Newfoundland National Convention, 11 April 1947, Debates on Confederation with Canada


April 11, 1947

Mr. Chairman Orders of the day. Mr. Jackman to move the following resolution:
Whereas it is desirable that the National Convention and the people of Newfoundland should be fully informed, so far as possible, of all the facts having any bearing upon forms of government that might be submitted to the people in a national referendum.
Therefore be it resolved that the appropriate authorities he advised that the Convention desires to inform the Government of the United States of America of the Convention's wish to learn that government's attitude on the question of the federal union of Newfoundland with the United States of America: and further wishes to ascertain the terms and conditions on the basis of which the Government of the United States of America consider that such federal union might be effected, for which purpose this Convention desires to send a delegation to Washington, D.C.
Be it further resolved that the delegation shall have no authority whatsoever to negotiate or conclude any agreement or in any manner to bind the Convention or the people of Newfoundland.
Mr. Jackman Mr. Chairman, in rising to move this resolution I do not do so with any undue enthusiasm. I feel very sad about the whole situation. I am a Newfoundlander and I am very proud of my birth. I lost in the first world war the only brother in the world I could have as a companion, who laid down his life at Beaumont Hamel in 1916, for the rights of all people to choose their own way of living. But I do recognise, sir, a certain subtle line of propaganda which we fell for in 1933, and which we are beginning to fall for again today. Mr. Chairman, I have your last speech that you gave in this House when you were the Leader of the Opposition. I have it home on file, I have kept it for years. I just want to note one part of it, when you said that the government was making serfs of the people of Newfoundland.
Now Mr. Chairman, my idea in moving this resolution is only to satisfy a number of my constituents who are in favour of this. I have listened to a number of people apart from my constituency talking about the same thing. Personally, whilst I move this, I do not agree with it. It sounds inconsistent but nevertheless I cannot help it. I believe that if we as a people want to get down to brass tacks, that there is only one way we can do it, and that is by standing on our own feet. I do not believe in getting everything from a government. As John Stuart Mill says, "The worth of a nation is the worth of the individual." We have been subjected, not only lately, but for a number of years, to this line of propaganda: "Give me your mind, and I will give you something to eat." I think it is appropriate to recall a warning from one of the greatest philosophers of modern times — by the way he was a German — Hegel. He told the German people over 100 years ago, "Men are not free when they are not thinking." Of course the logical follow-up is this: there is only one way to bring it into action, and that is by the ballot, a secret weapon which all of us fought for, and it is sad to think that the battle of Runnymede, which was fought so long ago, should have been sabotaged in 1933. I do not wish to hold up the investigations of this Convention, in fact I am very anxious to get it concluded as quickly as possible, because as I have said before, it is the common people who are paying for it and I don't want to take anything off of anyone. Now at this time I think it would be very appropriate to quote a reference from the Bible, very appropriate. This is it: "For verily I say unto you that whosoever shall say unto this mountain: 'Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith."
Shakespeare says, "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt." Mr. Chairman, in moving this resolution I do it in this way: I have faith in 474 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 our people, I have faith in Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders. We fought in two wars and we came out on top, and not only on top, but we got from the highest rank and authorities in England these continents. Lord Haig said in the last war, "Newfoundlanders are better than the best." Montgomery said, "Give me a million Newfoundlanders and we will clean up all the Germans in the world." Here is what I say: I have faith in my country, and I have faith in our people, and I do not like the idea of sending delegations anywhere. I do, however, agree with the delegation going to England, and that's one of the reasons why I move this resolution, because when our delegation goes to England they are going to be asked, "Well, what do the people in Newfoundland think?" The answer is, "Some say responsible government, and some confederation", and it stops there. Now if this resolution is passed today, they will be fully aware of this as well, when the Dominions Secretary asks, "What do you think of the USA?" Well, we also want to know what about that. I move this resolution first of all because I know there are a number of people in Newfoundland who would vote for amalgamation with the USA, and secondly because I want our delegation when they go to England to let the British government know that we are beginning to get pretty itchy — in other words we are willing to go in with anyone. I personally do not agree with it. I am a Newfoundlander, and I want Newfoundland for Newfoundlanders, but as I see it you are having a delegation sent to England and one to Canada, and in order to give the people what they want, and in accordance with our terms of reference and what Professor Wheare told us, I move that this delegation be also included.
Mr. Chairman I allow the resolution, but in doing so I feel that it is my duty to point out clearly to the Convention that this proposal directly and essentially involves a secession from the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the incorporation of Newfoundland into a foreign power, under a foreign flag. Does anyone second the motion?
Mr. Figary I rise to second the motion made by Mr. Jackman. I am not going to make any comments because I think it has been well covered by Mr. Jackman. I want to say that I am not altogether in favour of it, but there are a lot of people in this country and in the district which I represent, and in many other districts, expecting this resolution to come up, and if it did not I believe these people would be very disappointed. I do not see anything wrong with it. I think we should have all the facts and information that we can get. I am not so much concerned about federal union with the USA, but I think we should get some information with regards to trade between the USA and Newfoundland, and I believe there is a lot of information that can be obtained. On these grounds I have much pleasure in supporting this motion.
Mr. Banfield I am much opposed to this Convention sending a delegation to the USA, and I will vote against it.
Mr. Hillier With regard to the resolution before us, I feel we all have to have the greatest respect for the USA and its people, and we wish to be forever on good terms with them, but despite that I am not able to support this motion.
Mr. Chairman Is there any further discussion?
Mr. Butt I feel we have had too little time to consider a question which to me is of great importance. I realise that I may be considered rather crazy and unpatriotic, but sometime or other somebody has got to say it. I am as interested in the welfare of Newfoundland as anyone else. All my people came from England, and for three generations we have been born and brought up in Newfoundland, but we have had the terms of reference interpreted to include all forms of government. There are a number of people who feel that the time has come when we, as Newfoundlanders, ought to make a decision for ourselves as to what we want to do. Now that's the question. We ought to make a decision for ourselves as to what we ought to do. There are, so far as I canjudge, quite a number of people who would consider it. I have people of my own in the United States, and I know that they look upon themselves as blood brothers to Britishers. Now I don't want to go into consideration of the reasons why we should or should not debate this question. I think it is the wrong time for us to do it, and i want to move that the whole question be deferred to a later date so that we can have time to think about it.
Mr. Harrington If that's an amendment, I second it.
Mr. Chairman It has been moved by Mr. Butt April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 475 and seconded by Mr. Harrington in amendment that the consideration of this matter be deferred to a later date.
Mr. Jackman Is it in order for me to speak?
Mr. Chairman It is in order for you to speak on the amendment once.
Mr. Jackman My point in moving this resolution was that I felt that when our delegation goes to England, it should be fully armed with all the facts regarding forms of government in Newfoundland. That is the only reason why I moved it. I am not in favour of federation with anyone. I am a Newfoundlander, and I believe in Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders, but my whole object in moving this motion was this: that when the delegation would go to England, they would be able to tell the British people that there is sentiment here in Newfoundland favouring amalgamation or federation with the United States. That is the only reason I put it, and I think it is only fair that this Convention should vote on it now, and give this delegation the full facts. What are we holding back for? I was told yesterday when I decided to bring this resolution in, "Don't do that, it is political suicide." I am not a politician, and I am not looking for anything in that respect. The only way you can classify me as a politician is that I will fight and die for the right to bring my family up as decent human beings, and my next door neighbours' children as well. If the delegation goes to England and is asked, "What is the sentiment in Newfoundland?", they can say, "Well, some want Commission government, some responsible government, and some confederation with Canada." Then they might say, "What about the United States, how do they think about that?" Now here's what I look at, by giving this resolution passage, when the Dominions Secretary asks them that question they can pass it on. There is a lot of sentiment regarding the United States. Personally I do not want to see my country put out on hook to anybody, but seeing it is going to go that way, and there are so many wishing to let it go that way, my argument is let it go to the highest bidder. I want to put myself on record, and I think there is as much British blood in me as any man in this Convention, that I admire the British people and what they fought and died for.
We have been told that if we go into confederation that we will get baby bonuses and family allowances, and that if we go in with the Americans everything will he "hunky dory". What did Churchill tell the people in 1940? Here is what he told them, and here's what I tell the people of Newfoundland, regardless of what form of government they take up. He said, "I have only one thing to offer you — blood, sweat and tears." He did not say, "Give me your mind and let me do your thinking for you, and we will give you baby bonuses." Well, I have six children and I can figure out quickly $48 a month — very fine. He told them blood, sweat and tears, and I tell them the same. I am used to hard times all my life, and I know what hunger is, and what it is to stand in the breadline, and what it is to wake up in the morning and wonder how in God's name are you going to raise your children up. I know all these things, and I am not looking for it from confederation with Canada or the United States or anyone else, but I am looking for it in one way only — through ourselves, and we can do it. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry if I am out of order, but I can't help it.
Now as I see it as far as our country is concerned, we are Split wide open. But the people have the final choice and believe it or not the ordinary man, even if he does not know his ABCs, is pretty commonsense after all. Now we are here, sent here by our people to explore, investigate and find out what is best for Newfoundland. We have different personal ideas. My idea from the beginning is only one thing, responsible government, but it is not for me or you or anyone else to say what form of government we should have. All we can do is give our opinion, and it is up to the people to decide. But I do say this, give them the chance anyway. If I could get up with the ability of Mr. Smallwood, with his oratorical power, I would talk here for the next ten weeks if I were allowed on responsible government, but, as I was saying, it is not me or you, but what the people think. However, I think that if we are going to send delegations to Ottawa and to England why not, as many of our people want to know, why not send a delegation to the United States as well?
Mr. Chairman Pardon me, but you should confine your remarks to the amendment. You have already spoken on the main question. The amendment is that of deferring the resolution.
Mr. Jackman I just wanted to make it clear that 476 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 in moving this resolution I do so with no enthusiasm. I am a Newfoundlander and a British subject, and I believe the only country in the world today that is doing anything towards the welfare of the common man is the British government, and I don't want anyone to think for a moment that I am, by moving this resolution, disloyal to what I think is the best we have, but I do say that a lot of people want a delegation to the USA and why should we not send one there? Possibly the United States won't have it, and I hope they won't, but when the time comes for our delegation to go over to England, let them go with the thought that there is a sentiment in Newfoundland on this line.
Mr. Higgins I had no intention of indulging in this debate myself. In fact I felt very much like adopting Mr. Butt's attitude, but as this debate has gone so far I would much prefer now to have the motion on the main question put....
What I want to say is this. There's a lot of parts of the British Empire today where they are behaving like rats trying to leave a ship that they believe is in trouble. This is the oldest colony of Britain, the oldest colony and the first colony, and I want to say this to you: is the oldest colony, even by words, going to stab a Britain that's now practically on her back, going to stab her in that recumbent back today, even if it is only by words? I have got as much, not British but Irish blood as anyone, and I would be the last to support this motion. You ask how I am being consistent by uttering words like that. Well, Canada is part of the Empire, and if this country decides, if we as a people decide, to join Canada, we will not be getting out of the British Empire; but once we adopt such a motion, or the country adopts what would follow such a motion, we would lose our nationality, we would be no longer British. I don't think there is a possibility of this happening, but I don't like to see such a motion brought into the House like this. I want to raise every objection to this motion. Mr Jackman says, "What about India?" India is becoming a rat, are we going to become another rat?
Mr. Chairman Order, Mr. Jackman.
Mr. Hollett Gentlemen, I don't intend to make any speech, because I know I would lose my temper, but I shall vote against the amendment, and I shall vote against the motion. I have faith enough in the men of this Convention that if the question is put now we shall get the correct verdict. If I am in order, I beg to move that the amendment and motion be now put.
Mr. Ashbourne I beg to second the motion just made by Mr. Hollett, and I intend to vote against the amendment and also against the motion.
Mr. Chairman The motion is that the previous question be now put. The motion is carried. I shall now put the previous question.
The motion is that the consideration of this resolution be deferred to a later date. I declare the amendment lost. The original motion is of extreme importance. I shall permit other speakers to this question if there are any who desire to address the Chair.
Mr. Reddy Mr. Chairman, while I believe the resolution now before the House has been badly timed, still I consider it my duty in fairness to the people who sent me here to entertain the resolution.
England so far has promised us nothing. Canada will only offer us just barely what she thinks would convince us that confederation would be the best thing for us. Canada is not a market for our fish. This resolution would be a means of helping the English delegation. It would greatly strengthen the delegation to Canada.
If it were possible for this country to associate itself with the USA our fishery problem, which is the greatest problem in this country, would be solved by giving us free access to the greatest fish market of the world and assuring our fishermen of a higher standard of living never before enjoyed by them, and removing forever the awful Spectre of poverty always hovering over our fishing population. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow Newfoundlanders are residing in the United States. They are longing for the day when Newfoundland will perhaps become part and parcel of that great republic. It is too important a matter to be slighted in any way. If any delegate here objects to this resolution, he will be depriving his people of an opportunity to obtain real facts so vital to the country's welfare.
Mr. Vardy Mr. Chairman, I am sure we are all very conscious of the fact that this is a very delicate subject. We are also conscious that we are British subjects. Now it is a changing world, and all down through these several hundred years since Newfoundland was colonised we have not seen eye to eye with the mother country, but out April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 477 of all our little petty differences, when the mother country was in trouble we immediately donned our uniforms and rushed to the colours. We are also conscious of our very close friendship with the United States. That is an undeniable fact. In fact we see Canada, Newfoundland and the USA flirting so closely that many times we feel perhaps that they should get married; yet down deep in our inner consciousness is that longing for freedom, the longing to cement even closer our relationship with Great Britain. I cannot see eye to eye with many of the things that have been said. I spent, during the two wars, something over seven years in the Pacific, around the British coast and in various parts of Britain. I have never yet been able to find a word that I could say in disrespect of the British people. I know that our treatment in 1932-33-34 was not really the wish of the British people.... It was not the people, but the Dominions Office who gave us that treatment. It was a handful like that who betrayed Belgium and France.... I want to see this National Convention uphold the principle that the mother country and the Union Jack have stood for for so long.... Since I have come in here today I have worded an amendment to the motion. It is along the lines that Mr. Butt suggested in the early part of the debate: "That, in view of the fact that a delegation is about to proceed to the United Kingdom to ascertain what the mother country is prepared to do, no further discussion should take place on this resolution until the delegation returns and its results are discussed." I think that in all fairness, with that consciousness in our hearts that the mother country has stood up for us at all times, that we should give her the last chance of giving our delegation the proper information and proof in realistic terms, that they still stand behind Newfoundland, as Britain's oldest colony, and that they are prepared to liquidate our national debt for the blood we have given to protect the British Isles. We were told repeatedly over there that if it had not been for the colonial troops the mother country would have gone under....
I know there is an element who would welcome the idea of annexation with the USA. I have a lot of friends in the USA, and I know that they are a fine people, but I don't think that those in authority in the United States would give it one moment's consideration at the present time, because there are bigger factors than New foundland, this tiny island of rock. When you start to come north and look at the chart on the bridge and look at this island, you think of our 300,000-odd people, and you think of the people you left in their millions, and you then become very conscious that as far as the rest of the world is concerned, we are very unimportant, and that our only hope is to stick to Britain until she shows definite signs of forsaking us. I am not going to deny the fact that it was Englishmen, the Pilgrim Fathers, who founded the United States, and eventually Great Britain herself will be only too happy to see all the western hemisphere come together as one I am sorry, but while I have a lot of respect for the motion, and for the courage Mr. Jackman has shown by bringing it in, I cannot really suppon it, but I would have it discussed later on.
Mr. MacDonald Mr. Chairman, I am emphatically and irrevocably against it. I think it should be at once put before the Convention to get the treatment it deserves — to be thrown out.
Mr. Jackman May I speak once more?
Mr. Chairman No, sir. Is the House ready for the question? Well, Mr. Jackman, you may close the debate.
Mr. Jackman It is not my idea at all. I did not bring in this resolution because I believe in it. I believe in Newfoundland for Newfoundlanders, and I think we are going to be absolutely wrong. After all, who are we? Are we masters or servants? I was sent here to this Convention to find out what I could do for my country. As far as I can see, we have been given instructions in this respect according to our terms of reference. Professor Wheare ruled that we can recommend any form of government. Now here's my position, and I hope I make myself clear; it's not for me or for you to decide, it's up to the people of Newfoundland to decide, and we have been told by a constitutional expert from Great Britain that it is in order to put the United States on our ballot paper in the referendum.
Mr. Chairman I have to correct you there. Mr. Wheare never made any such statement.
Mr. Jackman Well, Mr. Chairman, I think Mr. Butt put the question, and as I understood it he did say so.
Mr. Chairman I can assure you that he never made any such statement.
Mr. Jackman Well, sir, if I had known that I 478 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 would never have attempted to bring it in. The only reason was that I felt that there are a certain number of people in Newfoundland who would want to be given a chance to vote for union with the United States. I quote the Sunday Herald. I like that paper, you get a lot of news out of that, I have seen in that paper where the United States, in a straw ballot, topped all other forms of government. Have we the right to turn around and be dictators and say: "No, you are not going to have any chance whatever to vote for the United States, you are not going to have any chance to vote for confederation, or any chance to vote any way"? Is that what we say — we 45 delegates? Who are we? Are we dictators? If this is turned down, we are dictators. We are telling people that as far as we are concerned they have no right to vote for federal union with the United States. I protest in fairness as a democratic citizen, as a true blooded Britisher. Possibly there is a great deal more British blood in my veins than in a good many here. I protest in the name of Runnymede and the Bill of Rights. After all, when the Convention is over and we discuss forms of government, it is all finished. Are we the masters? No, we are only the servants. The people of Newfoundland, as far as my experience is concerned, and I have been a working man always associated with labour, I know they are pretty good. They might not know the three Rs, but they know the difference between a codfish and a herring. Let us give them the final say. I protest with all my power against this dictatorial attitude, against the attitude of this Convention in saying to the people of Newfoundland, "You can't put you name on the ballot paper for the United States." I think we should consider it very carefully. I challenge any member as far as my loyalty is concerned. I believe in Britain, she is the cradle of democracy. It was there that trade unions started, out of which I get my living today. Hitler's first move was to bust the trade and labour unions wide open, but thanks be to God the trade and labour movement in England stood by when the blackshirts and everyone else....
Mr. Chairman I must ask you to confine yourself to the question. We are not concerned with Hitler.
Mr. Jackman Well, no, I don't want to talk about Hitler, he is not worth talking about, but in my opinion it is quite possible the people will turn it down. I wish they would, but my argument is that we have no right to take it off the ballot paper. If we do we are dictators. It is the people who have the last say on this matter. Why not put it on the ballot paper and give them a chance?
One of our men said last September, after the ruling of the late Judge Fox, he did say, and Professor Wheare ruled on it, "You can send a delegation to Timbuctoo if you want to." We have got one going to England and one to Canada, and there's a lot of people in Newfoundland who want one to go to the United States. Give the people the chance. If we turn down that amendment we are putting ourselves in a position where we are 45 people who have decided that we are going to take the destiny of Newfoundland in our own hands. You can do what you like, but I will vote to give the people of Newfoundland what they want.
Mr. Chairman Gentlemen, you have heard the question.
Mr. Hollett Standing vote sir?
Mr. Chairman I will put it in the ordinary way first. The motion is that this resolution, which has been read twice already, do pass. Those in favour please say "aye", contrary "nay". I think the "nays" have it. Those who are in favour of the resolution please stand — two. Those who are against it please stand. Mr. Clerk, I have not recorded my vote on any resolution. I intend to record it today with the "nays". You will please record it accordingly.
Mr. Jackman Well, it's a dictatorship.
Mr. Chairman Order, please. I declare the resolution lost by a vote of 34 to 3.

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

Mr. Chairman The section dealing with the La Manche mine has been read and is now open for discussion.
Mr. Hollett Before proceeding I would like to correct an error which I made in a statement yesterday. It has been pointed out to me. Yesterday when I was referring to the Buchans Mining Co. railway cars which were made up at Bishop's April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 479 Falls and taken to Buchans, I said the AND Co. had made them up and put them on. I meant of course the Newfoundland Railway. I would like to get that straight now.
[There followed a brief discussion of the section on the La Manche mine. The Secretary then read the section on Bell Island, and Mr. Higgins answered questions on points of detail]
Mr. Jackman I am beginning to get at home now, and I welcome this opportunity to explain the economic relationship which exists on Bell Island today. You will note on page 4 that there was a closedown of the mine in 1943 due to labour trouble. The workers at Bell Island decided that things were not as we would like them to be. We could not live.... We decided we wanted more money for our work. Well, the thought was to throw us out of work, but we came back and got things adjusted between us, but not as we wanted them. All around that time, 1943- 44-45, the relationship between labour and management on Bell Island was a dog-eat-dog relationship, but early in the year we negotiated a new contract. I believe that if the same relationship between capital and labour which exists on Bell Island today could be brought into effect throughout Newfoundland, we would not have any worry about how we are going to live. We would be self-supporting. Here is the exact position. In order for our people to live we must have an outside market for our output. The only permanent market we had before was the Sydney market, and that would only give us about two days a week. I must give the Commission of Government credit for helping in this matter, especially Commissioner Neill. We were very anxious to obtain an English market to absorb our extra output. In order to do so we had to get around the table, not with chips on our shoulders, but get down to work it out between ourselves and find out how we could get at it. Anyway, the management told us that they could break in on an English market for 750,000 tons of ore, but the question was the matter of price. We decided that this market would be a benefit the whole community and the whole country, so we decided we would get out and get this market. The management were very fair and very frank and put their cards on the table.
Now I know there are certain men over on Bell Island listening to me now, and it is quite possible that they would knock my head off if they could get it. They are reactionaries and don't want to do anything for the common good. Anyway, the company put their cards on the table and so did we. We wanted to live and so did they. This market meant 750,000 tons of ore, so we forgot our differences in 1943 and got down and shook hands and decided that we were going out to get this market. Now the reason I bring this up is because I feel regardless of what our people decide on later with regard to forms of government, that it is not the forms of government that count but the effect they have....
Now as I said a moment ago, there are a few who would knock my head off because I am standing with the company. I am not standing with the company or anyone, but we got together and in order to get that market it took co-operation on both sides. Labour and management are working hand in hand, and if you will notice here anything over 5,000 tons of ore we all share in the profit. We have a general bonus for everyone, but when we get above 5,000 tons everyone gets his share. For example, our basic rate of pay is 58 cents an hour, but after we got this working, the very first week every man on this job got 3 cents an hour extra because of production....
Mr. Higgins Mr. Jackman is assistant chairman of the subcommittee on Bell Island, as well as chairman of the Mineworkers on Bell Island. That's why he is talking at such length.
Mr. Northcott I would like to know if in order to get 65 cents per hour the men overwork themselves?
Mr. Jackman ....What happened over our way, we were trying to get the worth of our labour. We had to fight to get it, but the equipment is there and this schedule can be easily taken care of by the equipment. We have a certain type of labour which I would call "enforced labour", but the company did promise us that as soon as it is possible to get equipment to take the place of hand labour they would institute it....
Mr. Smallwood This table shows that in 1934 we exported to Great Britain an amount of 22,000 tons, and the next year 24,000 tons. I am curious to know why that much ore was exported over there.... Why would there be any ore going to Britain if there was not a quantity of a quarter of a million tons or around there? Can you explain that?
Mr. Hollett I think that they took that amount to test it out on certain furnaces. That's what I heard when I happened to be there.
Mr. Smallwood I remember in 1925 in London talking with Major General Sir Newton Moore, who was the European representative of the Bell Island company, and he had been contacting the smelters in England, and they claimed that our Bell Island ore was not suitable for use in England because it had too much silica, phosphorus, etc.... Has the Committee any further information on the prospects of selling ore in Britain this year?
Mr. Higgins You will remember sometime last year there was a big announcement stating that Bell Island ore had been sold for some ten years ahead, some 750,000 tons a year. We questioned Mr. Anson and Mr. Archibald and they told us that this is not so; but they did feel that if they could compete with the prices of ore from Spain and the other places, Sweden, etc., that the market could be maintained. It is all a question of competitive prices. They feel if they can continue to sell at the market price, that they would get their fair share, or their quote. That's as far as the Committee could go.
Mr. Smallwood Have they got an order this year?
Mr. Higgins Not up to the time we talked to Mr. Anson, sometime in February, but they had good hopes of getting the order.
Mr. Smallwood Assuming they get the order, 700,000 tons would run to how much money roughly?
Mr. Higgins I could not tell you.
Mr. Smallwood How much would that be today, Major Cashin?
Mr. Cashin About $4 million.
Mr. Smallwood Did the General Manager say anything about spending money in Britain from the standpoint of dollars?
Mr. Higgins He did not seem to worry about that at all. If they could meet the price of their competitors he felt they could secure the order.
Mr. Jackman In our last meeting with the company they notified us that they have an order for one million tons.... The impression we got from the company is that if we keep our production up above 500,000 tons of ore, we can compete in the British market or any market in price, but we must keep it up to 500,000 tons.... Some of the men are working a bit harder than they should on account of lack of equipment, but our position is that we are in the British market and we are going to stay there. The workers will see to that. The workers say, "That's our business, not the Dominion Iron and Steel Company's, but ours. We want to live and work, and if we want to do that we must produce." Mr. Bullen told me — he is the purchasing agent in England — that if we can keep within that figure there is no worry for the next five years.
Mr. Smallwood I take it that the Island has now got a firm contract signed with Great Britain for the sale of one million tons of ore in 1947, and that if the men on the Island keep the daily production up and the cost of production down to the present level they can sell more ore in the next five years.
Mr. Jackman The system on Bell Island today is a profit-sharing system between capital and labour.... I wish the rest of Newfoundland would do likewise.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Jackman is a wonderful man, and I guess the crowd over there knew what they were doing when they sent him over here.
Mr. Jackman Forget the bouquets.
Mr. Smallwood On page 8, showing the number of employees on Bell Island for each year, is that the correct number for the year or the average number?
Mr. Higgins That's the actual number.
Mr. Smallwood But they would not be employed all the year round, would they?
Mr. Higgins That's the largest number, is that not so Mr. Watton?
Mr. Watton Yes.
Mr. Smallwood An average of l,575 for each year in that period. On page 9, "In the schedule to this act, etc.", I am asking this before we pass on from Bell Island, can we get Major Cashin, who I believe was Minister of Finance in 1930, and who would have some first hand knowledge of that act of 1930, which expires in 1949....
Mr. Cashin It came into effect January 1, 1929.
Mr. Smallwood It says 1930 here.
Mr. Cashin It came into effect January l, 1929. I introduced the act.
Mr. Smallwood It was probably brought into the House when it opened that winter. In that act it says: "The Company is not liable for customs duties on coal, explosives, and such equipment April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 481 (not including hand tools) as shall be used in the mining, transportation and shipping of ore and the generation of power in connection therewith." On the other hand, they have to "pay duty on spare parts, articles and materials required for renewals, replacements, and repairs in connection with the Company's equipment for the mining, transportation, and shipping of ore and the generation of power for the purposes in connection therewith, but in no case is the duty to exceed 25 percent." How does that compare with the other mining and industrial companies in the country? Does that apply to St. Lawrence, Buchans, etc.?
Mr. Higgins St. Lawrence has no concessions. They come under the 1930 act, so they informed us.
Mr. Smallwood In the next paragraph it goes on to say what the tax is, expiring in 1949. Maybe there will be changing that and making a new contract. Let me read it out: "The Company pays no royalties but instead pays an export tax, and under the above mentioned act for the 20 year period the export tax payable is (a) on the first 1,000,000 tons or part thereof exported by said Company during any one year, 10 cents per ton; (b) on iron ore exported by the Company during one year in excess of 1,000,000 tons and not exceeding a further 500,000, tons the sum of 3 cents per ton." '
Now I remember after the general election of 1928, when Major Cashin was Minister of Finance. I remember the great joy, his voice literally rang with pleasure, when he got up and announced that he had managed to collect $48,000.
Mr. Cashin You are wrong.
Mr. Smallwood Well, what was it?
Mr. Cashin $136,000.
Mr. Smallwood I think my memory is very good. Well, that he had collected $136,000 from the Bell Island company in taxes that they ought to have paid and had not paid, arrears of taxes that the outgoing government had never bothered to collect. Major Cashin got it, and then in the fall of 1929 and the spring of 1930 they got this new act collecting 10 cents a ton on the first million tons, and 3 cents a ton thereover up to 1.5 million. I was not in that government, but I have been hearing since 1920 about taxing Bell Island, and I know it has been a filthy story, one of the filthiest in the history of this country. If it were written it would be pretty rotten reading.
There were unions, I remember leading a delegation of the very union you are referring to in 1926 before the Monroe cabinet. I was the spokesman for the entire afternoon, and I remember that Chairman Bradley of the Convention here today was chairman of that meeting, and the father of Mr. Higgins was Attorney General, and he supported me from beginning to end that afternoon, and as a result they changed the Workrnen's Compensation Act. It was a bone of contention with the government from 1920 down to a very short while ago, that the tax ought to be 50 cents a ton, and there was also a contention that it ought to be $1 a ton. Now I see it is down to 10 cents a ton on their first million, and 3 cents a ton over that to 1.5 million. What happens then? Free? Lovely.
Mr. Higgins The highest is $115,000.
Mr. Smallwood No income tax?
Mr. Higgins No.
Mr. Jackman They don't make the money, how can they pay the taxes?
Mr. Smallwood I hope as president of that union you are not deluded and deceived by the accounts and talks of mining companies when they talk about profits.
Mr. Jackman I don't want to get into an argument, but here is the position. Mr. Smallwood is not right. I do feel that the tax, insofar as royalty is concerned on the export of our ore, is not sufficient — it could be more, but here is what we get. It is the workers get it now and not the government. We get the full extent of what they can pay, and we don't pass it to the government. The less we pay to the government the more we will have for ourselves.
Mr. Cashin With regard to this Bell Island situation, and the criticism of them for not paying a higher royalty, or export tax on ore. In order to get to the bottom of this we have to go back to before 1919, when there were two companies operating. I think around 1920 they came together and called themselves the British Empire Steel Company — BESCO. They operated for a year or two and were always in financial difficulties. They cannot operate without Bell Island. Up to 1919 they were paying some profits taxes. There was a new government in 1920, and another in 1924, and when we came into office in 482 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 1928 I found that they had not paid any royalties or profits taxes for a number of years. They are in financial difficulties today and if the Canadian government foreclosed on them tomorrow they would be out of business. They owe the Canadian government many millions of dollars. I am not defending the company, but it is bankrupt in a sense today. They are not making any money. The common stockholders in that company have not had a dividend for years. I forget what they owed the treasury — $2-300,000, They sent down representatives every spring looking for free export tax for the coming year, and the first year we were in office we objected, and finally made a deal whereby they paid 10 cents royalty up to one million tons and 3 cents up to 1.5 million tons, and in addition they paid us $136,000 in settlement of back taxes. They paid $100,000 down and $12,000 each year till it was paid. The company has been struggling. In this report you will notice a letter signed by Prime Minister Baldwin, wherein he indicated to the Prime Minister of that day that they were going to try to get some business for the Dominion Steel Company. They never got it. That 20,000 odd tons was all. They made certain promises to us but they did not carry them out. That is the position. I am glad to see now that Bell Island is going along well, but it cannot go along unless you have a prosperous Corporation. They have to produce at least 1.5 million tons a year in order to make it prosperous. Up to a month before die war started the Germans were buying one million tons a year. Great Britain bought none, Sydney from 6-700,000 tons, and if she continues to use that amount and Great Britain takes 750,000 tons it will be fine....
I am glad Bell Island is going well, and I am glad Mr. Jackman is making such a good thing of the union on Bell Island. I hope Great Britain continues to take ore from us instead of going back to Sweden. If she can take 750,000 tons of ore a year to mix with that high grade ore which will suit the furnaces, it would be a great thing. One of their greatest excuses was that the docks could not take the big ships for ore, but suddenly all this changes, therefore they were kidding us in the past.
[The committee of the whole rose and reported progress, and 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:313. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]

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