Newfoundland National Convention, 4 November 1946, Debates on Confederation with Canada


November 4, 1946

Motion to send a Delegation to Ottawa[1]

Mr. Bradley I had no intention of delivering any lengthy or prepared speech upon this resolution. It seemed so clearly the right thing to do that the bitter opposition which it has encountered appeared impossible. But, unfortunately, the debate has wandered far afield. It has been made the occasion of confessions of political faith and expressions of antagonism to this and that form of government. It has even degenerated into an orgy of indecent imputation, low insinuations, sour invective and what may perhaps be charitably described as plain misrepresentation.
Some months ago, in a broadcast to the people of this country, I offered the opinion that this Convention was a bench of judges rather than a body of partisans. I am more confirmed today that my interpretation of its function was and is still right. There is something incongruous in the association of either eloquence or tub-thumping with matters and problems of finance and economics, of addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. Figures do at times speak eloquently, but they speak quietly. We are concerned principally with figures. We have to ascertain the financial and economic position and prospects of this country, and whether under the tutelage of Britain, as an autonomous state, or in partnership with the provinces of Canada, lies the greatest probability of relegating the six cent dole of pre-war days into the realm of unpleasant and eventually traditional memories. In the welter of irrelevant and dubious eloquence the real issues have sometimes been wholly submerged. Can we not forget these confusing side-issues and confine ourselves strictly to the question upon which we have shortly to vote, bearing in mind that we must vote as judges, cooly, impartially, and calmly, and not as partisans in heat and in passion?
What is this question? Briefly, it is a proposal that a delegation be sent to learn the terms and conditions of the confederation of Newfoundland with Canada. Obviously it is not a discussion of the merits or demerits of confederation; and yet we have been told of the allowance offered by Canada in respect of our public debt in 1895, and of a computation of what we should get in the same connection today. The amount mentioned was some $300 million. Again, we were informed of fabulous prices obtained for fishery products in Canada. Were these gentlemen unconsciously advocating confederation?
Again it has been suggested that the delegation might explore the question of tariffs and other matters affecting the general relations between Canada and an independent Newfoundland. Surely it is clear that such investigations are wholly without the jurisdiction of this Convention and obviously beyond the scope of any delegation's activities. None of these things has anything to do with the resolution before the Chair. The proposal is simply that this delegation endeavour to obtain facts, the terms or conditions of union which would be acceptable to the Government of Canada, if the people of Newfoundland approved of such union.
It is true that in the course of these explorations and inquiries much further, and valuable, information would be obtained — the normal functioning of the Canadian system, the actual relations existing between the federal and provincial authorities, and other matters of which I know little or nothing as yet. Nor is the delegation in any sense entitled or empowered to negotiate an agreement or in any way to bind even its own members, much less the Convention, and least of all, the people of Newfoundland.
Today I am neither Commissionite nor anti- Commissionite, neither friend nor foe of responsible government, neither confederate nor anti-confederate. I have not the facts upon which I may arrive at any reasoned and reasonable conclusion. The facts of one of these forms of government can only be obtained by sending a delegation to discuss the matter with the Canadian government. I want those facts. I demand them. I refuse to offer any opinion on any form of government till I get them. And even more important is that the people of Newfoundland should have them. The people must within the next few months decide their destinies at the polls. Any recommendation we may make is but advisory. Their decision is final and ir November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 129revocable. It would be nothing short of a criminal dereliction of duty on our part to leave any avenue of information unexplored. And let me say this: that not only do I approve of the sending of this delegation to Canada, but that I am equally insistent that steps should be taken to obtain from the United Kingdom a statement as to what financial and other assistance they would be prepared to offer us in case of need. I do not suggest that we should send a delegation to the United Kingdom. I do not think that is necessary. The United Kingdom government is the government of Newfoundland and we can communicate with them either through His Excellency the Governor or through their agents, the Commission of Government here. If the Government of the United Kingdom should deem it proper that we should then send a delegation to England, by all means let us send that delegation; but I want it clearly understood that should any resolution to send a delegation be brought in here, I shall not oppose it. I do not consider it the right way to initiate the acquiring of this information from the United Kingdom, but I shall take no steps to place anything in the way of such a delegation going immediately.
And now as to the timing of this delegation's visit. There has been much nervousness and fear expressed over the prematurity of this resolution. Whether these fears arise out of lack of knowledge of the real situation, or out of a panic- stricken desire to exclude information about any form of government which might endanger the position of that form to which their closed minds cling with fanatical tenacity, I do not know. But it is clearly their desire to delay any examination of confederation facts for a considerable period. That attitude tends to create the impression that the appointment of a delegation now would result in an immediate rush to Ottawa by such a delegation. If anything even remotely approaching a resemblance to such a proceeding exists in the mind of any delegate, the fact would not even be humorous. It would be deplorable Nothing is further from the truth. Conferences and discussions between governments and public bodies are not conducted in that way. Let us briefly review the probable course of procedure. The resolution, if adopted, would at once be sent to the Governor, or to the Commission of Government, who in turn would communicate with the Dominions Office.
The latter would then get in touch with the Government of Canada. That government has already indicated in the House of Commons that it would be willing to meet a delegation of this Convention. In all probability, the Canadian government would either suggest a suitable time or enquire what date would be agreeable to us. Thus the timing of the delegation's departure from Newfoundland would be delayed for a considerable period. Does anyone in this Convention imagine that any delegation of its members would have the temerity, or even the discourtesy to rush off to Ottawa at any time without first advising this body? And is anyone here under the impression that any sane body of delegates would depart upon such a mission without much previous preparation right here in St. John's?
Their very method of approach to the subject will have to be very carefully considered, for they will have in their keeping the dignity of this land of ours. Newfoundland must not be placed in the position of a supplicant. They will have to compile a considerable amount of factual material for possible reference during their stay in Canada's capital. They will have many conferences with the departments of government here, for it is elementary that, before leaving it will be imperative that they prepare figures estimating closely:
1. The amount of public service expenditures which will be lifted from our shoulders by the Dominion govemment's assumption of responsibility for the Railway and its subsidiaries, the postal telegraph services, and other items for which our revenue is now liable.
2. The sources and amounts of our present revenue which will remain to us as a province when the Dominion takes over customs, income and other taxes.
3. The amount of revenue which will be required to carry on the remaining public services which will still be our responsibility — education, public health and the like.
These are a few subjects upon which much information must be carefully compiled and many others will occupy many days of work in close collaboration with the ablest officials of the public service, some of whom, by reason of their intimate knowledge of departmental affairs, will have to accompany the delegation to Ottawa. The early appointment of this delegation could not possibly result in their arrival at Ottawa much 130 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 before the middle of December, and it might easily be early in the New Year before they could leave. So, it seems clear that if we are to arrive at sound conclusions, based upon all the facts, and communicate our recommendations to the Dominions Office in time to enable the British Parliament to deal with them before the Easter recess of next year, we must act on this resolution now. There is no advantage to be gained by delay. There is a probability of serious harm. The people, whether confederate or anti-confederate (and there are many of the former in Newfoundland today), want this information. Many are anxiously awaiting it. Shall we take the responsibility of balking that desire? Shall we refuse them that information, or even delay it? Have we the right to place any obstacles in the way of the disclosure of any truth to which the people are entitled?
In 1933 the Amulree report was concealed from the people until within a few days of the opening of the legislature which destroyed their freedom, and many knew little or nothing of the scheme to degrade them for their misfortunes until their liberties had passed into history. Shall we be parties to even a temporary suppression of the facts, whether of confederation or anything else? If we destroy this motion, or even delay it, we shall be guilty of just that. There are those in this land, and perhaps in this House, who would recklessly prevent the examination of every form of government which lies outside the limits of their own narrow notions, whose minds are firmly lashed to the chariot wheel of a single political system, whose judgement is impaired by the narrowness and restrictions of their mental horizons, who talk wildly that this or that form of government will only come to Newfoundland over their dead bodies Are these the men whose lead we shall follow down the blind alley of obstruction to the search for truth? Or shall we take the road which leads to the facts, the evidence, the information which we, as representatives of the people, are bound to lay before them without unnecessary delay, and upon which they must ponder and decide their destinies? ....
In good faith, it has been suggested that this matter should be deferred until we know the details of our financial position. What connection is there between the two? How is the determination of the one dependent upon the ascertainment of the other? Early action upon this resolution will not bring the terms of confederation to the people before the last of January next, and that is delay enough. In the final analysis, even if our present financial position is found to be fairly satisfactory, is that the last word? Is it suggested that in such case no inquiries are to be made of Canada, or of the United Kingdom or of anyone? Are we then bound to walk this chaotic world alone? Are the people to have no choice? That would be a repetition of the vicious scheme of 1933. It would be a clear breach of fundamental political morality. It would violate, nay, it would defeat both the spirit and the letter of the Convention Act of 1946. It would be an arrogant determination of the people's destinies in the dark, a determination which would be bitterly resented by them, for the supporters of responsible government are not in an overwhelming majority in this country today.
But I am not without sympathy for those who fear precipitate action. I can understand their desire to avoid mistakes. These fears are groundless. The delegation should be selected at an early date. Their early departure for Ottawa is definitely impossible. In any case it is not essential. In order to eliminate all uncertainty, I propose at the proper stage in this debate to offer another amendment which will ensure that the delegation shall not leave St. John's before the first day of January, 1947. That should, I think, meet the views of all but the irreconcilables.
In conclusion, it is my earnest wish and sincere hope that before voting upon this question every member of this Convention will bring to bear upon it the full strength of his intellect, backed by an irresistible urge to seek the truth; that we shall purge our minds of all passion and prejudice, all party and personal allegiances, all enthusiasms and all antagonisms. Let us discharge this solemn duty; let us reach a decision upon this, as upon all other questions, in cool, impartial and reasoned judgement. Let us render our decision upon the resolution now at our hands as a bench of judges, and not as a body of partisans.
Mr. Kennedy This House was resolved into nine committees with one main object in view, to produce for Convention members, and the people, a detailed general summary of our country's standing in such form as to avoid con November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 131fusion, and at the same time give us a general basis on which to either form the groundwork for, or reach our decisions. Hitherto these committees have worked both energetically and smoothly towards their goal, without which any decisions cannot logically be even considered, unless previous bias exists. Surely, should the ultimate summary prove our beloved country to be financially and economically independent, any delegation to anywhere would be both futile and a further source of expense to a country which has already been exploited to a disgusting extent.
Such interruption as this motion would inevitably entail is both untimely and at the present stage of procedure more than impracticable Indeed I go so far as to say such action to my mind strongly suggests sabotage — at whose instigation it is within my power to think, butnot to state. In consequence, as an ex-service Newfoundlander, whose one aim is the freedom of my country for which I fought, I see no other possible outlet than to support the amendment.
Mr. Hannon My first vote in this National Convention is not going to be a silent one. The introduction of the proposal brings back to my mind the old story — confederation, a bugaboo which lies dormant in this country until rumour has it that an election is in the offing. Since our last general election in 1932 up to 1946 the word was seldom if every heard.
Some delegates have made the broad statement that confederation is a very live issue over the greater part of this country. I have no authority to speak, except for a small section of Newfoundland, the district which sent me here, where I may say confederation is anything but a live issue. However, I can speak from an experience gained by me when acting as employment manager at Gander from 1940 to 1944. During that time I passed through my hands thousands of men coming to work from all over the island, and not once did I hear one of these men say anything in favour of confederation. But after our men had lived with the Canadians and had exchanged opinions, I found that whatever sentiments they had had before, they were certainly unfavourable afterwards.
I am going to vote against the original motion and for the amendment proposed by Mr. Penney, for the following reasons: this is not the time to send a delegation to Ottawa, or anywhere else — our work as a fact-finding organisation has only just begun. When the work which we were sent here to do is accomplished, and we are ready to submit our official reports to the country, then will be time enough to send envoys to outside nations, if indeed it is even then found necessary to do so.
Mr. Jackman Mr. Chairman, I would like to say that I am not in favour of confederation with Canada, nor with anyone. I am a Newfoundlander, proud of my heritage, proud of my forebears. I believe in my country and my countrymen. I am satisfied with nothing less than that our country should be restored to its former position, a self-governing dominion within the Commonwealth of Nations, the cornerstone of the British Empire.
I had no intention at this time to state my mind here in this House. I have already done so in public, but because of this resolution I am forced to partly state what I was sent here for. I am the only delegate who was sent here on a definite policy for Newfoundland. I am not going to talk possible forms of government now. I merely wish to say that I speak for the common people.... I speak for a woman who came to my home shortly before I came on this Convention, and asked me to go into her house and view the circumstances under which she had to live — a shack of about 18 feet by 24 feet, and there were in that shack 16 human beings, half of them with TB, living like cattle. I speak for a man who worked 45 years for a company, and is thrown onto the scrap heap and has to take a net pension of $8 a month. I speak for the countless numbers of young children in my own district who are barred in from October until the sun shines again next spring, because they have not sufficient clothing to wear. These are the people I speak for, and I have a definite idea of what form of government Newfoundland needs; but I feel Newfoundland must first get back her responsible government before we can go further.
I can continue talking on these lines, but I do not wish to obstruct the proceedings of this House. I said before I am not here to waste time, notwithstanding that $15 a day is big money for the labouring man. In conclusion I would like to ask the advocates of confederation with Canada this question, I would like to know the answer from them, and the country would like to know 132 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 as well, why do 25,000 Canadians leave Canada yearly to go to the United States? Mr. Chairman and gentlemen I stand to support the amendment.
Mr. Figary ....I have followed the debate on the resolution presented by Mr. Smallwood to this Convention, and I do not object to the principle involved in the resolution; I feel we should have that information, and all the information we can get on any form of government. I and the people of my district want it, and we must get it, so we can be in a position to decide what form of government will be best so as to give our people a square deal. A government for all citizens of this country and not for a few.
In the past a lot of our people were given a rotten deal, they have been hungry and cold, and there is no doubt about that; I have been in homes and seen it. I have seen children crying for bread and none to give them, seen children and even adults use flour sacks in order to cover their nakedness. These people did not endure this because they were too lazy to work; there was no work to be had, and those who did work were paid a shamefully low wage, and the fishermen received next to nothing for their fish, barely enough for an existence. There was nothing that could be done about it, as at that time organised labour got little assistance or recognition from any source, indeed it was frowned upon in many places. Since Commission of Government has controlled this country there has been a lot of improvement as regards recognition of organised labour. This does not mean that the government has in all cases favoured the organisation of the workers, there have been times when they opposed and actually fought against the right of workers to organise and bargain collectively. In the main, however, they have generally encouraged the idea of collective bargaining and have set up machinery whereby employer and employee can meet and discuss their difficulties. At the present, I am somewhat in favour of the present form of government until we can determine a better form for Newfoundland.
There has been considerable debate on the resolution and I have the feeling the majority are in favour of the amendment presented by Mr. Penney.... I want to associate myself with previous speakers. I too came to this Convention with an open mind, and I shall vote only for that which I know will benefit the people of our country. I do not intend to be carried away or swayed by every wind and doctrine. I will vote on the vital issues of this Convention according to what I believe to be in the best interests of our country. I agree with the principle of this resolution, and it's really too bad that it had to come up at this time. When the time is opportune, this Convention will not overlook this matter, and will obtain the terms on which Canada would receive us, or should I say, on which we would be willing for Canada to join us. A lot of time has been wasted on this matter, and I do not see any advantage in discussing it further....
No person can carry me beyond what I deem advisable on this question. I can decide that when we have received and studied the terms of confederation with Canada. I do not like people asking me how I am going to vote (I mean outside of this chamber), that's my business, and I am only going to be led by my own conscience, whether it's voting for confederation or any other form of government. I see no alternative but to vote for the amendment...
Mr. Cranford Mr. Chairman. while listening to the debate on the motion now before the House, it has given me cause to ask the question, are we inconsistent? In other words, do we practise what we preach? The vote now pending will decide my question.
When we had responsible government, it was very often considered that spending money on trips both local and foreign, together with other similar acts, would lead to the financial collapse of our country. That collapse did come. Responsible government was ousted from power and Commission of Government took its place, and in the opinion of some of us the Commission has not lived up to expectations. Hence a National Convention has been inaugurated to investigate our country's economic and financial condition, and before we have got anywhere we are confronted with a resolution to send delegates to Canada to seek terms of confederation. In my opinion we are asked to favour the pleasure of a few gentlemen on ajoyride at the expense of the taxpayers. Now why do the same thing that past governments had done that we did not approve of? And why send a delegation anywhere out of the country at any time? Why not let our actions be an example for any future government?
Let the terms of confederation be sought by all November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 133 means if we think it necessary, but do it in an economic manner consistent with the impression we gave our constituents when seeking election. Let our wishes be known to the Commission of Government, with the request that the government open negotiations immediately with the Canadian government with the aim of securing the terms of confederation. Let it be done by mail instead of selecting a band of globe trotters. Suppose some person brought in a resolution advocating this country be made part of an international zone comprising the three greatest English-speaking nations of the world, namely England, Canada and the United States of America, would not that person have reason to demand the same right and privilege as the person who brought in the motion now before us? .... If we mean what we say, that we will support every movement that would be in the best interest of our country, may I suggest we use a postage stamp instead of a railway ticket when we can get the same result. Do not let us be deceived in thinking that Canada will give us any better terms than the Maritime provinces received when they threw in their lot with the federal government. With all due consideration I will support the amendment.
Mr. McCarthy I am not going to speak at any length to the motion, and certainly not at all on confederation, which is not the issue; too much has been said for and against that by some previous speakers. I wish to make it clear that I am not supporting confederation or any other form of government at this particular time, but when the time comes however I shall favour the form of government which I think will best serve Newfoundland and its people.
I know there are some Newfoundlanders, few though they may be, who are favouring confederation and we owe it to them to obtain all information possible on the issue. Whether this is sought now or later does not matter a great deal, as long as it is available to the Convention when committees are finished. Canada, knowing now that we do not have to accept, will I think submit her best offer. Then our confederates, knowing this, will have a better idea whether or not it would be wise to vote that way. Therefore, I support the resolution.
Mr. Spencer Mr. Chairman, hitherto l have taken no verbal part in the public sessions of this House. Being one of the younger members of this Convention and unaccustomed, as many of us are, to gatherings of this sort, I have chosen rather to listen and learn. But having sat and listened for the last two days to the comments and debate on the resolution now before the House, I feel compelled to make some comment. I know, and many gentlemen here have stated, that there are people in all the districts of Newfoundland and Labrador who are expecting that confederation will be one of the forms of government which will be presented to them at a future referendum, and for that reason alone it was inevitable that the question of getting terms from the Canadian government should at some time have to come before this House. I think we agree on that. The main point of the argument at the present time is, it seems to me, the time of presenting the resolution, which some delegates think was premature. But the fact remains that the motion is before the House and we have spent three sessions in disputing and debating it. Now what are we going to do about it? Are we going to shelve this resolution at the present and bring it in at some future date? I have come to the conclusion that I will support the motion, because if we shelve the question now and have it brought in again at some future date, we should have all our discussions and debates over again which to me seems a waste of time, and l have no wish to see this Convention prolonged more than is absolutely necessary. I would wish this Convention to have the facts when they want them and not have to wait for them. In making this decision I wish it to be clearly understood that I have not been approached or influenced by any member of this Convention. Let us get the question settled as quickly as possible and get on with the real business of finding the facts about our own country.
Mr. Ballam Mr. Chairman, 1 have not spoken on the resolution before because I did not think it necessary to have so many speeches made. If every resolution and question that is brought in is going to have 45 speeches made on it we are going to be here for a very long time yet. The resolution now before the Convention is not whether we are going to back confederation or not. There is nothing in it about confederation except to obtain the facts as to terms with Canada. Those who spoke on the amendment want to get the facts too. The only point is to decide whether 134 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 we should send a delegation now or in two weeks or in two months time.... I feel that too much time has been wasted on something that should have been finished many days ago. A gentleman told me this afternoon that he was going to move an amendment to the amendment. I hope he will soon get started and have 45 speeches made on it before it is too late. Personally I think this whole thing should be shelved until January next, and for that reason I support Mr. Bradley's amendment.... I am not a confederate and not supporting any particular form of government; but in the interests of the whole country I would like to see something definite done on this question once and for all.
Mr. Reddy I would like to speak briefly on the motion introduced by Mr. Smallwood. I am favourably impressed with the views of previous speakers. The people of my district are friendly disposed to confederation, and I would like to see all information available brought before this house for consideration with regard to this question. Remember that upon this the destiny of our country may depend, and the weal or woe of 300,000 people may rest. Now the people who sent us delegates here are watching us closely. I may say that the final reports of two committees have been laid aside because of the time spent on these resolutions. Even at that it is not lost time, because it is vitally necessary to have this question explored to the fullest extent and have all information ready at the proper time. If this Convention takes a year to complete its work, what is a year to the life of a country and its people? I was born in this country, lived in this country and I hope to die in this country.... Therefore, with a sincere heart, I will support the amendment.
Mr. Crosbie Mr. Chairman, when this resolution was introduced I was away, unfortunately. However, I heard most of the speeches over the radio and I would like to congratulate some people on the job they did not do. I do not think the time opportune to discuss confederation terms because we have not the facts and figures yet concerning our own country. At the moment the idea of preparing to send a delegation to Ottawa to discuss terms is ridiculous. For argument's sake, I happen to own a business and Mr. Smallwood happens to own a business and we are thinking of amalgamating. Then he asks me what my assets are. My answer to him would be that I do not know, but if he would not mind waiting a bit to discuss this thing I would let him know at a later date. The same applies to this confederation business, and I fail to see any sound reason for going into it in a hurry. I feel the majority of delegates will view this matter in the same light.... I am not an anti-confederate neither am I a confederate. I am not supporting any particular form of government at the present time; but I am definitely opposed to what has taken place within the past week or so. 1 will now support the amendment.
Mr. Bailey Mr. Chairman, at this stage I am not going to say much about sending a delegation to Ottawa, but I am sorry that such an issue developed at this time because it smacks of old- time politics.... I move that the resolution be put to a vote so that the Convention will be able to move along on more important business matters.
Mr. Higgins Mr. Bradley made reference to the sounding of the British government. That is a point I would like to be clear on, and would you, sir, explain what possible effect that would have on a spring referendum?
Mr. Chairman I will get the exact words used later, and until then you might let the matter stand over. Is there any other member who wishes to speak before the reply is made by the original mover of the question? If not, the debate on the original question will finish with the reply by the mover of the original question.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, before coming to the main part of my remarks I would like to say how deeply grateful I am for the very many words of encouragement I have received since I moved this resolution on Monday last. By word of mouth, by telephone and by telegraph from many parts of the country these encouraging messages have come, enough to show me, if I had not known before, that this country wants the resolution to pass. And now 1 reply to my friend Mr. Harrington. I am deeply sorry to find that we are on opposite sides. I did hope it would be otherwise. As he said himself, I was expecting his support of this motion, for months ago he declared to me his intention to do so. From the moment I first met him — that was when he worked with me on the Book of Newfoundland[1] — I liked and admired him. I have followed his November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 135 career ever since, especially as my successor in the Barrelman radio programme. I believe he is a patriot, and I believe he loves this country every bit as much as I do. I am all the more sorry, therefore, that he has marred his political career, which I thought was a rather promising one, by his remarks aimed at me on Monday. I thought at first that I should put them down to naivety, to lack of experience in everyday affairs. I felt sorry that he should make such an almost unforgiveable break. Yes, I told Mr. Harrington that I thought he would make a very good member of any delegation that might go to Canada to get the terms of confederation. I did not promise a seat on any such delegation from this Convention to Ottawa. 1 shall not appoint it I suppose I would be lucky to be on it myself. I did tell Mr. Harrington that he would make a good member of the delegation, and I would say now again that he would make a good member, if I could feel sure that it was only an unfortunate break he made here on Monday last, and not a deliberate piece of double-crossing treachery, if it was not an unscrupulous attempt at political throat-cutting. Some day, I trust, Mr. Harrington will learn that in the circles in which men move and work and deliberate there is a line drawn, a well-known and well-established line, which men do not cross. It's simply not done to rush into a public assembly and blurt out what is said in private conversation.... Mr. Harrington will learn all this if he remains in the public life of our country. Maybe Mr. Harrington merely made an unfortunate and immature break — if he did I forgive him, and there are no hard feelings. Again, perhaps he fancied a perfectly sincere remark to be a foul attack upon his political virtue. In that case I could be sorry for his inexperience. But if it was a deliberate piece of throat-cutting, if it was part and parcel of a planned campaign to rivet responsible government on us, and to tune out everything but responsible government, then it's another situation altogether.
Now I turn to Mr. Hollett's remarks. I did not offer him a senatorship for two very sound reasons. First, because I have no senatorships to offer. Secondly, because ifI were going to offer him any job it would be something on a very much lower level than a senatorship. I do Mr. Hollett the credit of not having accused me directly of offering him a senatorship.
Mr. Hollett Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order. The present speaker is indulging in personalities and refers to me as Mr. Hollett. I thought that was not allowed.
Mr. Chairman Do you rise to a point of parliamentary procedure?
Mr. Hollett Yes, sir.
Mr. Chairman During the House of Assembly era, members when addressing the Chair did not refer to other members by name, but by the districts they represented. But this Convention is not a parliament. Under the circumstances, I think Mr. Smallwood has the right to refer to you by name, rather than as the member for Grand Falls.
Mr. Smallwood And now I will refer to Mr. Hollett as the junior member for Grand Falls. Again I say I did not offer him a senatorship for the reasons I have already stated.
Mr. Chairman Here I have to call order. I do not propose to have personalities introduced, and I do not want to have aspersions cast upon any member of the Convention.
Mr. Smallwood [think that Mr. Hollett implied that it was I who offered him a senatorship. I have never exchanged more than 50 words with Mr. Hollett in my life and I trust to his honour to make it clear that it was not to me he referred. My friend Mr. Fudge's objection was to the holding of a little "side Convention" in my room at the Newfoundland Hotel. I notice that a local paper also referred to these meetings, so-called. It is perfectly true that many delegates — I might say two or three dozen delegates, have visited me in my room at the hotel, some by my specific invitation, some without any particular invitation. I have visited other delegates in their rooms. In my room and in their rooms, and in committee rooms in this house, and walking along the street, and in the streetcar, I have often discussed public affairs with delegates and with non-delegates. I am quite sure that other delegates have done likewise. It's a habit we have. It's a habit all public men have. You can't stop it. It isn't even sensible to want to stop it. It happens all over the world.... It's just the ordinary, practical, every day procedure for men to talk things over, to try to convince each other, or to try to find out what the other man is thinking, to canvass the situation generally. There is nothing improper or unusual about it... It is just simple inexperience, immature unsophistication, to paint such meetings as sinister 136 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 or improper or unusual.
Now turning to Mr. Cashin. I like Mr. Cashin. I enjoy him. He fascinates me. His arguments fascinate me. His statements fascinate me. For instance, that statement he made here that he never said anything outside the House that he wouldn't be prepared to say in the House. Most men I'd hardly be willing to believe if they made such a statement. I think I believe Mr. Cashin when he makes it. And that other statement he made, when he said there was an ulterior motive behind this resolution. Mr. Cashin is not an easy one to fool. We can trust him always to ferret out ulterior motives and plots. He ferreted out an ulterior motive behind this Convention itself - that it was just a bluff, a glorious stall, dripping with treachery, a clever stunt to keep Commission of Government in power. But he admits that the members of the Convention are not aware of the ulterior motive behind this resolution to get information for our people. And he fears that the members do not see the ulterior motive behind the setting up of this Convention. He is determined to protect the members of this Convention, and expose the ulterior motive behind the resolution and behind the Convention. He's going to see that the country gets the only kind of government that he thinks is fit for the country, responsible government. He's against this resolution, on the ground that he knows the country is self-supporting anyway, so why waste time getting more information? He knows the country is self-supporting, because it's all in the Auditor General's report. There it is, according to him, as clear as mud, the clear proof that the country is self-supporting. We don't need to look any further. And yet, Mr. Chairman, one of his reasons for not sending a delegation to Ottawa is that the delegation would have no information to take with them. Wasn't he overlooking that remarkable piece of information about this country? Mr. Cashin in one breath says that on the basis of the 1895 confederation offer from Canada we'd get $300 million cash from Canada if we federated with her now. In the next breath he speaks about selling the country. There's something wrong in this line of reasoning. I fear there's something wrong in a lot of his reasoning, for example when he convinces himself that Prime Minister Attlee's reference to the three-year reconstruction programme of the Commission government proves a deep plot on Mr. Attlee's part to keep the Commission here another three years. I'm afraid I'm not impressed any more by Mr. Cashin's standing as an authority on constitutional theory, constitutional history and constitutional practice, than I am by his grasp of financial matters. Before I leave Mr. Cashin for the time being, I must say that it appears to me that he is annoyed with me for not including him in my list of senatorships. I hasten to repair that blunder on my part. I have no more senatorships to offer. I'm sorry, but I promise him faithfully that if I should ever become prime minister of Canada I'll see that he is taken care of. I'll see that he is fixed up. I'll see that he gets a position fully in keeping with his parliamentary background. I'll make him Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. I'd give anything to see him all togged off in those dinky black pantaloons and three-cornered hat.
And now while I'm at it, I want to say a word about The Sunday Herald newspaper. I want to say emphatically that it's not true that I'm paying that paper to attack me every week. There's not a word of truth in it. I'm grateful to them for their valuable attacks upon me. I hope they keep it up, but I'm definitely not paying them one cent for doing it.
Turning to more important aspects of this question. I don't think that thoughtful Newfoundlanders are glad to see such silly efforts being made to take their attention away from the main question in this resolution. The people of our country want to know the truth and they have a right to know the truth, the truth about Commission government, the truth about responsible government, the truth about confederation. They would not thank me if I tried to keep the truth about Commission government away from them and I would not be so foolish as to try to keep it from them; or the truth about responsible government either. And the people are not thanking anyone who is trying to keep the truth about confederation from them. All they want the people to hear about is responsible government, all they can see, all they are willing to talk about is responsible government. Their every thought is about responsible government, they're not satisfied for anything else to come before us. If they could have their way this Convention would close up right now after narrowing our people's November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 137 choice down to responsible government. It maddens them, it infuriates them, when I introduce this resolution, when many delegates support it. It maddens them because it takes attention away from the one thing that they want the people to see, responsible government. But, sir, our people are not blind. They see through this political dodge. Our people know why this effort is being made to block this resolution. Our people have learned a lot in the past 20 years. They have their eyes open today. Mr. Chairman, I am not at this point referring to everyone who has spoken against the resolution. I want to make myself quite clear on this point. There are members who have spoken very sincerely against the motion, because they feared that it was trying to rush them. Not to them do I refer, but to a certain willful minority whose only policy is responsible government or bust.
We have heard here some silly talk about selling the country. Smallwood is trying to sell the country, they say. Could political bankruptcy go lower? The fanatical opponents of this motion must be pretty hard-up for an argument when they descend to such old-time political clap-trap, the sort of tripe that brought responsible government into such contempt and disrepute before. Personal abuse, name-calling, charges of graft, bribery and corruption, accusations of selling the country and so forth, don't the gentlemen who stoop to such tactics see, don't they realise, that every time they get down to such depths, they're only reminding the people of the bad old days of responsible government? Don't they see that every such remark only makes the people more determined than ever never to touch responsible government again? Those people have a very poor opinion of our people's intelligence. They are gambling on the hope that our people have short memories. They are living in a world that is dead and past, that bad old world of playing politics, of playing politics as a game. Not ideas, but personalities; not policies, but name-calling; not great political principles, but accusations of graft, bribery, treachery and all the rest of the old time political ammunition-dump of trash and garbage. If you don't agree with a man, smear him. If you can't answer his arguments, try to draw attention away from his arguments by blackening his character. Accuse him of bribery, start a great hullabaloo, a big noise, and maybe the public will forget the solid things he said. It's an old game, Mr. Chairman, but it doesn't work any more. Our people are on to that old trick of the political game.
But, sir, why should I complain because a few people say that I'm trying to sell the country? Better men than I, greater Newfoundlanders, higher patriots, have had the same charge hurled against them. That greatest patriot of all, the Right Honourable Sir Robert Bond, who occupied a seat only two or three feet from where I stand today, had the same charge made against him. Here's a printed pamphlet published in 1909, when he was prime minister. On the cover of this pamphlet, in heavy black type, are the words: "Bond's Awful Plot to Sell the Country." And what is this pamphlet about? It tells how our great Newfoundland patriot was a confederate who wanted to get Canada's terms of confederation in 1909. For wanting to get the terms of confederation Sir Robert Bond was accused of trying to sell his country, so why should I complain for having the same charge hurled at me when I propose to get the terms? Sir Edward Morris not only tried to get the terms in 1914 but got them — was he trying to sell the country? Were Sir William Coaker and Sir Michael Cashin traitors to Newfoundland because they were anxious, in 1915, to get the terms of confederation? Were Sir William Whiteway and Archbishop Howley traitors for believing in confederation? Was Sir Richard Squires, were Sir Ambrose Shea and Sir Frederick Carter? Were those great Newfoundlanders all trying to sell the country?
Mr. Chairman, someone said, I believe it was Mr. Hollett, that he didn't believe that the Government of Canada would receive a delegation from this Convention. In the House of Commons, the prime minister of Canada made this precise statement: "If the people of Newfoundland should ever decide that they wish to enter the Canadian federation and should make that decision clear beyond all possibility of misunderstanding, Canada would give most sympathetic consideration to the proposal."[1] That was in l943. Coming down to late June of this present year, the Government of Canada made its position again very clear, in the words of Mr. St. 138 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 Laurent. Mr. St. Laurent, who is Canada's minister of justice, was then acting prime minister of Canada, Mr. King being in Paris. Mr. St. Laurent was asked by a member of the Opposition if the government would extend an invitation to Newfoundland to enter the Canadian federal union. Mr. St. Laurent replied for the government as follows:
As the Hon. members know, just within the past few days an election has been held in Newfoundland for the purpose of constituting an assembly. The position of Canada is still as it has been stated on more than one occasion in this House. If the people of Newfoundland come to the conclusion that they would be happy to throw in their lot with Canada, their representations will be given most earnest and sympathetic consideration. But it has been said on more than one occasion in this House that this is something concerning the inhabitants of the old colony of Newfoundland, and this Government would not wish to appear to be interfering in the affairs of that colony. Their delegates or representatives will be welcomed here as cordially as we can welcome them. I believe there are many Canadians who feel that it would be to the mutual advantage of Canada and Newfoundland to come closer together.
Mr. St. Laurent was followed immediately by Mr. John R. MacNichol, an Opposition member, who said: "If and when Newfoundland should send delegates to Canada to discuss the question of the entry of Newfoundland to Confederation, which I for one favour, I would strongly urge that no effort be made or no suggestion advanced to detach Labrador from Newfoundland." Mr. MacNichol said he had been in Newfoundland and knew how strongly Newfoundlanders felt on this point. Mr. St. Laurent expressed his agreement. I think, Mr. Chairman, we may feel quite sure that Canada would receive a delegation from this house and impart any terms that she was willing to offer. Their only policy in this whole matter is that it must be the Newfoundland people themselves who shall express a wish for confederation. Canada simply won't accept Newfoundland unless the Newfoundland people express a wish for it. The Newfoundland people cannot express a wish for it until they know the terms, and that's what this resolution asks us to do, to get the terms so that the Newfoundland people can judge for themselves, as they have every right to do.
We also know the attitude of the Opposition in Canada. At their annual conference last summer they passed a resolution calling upon the Government of Canada to extend an invitation to Newfoundland to enter the federal union. And we know the attitude of the Canadian people also. In the Gallup poll held in Canada this summer a big majority of them declared that they would welcome Newfoundland into their federal union.
So now, Mr. Chairman, we know all the factors but one. We know that it is lawful for the Convention to send the delegation to Ottawa. We know that Ottawa will receive the delegation, and receive it cordially. We know that the opposition party will not oppose it. We know that the Canadian people will not oppose it. The only thing we still don't know is what the Newfoundland people want. We don't know whether they want confederation or not — and we're not going to know until they vote in the referendum. All we can do is get the terms and conditions and that's all this resolution calls for. The rest can very safely be left to the people; once they know the terms, they'll know how to make up their minds all right, never you fear.
I am sorry, in a way, that when the committees were set up five weeks ago we didn't set up ten committees instead of nine. While nine committees were getting the facts about Commission government and responsible government, the tenth committee could have been getting the facts about confederation. However, it isn't too late by any means. We can adopt this resolution and then the machinery can start. Word will finally come back to us saying very definitely whether Canada will receive the delegation, and the delegation itself could leave in December or early in January, for Ottawa. They'd probably be back in ten days or a fortnight, with the terms, and then the terms will be before us when we come around finally to discussing forms of government. If we think the terms are good, we'll be able to recommend that confederation on those terms be put before the people in the referendum. If we don't think they're worth putting before the people, We don't have to put them before the people. It's the people who'll decide. They'll have the last word, and the only word that counts. If we ever enter November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 139 confederation it'll only be because our people will want it, and they'll want it, if they do, only because the terms will make this a better country for them to live in. We owe it to the people to get them the facts they need to make up their minds on this question. We owe them that. It is our plain duty to get the facts for them, and I do not see how we can fail in that duty.
Once again, Mr. Chairman, let me repeat the solemn pledge I have made to this House and to the country: if the terms, when we get them, are good for our people, then I shall support them. If they are not good, then I shall oppose and condemn them as strongly as anyone. Let us set the machinery going now that will eventually, eight or ten weeks from now, put the facts before us. Let us decide to get the machinery going and then forget about confederation until the facts are laid before us by the delegation after their return from Ottawa. Let us remember that it is the people of Newfoundland we are here to serve, first, last and all the time. Let us turn our backs upon nothing that might be good for our Newfoundland people.
[The Chairman proposed a change in the wording of the motion which was accepted by the mover and seconder]
Mr. Chairman Now to that original question, moved by Mr. Smallwood and seconded by Mr. Higgins K.C., the following amendment has been moved by Mr. Penney and seconded by Mr. Roberts, namely: "That all words after the words 'national referendum' in the preamble to the motion be deleted, and the following substituted therefor; namely: 'But that the question of ascertaining the attitude of the Government of Canada towards the possibility of federal union of Newfoundland with Canada and the further question of sending a delegation to Ottawa to ascertain the terms and conditions on the basis of which the Government of Canada consider that such union might be effected, be deferred for consideration until the reports of the committees appointed pursuant to the session of September 20 have been presented to this Convention, or such earlier or other date as the Convention may determine.'"
The debate on the original question has finished. The amendment submits a separate question. To that question several members already have spoken, including Mr. Penney who moved it, Mr. Roberts who seconded it, Mr. Smallwood and Mr. Brown. The other members of the Convention if they so desire and see any need for so doing, may speak to the amendment.
Mr. Hollett It is not my intention to delay the debate. I am neither very much enamoured of the amendment, and certainly not of the motion, but I believe I shall vote for the amendment. I regret there seems to be from day to day a change in the manner of procedure. One day we seem to be using parliamentary procedure, and some other day we seem to be using some other form of procedure, so it makes it rather awkward when one gets to his feet to make some remarks.
Mr. Chairman I have to correct you, Mr. Hollett. There is no variance in the procedure originally laid down whatsoever. Where the rules approved by this Convention are silent then ordinary parliamentary procedure applies. If you refer to the point relative to the naming of a member, I have explained that, and I do not propose to let your comment pass either unchallenged or unmarked that from day to day there is any variance in the procedure in this assembly.
Mr. Hollett Please understand I am not casting any aspersions at the Chair. That is the feeling which I have, maybe I am wrong.
Mr. Chairman Insofar as the Chairman controls the procedure and regulates the conduct of business, I can't imagine that your reference has any other inference than the one to which I now call your attention and on which I challenge you.
Mr. Hollett Speaking just a word to that, Mr. Chairman, I might say that in a debate a few days ago there was strong objection taken by the Chair to what was then called personalities.
Mr. Chairman Exactly.
Mr. Hollett And if the mover of the motion in his reply of a few moments ago did not use personalities and was upheld by the Chair, then I must have heard wrongly.
Mr. Chairman You did hear wrongly. You did not hear my interruption of Mr. Smallwood, and my direction to him that I do not allow personalities to be indulged in, and that if he continued I would certainly have to call him to order.
Mr. Hollett Thank you, sir. I do feel that both the amendment and the motion are inopportune, premature, and I doubt the legality, or the ability, of this Convention sending a delegation to consult with the Dominion's House of Commons. Some reference has been made to a remark which 140 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 I made a week ago today, to the effect that even I was offered a senatorship, and the mover of the motion stated a moment ago that he inferred that I was alluding to him. To that I will say that I always have had a great regard for the reasoning powers of the mover of the motion, and I suspect strongly that he analysed the whole statement before he decided he arrived at a correct interpretation of the amendment. Now, if, on Monday past, I set a sprat to catch a herring, am I to be blamed if I caught a confederate cod? I noticed the greediness with which the proposer grasped at the bait, and I feel that he took the bait, the hook and all.
Getting back to the matter of sending a delegation to Canada, allow me to refer you to section 146 of the British North America Act, which makes provision for the entry of Newfoundland into the Dominion of Canada as a tenth province. I shall read it, section 146: "It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the advice of Her Majesty's Privy Council, on the addresses from the Houses of Parliament of Canada and the Houses of the respective legislatures of the Commons of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia, to admit those Colonies or Provinces, or any of them into the Union." Does that not presuppose that before we can enter into any union with the Dominion of Canada that we must have a legislature? Some people will say you have your Commission of Government, and they have the authority of the legislature. That may be correct or it may not. If it is, is it not therefore the bounden duty of the Commission of Government, if they have the power of the legislature, and if so many people in this country are so desirous of confederation, to go to Canada and find out the terms? The Dominion of Canada would then be negotiating with a legitimate government, not with 45 men who were sent in here to appraise the resources of this country. And, as Mr. Crosbie a moment ago pointed out, does it not look ridiculous to you that these 45 men of this Convention should proceed to Canada without even knowing the extent of our natural resources, without even knowing just how our finances are? In what position are we to ask Canada to lay her cards on the table if we ourselves are unable to put ours down? I wish it to be clearly understood that I am not against confederation and I am not for confederation, and as Mr. Bradley from Bonavista said, I am not for or against responsible government, and neither am I for or against Commission of Government at this present juncture. What we are for, and what we are not for, should have been left to the time when we had gotten those facts which our people sent us here for. But when one member, whom I shall now call the senior member for Bonavista, elects to get on his feet on the floor of this house and make a political speech on the issue of confederation one hour long, and then reply for another half hour, then I submit that I or anyone else who did not get up and object to his motion would be failing in our duty to the people who sent us here. I do not wish to say anything more on confederation or responsible government or Commission of Government at this present time. I do think we are wasting an awful lot of time, and I submit that the quicker we get down to a vote on this issue and have done with it the better.
Mr. Bradley As I said perhaps an hour ago, I can sympathise with those members of this Convention who fear that we may be acting too precipitately. I tried on that occasion to explain to them that acting now did not mean an immediate delegation to Canada... Obviously if we defer the passage of this resolution until some later date, by an equal space of time will the departure of the delegates be deferred. Why then should we defer the institution of these inquiries until we have finished the inquiries upon which our various committees are engaged today? If we do that it is perfectly obvious that when we have the financial picture of the country before us we shall not have the terms of confederation, and the same thing exactly applies to any inquiries which may be directed to the United Kingdom...
Already in the press a rather indiscreet and untimely reference has been made to adjournments of this Convention, in utter ignorance of the facts. There are few, if any, members of this Convention who desire to prolong it any further than necessary. It has been stated that this is costing the country somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1,000 a day. I have never taken the trouble to compute the amount so I can neither confirm or deny the correctness of that statement. I have no desire to expend money belonging to the people of this country, and I feel that every member is of the same opinion, and if we are to November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 141 postpone all consideration of the question whether we shall or shall not send a delegation to Canada, whether we shall or shall not make any inquiries of Britain, until we have all the facts in connection with our financial position, then the Convention has got to sit down and wait for another couple of months until we can secure the necessary information in connection with Confederation or financial assistance from the United Kingdom. My object is to get this delegation appointed and working here in St John's now. I want them to be ready to go at the opportune time, and if we are to await our findings on the financial position of this country as disclosed by the various committees we have appointed, then we will not be ready when that financial information is at hand. We will then have to start in and get this other information from Canada and from the United Kingdom.
I quite understand Mr. Penncy's motion, and have a great deal of sympathy with him, but it is so utterly indefinite it leaves the whole thing in the air. It means we shall simply spend two or three days here debating this subject for exactly nothing. It means that at some future unknown date we may again introduce a resolution, and discuss the question as to whether we shall send a delegation to Canada or not, and I think that the best way out of this is to pin down the situation in a manner which I think can be objectionable to nobody. The objection is to prematurity. It is, I presume, contended, that this information which it is proposed to obtain from the Canadian government will not be of any avail to us or the people until we have ascertained our own financial position. There may be something in that argument. It sounds as if it had some reason in it. But the point that I want to make clear is that by throwing this resolution in the air, as will happen if Mr. Penney's amendment passes in its present form, we shall still be nowhere When we have the financial position we shall not be ready to discuss it either in comparison with confederation or anything else, and it was for that reason I intimated an hour ago that unless somebody else did it, and quickly, that I myself proposed to introduce a resolution for the purpose of making inquiries from the United Kingdom, because I want the machinery put into action now. My only object is to see that when we have all available information collected, a delegation leaves here perhaps during the latter part of January. And that when we have that information, we also have the necessary information about the confederation question and about the assistance Britain will be able to give in certain eventualities. For that reason I propose to make a few observations on the amendment.
First I would like to refer to Mr. Hollett's quotation where he pointed out that section 146 of the British North America Act was defined in a way which makes provision for Newfoundland to become a province. You will notice I said "a way" not "the way". There are several ways usually of doing the same thing. It is perfectly true that in 1867 when the British North America Act was passed, section 146 was inserted setting up the machinery by which Newfoundland might be included as a province. But the conditions of Newfoundland then and now are different and, consequently, section 146 is inapplicable. Today there is no House of Assembly and no Legislative Council to pass any resolutions.
Mr. Chairman I must dispute your statement that there is no legislature in Newfoundland. There is. There is no responsible government in Newfoundland, but there is a legislature.
Mr. Bradley Yes, but not a legislature which would ever undertake to do any such thing as to legislate this country into confederation with Canada. Thus the position today is that whatever method may be adopted to bring about confederation, if the people so desire it, it will not be brought about by the British North America Act, which is inapplicable and could not be utilised for the purpose. I doubt if this country can go into confederation unless we get responsible government back. But suppose we never get responsible government back; are the people of this country to be precluded from voting for confederation? Is it legally possible that this country cannot vote for confederation simply because the people do not want responsible government? Furthermore, I am prepared to stake whatever reputation I may have as a lawyer in stating that the British government can, if it so desires, legislate this country into the Dominion of Canada tomorrow, with or without our consent. I feel sure she would not without our consent; but with the consent of the people of Newfoundland she would, provided always that Canada was an assenting party. It has been said that the Commission government was 142 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 quite competent to handle this question. I am not prepared to discuss that at the moment, though I am prepared to state that Commission government will never legislate upon the subject. There are few, if any, men today here who do not know that Commission government is nothing more than the agent of the British government, which is nothing more than the agent of Great Britain. Mr. Chairman The present Commission of Government is not an agent of the British government. It is functioning for and legislating the affairs of Newfoundland and it does not act as agent for any person or government outside of Newfoundland.
Mr. Bradley But at the same time the Commission government is in constant consultation with the Dominions Office, although I do not believe for one moment that Commission government would attempt to impose confederation without the consent of the British Parliament.
I tried this afternoon to point out to this assembly that political speeches had nothing to do with the question, and that the merits or demerits of confederation had nothing to do with this debate. The question was whether or not we would go seeking information at an opportune time... Should the motion be shelved, the Convention would have to start all over again when it had the facts concerning the financial and economic condition of this country, and my effort is for the purpose of clarification to try and pin down the issue until we get something done and find out where we are.... I propose the following amendment: that the words after "That" in the first line of Mr. Penney's amendment be stricken out and that the words "and shall not proceed to Ottawa before January I, 1947" be inserted in the original motion after the word "Newfoundland" at the end of the third paragraph.
This strikes out the indefiniteness which completely fills Mr. Penney's amendment and it adds to the original motion something which effects what Mr. Penney desires — a reasonable delay before the delegation goes to Ottawa. It means that the machinery be put in motion at once so that the facts would be available when required... The whole object is to appoint a delegation and allow it to work in Newfoundland until the time would present itself to proceed to Canada. And their departure is still a matter which lies in the hands of this Convention. In the same way, I propose to see to it that another resolution is introduced and adopted in connection with enquiries with the United Kingdom. I feel this amendment should meet with the approval of all those who want the facts... I move this amendment to the amendment.
Mr. Burry I rise to second this second amendment, because I think it is the right and proper thing to do. I have been informed and enlightened considerably by this debate this afternoon. At first I thought it was a waste of time. Now I do not consider it such and I have very much pleasure in supporting this second amendment.
Mr. Higgins Mr. Chairman, can you inform the Convention by what date this House will have to finish its business in order to have a referendum in the spring or a referendum in the fall?
Mr. Chairman I imagine that in order to have a referendum in the spring of 1947 the business of this Convention would have to finish by the end of January or sometime in February, 1947. If it is desired to have a referendum in the autumn of 1947, then the business of this Convention should finish by the end of May or early in June. It has to be remembered that the recommendations from this Convention will have to go to the United Kingdom government after having first been considered by the Secretary for Dominions Affairs, and from the cabinet will be presented to Parliament, say in the form of a White Paper, to be considered by the House of Commons and then by the House of Lords. These are opinions on my own part only and for which I have no actual authority but, in view of the fact that we have the advantage of the presence of Professor Wheare with us at the moment, I might ask him, on your behalf, to give us his views on the question submitted by Mr. Higgins.
Professor Wheare I would not like to add anything to what has been said by the Chairman I think the procedure outlined by the Chairman is correct...
Mr. Higgins Thank you.
Mr. Hollett Mr. Chairman, by what authority do we have the right to send a delegation from this Convention to Canada? I fear that if we send a delegation we might find ourselves in an awkward position weeks or months hence by being told that we had no such authority. I think there is something in Mr. Bradley's amendment.
Mr. Chairman There is no doubt in my mind November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 143 that it is perfectly competent for this Convention to send a delegation to Ottawa or anywhere else seeking information that is desired upon any basic fact.
Mr. Hollett What I cannot understand is this: when the Dorninions Office through the Commission of Government, or vice versa, set up this Convention, they also set up a commission of two, two men from England to come out here and prepare a White Paper to guide us in our deliberations. I searched through that and all I find are a set of facts. I cannot find anything to suggest that we should go to Canada and find out anything. Why did not the imperial authorities in that White Paper state definitely that we were to find out the terms of confederation? Why did they not say that was a form of government we should talk about? They only speak of a form or forms of government and it seems to me that at the time they only had in their minds a form of government within the territorial boundary of this island. If they meant "outside" why did they not supply us with facts, as they did about this country?
Mr. Chairman What is contained or is not contained in that White Paper, to which you refer, has nothing to do with the question before the Chair or to my ruling on that question.... I am not concerned with what is in the White Paper insofar as the construction of the National Convention Act is concerned. It is totally irrelevant to the question or my ruling thereon.
Mr. Fogwill In this debate, I am rather confused by the question brought up by Mr. Hollett. We have your ruling that it is within the limits of this Convention that we should seek the terms of confederation, but we have yet to decide whether or not it would be valid for this Convention to place on the ballot paper this form of government. And what appeal has this assembly against your decision?
Mr. Chairman The assembly can overrule my decision or ruling. That does not deal with the validity of your question, Mr. Fogwill. It merely deals with the wish of the Convention either to be bound by my ruling or not to be bound.
[The Convention adjourned until 8 pm]
Mr. Higgins I hope I do not keep you too long. We have been long enough on this unfortunate matter, much longer than it warrants. So far, if my computations are correct (and I am no mathematician) the debate has cost the country $8,000.
If so the debate on confederation will cost in the vicinity of $40,000. But my reason for seconding this motion was because I understood it to be the wish of the majority of delegates that we have a spring referendum. I do not know if that was stated in the house or not. At all events it was discussed on a number of occasions in private sessions, and it was not the sessions of the "little National Convention", but sessions of full responsible parties. As you, sir, and the learned Professor Wheare have outlined, in order to have a spring referendum we must finish our business by the end of January. That would mean that not only must we have all of our facts in, but we must have the debate on the forms of government concluded and we must be ready at that time to send our recommendations across to England. If it is not the intention to have a spring referendum, as so many members wished at first, then we have to set our sights at a fall referendum. But even for a fall referendum, we must be finished here by the end of May. If it is the wish to have a fall referendum, then I say that the motion we should adopt here would be the amendment proposed by Mr. Bradley. If we leave it indefinite, as in the other amendment, we do not know when we will be in a position to seek terms we all agree we must have.... We have a big task ahead, but I am confident that we can finish our fact gathering by the end of January, if we really want to do it. It is going to mean much harder work than we have been putting in so far.... If you gentlemen are prepared, and you think the necessity warrants, then by all means let us wait until May. We definitely have to be finished by May or we cannot have the referendum until the following spring. It is simply up to us to decide what we are going to shoot for. It is a common agreement among all of us that we have got to get these terms otherwise we will be blackguarded out of the country.
We are being blackguarded as it is by the very unseemly conduct which has happened in this House. I am sure Mr. Smallwood will probably feel offended, but it is most unfortunate, and he himself is responsible for that. I can understand how Mr. Smallwood feels; he is ardent in his advocacy, and he just had to get it off or blow up. One thing we do not want, and that is to be ridiculous in the sight of the country and this debate has been making us ridiculous. I am sure 144 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 we all came into this House with one purpose only, to do a job and to show to the people of Newfoundland and the world that we can still produce legislators in this country; and because of that I say we have not done the country or ourselves credit by some of the remarks made in this debate. In future, please let us try and get our minds a little above the old days that this House had to put up with in the days of responsible government. If we are going to be a board of judges, we have to try and be impartial, without heat, abuse, or personal scurrility. I am convinced that we can do it and there is no necessity of our going down to the gutter where we have been in the past few days. We should do the job which we were sent here to do. For that reason I do not see why the decision should be delayed any longer than tonight. Once the decision is made, let us be finished with it entirely until the matter has to come before us for final decision. I agree with Mr. Fudge to the extent that it has meant taking sides; it has meant bad committee work and in a lot of cases, no committee work at all. We should try in future to keep the discussions on the level they should be and not let personalities come into it. Unfortunately, Mr. Smallwood has turned this House into a personal debate against him. When we have such notices in the paper as "They dug the grave but Joe was not in it", it is getting beyond a joke. In view of the indefiniteness of Mr. Penney's amendment and the general wish of all the delegates to have it examined, I am prepared to vote for the amendment put forward by Mr. Bradley.
Mr. Penney May I speak to the original amendment.
Mr. Chairman You have spoken to that. You might speak to the amendment to the amendment.
Mr. Penney I introduced the amendment, but I did not make any address in connection with it at the time.
Mr. Chairman Unfortunately a member doing as you did is considered to have spoken to the subject matter of the motion. However, it is a matter for the Convention to deal with. With the permission of the Convention you may be allowed to speak to the amendment to the amendment.
Mr. Penney My proper understanding was an amendment contained very few words. The motion contained a lotof words and the mover talked half an hour to introduce it to this House and half an hour this afternoon to reply; then the supporter addressed this House quite a lengthy time. If it is in order, I would like to speak.
Mr. Chairman I take it for granted that Convention has no objection to your talking now.
Mr. Penney Before reading the remarks I have prepared, I would like to say that I did not consult or confer with members of this Convention, or with my sponsors or friends in Carbonear or with anyone, and this is the only opportunity I may have of addressing this House before a decision is made for or against the original amendment. I thank Mr. Roberts, representing the district of St. Barbe for seconding the amendment and the other gentlemen who have supported it, and especially the representatives of labour in this House who through their organisations have closer contact with the people of Newfoundland than perhaps anyone else here.
I have listened to the addresses this afternoon of able speakers, and to the mover of the amendment to the amendment — an old politician, an able speaker, and a fine man. His amendment to the amendment was put in a very subtle way; but I say to members of this House, beware and think before you act. Since introducing this amendment, 1 have been particularly interested in the debate which followed, more particularly the part concerning the amendment itself. The amendment contained few words and that was in striking contrast to the motion. Before deciding to move an amendment, it seemed to me that there was something fishy about the whole resolution and I decided to Oppose it. Since then and after listening to members' expressions of opinion, and noting newspaper comments, I am more than ever convinced that my sense of suspicion is more than justified. Further I believe that there was a political attempt to disrupt the feeling of this Convention at a ume when it needed peace. True, the wording of this attempt was camouflaged in a fact-finding mission to Ottawa at the expense of this country, but I may say that my sponsors and friends in the district of Carbonear did not give a priority mandate to study the affairs of Canada first, they did give me a mandate to study and examine the affairs of Newfoundland first and foremost. That is how I understand it. If I am wrong, then I would say that these level-headed men made a great mistake in November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 145 sending me over here to represent them in this National Convention We had hardly begun to get those facts concerning Newfoundland when a red herring was thrown across our path to divert attention and interest from the job we were sent here to do. This attempt was made when so far we have received only three reports in public session; and with regard to these reports, whatever may be said of them during discussion, insofar as information will allow them, they are a great credit to the committees concerned.... Several members supporting the motion stressed the time factor, that is an important point. I may say that there is no one in this building more anxious to be through with his job and back home to his own environment than I, but I submit there is a better way of doing this. In view of the expense to this country, we should try and hold sessions mornings as well as afternoons. Moreover, we must remember that Commission of Government have been in control of this country for 13 years and it is going to take time to get acquainted with the problems, and if the result of our findings will have a bearing on the future welfare of Newfoundland for generations to come, I submit the time factor is not so important as it may appear. Nor does it matter materially if the Commission continues in office for another year or two as long as it keeps within budget estimates and does not give away Labrador. May I say that there are some weighty problems that affect the future and the economy of Newfoundland more so than any others, the national debt, and the entry of our fishery products into the United States under fair trading tariff conditions. If we could have concentrated study and efforts to even partially solve these fundamental things, then I would say emphatically any government of good honest men, call it what you may, will bring Newfoundland to a place of happiness and prosperity for all its people to a level yet unknown. God guard thee, Newfoundland!
Mr. Hillier I have been listening to debates since last Monday, and I am of the opinion that it has gone far enough. We are wasting valuable time and getting nowhere. I am confident as far as the district which I represent is concerned, that they want to learn facts about any government and the motion before this House at the present time is not a form of government, it is a fact finding matter, it is to find out what Canada has to offer us for the future of Newfoundland. Things have been said which were on the boisterous side and that is not what we came here for. We came to go into the economic conditions of Newfoundland and we are doing that to the best of our ability. There would be nothing amiss in our getting from Canada facts as to what she has to offer us for the future, and we can go on with our work; and when we are finished we can go into those facts and I am sure we will be none the worse off.... I do not want to delay the House, I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment to amendment to the motion made by Mr. Bradley.
Mr. Hickman I would like to refer first to the question to which Mr. Higgins referred, the time of the referendum. There is nobody in the House any more anxious than I am to get the job over, but I am not worried about spring or fall or any referendum at all, until we are ready for it. For that reason I feel as I did the other day on the amendment made by Mr. Penney. I will not go into a repetition as we have been long enough here now. I would like to refer to the amendment to the amendment made by Mr. Bradley. That can be very confusing, I am not suggesting that it was meant to be confusing. If I understood the motion correctly, the amendment is practically identical to the original motion in intent or in effect. The delegation when appointed would not leave before the 1st of January. I cannot see the similarity to the amendment of Mr. Penney's. Mr. Penney's amendment in part states the question of ascertaining the attitude of Canada be deferred for consideration until reports of committees are brought in. That is absolutely different from the amendment to the amendment. For that reason I do not see how I can vote for anything but the amendment of Mr. Penney.
Mr. Jackman It makes one feel rather nervous because I realise my inability to reply to the learned lawyers and learned politicians who have spoken, but before this vote is taken I would like to say a few words because I am very much concerned about the whole matter. As I stated here on different occasions, I am here representing people, the majority of whom are poor, and I feel it is my bounden duty to do everything in my power to see their interests are best protected and conserved. As a previous speaker 146 NATIONAL CONVENTION NOVEMBER 1946 pointed out, if this amendment to the amendment does not go through we might be here until May next. Personally I would like to see it finished next week, if possible, because I realise that the people who came here for this Convention are of the ordinary common people like myself. It is not going to affect the businessman how long we are here, and I do not say that with prejudice, but any unnecessary delays will naturally come on the Bell Island miner or the labourer of St. John's or the men in the woods, and for that reason I am prepared to work night and day to get through with this Convention. I have often worked harder. I know what it is to go in the mines and work night and day. But I would like to be clear on this matter now before the Chair before I vote. I am going to vote for this amendment, even if it means we are to be here until next May or June, because I want to let those who sent me here know that I am doing all in my power to protect their interests and the interests of the people all over Newfoundland as well. Furthermore I am voting for the amendment because I realise that by being too hasty we might be doing harm instead of good. I am opposed to confederation as I am a firm believer in the land of my birth, and will not be satisfied until Newfoundland possesses a responsible form of government, so as to make it a better place to live in with the least expenditure....
Mr. Northcott Mr. Chairman, I want to vote for the amendment because I think it will give the Convention time to put its own House in order, and give the various committees time to assemble the facts and present their reports and debate on them....
Mr. Butt Mr. Chairman, I feel that we have allowed this debate to come down to too narrow a vision, as some people are thinking of the bit of heat it engendered. I think that, looking at the problems of Newfoundland, the Convention should find out what is in our own country before going to another for terms. I agree that some time or other in the future we could find what the terms of confederation would be, but there is no need of rushing this issue. I do not want it thought that we are keeping valuable information from the people, but with such an important issue as confederation with Canada or anywhere else there should be nothing left undone to ascertain the true facts, and we ought to have good terms ourselves to offer. I for one will support the amendment.
Mr. Fogwill Mr. Chairman, I would like to have an explanation on the terms of reference contained in the act of 1946 regarding what forms of government should be placed before the people. I think we should know whether confederation is included in the forms of government to be placed upon the ballot paper if a national referendum is recommended by this Convention. Frankly I do not know what the terms of reference are or if this Convention is going to confine itself to any specific number of forms of government to be balloted for.
Mr. Fudge I have listened very carefully to those who have spoken and I am wondering what prompted me to come here, because the whole matter is so confusing. I had an idea that our duty was to take stock after doing business for a period of 13 years, and that after doing that we should be able to find out as near exactly as possible what our assets are. But, unfortunately, this matter of confederation slipped in and the whole thing has been interrupted so far as stock-taking is concerned. It appears to me, as a judge of all trades, that the pro-confederates have a boat for sale and that boat is called the Newfoundland, and before there is a bid on it at all, it is pronounced 100 years behind the times, leaky and rotten. How can you expect to make a sale and a good deal with it? In supporting this amendment of Mr. Penney I wish to go on record that I am prepared to defend this country to the best of my ability and I say let us find out all the facts of our own country before taking it to another to auction off.
Mr. Ballam Mr. Chairman, I have not spoken in this debate, except for a few minutes this afternoon, but I still say we have had too many speeches and too much time wasted. If we had less pussy-footing the debate on this resolution would have been over long ago. I think the whole issue has been made confusing, and I think that terms from Canada should be obtained, otherwise the Convention will be remiss in its duty. The only point I can see in prolonging the debate is to decide when a delegation should be sent to Ottawa. That is why I support the resolution. How ever, though I am not a politician, perhaps it would be a good thing if this matter would be shelved until January next and, with this in mind, I could vote for Mr. Bradley's amendment, as the machinery must be put in motion and the facts November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 147 collected on all matters of interest to the country.
Mr. Bailey Mr. Chairman, I will support Mr. Bradley's amendment to the amendment because it supplies the missing link to this debate, and let us challenge this whole thing now until we are in a position to talk about it intelligently. I am not a confederate at the present time, but I would like to see all sides of the question brought out. There is no harm in putting the machinery in order, and if the proper machinery is set up I am sure we can make our own time as regards sending a delegation. I do not like the idea of setting up a committee today and going off tomorrow. I again say that I support the amendment of Mr. Bradley.
Mr. Vardy I feel I would be unreasonably prolonging this debate if I spoke lengthily, so my remarks shall be as brief as possible. Up to the present I am not a confederate. On the contrary, I have been accused very many times of being too much Newfoundland. But there is one thing I shall make clear and that is that I have always been big enough to avoid the use of personalities and to respect the opinions of all persons, irrespective of their political affiliations, although time and again I have been misquoted by some of my best friends. I support in all earnestness Mr. Bradley's amendment to the amendment.
Mr. MacDonald Mr. Chairman, speaking to the original motion here a few days ago I think I made a statement that I would support the motion. Since then there have been amendments offered by Mr. Penney and Mr. Bradley. The original motion made by Mr. Smallwood did not state any particular time when all these things were about to happen. Mr. Penney's amendment conveyed something like what was known in the old political days as giving the question the six months' hoist. If that amendment is carried there may never be a chance of getting this information now sought and this whole debate may have to be gone over again... For that reason I cannot support Mr. Penney's amendment. I understand from some of the speeches that Mr. Bradley's amendment resembles to a certain extent the original motion, and it means that this Convention will still leave on record that it desires to be fully informed on all matters and provides that a delegation shall not proceed to Ottawa before January 1st, 1947. That gives us something definite and for that reason I will support it.
Mr. Vincent I support whole-heartedly the amendment so ably proposed by Mr. Bradley, and in so doing I am not impugning any other person. I gave my support to Mr. Smallwood's motion and my reason therefor. Now the majority of delegates have expressed their willingness to have a delegation sent to Ottawa and the delegates who supported Mr. Penney's amendment, without supporting the main question, did so only because of the time factor provided; others have supported Mr. Bradley's amendment because it offers a compromise and because a definite time is set. It is highly desirable that we get back to discussions of committees and that can only be achieved by a prompt disposition of the whole subject matter now before the Chair, for my opinion is that this Convention has no right to refuse to examine any issue brought before it. Personally I am willing to explore every form of government, including representative, responsible and confederation. The people of Bonavista North want to know the terms, if any, that are going to be made with Canada. I cannot conceive how any delegate can stand on his feet and say we have no right to seek such and such terms from Canada. I very much regret, however, that there was no trip to Ottawa offered me. But this is not the time to discuss transportation or such like matters and I reaffirm my obligation to the people who sent me here. I am not prepared to say whether confederation is good or bad, and I resent the statement made that we are 100 years behind the times. I am prepared to examine any issue brought in here in the best interests of Newfoundland and its people....
Mr. Hollett Mr. Chairman, I rise to agree with my colleague from Grand Falls, and to show there is no collusion between us. The debate no doubt is amusing. First we have a man proposing a motion in which he already believed, in fact we know he believed in it because he has been fighting for it for years, and he believes in the principle of that motion which was foisted upon us. Mr. Higgins seconded the motion and in the next breath he does not agree with it at all. Then Mr. Burry stated last week that he agreed with the motion, although it was a little premature. This afternoon he was supporting the amendment to the amendment. My colleague supported Mr. Smallwood's motion; now he is supporting Mr. Bradley's. Then we have Mr. Ballam altering his mind. I think this issue is not one which 148 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 should at all be considered at the present time as the facts relative to our own country's welfare should first be sought. I just rose to make it plain that I am against the motion because I feel there is something subtle in it, and I will vote for the amendment.
Mr. Fowler Mr. Chairman, I contend that the amendment to the amendment was a political move to further confuse the issue, split the vote and thus assure a majority in favour of the original motion. I therefore reaffirm my former intention to support the amendment, and I would exhort all members to stick to their original decision to support the amendment proposed by Mr. Penney, and not to be swayed by the confusing amendment more confusingly presented by the learned member for Bonavista East.... I am pleased to see that Mr. Bradley confirms my opinion as expressed on Thursday last, when he says it would be ridiculous to conceive of a delegation proceeding to Canada without first being informed of our own financial and economic position, a statement which should only further strengthen the argument in favour of Mr. Penney's amendment, which in short just means waiting until such time as this Convention may chose to send a delegation. 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 at a time when they should be working in harmony towards the completion of the first and most vital task, the reports of the various committees, and 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, and I think that had Mr. Smallwood awaited a more opportune time and introduced his resolution in a different spirit there could be little reasonable opposition. I must confess that I was not invited to the alleged confederate conferences, nor did Mr. Smailwood as yet make any overture to me. Probably I was considered too insignificant, or more likely he was aware of my attitude towards the whole scheme. I feel sure there is still some honour left, even at this Convention. I suggest Mr. Chairman, that we define once and for all our position, and then with confidence pursue our tasks to a successful conclusion, with equal rights for all and privileges for none.
Mr. Newell Mr. Chairman, I do not propose to make any lengthy remarks. As a matter of fact I have spoken only once, but I wish to say that if one were not so closely involved in this question, and if one were rather sitting in the gallery a great deal of the logic displayed would cause some amusement. I must say that I do not understand the confusion regarding the amendment....
Mr. Fogwill Mr. Chairman, I beg to move an amendment that before we proceed further it is essential for us to know exactly what the terms of reference of this Convention are.
Mr. Chairman There are four questions now before the Chair. We have the original motion, the amendment, the amendment to the amendment and now we have Mr. Fogwill's amendment, the terms of which I would like for him to put in writing. It cannot be a substantive motion. I might say in passing, without having the advantage of seeing your motion in writing, that there is a striking similarity in your motion to Mr. Penney's amendment.
Mr. Fogwill I did not have an opportunity of having it prepared in writing.
Mr. Chairman Is it an amendment to the original motion or an amendment to one of the amendments to the original motion? The question is inexplicably confused.
Mr. Fogwill I move this resolution as an amendment to the original motion. It is unfortunate that the question before the Chair should be introduced at this time. The motion is that it is essential, before we proceed further, to know exactly what the terms of reference of this Convention are.
Mr. Chairman The terms of reference have been considered and ruled upon. Perhaps now, insofar as the competency of the Convention is concerned to recommend that among other forms of government, confederation with Canada be placed upon the ballot, our expert adviser might shorten this discussion and hasten the voting upon these rather complicated questions if he would advise us and get rid of the matter.
Professor Wheare I am willing to give an opinion on that without any reservations at all; but many questions raised, I think, would be very doubtful ones to pronounce upon, If I understand November 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 149 Mr. Fogwill's question, it is this: is the Convention competent to recommend to the government of the United Kingdom that the form of government, confederation with Canada, be placed upon the ballot? The answer, in my opinion, is Yes, the Convention is competent to recommend the placing upon the ballot paper any form of government which, in their opinion, is worthwhile placing before the people of Newfoundland.
Mr. Butt Does that hold for union with the United States?
Professor Wheare The opinion which I just gave admitted of no qualifications, except that the form of government is worthwhile, in their opinion. That includes union with the United States, but you know you have to get the consent of the Government of the United States and, of course, the consent of the Government of the United Kingdom for all these forms. I see nothing in the terms of reference which requires the Convention to consider or recommend only forms of government within the British Empire, there is nothing here which excludes that.
Mr. Fogwill My question is now answered. I beg leave to withdraw the motion, with the consent of my seconder.
Mr. Harrington Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that if Mr. Wheare at the outset of this Convention had given us a little talk we might be further ahead, instead of floundering around in amendments and substantive motions. However, when we started we thought the best way to get at the facts was by breaking up into committees. With regard to Mr. Smallwood's statement I see no reason to change my stand from a week ago. I did not at any time tell Mr. Smallwood that I would support his motion and I wish that to go into the record. I did always lend a sympathetic ear to what he had to say. I am against the amendment to the amendment. The way I feel about the whole thing now is to see it thrown out. However, the position has been clarified somewhat, and there is nothing we can do about it. I do not see why we should rush this thing, which is premature anyway. We have been 14 years under one form of government and surely we can stand to wait for another form for a reasonable while. But I want to make it clear that I did not say at any time that I would support Mr. Smallwood's motion.
Mr. Bailey Mr. Chairman, as the last speaker remarked, we have been floundering along and I am sure we can thank Mr. Fogwill and Professor Wheare for clarifying the situation regarding our status as a Convention.
Mr. Butt Mr. Chairman, it is rather strange, but the essence of the two questions before the Chair is simple. Do you or do you not want terms from Canada and do you or do you not want them now? In speaking thus I expect I am expressing the view of a great many people. Personally I do not want them now and I am voting against the motion.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, just a few words in reply to Mr. Harrington. He says he did not promise to vote for the motion I introduced, and I do not think that I said this afternoon that he had so promised. What I did say this afternoon is that months ago Mr. Harrington told me that he would vote to get the terms of confederation, but he did not promise me with regard to this particular motion of mine. I would like to reply to other remarks made with regard to this rushing business of getting the terms. I wonder if rushing is quite the right term to use. For 13 years we have had Commission of Government; for 79 years we have had responsible government and for 23 years we have had representative government. Now the country has spent over 100 years under those three forms of government and I fail to see how the Convention would be rushing in this particular instance. It is true my motion had not specified the time with regard to the sending of a delegation to Canada but merely proposed that negotiations be held as soon as possible with the Canadian government relative to the terms of federal union. I realise some members voted against my motion as they were sincere in their belief that to accept it would be to taking a premature step, and in this connection Mr. Bradley's motion was for the primary purpose of meeting the objections of those who claimed that the original resolution was premature. Now my motion merely called for the accumulation of facts regarding possible confederation, whilst the amendment suggested that the collection of such facts be postponed for an indefinite period, so that the acceptance of the amendment would only leave the matter open for future and acrimonious debate which would not be the best interests of the Convention. My resolution was simply to procure facts relevant to confederation, but would in no way give a delegation power to 150 NATIONAL CONVENTION November 1946 negotiate with the Canadian government in regard to possible federal union. There are thousands of Newfoundlanders tonight who have a strong desire for confederation and those people have the right to request and receive all the facts pertaining to the terms of confederation.
[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] See p.93, 104, 120. [Debate Days, 1946 10-28, 10-29, 10-30]
  • [1] J.R. Smallwood, (ed), The Book a Newfoundland (2 volumes, St. John's, 1937).
  • [1] Canada, House of Commons Debates, 12 July 1943.

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