Newfoundland National Convention, 6 February 1947, Debates on Confederation with Canada


February 6, 1947

Report of the Forestry Committee:[1] Committee of the Whole

Mr. Cashin Mr. Chairman, when we adjourned the other afternoon I suggested to you that we had something additional to the supplementary report, and I will now read that additional supplement....
The Committee has recently received numerous representations from certain sections of the country requesting that certain timber areas now held by private corporations either under lease or free simply should revert to the Crown. These particular areas carry the only available timber in these ter ritories that could be of benefit to the people generally, either for fuel or the manufacture of lumber for local consumption. The Forestry Committee feels that the Commission government might make an effort to negotiate with the companies concerned for an exchange of properties by mutual encouragment and if possible try and effect a settlement that would be equitably fair. A settlement along these lines would be of material assistance to the people concerned.
The whole supplementary report is now 286 NATIONAL CONVENTION February 1947 before the House. The other part was read the other afternoon, and it is now open for discussion or question.
Mr. Higgins I wonder if Major Cashin would tell us how the amount of $25 million is computed?
Mr. Cashin If you will remember that time we brought the original Forestry Report before this House, we estimated that the total earning power from the pulp and paper industry would be in the vicinity of $16 million. Since that time, we have had Mr. Lewin, General Manager of the Bowater Pulp and Paper Company before the Committee, and I think he stated in his address that the industry would be earning around $20 million in a very short period. He said that the development of timber for export or pulp and paper on the Labrador could be very reasonably expected to produce another $5 million a year. Consequently with the price of newsprint as it is today and the future prospects for it in the next two or three years at $83 a ton, and figuring $35 or $40 a ton labour, and some 500,000 tons of newsprint annually, you will find that it will go over $20 million annually. It is well known that newsprint gives an earning power of half the price obtained for it. That is general.
Mr. Higgins Why I asked this is not idle curiosity In the end of the year issue of the Daily News Mr. Lewin wrote an article, and in that he said: "When it is also realised that the total payroll of the Corner Brook company will have increased nearly fourfold in the last ten years and will reach close to $12 million in 1948, it will readily be seen what this means to the west coast in particular and the country as a whole." I assume his position was that Comer Brook would contribute $12 million, and I presume he meant that Grand Falls would make up the other $8 million.
Mr. Cashin Yes, the total industry of the country.
Mr. Smallwood When Mr. Lewin estimates the wage bill of Bowaters reaching around $12 million in 1948, does that include the amount of wages that they are paying out on construction of the new extension to the mill, or is it for permanent labour in and around the mill and in the woods, or does it include the short-time construction period?
Mr. Cashin No, in 1948 the constmction period will be over, and the mill will be running in full capacity and will have around a $12 million earning power....
Mr. Smallwood Has Major Cashin any estimate of what Bowaters are likely to spend year by year for the next few years?
Mr. Cashin Their programme calls for over $12 million.
Mr. Smallwood That's Corner Brook or Grand Falls?
Mr. Cashin Corner Brook. Grand Falls is additional to that.
Mr. Smallwood What is under discussion is construction or extension?
Mr. Cashin Extension.
Mr. Smallwood Have you any idea what the AND Co. are paying out now and next year and the year after in regular wages?
Mr. Cashin $78 million.
Mr. Smallwood So that if Bowaters pay out $12 million in regular wages, and the AND Co. pay out $7-8 million, it is $19-20 million a year?
Mr. Cashin That's right.
Mr. Smallwood I notice that Mr. Lewin's estimate is based on present operating conditions. Your report goes on to say, "This means that our total prospective earning power from forest industry would be approximately $25 million annually." I take it you mean $12 million from Bowaters, $7-8 million from the AND Company, and $5 million from perhaps Labrador?
Mr. Cashin Yes, Labrador and the local industry.
Mr. Smallwood Would you give the local industry as $1.75 million?
Mr. Cashin Yes.
Mr. Smallwood Is there any real reason for supposing there might be $3-4 million spent in Labrador.
Mr. Cashin There is no official reason, but when Mr. Lewin came before the Committee he indicated that there might be people who were seriously interested in the timber resources of Labrador — sulphite mills in Hamilton Inlet and the Bay D'Espoir area.
Mr. Smallwood Did he by any chance say that his firm...
Mr. Cashin No, they are interested at present.
Mr. Smallwood I don't want Major Cashin to use any names he is not supposed to use, but may we take it that there are pulp and paper mill February 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 287 people somewhere who are actively interested in developing Labrador?
Mr. Cashin I think so.
Mr. Smallwood Would they be Canadian or American?
Mr. Cashin Both. Outside interests.
Mr. Smallwood I wonder if Major Cashin would tell us a little more about this statement here — the third last paragraph of your supplementary report, page 2: "We understand that recently 320 square miles of timber area have been granted to the Three Rapids Estate...." That's the survey containing 20-odd million cords of wood. Do you know the terms on which they were granted this?
Mr. Cashin We did not get the terms.
Mr. Smallwood Do you suppose that would be the normal $2 per square mile?
Mr. Cashin Yes, and possibly a special stumpage. I am just figuring on what some people who were negotiating some years ago did get, and I don't see why the government would give them anything less than 75 cents a cord under these circumstances.
Mr. Smallwood Would Major Cashin tell us who the Three Rapids Estate are?
Mr. Cashin Mr. Grieve, and some English capital I believe it is Pierce and Price, timber dealers in Great Britain.
Mr. Smallwood I have no wish to delay anything or talk too long, but this is really important, and I don't feel like being rushed in the matter. Mr. Lewin appeared before the Forestry Committee and gave an estimate of what they have been paying out in wages, and what they will be paying out say in 1948 and maybe 1949, which is very encouraging. He also makes the statement in your original report here, that they had sold their newsprint output for the next ten years in advance.
Mr. Cashin Yes.
Mr. Smallwood I suppose the same thing applies to Grand Falls?
Mr. Cashin I think so. I think they sell it one to the other at market price.
Mr. Smallwood Therefore the question we have to ask ourselves in trying to look ahead is what is the newsprint and woods industry generally going to be worth to us in the next eight or ten years. It is all sold, and is there any indication of the terms on which it has been sold?
Mr. Cashin At the present time, as far as I know, the rates or prices paid for newsprint are based on a price fob New York, and that is at present $84 a ton. If they send it to South America they pay more for it, but the basic price is $84 per ton fob New York, and the prospects for the next few years are that it will not go below that price. I don't know what the Bowaters contract calls for, but the price is the usual market price. Sometimes they get more than market price and sometimes less.
Mr. Smallwood I understand that the output is sold for the next ten years to come, but at market price. In other words it will be at the 1947 market price, and sometimes if they want to bootleg a bit, they might get a bit more?
Mr. Cashin Yes.
Mr. Smallwood I think it is only fair to touch on that for a moment. I have here a copy of World Reporter which is a very well known publication, for November 5, and there is an article here called "Newsprint still fails to meet the world's need." They are running short in the world at the rate of 1,200,000 tons a year. Canada will turn out 4,200,000 tons this year, setting a new record. Three quarters of that goes to the United States, and the Canadian plants have reached their capacity. Perhaps 250,000 tons could be squeezed out of the Canadian mills by speeding up their machines, but it says "widespread expansion is not planned because the industry regards the present market as a passing phase." This present world wide shortage, and the high price based on that shortage, is, they think, a passing phase. Newfoundland produces 350,000 tons a year, but most of it goes to the United States and Great Britain. Expansion of capacity by 75,000 tons will be completed by 1948. That's the Bowaters expansion is it not?
Mr. Cashin Yes, that will be by 1948.
Mr. Smallwood It speaks of Finland, Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, etc., and it winds up by saying, "Regardless of price, however, there is ample evidence that the current shortage of newsprint on a worldwide basis will carry through 1947 and may reach 1948." The indication is that the worldwide shortage will be overtaken in 1947 or 1948, they will catch up with the need. Bearing on that also, the January 25 issue ofthe Financial Post has this on newsprint: "pulp and fine paper price up", did you read that?
Mr. Cashin Yes, that type of paper is not made in Newfoundland.
Mr. Smallwood Newsprint and fine paper.
Mr. Cashin It does not mean our newsprint.
Mr. Cashin ....Thank God we have got two good mills in Newfoundland. They are on the upward trend, and running at full capacity. One is definitely going to increase its capacity 70,000- odd tons a year, and it seems pretty sure that in the next two or three years the price is going to look pretty good, but I don't want to delude myself into the belief that for the next eight or ten years the price is going to hold at anything like the $83 or $84 a ton that it is today. I wonder if Major Cashin can tell us what the price has been in the last four or five months?
Mr. Cashin During the last 40 years it has averaged about $60 a ton.
Mr. Smallwood What has it been in the last four or five months?
Mr. Cashin Well it's $84 a ton now, from about $40 in 1939. During the war we had difficulty owing to lack ofshipping, the paper was rationed, papers were smaller, but now everything is open wide and Canada is producing over four million tons a year. If the price goes down in Newfoundland it will go down everywhere, so that it will affect all the world.
Mr. Smallwood That's the point I am trying to get at. The sale of all this paper is at market price, and that is what we will get. The price may go up or down. These are the only questions I want to ask Major Cashin, but I do want to say a word on this little supplementary report brought in today. This concerns the district I come from more than anywhere else in the country — it deals with the three-mile limit. I remember a speech given by Mr. Ewbank when he was Commissioner, he deals with this three-mile limit....[1] Do I understand that there is no three-mile limit left in White Bay?
Mr. Cashin It looks like that.
Mr. Smallwood He says that the whole of the east side of White Bay is private property. You have parts of this island, and I speak with personal knowledge of one part of Bonavista Bay, where there is not a scrap of timber left on the three-mile limit, and yet on that stretch of coast you have quite a number of saw mills, and you have the utterly maddening situation that the people are without timber on the three-mile limit. Yet flanking that three-mile limit, is fine first- class timber owned by private companies, which they got into their hands by grant or purchase or some other way. I notice that the Committee say that they have received numerous representations from certain sections of the country about this matter. I have no doubt that many of these were from Bonavista North, Gambo and other places around there.
Mr. Ballam The Humber as well.
Mr. Smallwood That's a sad story, but we won't go into that just now. i know that I am only wasting breath, because we are not the government of the country and can't do anything about it. But the people who are suffering from this would not think very much of us if we skimped it over withjust a passing word. Some of us here may be in the next government of the country, I know Major Cashin hopes he will be, and I know I hope I am.
Mr. Cashin Glad to hear that you are converted!
Mr. Smallwood No, I am not convened, l always wanted our own government back. Something has to be done. Out of that $34 million accumulated surplus that the government has we are going to have to lash out $1 million in the next year or two, to buy back from Bowaters and AND and other private owners, that timber, and make it available to the small saw mills in various parts of this island. I think when Major Cashin brings in his Finance Report he had better put that down in his budget.
Mr. Cashin Does that mean that Mr. Smallwood is admitting that we are going to have responsible government?
Mr. Smallwood Well, the kind of government I want includes responsible government. The people have to have timber as much as we need breath, and we had better get alive to that fact. I am sure the people who sent these letters to you and me, Major Cashin, don't expect that we can do anything about it, and they won't blame us or this Convention. But so long as they know that we have it in the front of our mind that it has got to be taken care of, that's all we can do.
Mr. Cashin We will put that in our first manifesto!
Mr. Smallwood No, I want it put in the budget. We may have to pay them a royalty or stumpage, but we have got to have timber for these people.
Mr. Burry I would like to express my satisfaction about this supplementary report dealing with Labrador area. When the report came in first I was very reluctant to accept the figures of 50 to 100 million cords in Labrador, but now that we have the result of this survey made by the Bowater Pulp and Paper Co., which is reliable, I am satisfied that we do have a very fine bulk of timber in Labrador.... On this 6,000 square miles there is 25 million cords of wood, and that territory is drained by the great rivers of Labrador, Hamilton, Nascopie, Goose, etc. It is a wide area and takes in the lower waters of these rivers. I was pleased that Mr. Lewin says that it is possible to put in a sulphite mill in that area. The supplementary report speaks of a paper mill going up on the southwest coast. Labrador will be pleased to be able to feed that mill. I always had doubts of that but Mr. Lewin knows what he is talking about, and he says it is possible. Of course that will be one of the conditions under which any concessions are given for this timber.
I have been tempted to ask for roads, etc. for Labrador, but I don't think we should take up the time for that. I do ask your indulgence for a few minutes about the possibilities of the sulphite mill. We have 130 - 140 families in this area that are going to be robbed almost completely of their means of livelihood down through the ages. They are trappers, and go far afield, and when this wood cutting project starts in these rivers, naturally it is going to destroy the trapping grounds, not only in the immediate vicinity but it will bring in other outside people who will not observe the customs and unwritten laws of these people under which they have been trapping all these years. These have been observed religiously among the people. Their trapping grounds 200 miles away are going to be destroyed and their work spoilt. It will take a long time for them to change from that to wood cutting, and they are very much afraid of it. I think it is of great importance that whatever government is in power in the future Labrador is going to be represented on it, and this will be a point brought out at that time. I want the members to bear this in mind, when they do become members of the next government of Newfoundland....
Mr. Vincent ....The outlook as far as forestry is concerned appears for the year just opened to be one of continued and reasonably profitable activity. The records for l945-46 show a total export value of our forest industries that exceeded $20 million, and at present the demand for woodsmen far exceeds the available supply. The overall picture is fairly optimistic. Mr. H.M. Spencer Lewin, General Manager of Bowaters voiced opinions which amply justify our optimism.
The forest industries have progressed to such a degree that today they occupy the position of the major asset in terms of comparative values; and the fact that they are not subject to the extremes of booms and depressions which so characterise our fisheries, makes them figure still more prominently in the economic life of our country. Worthy of special notice is the fact that the output of our mills have been sold ten years in advance. This bespeaks sound markets and a healthy demand for our products, and while it must be clearly understood that the ten year contract is naturally at the then market price, it nevertheless portrays a very flourishing condition for our newsprint industry.
The tragic fire at Glovertown recalls to us the value of reafforestation and the importance of a competent forest tire patrol. It would be criminal negligence on the part of corporations and people not to do everything to prevent a repetition of such wanton destruction of our God-given wealth. Reafforestation is of great importance, and if our forests are not to be depleted, the government should replace the present passive policy of awaiting natural regrowth by a vigorous well-planned programme of reafforestation. Labrador, a vast potential of unknown wealth, may in the near future contribute in substantial measure to the stability and growth of our economy... But are the men who have to live from our forest resources just one big, happy and prosperous family? After such a pleasant prospect it is tragic to introduce a negative note, but I have a letter here from a constituent of the District of Bonavista Centre, and many such letters came to me last week.
I have said that I am not greatly interested in forms of government; as far as I am concerned, whatever's best administered is best. But I am gravely concerned about the alienation of the last 290 NATIONAL CONVENTION February 1947 privilege and right of the fisherman and mill owner. This one came from Mr. Smallwood's district:
Dear Sir:
With the opening of the National Convention, I wish to draw your attention for a few moments — knowing you are appointed one of the Forestry Committee.
What I wish for you to do, is to put before your committee the circumstances of the sawmill owners and the general public of the east coast of Bonavista Bay.
In this district there are quite a number of sawmills which support quite a number of families and do a lot of good. Without these mills, the people of the east coast would be in a very awkward position for building purposes. In the very near future — if something is not done — if we need say one hundred feet of lumber, we will have to import it from Canada, which to my idea should not be necessary.
I think it time we should get busy and demand a certain cutting plan, not that I want to interfere with the operations of any of the companies; I will say there is sufficient timber if laid out in the proper way, so will you kindly do your best to get something done.
To my mind the forestry situation is similar to the road building in this country; a few places get all the roads leaving the others with nothing.
Hoping to hear from you in the near future.
We may be forced to import lumber for our people. The fishing industry cannot exist without timber resources. My friends down in Greenspond must have material to build boats. They must cut wood to erect stages, and they must have fuel. Obviously none of today's temporary political administrators in this country care two hoots as to what happens to the fishermen, planter, or the small mill owner. Their very existence is dependent on the forests of our island. Have these men a case? Their fathers pioneered and blazed the trails. Now this birthright is gone; they may not operate their mills; they may not erect a shipbuilding yard. This deplorable situation cannot be laid at the doors of the large newsprint corporations — rather it is to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the government which permitted such a thing to happen.
The two paper companies play a big role in the economic life of Newfoundland. Both are progressively managed and contribute in a large way to the welfare of our people. But I affirm that the two past governments have blundered in permitting the leasing of the timber limits around the coastal belt of our island; but sympathy is not enough.... These men have a case. They have to protest....
Mr. Chairman The motion is that the committee rise and report having considered the matter to them referred.
Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Chairman, before the committee rises, I would like to make a few observations. What I would like to see is a statement showing how much money from the products of the forests remains in Newfoundland. We know some money goes out, but we are mostly interested in what remains. The people in our section were greatly disappointed when we realized that there would not be a mill on the Gander River, because we hoped to have a great deal of employment for the people of Notre Dame Bay and it was also hoped that mill would be able to utilise a considerable quantity of the timber on the Labrador.
I don't want it to be thought that I have any fantastic ideas on the value of Labrador, yet I maintain that we have an asset of great potential value, and that this territory should be safeguarded for generations to come, and not be bartered away. We have minerals, tremendous water-power, the Hamilton River, and ten main rivers in Labrador, a territory almost three times as large as Newfoundland, and twice as large as England. I hope and trust that these assets and natural resources will be so utilised that they will be an increasing earning power for our people. The matter ofa sulphite mill (I presume to be run by waterpower) is an admirable suggestion....
I see that the government are making plans for a complete survey of Labrador timber, and I trust the people who make this survey will be competent to do it by an aerial survey and also a survey by land. It would be a good idea for the people of Newfoundland to put up a paper mill to be run on a co-operative basis, but unfortunately we are a small country. While we have many millions of dollars in the banks yet, unfortunate February 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 291 ly, we have to look to outside interests, these big companies to come here and start these industries. We are glad to have them here, but we want to be very careful when we are making arrangements with these big companies. I think one of these companies is protected, as far as the tax they have to pay is concerned, up to 1973.... All these resources that can be manufactured in Newfoundland mean much more to us than if we export raw wood. We know the coal mines in England need the pit props, and that there is a demand for wood for export, but the best interests of Newfoundland will be served by manufacturing into finished products as much of the assets of our country as we can possibly do.
Mr. Higgins Speaking of forms of government, and remembering the old adage "politics makes strange bed-fellows", and referring to the statement by Mr. Smallwood that he hoped that he and Major Cashin would be in the same government, I was wondering just what form of government that would be. But what I really meant to say was that I was very impressed by the addition to the supplementary report, and I think that particular aspects should be stressed very highly — the three-mile limit has practically nothing left on it. I think, if possible, the recommendations of the Committee should be carried out in some form, and possibly if we tacked a little more on it the powers that be may be impressed, otherwise all that will be left for these people will be "small wood".... With reference to the sulphite mill in Labrador, is it a fact that sulphite pulp cannot be kept very long as it goes sour, and that is why there is no sulphite mill there at the present time? The other question is, can you split up that $5 million extra over the $20 million for Newfoundland?
Mr. Cashin ....I understand there is now some process whereby they can store sulphite for a considerable period.
Mr. Higgins That was not so in the past was it?
Mr. Cashin No, not years ago. With regard to splitting up that $5 million, I would like to have it here to divide between us! But the labour from that sulphite mill, that is the manufacturing, would average $40 a ton. You would want a capital of roughly $5 million to build town sites, wharves, etc., to produce 100,000 tons of wood or more a year, and that would give from $1.5 — $2 million earning power. Is that satisfactory?
Mr. Smallwood I don't want to delay things, but something has me puzzled, and that's the actual amount of timber in Newfoundland. This is a copy of everything taken in 1914 by the Dominions Royal Commission.[3] Sir Edgar Bowning was a member. Before that there was George Turner, who was Deputy Minister of Mines. He was examined by Sir Rider Haggard, who said:
You have in this country a vast area of timberland still left? Ans. I would not say a vast area. There remains the considerable timbered portions of the three mile coast fringe.
Ques. But inside that? Ans. All inside that is now owned by private parties. Ques. The government has only the three mile coast fringe?
Ans. Yes. Ques. And inside the three mile limit it is mostly covered with timber? Ans. No, about l0,000 square miles would cover all the remaining timber of merchantable quality.
In 1939 Mr. Ewbank said this: "We have not yet made a complete survey of the timber on Crown lands, but the Forestry Officer, Mr. Turner, has been collecting data for some years and now reports that he has enough information on which to make a rough estimate. He calculates that the total value of soft wood on Crown lands is not more than six million cords. In addition there is a good deal of acreage where young trees are growing up after burning. He calculates that there would be two million cords of growing stock." That gives us eight million cords of soft wood.
Now I come to the Report, page 12, paragraph 10: "From information given us we find that, the total amount of wood available on Crown lands is roughly five million cords (excluding birch) and the total amount on leased lands is 60 million cords." The point I want to make is that in 1914 the Government of Newfoundland estimated that the Crown had in this island 10,000 square miles of timber. In 1939 the government estimated eight million cords of soft wood, that is counting two million cords of young stuff that was just 292 NATIONAL CONVENTION February 1947 growing where it had been burnt over. Now the government estimates a total of roughly five million cords, not counting birch. What I am getting at is this: does anyone know how much timber we have in Newfoundland?
Mr. Cashin The companies know what they have got.
Mr. Smallwood But does anyone know how much timber we have belonging to the Crown?
Mr. Cashin No, I don't believe so.
Mr. Smallwood I wonder if the Convention realises what a damning reply that is. Not damning to the Forestry Committee now, but to the Commission of Government, particularly damning to them, but damning to every government we have ever had. For 13 years they have been in this country and surely within the first six months they would have taken immediate steps not merely to find out how much timber we had in Newfoundland, but how much minerals, and how much waterpower. Today they still don't know how much timber the Crown owns in this country; or how much waterpower is here. The other day the government decided to get a hydroelectric engineer to come and make a survey of the waterpower — after 13 years! And here we are trying to make an appraisal of the value of the resources of the country, and we don't know yet (a) how much timber we have, (b) how much waterpower we have, (c) how much minerals. Major Cashin is looking very pleased, but I am not saying it for his benefit, that is the position. Would Major Cashin tell us frankly that he does not know and the Committee does not know?
Mr. Cashin The only information is what we have got from the Department of Natural Resources — about five million cords.
Mr. Smallwood But do you believe it, or is it a guess?
Mr. Cashin Well, they told us they are only making a stab at it.
Mr. Smallwood No doubt when Mr. Higgins brings in his Mining Report he will be able to tell us just what minerals we have. What about the waterpower'? What committee looks after that?
Mr. Cashin It comes under the Finance Report, I think.
Mr. Smallwood You mean that we will have a watered financial report?
Mr. Cashin Yes, we watered our stock!
Mr. Miller After Mr. Smallwood spoke about the government purchasing back that timber I really thought he was going to suggest that we include another $5 million to survey the waterpower and minerals, etc. in Newfoundland, but he did not do it. I am rather disappointed.
Mr. McCormack Hitherto I have taken very little part in debate on the different reports. For this reason, and also because of the fact that you have patiently tolerated irrelevancy in the past, I now tmst that you will allow me some latitude if I too am a bit irrelevant. I did not take part in debates for various reasons, chief of which was that I always felt, and still do, that we should never have had public sessions and that we would have done our work much more efficiently and with less politics if we had had a summary of our proceedings given weekly to the press and broadcasting stations. lt is a rather late date to be expressing such opinions — I give them now only because some of the people in my district listening to the various speakers talking of roads, etc., in their districts seem to think that those districts are going to have a lot of public funds expended there, and are afraid that history will repeat itself as in the old days of responsible government when it was said, "All gone and none for St. Mary's". This phrase originated presumably because of the fact that St. Mary's district never seemed to be able to get anything done from the Public Works Department. I wish to assure them that were it a matter of voicing our needs at this Convention, I would be on my feet as readily as any of the delegates.
Mr. Chairman this supplement to the Report of the Forestry Committee is very encouraging and the co-operation of Mr. Lewin in giving us the results of his company's private surveys is to be appreciated. I am not over-enthused over these companies getting so much control over so much of our territory. The different governments in the past have made a rather thorough job of giving away our assets — waterpower and forests. The paper companies have virtually closed towns with the corporations controlling everything and we, the owners, even leave it to them to carry out a scientific reafforestation policy. It is quite true that these industries leave considerable money in the country but it is only sufficient to operate their work and the profits go outside the country.
If we are to judge by the different committee February 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 293 reports received to date which recommend an additional expenditure in every department of government, it would seem that we cannot look forward with any degree of optimism to being self-supporting, when we consider the enormous expenditure at present. However, this may not be a true picture. We have been told that our economy is affected by things outside our control. This is only partly true and might be partially overcome by a revised policy with a progressive programme to lessen these outside influences. Also we should produce in this country as much of our necessities which can economically be produced. We have plenty fish, and I am convinced and I believe the report of the Agriculture Committee will convince you that we can economically produce beef, pork, veal, lamb, chicken, potatoes, cabbage and turnips — besides other vegetables — as also milk and butter. If we can do this we should be able to export fish enough to give us a good surplus for luxuries, after buying the essential foods, clothing, etc., which we cannot produce ourselves.
It should be obvious that the salvation of this country is primarily the fisheries from which the bulk of the profits are ploughed back into the industry. Fresh frozen fish in particular should be encouraged and exploited to the full with an advertising campaign to secure more markets, and which is very important, marketing in local bottoms. Most important if we are to encourage young men to go back to the fisheries is that we re-organise the whole set-up for a more equitable distribution of the profits so that the primary producer, the fisherman, gets returns capable of giving his family the ordinary amenities of life.
As pointed out we should expect some assistance in securing markets, by reason of the lease of bases to the United States of America and Canada. Most Newfoundlanders feel that we got a rotten deal as we got only the labour value of construction, and even this was considerably reduced due to our own government limiting the rate which Newfoundlanders should be paid. These bases were necessary for the joint defence of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada; therefore we should get special consideration by all three countries, whether by tariff concessions or otherwise in the development of markets. I will not now deal with the absurdity of a little country without planes of its own operating an airport, the facilities of which are enjoyed by the international transport system. Personally I don't think we are losing any money by it but do feel that we could use it to better advantage.
In addition we have imports, the importance of which is often overlooked — banking, insurance, and ocean freights as examples. These are a drain on our economy even though they do leave a certain amount of money in the country in salaries, commissions, etc. We pay high rates with the money going to foreign concerns, whilst our own people are investing their money outside this country.
Should our future government take steps to remedy some if not all of these conditions, we could then indeed look forward with optimism.
Most delegates have spoken of conditions in their districts, particularly road conditions. If you will permit me, I would make a few observations on my district. Road conditions in general are far below the level of secondary highroads with many sections without any roads. The people of Colinet Island, where there are two settlements of about 50 families who make a comfortable living from the fisheries, have been seeking for years assistance in the building of six miles of road. Colinet island is about one-half mile from Admiral's Beach, a settlement on the mainland, six miles from O'Donnell's, which at the present time is the end of the road connecting through to St. John's and other points on the Avalon. It is unnecessary for me to elaborate on the convenience and necessity of this road to these people. Another instance of neglect is the settlement of North Harbour, one of the best harbours on the Newfoundland coast, where they have no road nor even telephone communication. Five miles of road would connect North Harbour with the Argentia highroad at a point near Colinet. The lack of it necessitates a motorboat journey of 20 miles, and in the case of medical attention or hospitalisation, this is not only very unpleasant and dangerous, but sometimes impossible. Both these settlements get a weekly mail service, where the courier who carries the mail on his shoulders gets around $7 per round trip. Mal Bay, where there are about 40 families, has no post office or mail service. I could go on picturing the utter disregard towards the people of Trepassey, where they are cut off all winter without medical 294 NATIONAL CONVENTION February 1947 services of any kind. However, I see no point in enumerating the various needs of our districts and I feel sure that the people in St. Mary's district realise just what the Convention was appointed to do. I wish to assure them that I have great optimism for the future of this country and feel confident that never again shall it be said, "All gone and none for St. Mary's."
Mr. Higgins Mr. Chairman, if you will pardon me for diverting a moment or two to the last phrase, maybe St. Mary's pays for it all. I believe that the last speaker has a communication on his desk, and he should bring it forth; it is from his district.
Mr. Chairman That is a matter for himself, I have no knowledge of the contents of the document.
Mr. McCormack Mr. Chairman, this is a communication from a person in my district asking fora bridgewhich he thinks it is necessary to have there. Perhaps it is, but if any of the people in my district wish to have anything for the district mentioned here, they will have to speak of it to myself.
Mr. Higgins I think it is off the line, but as the communication came to me I passed it to him and I feel he should give it to the people. Perhaps he might for a moment tell what his constituents want.
Mr. McCormack I think I made it very clear that I believe the people of St. Mary's realise what the Convention was appointed to do here, and, as I said at the beginning of my talk, we are not here to talk of the needs of our different settlements. If most of the delegates had realised that from the beginning we would probably have finished up our work by this time. As I told Mr. Higgins, if this gentleman wants to have anything spoken of about his district he will communicate with Mr. McCormack and not Mr. Higgins.
Mr. Hollett In rising to ask Major Cashin a question I congratulate him on the complete report his Committee has brought in, and I would also like to congratulate both him and Mr. Smallwood on the affability with which they carried on their conversation today. I would like to ask if your Committee had any discussion with Mr. Lewin relative to the matter of either reafforestation or afforestation?
Mr. Cashin Yes, there was. I just give it to you from memory. We covered reafforestation in this Report, I think you were there, and he told us that an expert who came here about a year and a half ago, went into the matter and made certain recommendations, and the two companies together were prepared to pay two-thirds of this reafforestation, the total cost being around $19,000. They were prepared to put up two- thirds, but the government refused to put up the other one-third, feeling that it would be an awful thing for the government to put up $6 - 7,000. That is the matter this gentleman was down here to discuss....
Mr. Smallwood Where were they to reafforest, was it company grounds?
Mr. Cashin Oh no, it was general.
Mr. Smallwood While you are on your feet, is that this Avalon Peninsula scheme that Mr. Lewin spoke of? We know that the Avalon is nearly barren now, is that the scheme?
Mr. Cashin Yes, and Bonavista and other places.
Mr. Smallwood The companies were willing to pay two-thirds?
Mr. Cashin Yes.
Mr. Hollett I understood it was also on the three-mile limit, and it would take ten years to develop.
Mr. Cashin Yes. It would cost $19,000 I think.
Mr. Smallwood How much land would that reafforest?
Mr. Cashin I could not tell you that.
Mr. Smallwood I would like to ask Major Cashin one final question.
Mr. Cashin Good.
Mr. Smallwood All this information you have here in your supplementary report about the timber in Labrador, is information apparently that you got from Mr. Lewin. Right?
Mr. Cashin Yes.
Mr. Smallwood What information did you get from the government on timber in Labrador?
Mr. Cashin Nothing.
Mr. Smallwood This information that you got from Mr. Lewin, didn't the government have that?
Mr. Cashin No, I don't think so, it was Bowaters private property which they paid for in 1937 or 1938. They had given it to the government to have a look at, but they returned it.
Mr. Smallwood Didn't they make a copy of it?
Mr. Cashin I don't think so. I think we put in February 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 295 there in the end of the report that they are now considering having a survey made on Labrador.
[The committee of the whole rose and reported that it had passed the report. The Convention adjourned]


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



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

Notes de bas de page:

  • [1] Volume II:56. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] R.B. Ewbank, Public Affairs in Newfoundland: Addresses by RB. Ewbank, C.S.I., C.I, E., Commissionerfor Natural Resources Newfoundland 1936-1939 (Cardiff, 1939).
  • [1] Great Britain. Royal Commission on the Natural Resources, Trade, and Legislation of Certain Portions of His Majesty's Dominions, February 1915, Cmd. 7711.

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