Newfoundland National Convention, 22 April 1947, Debates on Confederation with Canada


April 22, 1947

Mr. Cashin Mr Chairman, I move the following resolution: that the members of this National Convention desire to record their profound sorrow at the passing of Sir John C. Puddester, Commissioner for Public Health and Welfare, and to convey to his family the hope that the Almighty Father will be present with them in their bereavement.
Mr. Chairman, this morning Sir John Puddester passed away. I have known Sir John Puddester, both in public and private life for a period of over a quarter of a century. In the year 1920-21 and on to 1924 he was prominently identified with the political party in Newfoundland which was led by my father. In 1924 he was elected to the district of Bay de Verde in the Monroe government, and in 1932 he became Colonial Secretary in the Alderdice government, following which, Puddester was appointed Commissioner for Public Health and Welfare, which office he has filled since the inception of Commission of Government in Newfoundland.
Personally, Sir John and I have differed on many occasions on political matters, but now that he has passed to his eternal reward, I pay him tribute in this respect, that ever since he assumed office in 1934 he has devoted all his efforts, to the best of his ability, to build up the social services of Newfoundland, and today we have many memorials to his credit in the form of cottage hospitals in various sections of the country, sanatoriums in other sections, and a large extension to the St. John's General Hospital, as well as further extensions to the sanatorium on Topsail Road. I feel sure that Sir John was prominently identified with the building and acquisition of these various institutions, which are essential to the public health of our people; therefore I feel that this afternoon it is my sad duty to move this resolution and to ask that it be sent to the family of the deceased.
Mr. Job Mr. Chairman, I think perhaps this resolution might have better been seconded by Mr. Starkes, who was connected with the House of Assembly. I did not ever come in close contact with Sir John, as a member of the upper house, but I always had a respect for him, especially for his convictions, and also, more especially I think than anything else, for his capacity for work. He certainly worked hard in the interest of the 518 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 country, as he believed in the interest of the country, whatever other people may think. He was a conscientious worker and a firm believer in Newfoundland, and I don't think I can add much now to what our friend Major Cashin has so eloquently expressed. I have much pleasure in seconding that resolution.
[The motion carried]

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

Mr. Higgins Mr. Chairman, before we go into the discussion of the report proper I want to draw your attention to a report I only received a short time ago, with respect to the Hamilton River, and in particular to the Muskrat Falls. This is a report which was made by a qualified engineer in 1909.... That falls, which this report says is able to develop 1,100,000 horsepower, is now controlled by the Royal Bank of Canada at a rental of $30 per year. The Muskrat is below the Grand Falls[2] on the same river, is that right Mr. Burry?
Mr. Burry That is right, I know it very, very well....
Mr. Smallwood Has the company the right to apply for water-power from that falls as well as the Grand Falls?
Mr. Higgins Well, they might make a dicker with the Royal Bank of Canada, because they have the use of it for $30 per year.
Mr. Bailey How come they have it?
Mr. Higgins The concession to the Muskrat Falls was originally held by the Dickie Co., which was a lumber company, and they owed money to the Royal Bank, and when they went into liquidation the bank took it over. I think that's correct.
Mr. Chairman That is correct.
Mr. Smallwood Do you happen to know the terms and conditions of the Dickie lease which the Royal Bank now owns?
Mr. Butt 99 years from 1901, according to this.
Mr. Higgins Well, that's practically as good as the Americans in Fort Pepperell.[3]
Mr. Smallwood Would Mr. Higgins explain to us what possible hearing, if any, the existence of the Muskrat Falls might have on this 1944 or 1938 act?[4]
Mr. Higgins Well, the only difference would be that if the company required extra power, other than the power from Grand Falls, they would make a dicker with the Royal Bank of Canada, and the government would get no more than the $30 per year, no matter what the Royal Bank got.
Mr. Smallwood But could they side-step the Grand Falls altogether and make a deal with the bank to give them all the power they want at something less than what they are paying the government?
Mr. Higgins Oh yes, they could.
Mr. Smallwood It is only three miles below?
Mr. Burry No, it is 150 miles.
Mr. Higgins The greatest distance that you can transport power economically is 500 miles.
Mr. Smallwood Well, the cost of putting in transmission lines for 150 miles would just about mean that you can forget it.
Mr. Higgins The Royal Bank of Canada will very likely give it back to the government as a gift, you know!
Mr. Job There was a probability of establishing a pulp mill there, and sawmills, and it was in connection with that that this particular report was made. It has no connection with the Grand Falls project. It will be valuable some day for lumber and pulpwood.
Mr. Higgins It may be valuable for some other company operating some other project.
Mr. Burry The value is in any possible development in timber and pulp and paper mills; it is in the center of a rich area of timber in that part of Labrador....
Mr. Fowler As a member of the Mining Committee I rise not to criticise the report but to review briefly some of the facts and statistics April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 519 revealed insofar as they affect the economy of this country. I have no intention of getting bogged down again in sections and sub-sections of legislation enacted by the present and past governments, the wisdom of which have been questioned.
This is primarily a fishing country and the majority of our people is dependent on that industry. For years it was our only industry. But it is a fact, gentlemen, that the more diversified a country's economy, the greater is its chance of survival and if this report is instrumental in making our people more mineral conscious, then in my opinion it will have accomplished one important thing.
It is interesting to note that the Geological Survey has to date investigated some 27 different metals and/or minerals, and have published some 25 bulletins, maps and circulars on these investigations, some of which have been supplied you by the Committee. It has been shown that mining is the most highly paid industry in the country as far as the average wage is concerned Over 3,000 men find employment, about 2,800 of these in the two major operations at Bell Island and Buchans, the remainder at St. Lawrence and Aguathuna. Last year these 3,000 men earned approximatley $6 million. It is therefore evident how important it is that no efort be spared in developing our known mineral assets.
It is encouraging to note that the LaManche mines may again go into production after lying dormant for some 23 years, and the possibility of a townsite near the asbestos desposit on the west coast, where another 1,000 men will be gainfully employed. This augurs well for the future and I feel that if we had more holes in the ground like those at Buchans and Bell Island, we need have no fear about being self-supporting. We have in Labrador one of the greatest known mineral deposits of its kind in the world, and as far as we can see at the present time, there is every likelihood that it will be in operation in two or three years' time. It is difficult for us to realise the magnitude of this proposed operation. We have never had anything approaching it before in all our long history. Imagine, gentlemen, in the unknown interior of the vast expanse of Labrador, a self-contained modern mining town five times as great as Bell Island, insofar as production and population is concerned. A townsite served by an electrified railway over which will pass daily ten trains of 60 cars each, carrying some 40,000 tons of ore, in addition to the traffic necessary for the normal needs of the population. It is, gentlemen, as Mr. Smallwood expressed it yesterday, "a monumental scheme".
In view of all that has been said here these last few days, it is evident that there is some difference of opinion regarding the amount by which the treasury of this country is to benefit directly. As our chairman has pointed out to you, the information regarding the Quebec agreement came into the possession of the Committee since our report was presented, therefore we have not given you our considered opinions, but instead have presented you with all the facts at our disposal. Anything I may say is not necessarily the opinion of the Mining Committee. I am still inclined to believe that the 1938 act contained more advantages than does the 1944 act, insofar as Newfoundland is concerned. But then that is only a personal opinion, and personal opinions are apt to be prejudiced, and in fact we have had legal and expert advice on the subject and all tend to discredit that belief.
It is quite possible, that conscious of past experiences, we may be loath to believe the true facts when we are confronted with them. However, those who are supposed to know, and in my opinion should have the best interest of this country at heart, state emphatically that our agreement of 1944 compares favourably with the Quebec agreement, and that under the l938 agreement the company could not operate. If we were to have this major development in our territory it could only under the terms of the 1944 act, and if we can believe this we would be justified in accepting this agreement in the best interests of the country as a whole. I fear that any arguments l have heard expressed in this assembly would be very ineffective as compared with those advanced by mining experts whose integrity has, we are told, been long established.
However, there is one point I would like to make; I find no equivalent in our act to compare with sections A and B, clause 3 of the Quebec act[1] which would on the basis of licensed areas have netted this country $350,000 to date. We did not get that $350,000. True we have the benefits 520 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 of the company's exploration reports, but so has Quebec. I also contend, that if we grant a licence to export power we should demand some definite concession in return. In concluding let me express the hope that any fears or doubts we may have will prove to be groundless, and that with this great new mining industry will come a measure of prosperity for our people and economic stability for our country.
Mr. Reddy Mr. Chairman, there seems to be little doubt left in the minds of the delegates here that Newfoundland has been again handed a raw deal in respect to the agreement made by the government with the Labrador Mining and Exploration Co., Ltd. The very fact that the government, on request from the company, changed the original agreement from a 10 cents per ton royalty to 5% on the net profits has tended to create suspicion. It appears to be an established practice for such companies to be associated with subsidiary companies, and it usually turns out that the original company shows little or no profit on its operations. Therefore the 5% on profits could mean nothing if there is no profit shown....
I must disagree with the remarks of Mr. Butt yesterday that we should look upon such a development from a labour point of view. I am fully aware that we must encourage labour for our own people from every available source. But, Mr. Chairman, for the past 50 years, Newfoundland's most valuable assets have been sacrificed to labour. In every big development in this country, the ship hand of resulting employment has been held over the heads of past governments to extract concessions unheard of in other lands. I feel it is time for us to demand something more than labour in return for parting with the assets of this country. Today the world supplies of iron ore are being depleted, and the eyes of the mining world have turned to Labrador, where there apparently exists an unlimited quantity of this much sought after metal, which I hope can yet be mined for the benefit of our land....
Mr. Higgins Nothing can be done about the agreement if the application is made for power to export, which we understand it has. It might be worthwhile if this house took a stand in the matter, our idea being an increase in royalty to $1 and an understanding that the town he in Newfoundland.
[Mr. Higgins went on to quote {ram minutes of conversation with Mr. Howse.[1] The Assistant Secretary read a memorandum (August 13, 1943) by the Mining Law Technical Committee[2]]
Mr. Vincent ....After listening to some of the members of the Mining Committee yesterday evening, I was reminded of the very likeable characters immortalised in Lewis Carroll's famous poem, who, finding themselves in a very awkward position, said:
They wept like anything to see such quantities of sand. If this were only cleared away, they said, it would be grand.
It seems that the chief architect responsible for the compiling of this report and his worthy associates did not entirely agree on the question as to whether the legislation incorporating this Labrador Mining and Exploration Company was the best that might have been enacted at the time or not, but all were agreed that if a few vexing matters could be cleared up, it would be grand indeed. If, for instance, that Grand Falls waterpower agreement had read $1 per installed horsepower, if only we had demanded that Mr. Timmins keep to the letter of his 1938 agreement, yes, if these matters were cleared away, the Committee said it would be grand. Of course, it's just talking in platitudes to say if it were thus. or if we had gotten that, all would be well, and it's not helping matters when we set up a whine and assert, "Oh well, it's just what we expected, our country was never much more than a fertile field of speculators, in every deal with big corporations and companies we have always been at the wrong end of the stick." I cannot agree with this school of thought, and like my friend Mr. Butt, I would have the temerity to say that with no inside knowledge of the technicalities of mining or geology, and taking the report so ably explained by Mr. Higgins, I would assert that the deal with the Hollinger interests is not nearly as bad as some would have us believe.
Let us recapitulate a few salient points, and just to satisfy the critics we' ll prefix them all with a big IF. If the mines are worked, and remember if they are not worked we don't get fleeced, if the mines are worked it means employment for 2,500 April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 521 miners. Consequent upon this a townsite will be built of more than 25,000 souls. To compare this with any other undertaking in this country would be like trying to explain a costly modem motor car by talking about, or describing a wheelbarrow. If the mines are worked some $125 million must be expended, and that is a lot of money. To use Mr. Smallwood's superlative, "a monumental sum". I take it we all need money, we would like to have more money, even my good friend and fellow Bonavistonian, Rev. Burry. Can you assume then that a corporation which puts in distribution in this country hundreds of millions of dollars isn't a nice thing to have around? Now, I am going to base my next statement on the predication that this Labrador Mining corporation will make some profits. Assuming that they do, 40% of such profits will accrue to the benefit of the Newfoundland treasury. Of course we might be pessimistic, as some implied yesterday, and darkly hint that some very astute chartered accountants could doctor those ledgers so that there won't be any net profits to collect that 5% on. This, we must not forget, would be rather regrettable for our local shareholders. Their objective like yours and mine, is to make profits. No corporation, no company, can long operate if it had to operate at a loss, and I cannot subscribe to the opinion that the Labrador Mining and Exploration, with a proposed expenditure in the hundreds of millions, predicts an annual operating deficit. It is perhaps a little strange that none of us seems to have thought of this vast mine, this almost inexhaustable source of mineral wealth, as something that has been lying dormant for ages. Not one cent ever came out of it prior to 1938, but now that men of vision are willing to gamble millions to explore and develop it, and to set the wheels of industry in motion to wrest from the vastness of the Labrador continent this great wealth, we set up a howl, we shout, "Watch those wolves fleece us, watch them steal our birthright, watch them engage wily accountancy experts to diddle the profits." Some of our criticism, even if it appears logical, is, to say the least, unfair, for we must appreciate that in exploratory work of a highly speculative nature big corporations do expect some reasonable concessions, and in every highly industrialised country in the world, particularly in the United States, concessions have been the order of the day. Perhaps we have been a bit too cautious, and thus have overlooked the mighty impact that the future development of this Labrador potential will have upon the economy of our country. Maybe my friend Mr. Hollett is right, that under the circumstances we might have done a little better; but let's be honest, it's going to mean more to us than the value of a peppercorn, and if only a part of the huge possibilities are realised, most of us here will agree that the Labrador Mining company's agreement was not so bad after all. Yes, let's call the play as we find it, and with the Newfoundlander's natural aversion to appreciate the good intentions of any big corporation,[1] let us face the facts squarely and admit that if this huge proposed development materialises it augurs well indeed for the future of Newfoundland.
Mr. Chairman, before I close I would pay a tribute to Mr. Claude Howse. His name has been used quite frequently in this debate. Mr. Howse is doing a big job aiding the development of Newfoundland. If I may be personal for a mo» ment, I might add that right in my home town today, there are five diamond drill runners, young men, expert in their line, all trained under Mr. Howse, and five of them are now awaiting orders to go up to Labrador as part of a field staff to do the exploratory work. They're paid $1.30 per hour. Newfoundland looks to men like Claude Howse, well might Mr. Higgins say we owe him much.
The mining report in general is a good one.... It embodies a bulk of information on mineral resources that some of us never even heard of before. A lot of this may be speculative but the possibility of future mineral development walks like a brightening ghost. I sincerely compliment Mr. Higgins, and all the members of this Committee....
Mr. Northcott l'm not so sure the concessions are so fine. This is where the shoe pinches. It's been give, give, give and no get all down through the ages as far as I'm concerned, and as far as all past governments are concerned. You'll remember some two months ago in Magazine Digest there was an article in connection with the iron ore in Labrador and how important it was. [1] The following section was taken from the recording of the proceedings. 522 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 Regardless of costs, it had to be used in the next eight or ten years. If that is so,Âą I fail to see how any company is not prepared to pay 10 cents a ton on all iron ore mined in Labrador. I am sure if the government had said, "You must definitely pay 10 cents a ton on the iron ore you take out of Labrador", it would have happened, and the deal would have gone through. The western world needs the iron ore. If they had to pay $1 they would have paid it to get the iron ore.
The same thing applies all down through the years. You will notice the various companies who came in here — some gave a peppercom, some 10 cents a horsepower, some nothing. Now this is a similar agreement — it is a little better, we are getting 15 cents a horsepower. I am not satisfied with a one-sided agreement. The government will get very little royalty; any company going to spend $100 million knows what it is going to do. They know they are going to make money. There are so many ways to diddle the accounts. There is a lot of skullduggery going on, and in nine cases out of ten the people coming in here get the best of the bargain....
Mr. Jackman I would like to have the letter from Mr. W.J. Walsh read.
[The letter was read by the Assistant Secretary[2]]
Mr. Higgins In reference to one section, about the Commission having no knowledge of the iron ore deposit, in reply to that I quote from a letter[3] dated May 25, 1946, from Dr. Snelgrove to Sir John Hope Simpson.
[The quotation was read]
That is their comment. One big thing that has arisen out of that correspondence is that the Commission of Government must have been fully informed of the possibilities in Labrador at that time.... It would appear the government did have full knowledge in 1936, when they made that agreement. The Mining Committee has now evidence of prospecting in the area at that time. A group had made application for concessions in Labrador under the Small Concessions Act, whereby no person could get more than 100 square miles. The amended act had to be passed. Prior to that, we are informed, an agreement had been made by letter with Sir John Hope Simpson, and in 1938 that act was passed. The war inter vened, with the result the government agreed to grant the extension to 1953.
The concession from the Quebec government was in 1942; the Quebec act was passed in 1946; and as we have explained, as a result of correspondence and interviews the amended act of 1944 was passed — 10 cents a ton was changed to 5% of the net profits. To the Mining Committee it was obvious that the Quebec government made a better deal than we did; but as the acts are binding it is impossible for all practical purposes to change them except by the consent of the government.
We are extremely doubtful whether any great amount will accrue to the country from royalties. We point out that if the company takes up 100,000 square miles, they pay $120,000 a year, they have 35% corporation tax, and water-power at 15 cents. The greatest return to Newfoundland would be the employment the company would give. The main reason for going into so much detail is because we believe whatever value this body may have is in publicising the facts of the agreement, and we may make recommendations, as you may properly do today, whereby in consideration of the new application that has been made by the company for the export of water-power, it might be conditional upon the power tax being put up to $1 to equal Quebec, and chiefly that the town be in Newfoundland- Labrador; because with the different methods of earning money, apart from mining, it would be of great benefit to whatever country the town is in. For that reason we feel we have not overstressed it and we feel it is only fitting and proper that it should be brought through us to the attention of the people of the country.
Mr. Hollett I would remind every man here that while we have been criticising strongly the various corporations on account of concessions which they received, we have also been criticising past governments for concessions which they granted. I have noted all the acts carefully, and I have also noted the 1938 and 1944 acts relative to the Labrador Mining and Exploration Company. I have come to the conclusion, and I think every member of the Mining Committee has come to the conclusion, that they must have set April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 523 their speed for getting concessions by the old acts, because as far as I can see they have concessions here which are equally as good to the corporation, if not better, than any in the days gone by....
It is evident to me the government never saw the Quebec act. There was no copy of the Quebec act in this country until a few days ago.... Our government never took the trouble to find out what had been done in Quebec with the associated company; never got copies of the Quebec act; there was not one in the country; we could not get one from the Canadian High Commissioner....
I can't understand some of those who get up in an elder statesman style, and suggest that this act will redound to the benefit of this country. We have got to think not of the benefits we will get in the next ten years, but of the benefits of that iron ore deposit 50 years hence. Mr. Higgins has drawn to your attention they way in which the iron ore deposits in the States have been depleted. We have a deposit in the Labrador and we don't know the extent of it, but we are told they are sure of 260 million tons of ore, and they have only scratched the surface. We have a deposit which, if properly handled by the government, could insure to the present population of this country something which will certainly redound to their benefit in the future. I therefore can't agree with the people who get up, and more or less sanctimoniously say, "We can't do anything, the act is made and we will have to put up with it. We hope they will make a profit, and if they do we shall get 5%." If we don't get 5%, we will get nothing. Some say, "Yes, you will have a town down there and you will get the profits that way." I can't see that. It will take a good many years before we get a few thousand Newfoundlanders working down there in Labrador. We have not got 2,500 Newfoundlanders to go down there and mine for a good many years to come. They want to mine, and they will get men from Canada, Poland, Czechoslovakia and other places. They want the ore, and they can't wait until we get the miners to send there. I can't see that it will mean much to Newfoundlanders.
It is my opinion that we should go on record as a Convention elected by the people as being opposed to it. Let it not be said of us 25 or 50 years hence, "That Convention knew about this, and did they make no move whatsoever?" I tell you, gentlemen, it is up to us to bring it to the notice of the Commission of Government and the Dominions Office, what we as a Mining Committee think, and I think the majority of the Convention will agree....
Mr. Vardy ....Although we agree that profits are very limited on iron ore, yet I cannot believe that 10 cents per ton is an unreasonable charge to make for royalty. It is so insignificant that I cannot believe that any company would attempt to go there if they did not have a reasonable assurance they would make a greater profit than that. I realise we are not miners or great industrialists, but our concern over these matters has, I am sure, been motivated by a keen sense of our responsibility to the people who sent us here, in which matters the Commission of Government is apparently very little concerned. I can assure the Convention and the people that the changes made in 1944 have caused us many headaches, and we can only hope that some good will come to this country as a result of the changes. We have the railway and water-power acts to be drafted, and I hope that the government responsible will see to it that we get a deal more conducive to the best interests of the people of Newfoundland....
Mr. Chairman I don't know how long this debate will take. I assume that you will agree to waive notice, and allow the resolution to be introduced immediately.
Mr. Higgins I was going to add that we will not be able to finish any further debate on the Labrador section. We still have the Summary, but if there is any lengthy debate on the motion Mr. Hollett proposes to make we will not be able to finish before six, so I was going to ask if we could wind up at this point by making a couple of amendments to this report....
Mr. Chairman I take it that these may be permitted without formal debate....
Is there any further discussion, gentlemen? Moved and seconded that this section be adopted as read with the amendments made by the chairman of the Mining Committee. Is the committee ready for the question?
[The motion carried]
Mr. Higgins I would now ask leave to rise, report progress, and ask leave to sit again tomorrow.
Mr. Chairman This will be the final report to 524 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 the Convention.
Mr. Higgins Our Mining Report is not finished.
Mr. Chairman Moved and seconded that the committee rise, and report having considered the matter to them referred, made some progress and ask leave to sit again tomorrow.
Mr. Smallwood Do you mean tomorrow literally, or formally?
Mr. Chairman Tomorrow next month, probably.
[The motion carried]
Mr. Chairman Now gentlemen, with the assent of the whole House, and in view of the fact that I have been handed a resolution which refers to these mining matters, we might proceed with that resolution before taking up the remaining orders of the day. I know it is a bit irregular, but it will probably be more convenient. Is there any objection to adopting that course?
Mr. Hollett Mr. Chairman, the remarks which I intended to make in introducing this resolution I have already made, and I just want to make one further remark, that this resolution is introduced merely for the purpose of drawing the 1944 act, the Labrador Mining and Exploration Company Act of 1944, to the attention fo the Commission of Government, and also drawing it to the attention of the Dominions Office.
Whereas in the Labrador Mining and Exploration Company Ltd. Act of 1944 the Commission of Government amended the said Labrador Mining and Exploration Company, Ltd. Act of 1938, and thereby cancelled the provision under which in the said 1938 act the Company would pay a tax of 10 cents per ton of iron ore exported from Labrador and substituted therefore a provision that 5% of the net profits of the said company should be paid to the Newfoundland government as a royalty;
And whereas under both acts the company may apply to the Newfoundland government for a grant to use the Grand Falls waterpower paying only in the neighbourhood of 15 cents per horsepower;
And Whereas the company is understood to be presently applying to the afore-mentioned Newfoundland government for the right to export power from the Grand Falls out of Newfoundland territory in connection with their mining operations;
Therefore be it resolved that the National Convention desires to express its strong conviction that as part of the consideration of permitting such exploitation of power, the Commission of Government should provide for a tax of $1 per horsepower installed, and should further make provision that any town erected in connection with the exploitation of iron ore in Newfoundland-Labrador should be built on Newfoundland soil;
And Be It Further Resolved that a copy of these resolutions be forwarded to the Commission of Government and through the proper channels to the Secretary of State for Dominions Affairs.
Mr. Higgins I would suggest that for purposes of being sure that we say the act no. 47 of 1944, and no. 41 of 1938. That distinctly clarifies the wording.
Mr. Hollett I do move that motion, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Harrington It gives me a great deal of pleasure to second this resolution. I had some comments to make on that section of the Mining Report while it was in committee, but when I learned that a resolution of this nature was coming up for discussion I resolved to keep what I had to say for the debate on that.
It seems to be generally agreed that it is the same old story, we have come off on the wrong end. I don't understand myself why the government should have taken the attitude that it was a question of "or else" — either we gave the concessions to the Labrador Mining Co. the way they wanted them, or they would go elsewhere. Surely they must have known, as we know, and as has been pointed out here, that the world's iron ore supplies are almost exhausted in certain areas, and that the companies concerned would certainly be looking for other deposits. Another point which has not been brought out a great deal in this debate is the amount of land in the concession area which has been given this company. In Quebec it is something like 4,000 square miles, but in Newfoundland it is something like 20,000 square miles. which is almost one-fifth of the entire area, and we have no idea what other mineral resources may be tucked away in that great parcel of land. I don't see why it should be so sweeping. Surely an area proportionate with the Quebec area would have been in order. Then April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 525 again, their concession seems to have been given for an indefinite period, and it brings to my mind the bases agreement — a 99 year lease. when it should have been for the duration and probably six months afterwards. The concessions seem to have been too sweeping. They always are, and this is no exception.
There is one other point I want to make, and that's in the Labrador report of the Mining Committee, page 12. It was referred to by Mr. Fudge the other day, and it says: "Negotiations over the Newfoundland-Canada boundary between Labrador and Quebec have begun between the Canadian and Newfoundland governments and it is possible that the actual delimiting of the boundary on the ground may begin in 1947." I always had the impression that the boundary was set. Of course, it was pointed out the other day that the exact lines might not be known, it was the watershed generally, but I am suspicious, Mr. Chairman, and I think we all have a right to be, and we might wake up to find we don't own as much of Labrador as we thought we did. Mr. Crosbie made a motion here last fall in connection with our assets, and it is that I had in mind. I hope that the Newfoundland government, when it goes into that matter, will see that Newfoundland keeps what she has, and does not end up with less than she thought she had.
Mr. Bailey I am not going to say much about this. I was struck by this clause, and I think this is where the government failed more than anything else.... It seems like other countries are wide awake to those things, while we always come out on the end in this country.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, I think I was the one who brought out the fact here that the rate of tax paid in the Province of Quebec on waterpower is $1 per horsepower. Since then there has been quite a bit of discussion in the Convention about that question of the l5 cents per horsepower that the government has agreed to accept, as against the dollar that we think they ought to get, in line with the rate that the Quebec government gets. I think also I am the one who brought out that there is some doubt as to where the town will be built, whether in the Newfoundland or the Quebec part of Labrador. These are the two points dealt with in the resolution. I could not possibly do anything other than agree with a resolution that seeks to point to the two observa tions I was instrumental in bringing to the attention of the Convention.
There is only one point left, but I am a little in doubt at the moment. The committee of the whole has risen chiefly for the purpose of moving this resolution. If we adopt the resolution, we have not completed the report of the Mining Committee — there is still the final section to be read and debated. It is true these two pages concern only the general conclusions and observations, but they are important. Tomorrow is St. George's Day and then you, Mr. Chairman, and the other delegates are leaving for London; that would leave only tonight for the purpose of concluding the debate on the Mining Report. It seems desirable to complete the debate. There is one other point, in addition to the two in the resolution, and that is the question of precious metals in there.... The question occurs to me, what would be the position with regard to the company if it should discover valuable mines of some charan ter other than iron — if they should discover gold? For all we know they may at this very moment know of the presence of much more valuable minerals than iron ore. Suppose they do, or suppose they get to know of gold or some other valuable mineral, are they to be taxed only the same 5% of the net profits. or would that call for a separate act, giving some future government a chance, of making a better deal?
I strongly support the resolution. I wish the chairman of the Mining Committee would indicate what he proposes doing in regard to the concluding of this repon.
Mr. Higgins First of all I want to say, naturally, that I support the resolution. The resolution speaks the feelings of the Mining Committee in this respect. I want to point out to you, however, thatl have been informed by Mr. Howse since the resolution was introduced that the main known deposits in the area — Quebec area and Newfoundland-Labrador — are 30 miles apart, and the greatest distance between all deposits, up to now, is 100 miles. Mr. Howse is of the opinion that there will not be one main town, but several small towns. As far as the Mining Committee is concerned, we are prepared to sit at any time the Convention desires.
Mr. Smallwood How about the gold?
Mr. Higgins The gold is included, as I see it, in the 5%....
Mr. Hollett Would the chairman of the Mining Committee read the mining law relative to this?
Mr. Harrington I thought we had left the committee of the whole. I move the resolution be now put.
Mr. Job I second that.
[The motion carried]
Mr. Starkes I move we adjourn to the call of the Chair.
Mr. Northcott I second that.
Mr. Job On the eve of your departure for England, I am going to express the hope once more that that very important matter of our relations with the United States of America be not forgotten. I may be a little persistent with this, but I feel if it is forgotten it would be a rather serious matter. The Commission of Government seem to be inclined to discard what I think is a very vital question, and I fear we are already being faced with the results of that inaction.
When we met the Commission of Government as a delegation, one of the things we discussed with them was the question of trade and tariffs. They pushed it aside. I think they were wrong in the stand they took. I hope when this delegation gets to England they will bear that question in mind and will not allow it to be pushed aside. It is a vital question for Newfoundland I feel if they press the point it will be discussed. I am of the opinion, as l have always been, that there should be a conference to talk this matter over, between representatives of Newfoundland, Canada, England and the United States. I believe at a round table conference something could come out of it. It will be the duty of this delegation to try and impress upon the British government the very strong desirability of assisting us in getting that meeting. There is a rather extraordinary situation today in connection with fresh fish fillets. They have purchased from our competitors quite a large quantity of fillets and we, her ward, have been neglected. The reason is exchange rates. They pay for the Norwegian fillets in pounds, shillings, and pence, but would have to pay us in dollars. They have purchased a large quantity from our competitors, we are still without orders from them, and we are unable to sell at the present time in the United States at a price which will enable us to give the fishermen of this country a fair price. I hope that this vital question will not be forgotten on the trip to England. I hope the delegation will have a very pleasant trip, and I wish them the best of luck.
Mr. Hollett I think the motion was to adjourn to the call of the Chair.
[The motion carried. 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]
  • [2] Now Churchill Falls.
  • [3] The US military base in St. John's.
  • [4] An Act for the Continuation of an Agreement Between the Government and Labrador Mining and Exploration Company, Limited, 2 Geo. VI, C40, 1938. An Act further to Amend the Act No. 41 of 1938 Entitled "An Act for the Continuation of an Agreement Between the Government and Labrador Mining and Exploration Company, Limited," 8 Geo. VI, c47, 1944.
  • [1] An Act to Promote Mining and Industrial Development Within New Quebec, 10 Geo. VI, c42. 1946.
  • [1] These minutes do not appear in the transcript.
  • [2] Volume II:362. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] End of the section taken from the recording of the proceedings.
  • [2] This document could not be located.
  • [3] This document could not be located.

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