking and as loyal Newfoundlanders as any in this country. They want all the facts - and do not want anyone to restrict their freedom of choice. That is the way I feel about the matter. I can conceive of no reasonable argument against having the matter aired.
Meanwhile, my own view on the subject of federal union has in no way been influenced by the proposer of this motion, nor by its opponents. Some may look on Canada through highly magnifying spectacles; others through dark glasses. It is for us to allow ourselves to be cajoled by none — and equally important — to be intimidated by none. But surely it is pertinent to observe that two countries hitherto independent of each other, can only, in the ordinary course of events, be expected to form a partnership for the same reason that two natural persons form a partnership m each expects to be benefitted materially thereby.
May I state most strongly that I am against any approach to Canada or any other country, that places us in the position of the Cinderella appeal 106 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946ing to the fairy godmother. I would go so far as to say that if that is the kind of people we are, I don't think Canada would want us — I'm sure she wouldn't respect us. Certainly, we couldn't respect ourselves. The whole question of federal union is bigger than that. It is my feeling the day may soon come when the peoples of the entire North American continent may find it even necessary to let down their barriers and adopt a common citizenship. Many people feel that day is long overdue, and that it points the way to eventual peace and prosperity for all men. Should that day come, we will need to bring to bear on the problem sound reasoning in minds free of thought of personal aggrandisement or selfish gain. Newfoundlanders are watching us, hoping, praying that we have among us men equal to the task. Can we produce men of the calibre of those who did their duty in these chambers long ago? If we can, we are saved. God help us if we can't.
Mr. Job I feel I should say a few words for or against the resolution proposed by Mr. Smallwood, and somewhat half-heartedly seconded by Mr. Higgins. It is probable that somebody at some time will have to ascertain the terms obtainable for confederation, but personally I doubt if this Convention is the body that should ask for these terms. I think the request, if any, will have to come from a government of Newfoundland which at least has some elected representatives of Newfoundland in its body.
It is most unfortunate that Mr. Smallwood has disturbed the even tenor of our way, by introducing this confederation issue when we were all working so well together to secure the information necessary for our decisions. No one will approve of Mr. Smallwood's tactics in seeking to destroy the independent views of members of this Convention by enticing them with promises of seats on the proposed delegation, senatorships, etc. This savors very much of the old petty politics and is not conducive to the smooth working of this Convention.
I am opposed to the resolution for the following reasons: firstly, I think it is premature for this Convention to broach the subject of confederation at a time when we are bending our energies to solving the question of our self-supporting status. Secondly, because I consider that the resolution as worded is not at all adequate. Previous speakers, especially Mr. Harrington, have stressed the first point and I cannot add anything of value to their remarks. As regards the second point, my feeling is that if any Newfoundland delegation is sent to Ottawa, its objects should range further than a discussion of terms for confederation, and that there should also be discussed the general policy of Canada towards Newfoundland if confederation is not adopted.
I have previously stated that Canada has an important interest in the future welfare of Newfoundland on account of the great value of Newfoundland's strategic position, as evidenced during the recent war. It might conceivably be to the interest of both Canada and Newfoundland to take down entirely their tariff and immigration barriers without any actual federal relationship, and I take the liberty of quoting from a most interesting address by our very highly respected fellow citizen, Raymond Gushue, which was made before the Canadian Club in Ottawa on February 13, 1945. In this address Mr. Gushue said in part:
I have referred more than once to the fact that Newfoundland is indissolubly a part of a larger continental unit. North America is in many ways one geographic and economic entity. Would it not accrue to the benefit and well-being of the whole continent if that large fact were more fully realised? We are all North Americans - more alike in our thinking and ways of living than perhaps any other similar collection of contiguous people, in an area of great resources and in which we can all contribute something to the others. Is not this a situation which favours the adoption and practical expression of a broad principle relating, among other things, to commerce among the three countries? Where for example there is an exchange of food — that most essential of all articles of commerce - should we not examine the merits of free or freer interchange? If, in this greater geographic and economic entity there are regions favoured by nature for the most efficient, and therefore most economical production of a commodity, why should we try to offset that gift, and make living harder, not only for producers within such regions, but also for consumers within the larger unit? It is not only possible but probable, that if the governments concerned sat down together October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 107 with an eye first to the soundness or otherwise of the principle, then to its implementation as fully as possible, the results could be of lasting benefit to all the co-partners. I am aware of the wider implications of this suggestion, but feel they merely add force to it. If we are really serious about the part which a freer flow of trade can play in improving world conditions, if all the recommendations of international conferences and the admonitions of policy-makers mean anything, I can think of no better spring-board from which this policy can be launched than the entity of which I speak, where physically, economically and idea-logically, conditions are so encouraging. If the ripple created spreads out into a wider circle, we shall have made a real contribution to the practical exemplification of the high principles which have been so convincingly stated at conference tables and elsewhere, and which can be so easily submerged in the welter of post-war controversy.
You will observe the bold suggestion that tariff barriers on foodstuffs not only between Canada and Newfoundland but also between Canada, Newfoundland and the United States of America, might be dropped.
The point might be discussed at the same time as the confederation terms by a delegation, if any is sent, and the effect of some such arrangements so far as all these countries are concerned might prove to be very much more beneficial than any confederation arrangements, under which neither Newfoundlanders nor Canadians would be very happy.
I don't agree with Mr. Smallwood's idea that there is any need to hasten the request for Canada's confederation terms, and believe that he has done himself and this Convention a disservice by introducing the subject at the present time. I have not seen in Mr. Smallwood's address of yesterday, nor in his newspaper correspondence anything to convince me that the standard of living of our people would be improved by confederation, though my mind is open to conviction.
I hope that some day the confederation issue and our general relations with Canada will be discussed by this Convention in a calm and reasonable atmosphere, and the pros and cons carefully debated in an unprejudiced spirit.
One thing is certain, and that is that we must endeavour to live on close and friendly terms with our neighbours in Canada and try to remember their many kind acts towards us, as well as to forget the occasions upon which they have crossed our path in the past.
I strongly favour the amendment proposed by Mr. Penney to postpone further discussion of Mr. Smallwood's resolution, and intend to vote for the amendment.
Mr. Burry I rise to make a few remarks on this question before the House. I was hoping that today we would get around to the debate on the report of the Education Committee, and that would give us a chance to cool off from yesterday. I find myself regretting that the issue yesterday was on the level that it was, not in the spirit of condemnation of any member who took part, because I can assure those who did take part and raised their voices towards the end and if I may say, got a little hot under the collar, had no more attentive listener in this House than myself. Not because I agreed with what they said or how they said it, but because I know how interested they are in the issue, and I feel they were sincere in the attitude they took towards it... I have found myself, and will find myself, in a position such as these men were yesterday, and get excited over some of the issues that will be raised; but if I do, I assure you I will call upon all the powers that I have to control myself and to conform to the rules of procedure, and to carry on the debate as quietly, or as near to the rules of procedure, as possible. I do not wish to have this Convention resolved into a boys' Sunday school class....
We have this matter before us and we have to do something about it... We are working assiduously in committee meetings, getting information in various ways. That will inform us on forms of government, such as responsible government of the past and Commission of Government of the present, and I may say that when these committee reports are brought into the house, all the information will not be on the debit side of those who favour responsible government or Commission government. I feel that when we have discovered all the facts, those who sponsor these forms of government will have very fine creditable arguments to bring forward. Some feel there are other forms of government... Of these, confederation with Canada is 108 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946 one; there are others but I am not prepared to make any other suggestions. I do say that there are other forms coming up for discussion when the time comes. I am not prepared and may not then be prepared... I do not know enough about constitutional government and about confederation with Canada, and just how we would come out if we decided to get into confederation. I would like to know more and have an opportunity of thinking it over.... Personally I do not feel I could progress as willingly with the work of the Convention if I did not feel that I would have the information which would enable me to discuss confederation with Canada. I know there is a majority of people in this country and in Labrador who are thinking that this matter of confederation with Canada is a possible way out of our apparent difficulties and in getting a decent living for our people. They may be wrong in that; but there is a considerable number of such people in Newfoundland and Labrador and we should satisfy them by bringing in intelligent observations on that form of government. I feel that I must vote for the resolution in order to get information about other forms of government. I do not feel any member of this Convention would want to deny the people this information. If the machinery is not set up it will delay the Convention, and I do not want to be here longer than I have to be. It is unfair to us if the Convention votes down this motion; other men are getting information about other forms of government; I feel that I should get this information and the machinery should be set up to get it.
Mr. Vincent After listening to yesterday's stormy debate on the resolution submitted by Mr. Smallwood, I felt rather disillusioned, for I had thought that, with only a very small faction of this assembly schooled in the ways of old time politics, the days of personal recriminations and unpleasant invective hurled back and forth with almost atomic energy had well passed into oblivion. I am not I trust departing from the usual and expected courtesies when I say that not only was much of yesterday's discussion pointless, but it was not all conducive to the future wise deliberations of this body. Basically the resolution was sound, the timing definitely right, and as to the attitude of the public to its reception, I affirm with some authority, and a reasonable cross-section of opinion on the northeast coast, that confederation is fast becoming a live issue.
I divert with your kind permission to make a bow to the gentlemen of the press, over-anxious I believe to know the political leanings of the men who comprise this assembly. They did dig up a left-wing socialist. So now I'll make a definite statement for their benefit. I am not and will not be a confederate until and unless the terms of union are obtained and are found to be in the best interest of Newfoundland as a whole. I say without any apology and with no hesitation that with the facts at present at my command, if a referendum were held tomorrow, I would vote for a retention of Commission of Government. I make no apology for saying that.
It is my opinion that the terms of reference setting up this Convention provide an adequate procedure for full examination of all the issues, and naturally in the light of present-day events, these should include the terms of union with Canada — unlike Mr. Harrington I am not greatly concerned with the legal fabric constituting such procedure, and am well content to leave that to the legal minds actively associated with this assembly. What does concern me as the representative of a district very genuinely interested in the status of our government — a district that does not expect me to be biased in my view or narrow in my approach to the vital problem confronting this Convention, a district which invested me with the power to investigate and explore every issue, is to see that there be no restriction of the free choice of the people or abrogation of their rights to express their franchise.
This resolution is not at all premature; machinery can be set up to arrange for securing the terms and now is the proper and opportune time to set about it. It is of little moment what my political sympathies are, whether I stand a con firmed supporter of the present administration or an avowed hater of old-time politics. It would be foolhardy for me to assert a superior knowledge, to say "I know what's best for my district and for Newfoundland and I will fight confederation or responsible government to the last ditch" - what's more, to my mind it's positively dangerous. The Newfoundland electorate will not be treated with impunity after giving their approval to the setting up of this Convention. They have reserved the right to decide, in the last analysis, October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 109 just what kind of government they want, not what the Convention thinks is best for them. Will one of us then, mistakenly identifying himself as a Daniel Webster and an Abe Lincoln rolled into one, and falsely assuming an authority that was never vested on him, get up and say, "You can't vote for Commission, I positively hate it, and I am going to ensure you don't get a chance to vote for union with Canada." To me its very obvious that a few of us have improperly imagined that we are the be-all and the end-all here. I won't repeat that much-quoted text from the terms of reference, Mr. Chairman, for your lucid explanation of said terms at the outset of the Convention made it clear beyond a doubt that this assembly has no right to restrict the choice of the people of this country or limit the issues. For my part, I know nothing that might even remotely suggest confederation would be an extremely good or definitely bad issue to put on the ballot in the forthcoming referendum. I am not going to believe, nor will I be convinced that any member of this assembly is in the least cognisant with the text of the terms that may be offered us, apart from the outmoded BNA Act which does give us recognition in sections 146-147.
Some of us may be concerned about narrow nationalism, I am not; others may be worrying about their place in that administration of tomorrow, but that doesn't worry me in the least; but I am deeply concerned that the boys and girls of tomorrow grow up in an environment that is much better than that of their forebears. I am concerned that the government that will help shape our future be a government that will work in the best interest of Newfoundlanders everywhere, north, south, east and west. The people who sent us here are looking to this Convention for something constructive. They do not expect that we will revert to the days of useless recrimination and name-calling; they expect some definite recommendations. We must justify our existence, but we must not seek to unnecessarily lengthen the life of this assembly, or it might well be that this costly experiment may cause our fellow-countrymen to lose their patience. We were given a definite assignment a clear-cut assignment, so let's forget our petty bickerings and go straight to our objective.
Mr. Chairman, as the voice of the men and women of Bonavista North, who are intelligently watching the outcome of this Convention, who hold to the undeniable rights of free men and free women to choose for themselves, I support the resolution.
Mr. Roberts This being my first time to address this assembly, I hope you will be patient if I do not stick strictly to parliamentary procedure. In seconding the amendment I did not do so with any intimation of not getting Canada's terms for Newfoundland. I considered the time inopportune; when all committee work is finished and we have a picture of the financial state of the country, then will come the time to approach Canada. I was elected by acclamation and did not have to canvass my district for any political plank. But, contrary to the admissions of some of the members, I did come here with an idea of the form of government I would like to see in this country. I am not going to disclose it at this time. But I may say I am not an advocate for confederation. This does not necessarily mean I would not favour confederation or any other form of government, if it can be shown me that it would be better for the country. So in due time I hope the proper authorities will find out for us what Canada's terms are. After all, as Mr. MacDonald said, we have a large number of people in this island who are sympathetic to the idea of confederation, why not give them a chance to learn more about it?
It was said by a member of this Convention that Canada's terms would be so favourable we would become confederates overnight. I am inclined to take this with a grain of salt. When we read the history of. this country and see the raw deals we have always received, confederation may be another one of those deals. If we approach Canada as Mr. Smallwood would have us, saying we are a poor, ignorant, ill-clad, diseased, starving people, do you suppose we can expect generous terms? I would say "No".
I resent the expression that we are such a people; it's true we have some cases as he has described. I have seen people in such dilapidated shacks here in this city, that it's unbelievable they could live there, especially during the winter months. I never saw the like in an outport — as bad as we are supposed to live. But the same exists in the city of Ottawa with all its fabulous wealth. A relative of mine, a Newfoundland woman who became the matron of a large hospital in Quebec province, had many an argument 110 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946 with Canadians about living conditions in Newfoundland. She often told them they had only to slip outside of their back doors to see far worse than she ever saw in Newfoundland. These people never saw Newfoundland. They got their information from propaganda such as Mr. Smallwood delivered here yesterday. Some time ago I saw a comparison of Newfoundland and Canadian prices in our daily papers. There were some very important omissions. A relative of mine living in western Canada paid for Newfoundland dry cod — and for our worst quality — 50 cents a pound or $6 a quintal. Our firm packed herring this spring for which we received $15.75 a barrel, a good price. This person paid 25 cents each for Newfoundland split herring or $ 125 a barrel. Our lobster fishermen received the equivalent of $1 a pound for lobster meal. A friend of mine in Montreal paid $5.25 for it. I could tell you of other things, but this will suffice to show you that Canadians are also gypped on some prices as well as Newfoundlanders.
I am a Newfoundlander, first, last and always; and if I am poor, I am proud. I am of middle age and am not worrying about my future, but I want my family to get as good a living in Newfoundland as I have had, and I don't see why we cannot find good men to look after the affairs of state. Why should we run whining to Canada or some other country to take us in?
During the years of responsible government I mentioned to a learned friend of mine that I was alarmed at the borrowing of our government. He laughed. "Don't worry about that", said he, "there will always be money for the country to borrow." But alas, the time came when we could not borrow and the government collapsed. I look at the borrowings of our wealthy neighbour Canada with the same alarm, and feel sure the time will come when her borrowings will come to an end in spite of all her reputed wealth. I don't want this country to be a part of Canada and have to face another period of financial stress such as was witnessed in this country in the 1930s, brought about by the borrowings of her governments.
During the war England's national debt increased by millions. Her people had to tighten their belts and the standard of living was down. When the war ended her people said, "Now we will begin to live", but the Labour government, said, "No, we have a debt to pay. Haul in your belts a bit tighter. Pay our bills, then you can have eggs and bread, motor cars, etc." The standard of living in England today is lower than in Newfoundland. They are now putting their house in order. They are doing a lot of grumbling, but they are tackling the job, and here are we in the height of prosperity afraid to tackle the future - wanting someone else to do our job. Nevertheless, the least we can do is to examine Canada's terms when we are ready, and I hope the people who go for these terms will be proud and upright citizens of Newfoundland, not snivellers and whiners.
Mr. Fowler I feel at this time in duty bound to express my opinion on the motion now before the Chair. My opinion, will not influence this Convention to any great extent, yet before the bar of history I wish to leave no shadow of doubt regarding my position in this issue, regardless of whether the judgment will be favourable to me or otherwise.
I consider Mr. Smallwood's motion premature, poorly timed and badly presented, and his unwarranted attack upon our island home could elicit nothing but resentment from a loyal and ancient people conscious of their heritage. I disagree entirely with Mr. Smallwood when he says our outlook is darker than it was a century ago. It is only now that we are becoming conscious of our strategic position at the crossroads of the world, the bastion of the North Atlantic, a position which has been proved vital to the very existence of the Empire, and particularly to Mr. Smallwood's paradise.
I cannot understand how this Convention, with no constitutional rights, can go empty- handed to the Canadian government and ask for terms of federal union. We have no terms to offer them, nor the right to discuss them, and has not the Canadian prime minister himself said that Canada would only discuss confederation at the request of the Newfoundland people through their duly elected government? Many speakers have expressed doubt as to the whole issue, and Mr. Smallwood himself, by the very wording of his resolution showed he was as much at sea regarding the proper approach as any of us. Surely somebody knows the answer. If so they should advance it, and enable us to discuss the whole matter intelligently.
I contend that this resolution should not have been brought in at this time, firstly because it has sown the seed of distrust and misunderstanding among the members of this Convention when they should be working in harmony toward the completion of the first and most vital task, the reports of the various committees; secondly because in the ears and eyes of the public it will eclipse the facts that should be given careful study at this time. I feel that if there are people in this country interested in confederation, and if we believe in democracy, we must at the proper time give them the opportunity to express their desires. I think that had Mr. Smallwood awaited a more opportune time, and introduced his resolution in a different spirit, there could have been little reasonable opposition.
I must confess I was not invited to the alleged confederation "conference", nor did Mr. Smallwood as yet make any overture to me.
I suggest we define once and for all our position, and with confidence pursue our tasks to a successful conclusion with equal rights for all and privileges for none.
Mr. Vardy Mr. Chairman and members of the Convention, contrary to the expressed opinions of a great many, we have already reached the stage when the subject matter before us calls for alert thinking and lively debate. I came to this Convention with an open mind, and I still maintain it in spite of what anyone may guess or think. My mind is closed only on the form of government that I do not think for a moment any member of this Convention, elected under strictly democratic principles, would tolerate, that being a continued dictatorship for this country.
Before we have had a real opportunity of even weighing the pros and cons of our terms of reference, in order to soberly tackle the tremendous task before us, some of the Newfoundland and Canadian papers have chosen the future leaders of our country. To these people I would say, "Judge not that ye be not judged", unless your judgment shows some semblance of intelligence. Who knows, from the little ground we have covered, but what the real leaders of Newfoundland may have scarcely spoken at this Convention. In fact they may not be here at all....
I have not been offered any job. No one has attempted to bribe me to vote for or against the resolution and if they had it would not influence me in the least. I am prepared to sink or swim on the dictates of my own conscience. My district gave me a clear mandate to vote according to the facts as I saw them. I went through that same district in 1932 as a strictly independent candidate after refusing a party ticket with expenses paid, and polled 820 votes or 100 over the party candidate. This time in the same district I had about the same number as the whole of my five opponents put together, and I never had a single interruption or a sarcastic question in my whole campaign. My people generally want to know what the best terms for confederation would be, and to know what the chances are of continuing on our own, as there are many erroneous statements in the air for and against, and it is our duty to clarify the issue and enlighten the public as far as possible on the matter. It is solely with this motive in view that I support the resolution.
I wish to make it clear I had never seen or discussed it with anyone except as a casual remark among the members. As far as getting the terms for confederation with Canada is concerned, it is our bounden duty to get them and see just what they are. We would be failing in our obligation to the people if we were to terminate our deliberations without making a fair and proper analysis in minute detail covering every phase of their offer as far as it would affect the future economy of this country. What we must eventually decide to recommend is what in our opinion would be the greatest good for the greatest number. I do regret that it has entered the discussion stage so early in our proceedings, and it devolves on us the responsibility of holding our heads, controlling our language and avoiding as far as possible any real debate on what might be the ultimate outcome of a matter so vitally affecting the future of Newfoundland.
I do not propose to suggest any particular form of government for our country at this juncture as it would be premature. All forms of government should be left out of our deliberations as far as possible until the basic facts of our peculiar economic set-up are fully explored. At the proper time this important part of our duty will be properly taken care of and every phase of our case will be fully covered. Gentlemen, what you say or do here will go down in history and your names will be blazoned in future text books for the principles you support. What such a member or 112 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946 paper said in criticism of your language or in contempt for disloyal politicians will be forgotten; but the contribution we make toward lifting our country from this shameful abyss, to re-establishing our civic pride and independence as a free people, either on our own or as proportionately equal partners within the framework of the British Commonwealth, will live forever.
We are now, or should be, all working together for one common goal, that being a thorough study of our assets and liabilities, with a view to deciding whether or not we are self-supporting... We all have certain pet ideas on forms of government; but many of these corners will be brushed off when the basic facts of our true position and most peculiar economic structure are fully understood by the members as a whole. I am most conscious and deeply concerned over every aspect of our case, and I shall under all circumstances base my recommendations on the facts and the results of our findings.
What we have learned already calls for brave men, with big hearts, gifted with a clear unbiased understanding of the many broader issues at stake. We should not be influenced by mere oratory, anyone can write a speech; but, it is the cold-blooded undeniable facts alone that should influence our decisions. We are all very conscious of the disgraceful manner in which our unfortunate country has been exploited in the past, and how it is still the victim of soulless individuals, to whom suffering, liberty, the people's fear of want or respect for the rights of others, mean nothing. Therefore the future form of government must be the people's choice, but from this elected body must emanate a true unbiased picture of the real facts as we know them, in order to assist our people to vote intelligently at the polls. There is only one commitment I will make and there is no limit to which I would not go to defend it — that any future form of government for Newfoundland should be fully democratic in principle We have earned it, paid for it in blood, and we must have it.
Mr. Banfield Mr. Chairman, whether we are confederates or anti-confederates, I don't see that it enters into the picture when it comes to voting on this motion. It is not a motion that makes confederates of us, nor anti-confederates of us, that takes any stand in the matter — it is not a pro-confederation motion, nor an anti-confederation motion. If I were the strongest and bitterest anti-confederate in this Convention, I would vote to get the terms of confederation, even if it was only for the purpose of attacking the terms. I cannot see that this Convention has any moral right to vote against the resolution, because it means voting against getting information that the people want. The people are expecting us to be fair and square, to get all the facts about confederation or any other form of government. There will be precious little respect for us if we close our ears and our minds to any proposal that may be for the good of the people. Who knows? Confederation may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. It may also turn out to be the worst thing. We don't know which it would be, because we don't know what we're talking about. We can't be confederates today, any more than we can be anti-confederates. The first thing to do is get the facts, and that's all the resolution asks. I am one of the many Newfoundlanders anxious to get at the facts. I want to make up my mind on this confederation question that has been kicked about in this country as long as I can remember as a political football. We were never told the truth — we were never given the facts about it. We all want to do the best possible thing for the country. When we know the terms and conditions, then we can form a sensible opinion. We will know if it is worth recommending, and the people will know if it's worth voting for. I am not afraid of the people, of their fairness or common sense. I trust their sound judgment. It is not for this Convention to say whether we shall have confederation or not, that is not our job. That is up to the people. It is for them to decide whether we'll have confederation or any other form of government. This resolution asks us to agree that we want the facts about confederation. I agree and if Mr. Smallwood had not moved this resolution I would have moved it myself, because I think it is our duty. I think we owe it to our Newfoundland people so I am going to vote for this resolution when the vote is taken.
Mr. Miller Mr. Chairman, I had not any intenx tion of discussing the present question, nor do I consider it calls for any lengthy debate; therefore I shall be as brief as possible. I will refer to a remark made by Mr. Butt earlier. He said: "We don't seem to be quite clear on many things", and I would say that we don't seem to know where October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 113 we are going, and are inclined to drift. This certainly applies to the question now being discussed. To my mind we must establish certain things first One of these is whether or not the Convention can, and if so, will, discuss this point has not been continued beyond any doubt. If the answer is no, then let's put it in the attic; if yes, then we might as well recognise it as part of our work and drop the parley. The possible forms of government to be discussed should be listed, and this should have been done long ago. In this respect I claim we are drifting. By not doing this we rest on the haphazard manner of having the issues introduced by ardent supporters — would- be leaders — who in their turn win the antagonism of the proponents and would-be leaders of some other form, and so we get a succession of blind rushes accompanied by invective which is unnecessary here. Surely we can discuss this matter without adopting the low methods of attack resorted to by some delegates. I have heard it said and read in both the local and foreign press, that Newfoundland, and the world, looks to the men of the National Convention to supply at least in part material for future governments. How disappointing it is then, and sad, to hear these men fall back on low methods of attack. Surely it is a poor recommendation for local autonomy. Further still, these blind rushes show always a leniency towards some particular form of government desired by the speaker, as well as a move to crush any contrary opinion. This is a definite shortcoming. I and others like me, would be content to hear propositions from all the major powers, England, Canada, etc.... Yet there are those so confirmed in their opinion that they would narrow the field of survey. Had we not then better end this Convention in view of the predominance of this confirmed opinion? No, we had better go right on with our programme, because sitting before me are delegates willing to give a fair hearing to all issues. To these delegates, and I hold it an honour to be one of them, I say stand firm. Not through high oratory or low invective is the real issue found, but rather in the cool calculated decisions I know you are so capable of making. Mr. Job, speaking to an earlier meeting and referring to the St. John's merchants, said the old suspicion still exists. I will, if I may, make a similar remark about the outport members... We read in the press and hear in everyday conversation how these outport men are being talked over, yea bought over, by the would-be leaders. Since this opinion has been stated on the floor of the house I deem it my unpleasant duty to tell any delegates who might have short-sighted opinions of the outport men, that these men are here with a knowledge born of realism; that they are Newfoundlanders and have just as much patriotism as any member here.
As I have said, these discussions disclose a leniency towards whichever form of government a particular speaker closely guards as his secret, or, as in some cases, openly declares as his platform, both to my mind equally harmful. We have as a result a wall of suspicion and jealousy building up, so much so that name-calling is just around the comer, so that the question is not discussed, but rather the personalities behind the question. I fear that our decisions will not be in the best interest of Newfoundland. We have in this Convention no Hitlers, no Quislings, no Judases, nor do we expect to give to the world a new demon or God. Why then discuss personalities? Why stand on that philosophical pedestal on which some members try so hard to balance? There have been instances in the world of some born philosophers, but they have been rare. Let's be content with the fact that we are a bunch of ordinary Newfoundlanders....
Mr. Hickman Mr. Chairman, I have been listening with considerable interest to these addresses of yesterday and today, and I have given quite a lot of thought to this question, as it is one of the most important to come before us up to now. I think from what I can gather that the majority of the members here, perhaps all of them, are in favour of the motion as put by Mr. Smallwood. I myself subscribe to the motion, but I cannot subscribe to the immediate rush of having this submitted at the present time. Some people want the Convention to be finished before Christmas, some finished by January, and there must be an election, according to Mr. Smallwood by May. This job is probably one of the most important in the history of the country, and the few months or a year we may take to thoroughly go into this question and arrive at a conclusion should not interfere. It may be for the benefit of the people of Newfoundland for the next 100 years or more, and what's a year in that? I think we are rushing too much.... I have a feeling that even the reports 114 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946 have been rushed. It is not a matter of short investigation on something small. It is even bigger than some of the delegates realise... We should carry on as we are until we come to some definite conclusions; there will be plenty of time to get the terms of confederation. There is lots to do before we get round to discussing it. After earnest consideration, I cannot do anything but support the amendment Mr. Penney put forward yesterday.
Mr. Keough ....At this moment, Mr. Chairman, I hold no brief for confederation. At this moment I am not convinced that we should come to enjoy a more spacious tomorrow as the tenth province of Canada, than we should enjoy should we undertake to carry on crosshanded. I should like that to be quite clear. I should also like it to be remembered that I said "at this moment". For when we come to the working out of the equation, the answer I arrive at may well make me a confirmed confederate. It may make me exactly the opposite. For the moment I am more concerned to probe for the identity of several as yet unknown quantities — among them the terms of confederation.
I wish to speak in support of the motion moved by Mr. Smallwood because I consider that there is a matter of principle involved. The principle is this: the right of the people of Newfoundland to know all the facts, to see both sides of the story to be shown all the angles. When the people of this island finally come to determine upon the form of government they desire I want them to be in a position to determine, if they so desire, upon that form of government that will admit of a higher standard of living than any other. They may well determine upon that form of government that will just enable them to make both ends meet — they hope. But they should be in a position then, among the several forms that may be available to their discretion, to determine upon that calculated to mean the most in terms of better living.
When we read our terms of reference we find that we are here, in the first instance, to examine into the economic and financial condition of Newfoundland.
In interpretation of those terms a not inconsiderable number of people would subscribe to the view that we here should endeavour, in the first instance, to answer the question, "Just how much of what is enough?" — meaning enough to get along, or enough to make both ends meet and have a little to spare that could be tied into a little bow of security. I am not satisfied that it is "enough" to know where one's next meal is coming from. I see no reason for subscribing to any lesser dimension of "enough" than a standard of living for our people comparable with that en~ joyed by other western peoples. Whether we can ever rise to such material apexes is another matter. But I see no good and sufficient reason for being satisfied with anything less. "Enough", as far as I am concerned, is not less than the most that may be had. I hate to say anything so original, but the best is none too good. And, whilst I do not wish to imply that confederation is the best that may be had, I do wish to affirm that we must not fail to search out all information that will enable the people of this island to judge wherein the best may be achieved.
There are some who are prepared to settle for less than that. Thus we hear much mention of the irreducible minimum cost of government. I do not like that yardstick. A mere 36 inches of ability to make both ends meet at this moment would seem to me too meagre a measure of our ability to be sufficient unto ourselves tomorrow. I cannot see that it would be the wisest thing to decide the constitutional issue on our ability to meet the irreducible minimum cost of government at this moment. For given an economic reversal of any magnitude we might easily find ourselves below that level.
With regard to the motion before the House, I am not going to be greatly moved by any who may care to point the finger of constitutional scorn. I am not an expert in constitutional law. Thus was I shocked in the beginning to hear this Convention in which I sat termed illegal. I did subsequently console myself with the thought that perhaps the Parliament of Britain did also know something about what was constitutional and what was not, that whilst that Parliament might often do things of which many did not approve, it was unlikely to do that which was constitutionally improper. So I sit here quite content that it is legal to sit here. It may be immoral, even fattening, but I am quite convinced that it is not illegal to sit here. Similarly if the appropriate authorities act now as requested, then I feel that we shall have every assurance that the act en October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 115visioned by the motion is in order.
I am not going to be greatly moved either by the argument that we must restore intact our island sovereignty or there will be those who will turn over in their graves. If my great-grandfather wants to turn over in his grave because we want to hear both sides of the story, that's entirely the business of his revered shade. If those who were giants in his day and theirs want to join in his macabre gymnastics, that is entirely their own business. It is our business in this day and generation to endeavour to provide for the future so that our children, and their children after them, will not have to stumble down into early graves on beri-beried legs.
It might be just as well if we were to face up to a few facts concerning sovereignty. It is something that has intimate relations with economics. Sovereignty must be based upon an economic structure that will admit of being sovereign unto itself. One reason why, let us say Bell Island, would not be granted responsible government tomorrow would be the economic inability of Bell Island to be sovereign unto itself in all things. I have often wondered if it was not lack of an adequate economic basis for sovereignty that was the main cause of our failure in responsible government. It is a fact of our history that we have depended, for the most part, upon our fisheries to finance our sovereignty. It is a fact also that most every time the fisheries failed a large number of Newfoundlanders have nearly starved to death. I am by no means an old man, and in my own time I have known more than one man who did not know where his next meal was coming from. And as far as the man who does not know where his next meal is coming from is concerned, sovereignty is not enough. And there will subscribe to that opinion, all those Newfoundlanders who in the years that were rotted with depression sought to walk the world with dignity, as sovereign men should, on six cents a day.
Mr. Chairman, Abraham Lincoln once warned his people that they could not escape history. We might as well now come to realise that we cannot escape the 20th century. And the lives of men in this mid-20th century are dominated by two desires of such dimension as to make them the predominant passions. There is, first of all, the fierce passion to be free. Within the days of all of us here, men have fought two titanic wars to be free. The generals and the politicians and the financiers may have had other ideas. But the ordinary man who fought at Beaumont Hamel and at Ypres, who stormed the heights of Cassino and who closed the Falaise Gap — he fought to be free. Second, there is the passion, equally fierce, to be secure — for three square meals a day, a decent suit of clothes and a tight roof that I have already made mention of in this house. The proletariat has mastered the three Rs. It has come even to understand a little of the language of economics. It has read all the assurances that have been given that the historic problem of production has been solved. It is convinced that the affairs of men can be so ordered as to make it possible for all men to earn from an honest effort a decent living. And the mass of men everywhere are in a mood for the establishment of such controls as will achieve that desideratum.
Those two things the men of this mid-20th century demand. Liberty! Security! One of them they're going to have. Which one? Or need it be which one? Must men choose between the mastery of their own destinies and three square meals a day? There are those who answer that they must; those who assert that civic liberty and economic security are two such disparate entities as may no more be fused into a satisfactory social order than water and hot lead may be fused into an amalgam. I am not one who subscribes to such dark pessimism. I have every confidence in the ability of that Christian intelligence, which has proven equal to every challenge of two millennia, yet to arrive at the reconciliation of civic liberty and economic security into a social order to which the Christian conscience can subscribe. If that can be done, then will the future offer men some chance of happiness and dignity. If it cannot be done, then will the future be dark and heavy with a new and a more monstrous Gethsemene than has ever come upon the face of the earth.
Every man of goodwill has a contribution to make to the achieving of that satisfactory social order for the lack of which civilisation itself may well go by default. The immediate contribution the men of this Convention have to make is to indicate, as well as we may, the way the people of this island should go to a more spacious destiny. We have consequently, and among other things, to seek out the terms of confederation. For 116 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946 that knowledge is necessary for the people that they may be the better able to judge of what will be best for them. They have a right to that knowledge in justice. We owe it to them in conscience. We may not seek to deny it to them without doing injury to the integrity of this Convention.
"'The time has come,' the Walrus said,' to speak of many things,' Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax, and cabbages, and kings.'" I am quite prepared to leave the sealing wax to those adroit in its manipulation — the agents of government. I am quite prepared to leave all the kings there ever were, or will be, to the verdict of history. I am concerned to search out as soon as possible that form of government which, other things being equal, would seem the more to offer Newfoundland an adequacy of ships and shoes and cabbages. And that I may the better be able to do that I will, for the moment, vote against the amendment and for the motion. We must be equal to tomorrow, or beware of it.
Mr. Cashin This Convention met on September 11, and a week later we formed ourselves into nine committees for the purpose of ascertaining certain facts relative to the present financial and economic position of the country. Two reports were presented yesterday and immediately these reports had been presented, something upset the applecart. Yesterday afternoon I listened very attentively to Mr. Smallwood's abuse, so to speak, of our country, and our people. Following which I listened to my friend, Mr. Harrington, who is a colleague of mine for the district of St. John's City West, and following which I had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Hollett. Mr. Smallwood has not repudiated the statements made by Mr. Harrington or Mr. Hollett and I want to know, what is behind the idea of offering senatorships and trips to Ottawa to try and influence delegates? On whose authority is that being done? Is it on Mr. Smallwood's authority alone? Is it on the Commission of Govemment's authority? Is it on the Canadian government's authority? Is it on the Dominions Office's authority? Or whom? That is the thing that should be cleaned up now before we vote on this. If there are influences outside of this House about which we know nothing, offering positions, emoluments and trips all over the country to certain individuals if they vote certain ways, the time is right now to put an end to it. I would like to have Mr. Smallwood, before we go any further with this debate, either to deny or affirm those statements that he made offers or suggestions to either Mr. Harrington and/or Mr. Hollett. I understand one has been offered the job of Lieutenant- Governor when this place becomes a province. Mr. Smallwood is now gone out of this house and I would ask that he be brought back and settle it once and for all. I have lived in Canada ... I have liked Canada, it is a great country, but I love Newfoundland and I am not going to have it railroaded up the St. Lawrence, as expressed by my friend here. Here he comes! Mr. Chairman, I never said anything outside of this House which I am not prepared to say inside and I want an explanation here right now. The idea of Mr. Smallwood or any other member of this Convention offering or suggesting senatorships and trips to Ottawa provided they vote a certain way for a certain resolution — I want an explanation of that before this thing goes any further, and before I vote we are going to get it.
Mr. Smallwood You'll get it.
Mr. Chairman Please, gentlemen, I want this debate conducted without the interchange of personalities. I laid that down as a primary rule, and there is no reason why the motion before the Chair cannot be discussed without the introduction of personalities. Personalities can have only one result, and that is disorder. It is my duty to prevent disorder, and I propose to carry out that duty. Major Cashin, please discuss this without interchange of personalities.
Mr. Cashin I am entitled to an explanation, the country is entitled to it. The statement was made here yesterday in my hearing. This gentleman here, a young man, Mr. Harrington, and Mr. Hollett, two reputable members of this Convention, one stating he was offered a trip to Ottawa as a member of the delegation, the other offered a senatorship. I am not out of order and I am not being personal. I am asking Mr. Smallwood to tell us on whose authority he made such offers if he made them. I am asking that question and I await his reply.
Mr. Chairman If you await his reply someone will take up the debate. Once you sit down you have spoken once to the motion. You have to confine yourself to the motion.
Mr. Cashin We cannot get away from the fact October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 117 that these statements were made here by members of the Convention and I draw the attention of the members and the country to it... I make the statement that only two years ago the Prime Minister of Quebec made a statement in the legislature of Quebec that Newfoundland should hand over Labrador to Canada; and, incidentally, to the Province of Quebec because they had sent Canadian troops down here to defend Newfoundland and the troops, or a lot of them were zombies, and our own boys had to be sent to Italy. I resent it as a returned soldier of two wars. Big corporations in Canada are now making efforts to steal the Labrador from Newfoundland. I do not know whether these same individuals offered senatorships and trips to Ottawa, but I know that it is going on. Confederation has been an issue in this country since the inception of responsible government nearly 100 years ago. We had it in 1865, again later, and in 1895, and now confederation is being brought up again. From 1923 on, someone was up spouting off that the other chap was a confederate, and here we have it again. Now we are discussing the possibility of sending a delegation to Ottawa. The Chairman has given his decision that the Convention has power to send a delegation. Certainly the Convention has power to send a delegation provided the Ottawa government receives them. But I want to draw the attention of this assembly to this fact, that even if they go to Ottawa, we have no guarantee that we are going to have even a plebiscite under this Convention Act. If there is I want someone to show it to me. We are told that we are here to dig out facts and figures, and recommend certain forms of government to the United Kingdom, which will be submitted to the people. When? Whenever they feel like it. That's the answer.
Now what is the actual situation? In 1933 a resolution was passed in this House requesting the British government to take over Newfoundland because of its financial situation. I hold that our people should have defaulted and not have handed over our constitution. But they did make one provision, that when this country became self-supporting, responsible government would be restored at the request of the people. Well, we represent the people here this afternoon, and if anyone goes to Ottawa tomorrow and brings back the terms of confederation, and it is submitted to the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom cannot amend that original act of 1933, because there is no House of Assembly here to guarantee that amendment. It would have to be adopted by our Newfoundland government if an amendment to that 1933 act has to be made. Is the United Kingdom government going to break the law it passed in 1933? Certainly not. Then there are only two forms of government we have to consider in this country, Commission of Government and responsible government. There is no such thing in this act as confederation, or representative government, or commission. There are people in this country who are Communistic. I had just as much right, if I was a Communist, to get a delegation to go to Moscow and ask Joseph Stalin what kind of government or terms he would give us. I can't understand how young Newfoundlanders can come here and say they want terms from another country. I cannot understand it.
The facts are in the Auditor General's report for 1944-45, and all the reports that are going to be brought in here won't alter the fact. The longer we are going on here the less money we will have. The treasury is being cleaned out, gentlemen. I make the bold statement that the treasury of Newfoundland is being looted, and I defy any man in the country to contradict that statement. The idea is, to loot her until the last dollar is gone, and then it will be confederation or Commission or something else. That's the programme, and Mr. Smallwood knows it is. Now in 1895 a delegation went to Ottawa to talk confederation with the Dominion of Canada, and our debt at that time was some $15 million. The Dominion of Canada came back to that delegation and said, "Look, our debt is $50 per head (that's Canada's debt, ours was $10 per head). We will allow you $50 per head of your debt (at that time our population was not anything like it is today). Our debt will then amount to $10 million, and the other $5 million you will have to carry as a provincial debt." Naturally the Newfoundland people turned it down cold. But Canada balked at $5 million at that time. What is the situation today? The situation today is that our per capita debt is less than $150, that is when you take the sinking fund and our cash on hand at the present time, which I hold should have been cancelled in 1940-41, but granted that it was not cancelled, our total nation 118 NATIONAL CONVENTION October 1946al debt is less that $150 per head. What is the national debt of Canada? It is $1,200 per head. You bring up the agreement of 51 years ago — if they were prepared to settle on that it means $300 million for the Canadian government to hand over to Newfoundland. But, Mr. Chairman, I am not going to sit down here and be a party to what I feel in my soul is a policy to sell out this country to Canada. I lived in Canada longer than any man in this House, and I like Canada, but I love Newfoundland. I know what happened in the Canadian provinces, in the eastern provinces. I have also lived in British Columbia. I heard Mr. Smallwood here yesterday state that our people were 50 years behind the times. I think our friend Mr. Brown brought him up on that. I have been on Queen Charlotte Islands, and I would like to bring Mr. Smallwood there and show him conditions, and also to the city of Montreal and let him look at the conditions that exist there, and then come back and make a comparison with our people. I never heard of any Newfoundlander who would come in here and blacken his people as this gentleman did. I want to say, as a man who went over in 1914 and did my bit at that time - I did not see him over there though!...
Mr. Smallwood I was 14 years old.
Mr. Cashin How old are you now?
Mr. Smallwood I am 46.
Mr. Chairman I told you, Major Cashin, not to indulge in personalities. You will kindly refrain from indulging in personalities. I don't want it to happen again.
Mr. Cashin I have stated that there is an ulterior motive behind this whole motion. I grant you that the gentlemen who are supporting it don't realise it. I believe that the Commission of Government, directly or indirectly, and the Dominions Office, are behind it. Why do I make that statement? On the 18th of September of this year I gave a short talk in this House, and was severely criticised by some people. In that talk I made a short quotation taken from a speech delivered in the British House of Commons by Prime Minister Attlee: "It is important that a series of reconstruction measures which the Commission of Government are planning to introduce should proceed without interruption, and these will be pushed forward as rapidly as possible. The Commission have a full programme to meet during the next two or three years." What is the interpretation to be placed on these remarks?.... I would analyse it like this, that Mr. Attlee, when he made that talk on December 11 last, stated that we are going to hold Commission of Government in Newfoundland for two or three years because they have a definite program which has got to go forward without interruption. If that is true, what are we doing here? I have asked for a statement by someone who knows what they mean by that, and I think I am entitled to an answer. I got a letter from the Secretary to this effect: "With reference to your question submitted to the Information Committee to be submitted to Mr. Attlee and the House of Commons, 1 am directed by the Information Committee to inform you that it needs further consideration, and that it would be reviewed at a later date". Reviewed by whom — the Information Committee? That question should have gone to the government, and from there to the Dominions Office and back here. It has been held up by the Information Committee, and they are going to review it later. It was merely a question asking for an explanation, and it has not been explained....
If my construction is right ...and if this Commission of Government is going to stay here for two or three years, what are we doing here wasting $800 or $1,000 a day?.... If I can get a seconder I am going to move that this Convention adjourn until such time as that question is properly answered. Someone may say that I am holding up the progress of the Convention. No, I am trying to get that important question explained to Newfoundland, whether it is a fact that we are going to have Commission of Government regardless of whether or not this Convention votes for confederation. What is the three year programme of work referred to, and does this mean that the Commission of Government are going to be retained in office until such programme is carried out? I don't think anyone can say that's not a fair question... Surely we are entitled, before we take these steps of sending a delegation off on, a wild goose chase, to know where we stand...
It's no use for us to discuss responsible government, or confederation or even annexation to the United States... Mr. Chairman, if I can get a seconder to that motion 1 will take my seat.
Mr. Brown I will second the motion.
Mr. Smallwood Will that motion be put in writ October 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 119ing, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Chairman That motion can only be put with the consent of the Chairman and of the Convention.
Mr. Cashin Well, Mr. Chairman, with your consent.
Mr. Chairman Subject to a further rule that all questions on the order paper have to be concluded. The question now before the Chair has not yet been finalised. Therefore under the rules I am forced to withhold my consent.
Mr. Cashin Thank you. I will bring this in tomorrow afternoon.
Mr. Chairman If you will confine yourself to the motion before the Chair.
Mr. Cashin Returning to the original motion, of whether or not we send a delegation to Ottawa to get the terms of confederation, I am going to support Mr. Penney's amendment, We started off getting various particulars regarding the administration of government during the past several years. We arrived at a point where we were making fair progress, and the main reports have got to come in here yet.... In view of this I consider that the present resolution now before the house, regarding sending a delegation to Ottawa, comes at a most inopportune moment... Let us get our facts ready. Supposing the Prime Minister of Canada telegraphed tonight that he would receive a delegation of the Convention (and I doubt it very much), what are you going to take up there with you? You have no facts and figures to take. Surely if this thing is going to be one of the forms of government that are going to be put to the people, then the least they might do is wait until these reports are completed. That's not unreasonable to ask, its only logical.... I don't intend to hold up this but I want to register my support in favour of the amendment by Mr. Penney that this resolution be deferred until such time as all reports are submitted to the House and the Convention, and let us discuss it then.
Mr. Chairman Is the Convention ready for the question? I will put the question first and then the amendment.
Mr. Ashbourne I would like to say a very few words on the motion. There is absolutely nothing wrong in ascertaining from Canada the terms she might be prepared to give any delegation. I have not been promised any position on that delegation, or even a senatorship. However, I realise the matter of confederation can hardly be discussed intelligently unless we have these terms. I furthermore understand that it is the policy of the present Government of Canada to give these terms on request, but not unless they are requested... I am going to vote on the motion; I am going to vote that the facts be given to this House — the terms; because it is up to us to get the terms. I have spent some time in Canada. I happen to be a graduate of the University of Toronto, one of the biggest in the British Empire. While I have an open mind about the matter of confederation, yet I consider thatI would like to know something of the terms which Canada is prepared to give to Newfoundland. I realise there have been great peoples who have come together in union, and our very flag is emblematic of that union, The question as to whether or not Newfoundland might perhaps join up with the United Kingdom has also been mentioned in my hearing. I, to a certain extent, agree with the arguments which have been advanced by those who have spoken in favour of the amendment and I can appreciate their point of view. However, in the desire to get on with the business and to get through with it as quickly as possible. I feel that delays are dangerous. However, I feel that when the facts of our economic position are known they may reveal the ability to paddle our own canoe. However, I am conscious of the fact that there is a desire on the part of a lot of people to study the matter of confederation. Unless there are further arguments advanced by other members, I intend at the present time to support it and I further believe we cannot decide about the matter of confederation until we have these terms. I hope no one thinks I am a confederate, but I am prepared to study the terms, if they are given to us. However, unless we are blessed with the right kind of statesmen who are dedicated to their task of conducting the government of our country in the interests of Newfoundland, I fear very much that the time may come when we may have to go to some other country, to Canada or perhaps to the old country and, maybe, with our finger in our mouth.
Mr. Watton I move the adjournment of the debate until tomorrow.
[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] Above, p. 93. [Debate Day: 1946-10-28]

Personnes participantes: