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


May 22, 1947

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

Mr. Higgins When we adjourned the consideration of this report everything had been finished with the exception of the reading of the final report from the Labrador Mining and Exploration Company of their work in the past year. I believe it is important to read it; and then all we have left is the summary of the Committee's report, and a paper by Mr. Claude Howse, Government Geologist....
Mr. Chairman Strictly speaking this is not a part of the report — it forms an appendix, but I have no desire to stop it from being read. With the consent of the committee we will allow it to be read.
[The Secretary read all the sections mentioned by Mr. Higgins]
Mr. Higgins That completes the report of the Mining Committee, and I move that the report do pass and be laid on the table.
[The motion carried]
Mr. Hollett I would like to say for the information of the Convention regarding the Labrador Mining Co. and the 1944 act,[2] you will remember the report states that the act was submitted to the Imperial Institute of Mines in London, and that they did not take exception to the act. I took occasion when in London to visit South Kensington, and I saw this Imperial Institute of Mines. The setup is this: they are partly financed by the imperial government and mostly by mining interests. We were informed that this Imperial Institute was made up of Lord Somebody and the deputy minister of mines for each dominion. There is one deputy minister of mines on the board, and that is the deputy minister for Canada. There are no other officials on the board. I inquired about the 1944 act and the 1938 act.[3] They knew nothing whatsoever. Neither act had been submitted to them for their approval or otherwise. There was one point raised, and that was the May 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 569 advisability of changing from 10 cents a ton, to that which they now have, 5% of the net profits. That was the only thing they were asked their opinion on. These people are there to advise mining interests as to the possibility and feasibility of mining in the British Empire. They were not consulted about water-power and not about concessions. I asked questions about water-power in Quebec, and that information they are getting for me, and when they send it, I will give it to the Convention.
[The committee of the whole rose, and the Convention tabled the report. The Convention then passed and tabled the report of the Finance Committee without debate, and received the report of the Public Health and Welfare Committee]

Motion to Send a Delegation to Washington

Mr. Chairman Mr. Penney to move that this National Convention appoint a delegation of some six members, or less, forthwith to proceed to Washington, if and when arrangements can be made, for general trade discussions and other relevant matters affecting the future economy of Newfoundland with the Government of the United States of America
You will recollect we had a resolution of a somewhat similar character in the early part of Febmary, made by Mr. Job.[1] The motion itself was for the purpose of acquiring a discussion with the Commission of Government, for the purpose of obtaining advice from them as to how to proceed about the matter. I have a copy of that resolution here:
What steps, if any, can be taken for establishing improved economic or fiscal relationships between the United States of America and Newfoundland particularly bearing in mind the present occupation of certain Newfoundland territory by the said United States of America and the fact that free entry is accorded to the United States for its importations into Newfoundland....
Both these resolutions — that is Mr. Job's and Mr. Penney's — concern trade and tariffs and commercial agreements between the two countries. At the conference which was held with the government by the delegation from this Convention, the government expressed this opinion: "Upon the question raised in clause 1 of the resolution respecting steps for establishing an economic or fiscal relationship between the United States and Newfoundland, your committee was informed that this question was one for negotiation between governments through the regular diplomatic channels and that it was doubtful whether the subject matter of the clause came within the terms of reference of the National Convention".[2]
That was the government's views on the matter. With their view I am not particularly concerned this afternoon. I have to decide for myself as to whether the resolution itself comes within the terms of the National Convention. because our powers must be confined to that Convention Act. It is the act which gives us the powers we have, whatever they may be. Unless I can find words in that Convention Act which will enable us to receive a motion of this kind or act upon it, I shall have to rule against the resolution. I have given considerable thought to the matter, and I am unable to read into that Convention Act any power to deal with matters of trade or matters of tariffs. We are a fact-finding body, our activities being confined to ascertaining the present position of the country, estimating her future prospects, and discussing forms of government, but obviously we have no power to do anything about trade concessions or tariff agreements. That is within the jurisdiction of the government only, and we are not a government. I must therefore mle out that resolution.... I know that some of the members of this Convention feel very strongly on this subject, and in view of the fact that this Convention is a rather extraordinary body, I am inclined to think that perhaps in certain instances we may be justified in taking extraordinary steps.
This Convention will presumably die sometime within the next few months, and I do not think it is ever likely to be resurrected. I do not mean the individual members of the Convention will pass beyond the pale, but the Convention itself will go into history and remain there; I am not disposed unduly to restrict the endeavours of the Convention, and for that reason, while I am 570 NATIONAL CONVENTION May 1947 bound, as Chairman, to rule that resolution out of order, I would like to point out that there is a way to overcome that point, if you so desire. It is highly unusual for a House of Commons or House of Assembly to challenge the ruling of the Chairman, highly unusual, but it can be done. If any members of this Convention feel sufficiently strongly about the matter, I am quite content that my ruling should be challenged. I shall not feel offended if the ruling is not sustained.
Mr. Job Am I in order in speaking to that challenge? My feeling is we would like to challenge your ruling if at all possible. It would not be pleasant for this house to do that, although you have been sporting, shall I say.
Mr. Chairman I will not have the slightest objection. I cannot allow you to argue the point. You must raise the question whether the ruling of the Chair must be sustained or not.
Mr. Job Can I not point out my reasons for thinking that this has a great deal to do with the economy of Newfoundland?
Mr. Chairman I cannot allow any debate on the matter.
Mr. Harrington I move that the Chair be overruled in this matter.
Mr. Chairman ... Is it the pleasure of the House that the Chairman's decision be sustained? Those in favour of the Chairman's decision being sustained please say "aye"; those against it please say "nay". Ithink the "nays" have it. I declare that the ruling of the Chair has not been sustained.
Mr. Penney Mr. Chairman ... the United States of America has everything that the people of Newfoundland needs to live, holds immense markets for all our products, is the richest and most powerful nation on this side of the Atlantic if not in the world, and is situated right at our door. As a matter of fact she has already settled on our soil to stay, and in these circumstances would likely be very willing, through friendly negotiations with an official delegation of this elected National Convention, to allow Newfoundland something for our territory on which her bases are now permanently built, and for which we did not receive any payment. She has already given definite proof of her goodwill in rushing to our aid in many emergencies. She has, and is, giving our people a chance to earn good wages, and in addition holds thousands of our sons and daughters settled securely within her bosom — who are in the main keen missionaries for closer contact with a country they love so well.
This Convention has already sent a delegation to London, the result of which is now known to all, and are sending a delegation to Ottawa in the near future. It is my firm belief that we should send a delegation to Washington also. In fact I feel we should not fail to do so, looking to the future prospects of Newfoundland, and with a belief that the Government of the USA would receive and welcome such a delegation warmly. May I ask you, then, to arrange for a delegation to proceed to Washington for trade discussions and other relevant matters affecting the future economy of Newfoundland.... I feel it to be my humble duty in serving the interests of Newfoundland as a whole, no matter what may be said to the contrary. There is no disloyalty in this move; no person dare say otherwise, nor is there any party politics involved, for it does not run contrary to any political party. It can, however, affect materially the whole people of Newfoundland, no matter what form of government they will eventually decide to support and elect; so may I submit to you that we should obtain the facts from Washington, as well as from England and Canada....
Mr. Fudge Mr. Chairman, I have very great pleasure in seconding the motion. We have very considerable trade with the United States, particularly in the export of paper, and recently in cod fillets and other fishery products. In connection with the export of cod fillets, it is desirable that we should be able to extend our market substantially in that country. We have the product, and we know that there is a very substantial market in the United States for it. and it is a matter for negotiation on a mutually beneficial basis, in order that our fishermen may benefit from having the very extensive market that is there available, and that the people of the United States may be able to get our product at a reasonable price. We must reasonably expect that if we hope to get our fishery products into the United States free of duty, they will want to send some of their products to this country either free of duty or at a substantially reduced rate of duty, and this is of great concern to the lower income classes. We all realise that many of our working people have a low standard of living due to the May 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 571 fact that they are unable to get the things that are being produced in the United States, because to the original cost is added the many costs of handling, and then a very substantial duty.... There are many items from which we might completely wipe out the duty in order that our working people may be able to purchase things at a cheaper price. This may involve the much bigger issue of creating a customs union between this country and the United States. Should such a proposition be entertained, the Canadian government would also be interested, and perhaps the discussions which would take place might finally bring about a customs union between the United States, Canada and Newfoundland.
To do that, of course, it would be necessary for us to give consideration to some other method of taxation, but the one great benefit of such a union would be that the standard of living of our working people would be substantially raised, in that they would be enabled to get many of the things that today are entirely beyond their reach because of the high prices. It is almost impossible to envisage at this time all the results that may be achieved by sending a delegation to Washington, but I am quite sure that we have good grounds for believing that if we are prepared to take a reasonable attitude that we can extend the market for our fishery products and at the same time benefit all our people by reducing the tariff on our imports from that country.
Mr. Reddy Mr. Chairman, it has been a source of wonder to me why it is that a motion of this kind did not come before the House long ago. One of the terms of reference of this Convention is to inquire into and explore the economic possibilities that lie before our country. In the early days of this Convention, when our authority to send a delegation to the USA to inquire into trade and political relationships with that country was brought up, it was referred to the late Chairman and the constitutional authority, Professor Wheare, and we were advised that it was within the province of this Convention to send a delegation.
Mr. Chairman That is not correct. You were never advised by the late Chairman or Professor Wheare that you could send a trade delegation to the United States of America.
Mr. Reddy I thought that was what he said, sir.
Mr. Chairman I am quite sure you are wrong. What Professor Wheare and the late Justice Fox did say, was that you could send a delegation to the United States to discuss the question of federal union, with the assent of the British government and the United States government.
Mr. Reddy Thank you, sir. I hope this will be with the consent of both governments. If there be in this House all the sincerity for the people's interest that some of the delegates wish us to believe, and not forgetting that lone fisherman on the bill of Cape St. George, and if the pussy-footing with respect to the people's economic well- being is to cease, then I think that a motion of this kind should have been one of the first resolutions dealt with and not one of the last.
It seems to me that there has been an utter lack of frankness in dealing with this all-important subject. Delegates adopt a hush-hush and "don't wake the baby" attitude when this subject has appeared likely to come up. The Chairman is aware, and every other delegate is aware, that in the two instances where a vote was taken with respect to forms of government and other relations that this country should adopt, the preponderance of public opinion was in favour of establishing relations with the USA over all other forms of government. I refer to a poll that was conducted about a year ago in the Western Star published at Corner Brook, and a more recent poll conducted by the Sunday Herald at St. John's.
Don't you think that it is about time that we should cease trimming, and discuss our economic and political relations with the country that year after year buys a larger percentage of our exports than any other country? Don't you think that our relations with that country, which sends us from our immigrant brothers and sisters several million dollars each year, ... which is at present employing at the bases here 3-4,000 Newfoundlanders, a country with which half the world is trying to establish closer trade relations, don't you think that if we are sincere to those who sent us here, and if we are not to be known as a conglomeration of pussy-footers and hypocrites, don't you think it is about time that something be done towards exploring every avenue of economic and political approach in this connection?
My good friend from Bonavista Centre gets his delegation for Canada. Our trade relations with Canada may be summed up briefly as fol 572 NATIONAL CONVENTION May 1947 lows: we buy five times as much from Canada as Canada buys from us. The life savings of our people, which amounts to eight or ten millions of new life insurance yearly, goes to Canada, rather than stays here to develop the industries of Newfoundland. Possibly this may be a good reason to send a delegation to Canada, but if it be, what can be said of a delegation to a country that each year buys from us more than we buy from her, and in addition to which sends into this country millions of dollars from our immigrants living there?
It is not a one-way financial traffic that we seek, as our relations with Canada happen to be, and it is about time that something is done about it. A lot of our economic uncertainty is because of the fact that we are a milch cow for Canadian business interests, and our economic prosperity would be advanced if we were to decrease, rather than increase the one-way business traffic with Canada, and increase it with the USA.
In 1890, when Sir Robert Bond negotiated the Bond-Blaine treaty, it was blocked by Canada with the concurrence of the British government.[1] Later, about 15 years ago I believe, when our government was negotiating an advantageous trade agreement with the West Indies with respect to our fish, this agreement too was blocked by Canada; and a few years later the big hearted Canadian government descended to penny-pinching antics by discontinuing the few dollars that they contributed as subsidy to the steamer on the Cabot Strait. When Sir Robert Bond tried to negotiate the Bond-Blaine treaty, which would have meant the economic salvation of Newfoundland, it was objected to by Canada, and blocked by the interference of the British government. The British government has now told as that we can no longer expect financial assistance. This is all right, but may I ask the British government one favour, that if they are not prepared to help us, will they please in future do nothing to hinder us.
In 1775, I believe, a small body of poor, hungry, ill-equipped Englishmen, and the sons of Englishmen, who were settled along the New England coast felt that their economic and political interests were being retarded and blocked by the English government. What did these Englishmen do? Did they say, "Hush, hush, don't wake the baby"? No, poor as they were, they had the spirit of independence, which has made England great and which has made Britishers the great pioneers, fearless and forward-looking people wherever they have gone. They said "No", and out of that came the War of Independence, and the USA. It was conceived in the hearts of Englishmen and brought to fruition by Englishmen, and it was this same USA that four or five years ago sent her sons and daughters to England's aid, and made it possible for England to survive in her greatest struggle. Is it then inopportune or improper for us to approach this subject any less fearlessly than those poor Englishmen did in 1775?....
Mr. Smallwood I am an unreformed, unregenerate and unrepentant free trader. If this country could have free trade with the United States, it would be a great thing. If we could have free trade with the Dominion of Canada, it would be a great thing. If we could have free trade with every country in the world, it would be a great thing for the people of this country. I believe in abolishing every single cent of customs duties. I am a believer in bringing down the cost of living. The only way I can see to do that is by absolutely free trade. Now, if this motion passes, we may get a committee of this Convention going to Washington. We may.... It may be received by the Government of the United States. If it is, they could talk about trade and tariffs, and maybe we could get some trade with the United States. As a free trader and only as a free trader — and remember that cuts all ways, local industries, protected industries that are an imposition on this country, will be wiped out, and our people will get a chance to live. I am all for our people getting a chance to live, and I don't care if there are a dozen or a hundred whose toes will be trod on. I am only concerned with the people in this country who have never had a break in the 450 years of our history. Whenever they poked their head up over the stage head, there was someone there to kick them down again. Let's get free trade if we are allowed to send a delegation and if they will receive one I will not vote against it.
I don't believe for a single moment that there will be a delegation going to Washington. Why be hypocritical about it, or try to bluff about it? Why say there will be one, when I don't believe it? We may take a very dim View of the Commission government or the Dominions Office, but whether it is dim or bright, the fact is that they both told us that negotiation of trade and tariff agreements is a matter between governments. I don't know whether they are right or wrong, but they ought to know what they are talking about, so I don't think this delegation will go. I will vote for it to go, and I will be sorry if it does not go, because I am a free trader. I can't make myself any plainer than that....
Mr. Hillier ....I feel a bit unhappy over these resolutions and negotiations, because, rightly or wrongly, the feeling comes to me that negotiations on national matters such as trade and tariffs are matters for government with government, and we definitely are not a government. Moreover, I feel that we are somewhat confusing the people of Newfoundland, and I am sure that we have no desire to do that. Whether I am right or wrong, I leave that to those who are better versed in public life and politics than I am.
Mr. Cranford In rising in support of the motion I do so with the feeling that I possess as good a British spirit as the members of the British government that made the base deal with the United States for 99 years. I feel sure the British government knew at the time they made that deal for such a long time, which to us means forever, that they were placing us in the front line of battle in the event of the United States becoming involved in war, whether Britain would be with them or not, and in view of that knowledge, and considering the United States to be on the most friendly terms with Great Britain, it behoves us to take advantage and endeavour to be placed in the front line in securing markets for our products, so we can enjoy a decent living....
Mr. Vardy While I am in full accord with the spirit of the motion, I am also of the opinion that you were within your rights in rejecting the motion at the beginning. You went strictly by the terms of reference. I think this will put the Com-   mission of Government to a test. They will be given the privilege or otherwise of throwing it out. I have always felt, particularly for the past 14 years, that Newfoundland, with our foreign politics so much controlled by three great powers, should have a government of its own, of a strictly limited number, and within an international group of three. In that I am in full accord with my old friend Mr. Job. Now I cannot see eye to eye with a lot that has been said, because I think we are getting things confused. Some of the speakers have confused matters pertaining to the sending of a trade delegation, with a group that we may or may not send to seek union with the United States. Trade is a matter strictly between governments, and it is just as well to face up to facts. But I will be glad to see any delegation going there. I have no hard feelings against anyone in the United States. I am reminded of the fact that George Washington's father was a great Englishman, and I think we have reached the time in life when, in the very near future, not only those in Canada and America must come together more closely, but Newfoundland must eventually come into some kind of a union with these great powers on this side of the Atlantic.
Some speakers have criticised the idea of sending a delegation to Ottawa, but seem to favour sending a delegation to Washington. I am not in that group. I try to be fair towards every subject brought before this Convention, and to be fair to the people of this country we must give sober thought to any resolution that's brought in. We have been severely criticised for turning the former resolution down, but I am of the opinion that the time is premature for sending this delegation to Washington. This is a very delicate matter, and we could get ourselves embroiled into some pretty hard feelings, because when it comes to changing matters of this kind, it strikes very deep. I know we need three meals a day, but I believe these things could be settled around the table, and a closer union than now exists could be brought about between Canada, USA and Newfoundland, and that it would improve the future standard ofliving for the people ofthis country....
I don't want to take up too much time over this matter, but if it is possible to send a trade delegation — and I am firmly of the opinion that it is not — we won't be made a joke of; the joke will be on them, because they are not willing to face up to the grim realities. But I still believe, knowing them as I do, that the Commission will turn this resolution down. It is within their power to do so.
Mr. Cashin Let them do it.
Mr. Harrington I started the ball rolling this afternoon in moving that you be overruled, because I want to vote for this motion. I agree that there is not much going to come out of it. We have already been told off by the Secretary of State as regards trade.... Ido not think the motion is going to get anywhere, but if it gives the Commission the privilege of turning it down, so much the better.
Mr. Higgins I would like to draw your attention to the first paragraph of the final memorandum given to the delegation by Lord Addison:
I do not however regard it as me function of this Delegation to debate with me questions of the policy of the Newfoundland Government in current administrative and other issues, or to seek to negotiate trade arrangements between the United Kingdom and the Government of Newfoundland. In effect, the observations in your memorandum are criticisms of the conduct of the Commission of Government and the United Kingdom Government, and appear to me to be outside the proper purpose of this Delegation, nor are they likely to assist the National Convention in arriving at conclusions for their recommendations as to suitable forms of future Government in Newfoundland.
I take it that is the basis of your not agreeing?
Mr. Chairman No. Lord Addison may hold whatever views he likes. It was based on the contents of the Convention Act as I interpreted it — not as Lord Addison or anyone else told me.
Mr. Hollett I find myself on the horns of a dilemma. I knew the bird would come home to roost. I think it came home to roost when they told us we could send a delegation to Canada. I have never thought we had the right to send delegations anywhere, more particularly when it comes to affiliating us politically with some outside power. I want to refer you to the document of February 12, handed to the delegation which interviewed the Commission of Government, paragraph 4: "Upon the question raised in Clause 1 of the Resolution respecting steps for establishing economic or fiscal relationship between United States and Newfoundland, your Committee was informed that this question was one between Governments through the regular diplomatic channels." I think every man agrees that that is perfectly normal and correct. In going to Canada you cannot discuss terms of confederation without bringing up these matters, or entering into negotiations with Canada relative to economic matters. They say it is a matter between governments. We all agree with that. That is one of the bases on which I form my opinion that we never had any right sending any delegation to Canada with regard to political union, because political union must be tied up with economic discussions. Further, they say it was doubtful whether the subject matter of the clause came within the terms of reference. Even the Commission of Government had a doubt as to whether or not the matter of sending the delegation to the USA came within the terms of reference. The Convention Act, 1946, definitely describes the duties of the Convention.... I hold that the exports of this country are tied up with any recommendation which any reasonable man in this Convention has to make in regard to forms of government. If we knew we could export so many tons of ore, or quintals of fish, to that or the other country, it would have a bearing on the form of government. We are to examine the position of the country — that is a broad statement. You cannot examine the position of the country if you do not examine its relations with outside countries. Now I am no longer on the horns of a dilemma. I support Mr. Penney's motion, at least it will afford the Commission of Government an opportunity to make up their minds as to the terms of reference.
Mr. Cashin I support Mr. Penney's motion and I want to say a word or two with regard to the future economy. When the delegation went to London, and when we brought up the matter of exports of fish and iron ore — which form the basis of our exports, and consequently have an effect on our economic position — we were told that Great Britain could not guarantee to buy any fish. They could not guarantee to buy any iron ore next year, or any year. They also told us, when we brought up the matter of the base deals, that they were not in a position to go to the US to make any deal regarding the taking of any fish in the future. If that is so, how can they expect us as a Convention to prepare an economic report on the future of this country? If, in the first place, they cannot guarantee to take any fish or iron ore, how can they expect us to prepare an economic May 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 575 report, when we know Great Britain is not in a position to buy iron ore or fresh fish?.... The point I am trying to make is this... that this matter comes within the scope of the Convention for the simple reason we are here to find out the economic position of the country. Great Britain tells us they cannot do anything with the US. The Dorninions Office tells us they are not going to try Why not let us try?.... The fish business is the livelihood of 50% of the people. Consequently, as a Convention, even if we have no power, it is our job, even if we have to drive it down the throat of the Commission of Government and the Dominions Office.
There is another matter, the sale of iron ore to the United States. We all know some of their mines are worked out. It will be five to ten years before Labrador produces. If Lake Superior is worked out, there are millions of tons here on Bell Island. That would be another trade agreement. No effort has been made by the Commission or the Dorninions Office to get trade agreements for us. When they gave the bases away, the Commission and the Dominions Office forgot all about Newfoundland.... They tell us we got some labour; we did, at restricted wages. They tell us it was to protect us. Do they expect us to swallow that? 300,000 people, and they are worried about us! The island of Newfoundland is a fortress for North America, and both the Canadian and American governments are interested in Newfoundland for that reason. The Commission betrayed their trusteeship. I think it was brought up at a meeting with the Dominions Office, that they were trustees, and we were told that the bases were gone and that there was nothing they could do about it. I am going to support this motion whether it receives the consent of the Commission of Government or not.
I want to compliment Mr. Reddy on his speech. Today all our newsprint goes into the United States.... We have to develop a fresh and frozen fish market in the United States if this country is going to live. We do not know whether we are going to sell a ton of iron ore to Great Britain orapound of fish. They tell us they cannot approach the United States. If they cannot do their job, then let them get out of here and let someone else do it....
Mr. Miller We have a very peculiar situation here. First we have your ruling; second we dig back and find we have information from the Commission that it was beyond our power to do this; third, we have information supplied by the delegation to London. We defy all that and go on trying to press something. I would press just as hard as anyone, if I found just the slightest chance of getting it through.... What is the sense? I have every respect for Mr. Penney and the effort he made. I agree entirely that the future of Newfoundland lies with the United States, but I do not think we are going to get anywhere with this.... I am going to introduce an amendment to Mr. Penney's motion. I move that the words beginning "for general trade..." be deleted, and the following substituted: "to secure information on matters affecting the future economy of Newfoundland in its relationship to the United States of America."
Mr. Chairman Does anybody second that amendment?
Mr. Hollett Is there any difference between that and Mr. Penney's motion?
Mr. Higgins I presume you are going to rule against it. I will second it.
Mr. Chairman One is for general trade discussions, the other is to secure information on matters affecting the future economy of Newfoundland. I cannot rule it out as being a repetition of the other. On the same grounds as I ruled out the original motion, I would have to rule out the amendment. I still think you are entirely wrong in your interpretation of the motion. I do not intend to rule out the amendment.
Mr. Smallwood We do not want to look ridiculous: a "delegation of six or less" — it might be none.
Mr. Penney I am satisfied so long as this Convention is satisfied to send a delegation to Washington: so long as the sense of my motion is not disturbed.
Mr. Job I think it is probably generally known that this resolution is after my own heart. I believe in it, and I believe we may get somewhere if we can get the delegation to go there. I think one of the troubles may be to get the request passed by the authorities. I see no harm whatsoever in trying. I wonder how we can get it done quickly. I do not see how the deputation can be of use to this Convention unless it can be done quickly. I always thought we had every right to make enquiry on this question of trade between here and 576 NATIONAL CONVENTION May 1947 the United States, which is the vital point. I have stressed it on a good many occasions. I don't see any reason for not endeavouring to get this interview, if you like to call it that, to find out whether it is possible to get formal discussions. I have heard people who have come back from the USA quite recently state that there is a feeling there in business circles that, in view of connections here, we are entitled to special consideration.
I would like to read if I have not lost it, an extract from a letter from a gentleman who has been living in the USA for the last 15 or 20 years, and is connected with one of the universities. He stresses that the great difficulty in the USA is that we are not known there. The public has no conception of what Newfoundland was, what it is, and what it expects to be, so it is very difficult to get any public interest in this question.... As you know, I published a pamphlet which I circulated among the members of the Convention a long time ago, and I have had some communication about it from the United States, they have been favourably impressed, and I think something will come if we can discuss matters with them. We can do nothing by sitting here, we have to get there. Difficulties will be raised by the authorities here, I think. They will say it is not within our terms of reference, and they can't agree to it. It may be they will say, "Even if you pass this resolution, you will have to provide your own funds to go". In that case we might pass around the hat.
Mr. Jackman Over a month ago I introduced a resolution regarding a delegation to be sent to Washington. It received such a chilling reception, and myself as well, that I am not properly thawed out yet. When I brought that resolution in here I had one thing in mind, and I still have it.... I had the concern of the working people of Newfoundland, and I still have it. The people are looking for the wherewithal to live. I had that in mind when I brought in the resolution. I feel as I felt in the beginning, that I am a lone wolf in this Convention. I came with preconceived ideas and I have them today, and I am going to hold them despite the political groups in this Convention. 1 have not said a word for the past while because, as I said before, I was frozen.... I do not like the attitude of the Convention itself. When I entered this door I was not asking favours from anyone — no personality. If I have to tread on a man's toes, I will tread on them whether he like it or not. I am here to do all in my power for the people of Newfoundland. Personalities are outside the question as far as I am concerned.
Regarding this resolution, I am going to back it up, as it is similar to my resolution. I see in this something of benefit, possibly we won't get anywhere but you have got to knock on the door before you get an answer. Scripture says, "Ask and ye shall receive". We are going to ask. With regards to my resolution, I want to say a few more words.
Mr. Chairman If you will pardon me, we can't discuss your resolution now. We are discussing this resolution before the Chair, and you must confine your remarks to that.
Mr. Jackman All right, I'm wholeheartedly behind it, and I am going to support it. This resolution is after all dealing with a foreign people, so we say. A foreign people — why? Why, outside this House we have a foreign flag. We have three flags in this country, and if we are not careful we will have the fourth flag, the red flag, and I will support that if we can't get something better than we have got today....
Mr. Hollett I have not spoken to the amendment. That amendment is going to tangle things up. They both mean the same thing, and it seems rather silly to divide on a motion and an amendment which mean the same thing, so I am going to vote for the motion and we can make any necessary alterations afterwards.
Mr. Miller ....The motion asks that we discuss general trade discussions. We have been told that we can't deal in trade discussions, but we have not been told, and one thing they had better not tell us, is that we can't go and seek information. That's my point — it is seeking information regarding the future of Newfoundland.
Mr. Chairman That's my ruling, gentlemen, the amendment is an amendment. Those in favour of the amendment please say "aye", those against it say "nay". I think the "nays" have it. I therefore declare the amendment lost. I will now put the original motion. Those who are in favour of this motion say "aye". Those who are against the motion "nay". I think the "ayes" have it. I declare the resolution carried.

Report of the Education Committee[1]

Mr. Chairman Mr. Higgins to move that the report of the Committee on Education be further considered. I don't know what this means. Perhaps Mr. Higgins will be good enough to explain.
Mr. Higgins The purpose of the motion is not to discuss the Report of the Education Committee in its entirety, but merely to direct your attention to part of it — that dealing with the Memorial University College. There is no reason why it can't be disposed of this afternoon.
Ever since the Convention opened, I have been approached by students and ex-students of the Memorial University College asking me to place before the Convention their wish that the status of the college be raised to that of a degree- conferring institution. I have not acceded to their request until the present time, because I wished to survey the position as carefully as possible, and to give some consideration to the grounds upon which such a claim is based.
I think one can take it for granted that there is an increasing demand for university education. The number of students at the Memorial University College this year is 432; of these, 181 are teachers in training; the remainder, 251 persons, is a body of students who can take the first two years of their university course there, and will then have to proceed elsewhere — if they can — to complete it. Many of you have read the numerous letters that have appeared in the daily papers from students who are bitterly disappointed that this September they must either terminate their university studies, or go to a Canadian or American university. Their appeal cannot remain unheeded. But I have come to the conclusion that the need for a university is not based upon the claims of these students alone, but on a deeper, fundamental need. This country needs a university. A university acts as a natural co-ordinating centre of education, and at the present time the need for this is a basic one. There is no body of Newfoundlanders more sincere in their work or devoted to their profession, than the educationalists and teachers of this country, and they themselves are acutely conscious that the establishing of a university would polarise our educational aims.
The heads of the different denominations — the Conference of the United Church and the Anglican Synod — have in their ecclesiastical legislatures passed formal resolutions in favour of a national university. His Grace the Archbishop, in an address delivered on the occasion of the presentation of the first Judge Higgins Memorial Scholarships on February 27, 1945, spoke as follows:
I am glad to know that the expansion and development of the Memorial University College to the status of a full-fledged Newfoundland university is under the consideration of the educational authorities. This is a move that will commend itself to, and will have the approval of, all who have the best interests of the country at heart. But it would seem that there are one or two conditions indispensable to its success. In the first place it must be in personnel and equipment of such a standard that it will command the recognition of outside universities, and secondly it must be a Newfoundland university in the fullest sense of the word, with a Newfoundland atmosphere and background. To be a Newfoundland university its charter and constitutions should be such, after the model of many universities abroad, as to embrace within its scope and ambit those institutions in our midst which have their roots deep in the soil and the traditions of the country. Only in this way can it become a genuine Newfoundland institution, which will have the co-operation and support of all sections in the country. In order that the advantages and benefits of such a university be accessible to all, the establishment of scholarships would appear to be necessary both by the government and private philanthropy. We hope that as the years go on, and the new university develops to its full stature, many individual societies and other agencies amongst us will establish scholarships similar to those I have the privilege of presenting to these pupils today.
Various local organisations have passed similar resolutions. Now in view of the numerous petitions to the government, it is difficult to see why it is that this university has not already been established. I can hardly believe that it is on account of the cost involved. I am informed, that, 578 NATIONAL CONVENTION May 1947 in order to give the full four year course in arts and in teacher training, the addition of one or two professors and a small amount of extra equipment is practically all that is necessary. While the cost cannot be estimated, yet I understand that it might entail perhaps an extra $15,000 a year. As the vote to the college this year is say $50,000, surely $65-70,000 is a very reasonable sum to pay for the great advantages a university offers. At the present time it costs us $50,000 a year to give students a two years' course; surely the extra amount required is proportionately a very modest sum to pay for the great advantages that would accrue from the establishing of a university. In the nature of things, the first stages of growth of a university would not be extensive, and it is only sensible to assume that we can rely upon those in whom the responsibility of the direction of the university will vest, to shape the moulding of our national university with caution and circumspection, and will have regard to the financial capacity of this country to pay, and the merits of the claims of the students of our country.
It is true that we assist a certain number of students to go to Canada, but only to a small proportion of students is assistance granted. Consequently we have a large body of earnest students, whose educational and cultural development is a matter of great importance, frustrated at the most important time of their lives. This country may well expect a valuable return from the young people who avail of our educational facilities If we fail to grant these facilities, we may reasonably expect to pay for our short-sightedness. In fact, I myself view the existence of a large number of frustrated students with apprehension. We do not want a disgruntled semi-intelligensia.
The Memorial University College was founded in 1924. By great good luck the first President was an outstanding English educationalist, John Lewis Paton, who was a man not only of profound emdition but of extraordinary personality, and he has bequeathed to the college a valuable spirit and a fine tradition of academic thoroughness and high personal aims. This spirit has been developed through the last two decades, and a university college can no longer adequately foster the development of his vision and accomplishment. The college itself ranks high in the educational world and has won a unique reputation, not only in Canadian and American universities, but at Oxford as well.
The academic work of a college is not today sufficient. The extension departments of universities in other countries constitute an important element in education. They cater to the needs of those who wish to continue their education but do not desire to graduate from a university. An extension department would be particularly valuable to this country — it is one of our most pressing needs — and only a university can direct it adequately.
I have asked several educationalists whether or not they consider that education should begin at the bottom or at the top, whether money would not be spent more advantageously upon primary schools, but they have uniformly assured me that the idea that improvement starts at the bottom has been exploded everywhere, and that it is universally recognised by educationalists that the good permeates downward.
We have in this country a very definite character of our own. One might call it the Newfoundland character, and we have a culture of our own; but a culture needs a home, it needs enrichment and development; only a university can adequately provide the necessary stimulation.
During the last ten years there has been considerable government activity in science, agriculture and adult education, and I believe a great deal of valuable work has been accomplished; but how are these various activities to be co-ordinated except through a university? Nothing would be more valuable to the people of this country than an understanding of our economic and political problems. We must evolve our own way of life in this country, a way of life based on our national culture and our special traditions, and the solving ofour educational problem is the first essential. In the years that lie ahead these problems may demand an immense national effort, an effort which can be made only by a people possessing a sound knowlege of the problems of government.
I need not enlarge upon the cultural developments that would inevitably flow from the establishment of a university, the stimulus it would give to an, music, architecture and literature. Newfoundland people are not devoid of talent, and a university would be the most practical way of giving these talents and interests a real chance May 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 579 of development.
There are many who hold that this country has suffered grievously by being tied down to the system of education of other countries. They do not believe that any system, no matter how excellent in its own country, is really suited to our life and problems. It is their belief that we must evolve our own system of education completely independently of other countries, so that Newfoundlanders may develop their own way of life with the enlightenment and enrichment that only a sound educational system can provide, and in my belief this system can only be developed from the establishing of a cultural focus, such as a university.
I now wish to move the following resolution: I move that the report of the Committee on Education be further considered.
Mr. Butt I second that motion.
[The motion carried.]
Mr. Higgins I ask leave to move the following resolution:
Whereas it is the opinion of this Convention that the status of the Memorial University College should be raised to that of a degree- conferring institution,
Be it therefore resolved that this Convention places itself on record as being of opinion that the necessary financial arrangements should be made immediately by the Honourable the Commission of Government for this purpose, And be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Honourable the Commission of Government.
Mr. Chairman The situation is very awkward. That is not an amendment to the Education Report. It is an expression of opinion to be sent to the Commission of Government. I cannot see the connection. Frankly, I did not know what your motion was to be. I thought there was something to be added to the Education Report.
Mr. Higgins I understood the only way I could bring it in was to move that the report be considered.
Mr. Chairman You have the report on the table for further consideration; what do you propose to do with it? I think it is unnecessary to touch the report for the purpose of Mr. Higgins' making his resolution. I am prepared to receive the resolution.
Mr. Hollett The Education Committee recommended that the Memorial College should be extended to a degree conferring institution, but they did not recommend that the government find the money for it.
Mr. Chairman Why not let it stay at that? In incorporating it in the report it does not go to the government. The government has nothing to do with our reports. Here is a recommendation to the government. Some months ago we made a recommendation that nothing further be done with the assets of the country. That resolution was adopted and sent to the Commission. Now Mr. Higgins thinks we should send another expression of opinion, that the Memorial University College be given full university status. There is no reason why we cannot do that and not disturb the Education Report.
Mr. Smallwood The Education Report is now before the House on motion of Mr. Higgins. I move that the Education Report be re-adopted as read.
[The motion carried]
Mr. Miller I would like to second Mr. Higgins' resolution, and I propose to move the adjournment of the debate.
Mr. Smallwood If I move the adjournment of the House, would I have lost my opportunity to speak to the motion?
Mr. Chairman No. Moved and seconded that the debate be adjourned until tomorrow.
[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] An Act Further to Amend the Act No. 41 of 1938 Entitled "An Act for the Confirmation of an Agreement Between the Government and Labrador Mining and Exploration Company, Limited." 8 Geo. Vl, c47 (1944).
  • [3] An Act for the Confirmation of An Agreement Between the Government and Labrador Mining and Exploration Company, Limited, 2 Geo. VI, c41, 1938.
  • [1] Above, p. 281.
  • [2] Volume II:446. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] A draft reciprocity treaty negotiated by Robert Bond, then Colonial Secretary in the Newfoundland government, and Secretary of State James Blaine of the United States in 1890. The British government refused to approve the treaty, in response to opposition in Canada.
  • [1] Volume II:65 [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]

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