Newfoundland National Convention, 13 January 1948, Debates on Confederation with Canada


January 13, 1948[1]

Mr. Cashin I give notice that I will tomorrow ask His Excellency the Governor in Commission to ascertain from His Majesty's Government the following information: In the referendum that is supposed to be held in the spring of 1948, will such a referendum will be decided and a future form of government selected on the basis of (a) the form of government on the ballot which received 51% of the total votes cast; (b) the form of government which received the majority of votes cast; (c) the form of government which receives a greater number of votes than any other?
Mr. Chairman, I again draw to your attention the fact that the question regarding the Bank of Canada has not been answered. I drew it to your attention yesterday, and I have asked you to find out whether or not we're going to get an answer. If they are not going to answer, let them say so right here and now. That's number one. Secondly, I asked the question with regard to the Newfoundland Savings Bank. And I just want to say this, that if I don't get a satisfactory answer to both of these questions tomorrow, I'm going to take some other steps. These are questions, proper questions put on the order paper and if you ignore them — I don't say the Savings Bank question is being ignored, because it's only been there since yesterday, but the other one has been there since the end of November and has been deliberately ignored. I want an answer to that question, even if I have to go so far as to move the adjournment of this debate.
Mr. Chairman Your question relating to the Bank of Canada, when you drew my attention to it yesterday, I requested the Secretary to get in touch with W. J. Carew, the Secretary to the Commission government, immediately. He did so, with what result I'm unfortunately unable to say at the moment...
Mr. Cashin ....I don't want to make any trouble in this Convention, but if that question is not answered tomorrow, I'm going to take some other steps. I'll certainly take steps in connection with our own Savings Bank. I have all kinds of information regarding it. It's my job to find that kind of thing out. I'll have very good information with regard to the Bank of Canada. But I want the information officially. Unless they are prepared to come along with that, I can't see why they chuck terms at us; they're not prepared to tell us their financial position.
Mr. Chairman What was the question on the Savings Bank?
Mr. Cashin The one on the Savings Bank was — there's nothing in the Black Books about it, or the Grey Books or any other book — what will happen to the Newfoundland Savings Bank in the event of Newfoundland becoming the tenth province of Canada. I know, Mr. Chairman, that in Canada there's no government savings bank, none. To date the Newfoundland people have $20 million approximately in that bank ... and the average rate of interest paid to depositors last year works out to practically 2.75%. Now if that Newfoundland Savings Bank is to be abolished, the only interest that people would get on their monies in the ordinary Canadian chartered banks today would be 1.5% and in some instances they won't get that. Now, what is 2.75% interest on 1130 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 $20 million? It's over $500,000 a year, and that's to be reduced as I see it by over $200,000 a year. If that is so, Mr. Chairman, I want to know it; and the depositors ought to be told it. The Ottawa delegation ought to be able to tell us that, but they're not. Because there's nothing in the Black Books or the Grey Book to tell them about it. Evidently the matter was not taken up in Ottawa.
Mr. Smallwood Yes, it was.
Mr. Cashin Well, why isn't it here? If it was taken up, what is the reply to it?
Mr. Smallwood I'll say when I get to reply.
Mr. Cashin Tell us now. I want an answer to that question.
Mr. Smallwood I'll tell you now if you like. If we become a province of Canada, the Newfoundland Savings Bank, which is owned and operated by the Newfoundland government, since 1832 without a break, will still be owned and operated by the Newfoundland government. What interest rates they pay is purely the business of the Newfoundland government, and confederation or no confederation, the New foundland Savings Bank goes on without any change.
Mr. Cashin Mr. Chairman, in reply to Mr. Smallwood, all I've got to say is that that it's not in any of these terms. I want that from some official source besides Mr. Smallwood. If that was told them in Ottawa, it should have been included in one of these 25 cent books. I haven't seen it in any of the secret documents. If I don't know officially tomorrow, I'm going to bring the matter to the attention of the country. We're not taking Mr. Smallwood's word for that, he wouldn't take mine. Furthermore, he hasn't even told us about the Bank of Canada.
Mr. Smallwood I don't know it.
Mr. Cashin You should know it. If I don't know about it tomorrow I'm going to tell it....
Mr. Chairman The motion is that order one on the order dated for today be deferred. Is the Convention ready for question? All in favour say "aye", contrary minded "nay". The motion is carried. Mr. Smallwood...

Report of the Ottawa Delegation Proposed Arrangements for the Entry of Newfoundland into Confederation Committee of the Whole

Mr. Higgins Mr. Chairman, if I might intervene for a moment.... I was referring yesterday to a motion introduced by Mr. Jackman some time in the early part of our proceedings,[1] to the fact that when this Convention had almost unanimously turned it down, I had been approached by people asking where I got the right to do such things. I generally refused, and said that a number of other members had also been censured by various people. At that time Mr. Smallwood interrrupted and said nobody had spoken to him on the matter. That's the statement as well as I recollect it. Nobody had spoken to him. Now either Mr. Smallwood has lost his memory or else he's not telling the truth, because I was informed by a gentleman today that he had spoken to Mr. Smallwood, and had asked him what was the meaning of it, and that gentleman's name is Mr. Walter Dillon, who's a very prominent taxi-man of this town. It's merely for the purpose of the record, sir. that I intervene in this matter.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman. Mr. Higgins, if he has to believe Mr. Walter Dillon or believe me, has his choice of behaving which of us he prefers. To put the matter straight, I did not say that no one had approached me. What Mr. Higgins suggested is pure waste of breath.
Mr. Higgins You did say it.
Mr. Smallwood ....Don't ask me what I said, when you already told me what I said I say I did not say it. If you want to know what I did say, go and find out.
Mr. Chairman I think it's time to put an end to this, gentlemen.... Mr. Butt you have the floor.
Mr. Butt Yesterday, Mr. Chairman, I was enumerating some of the things which I consider of great importance, which Newfoundland, under the terms of confederation as given to us here, would have to give up. I did digress for a moment to say a word on the sales tax. I did that, sir, because I feel that there is a lot of misunderstanding on the point. Mr. Smallwood touched on it yesterday to a certain extent. For example, there's such a thing as a retail sales tax, which means that if you go and buy an article costing $1 in a store and the tax is 2%, the two cents is tacked on to January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1131 that $1. But the sales tax referred to in these Black Books is an indirect tax. Its effect on the consumer is exactly the same as a customs duty. For example, if an article cost 50 cents either from the importer or the manufacturer to the retailer, the first thing he does is add on the 8% tax, which would make the article 54 cents. After that it's on the 54 cents that the retailer puts his markup or profit. An article which cost 50 cents ... would cost 76 cents. I've taken one item at 50 cents, but that is the principle that we must have in mind when we think of a sales tax. It is exactly the same in principle as a customs duty. It should be borne in mind that there has been in the last 16 months a considerable amount of discussion on the profit that is made on customs duties, and on the profit on profit. That's the way it's been said, exaggerated beyond words to my mind.
I was referring to the things we would give up, and in doing that I really moved on to clause 5 of the proposed arrangements. But there is clause 4 and some people may have thought that I proposed to avoid clause 4, which concerns welfare services. Nothing was further from my mind. The welfare services enumerated in clause 4 are all good. Some such schemes must in the future be applied to Newfoundland if we are to keep abreast of the times. Any scheme however, that is applied to Newfoundland must be consistent with ....[1] national minimum standards, for the sole purpose of avoiding want, when the earnings of parents with large families for example, are either cut off or insufficient to avoid that want. Mr. Chairman, it is wasteful and unjustified to pay family allowances, for example, to a man earning $5,000-$10,000 a year. I'll put this on a personal basis. I have never been able in my life to earn very much more then $3,000 a year. I have two children, and family allowances on the scale given by the Canadian federal government would be very nice. But I honestly feel that I am not entitled to family allowances as long as there are people in this country who earn way less than $3,000 a year, especially when I can offset my family allowances against what I would normally pay in income tax, which is the principle applied in the family income allowances in Canada. People in the same category may or may not face up to that position.... In England they have a family allowance scheme and the first child is exempt. That's one way of getting over the difficulty. I do not want to give you the impression that I'm an expert on social services, family allowances, or any of the welfare schemes. But I am concerned in the view which I have just expressed by reference to the Beveridge Report.[2] Anyone who wants to check on what I have said, a reasoned basis for it will find it on page 154 of that report. Also I would like members to read page 115 of a book which has been referred to many times in this Convention, Quick Canadian Facts. Bear in mind sir, that what I have said must not be taken to mean that I am or will be in the future opposed to social welfare services wherever and whenever we can handle them. Whatever form of government we have in the future, these things must and will be brought about, provided we can find a solid basis for paying for them.
Now let's take the old age pension. Here again, I am all for it. I believe it is the measure of a people, the standard of civilisation, the way in which the younger generation will take their part in doing the fighting for their country, and also in the protection of both the young and the old.... I want you to look for one minute at the Canadian Year Book, page 795. You will find there, that in Nova Scotia for 1945-46 the average monthly payment on family allowances was $1 million. The population of Nova Scotia is 620,000.
Mr. Smallwood That's now.
Mr. Butt That's right now — 620,000. The population of Newfoundland now is 320,000.
Mr. Smallwood 327,000.
Mr. Butt 327,000 — that makes it better from my point of view.... The point I am making is this and it's only a matter of half a million dollars or so, but our population is half the population of Nova Scotia. The payments there are at $12 million. Half $12 million should be $6 million. The estimate given here for family allowances is $8,350,000.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Butt, permit me on that.
Mr. Butt Surely.
Mr. Smallwood To begin with, the basis you were taking for Nova Scotia is merely the last three months of 1945. It's not a sufficiently long period on which to base anything. The other point 1132 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 is this. From province to province the actual payments made will depend upon the age grouping of the population. If you compare our age grouping with that of any other province, and because we have a higher birth rate than any part of North America perhaps, you will find that we have a larger proportion of our population in the low age groupings.
Mr. Butt I'm coming to that, Mr. Smallwood. I'll take the first point — it's hardly a sufficient period on which to make an average..." It seems sufficient to say for practical purposes that the average amount paid in Nova Scotia is around $1 million a month or $12 million a year. In Newfoundland it ought to be six, make it seven. There's the difference of $1 million. That throws some doubt upon this probable estimate of expenditures, Mr. Chairman.
Let's turn now to the old age pensions. Remember now the population of Nova Scotia is just double that of Newfoundland. I found that the contributions for 1945 would be $2,879,000 — half of that should be $1,400,000 for Newfoundland. The figure given in the possible estimate of expenditure is $2 million for Newfoundland, $2 to $2.6 million. Now, when Mr. Smallwood talks about the age group, it may be quite true that we have more children in Newfoundland then they have in Nova Scotia proportionately. It is also therefore true that we have more old people in Newfoundland, on the basis of this estimate. Now if one is right the other can't be right, as I see it. To borrow a phrase from you, sir, I'm driven to the conclusion that we must be a very hardy people to produce more old aged people than they do in Nova Scotia, or that this estimate is wrong, and that it isn't true, as we heard some years ago, that the people of Newfoundland died before they reached the age of 40. I cannot accept the probable expenditure without a greater amount of study than I am capable of giving it....[1]
It was designed relatively lately in the world to take care of a better distribution in highly industrialised countries. We in Newfoundland have not reached that stage yet, and consequently when you read in the Black Book the things to which unemployment insurance does not apply, you will find that from Newfoundland's point of view, we will get practically no benefits out of it....[2] It must be remembered that one-fifth must be paid by the federal government, two- fifths by the employer, and two-fifths by the employee himself. If you apply the whole scheme to Newfoundland, taking into consideration the fact that we are not yet a highly industrialised country, you will find that it is not something upon which we ought to have based the question of political union with another country.
Now we come to the sick mariners' fund.... It is shown in the Black Book that the expenditure per capita boiled down to $3 per seaman treated. It is specifically pointed out that it is not a health scheme, in spite of the fact that we have heard a lot of loose talk about the building of sanatoria in this country under that scheme.... The whole scheme is now being applied to Newfoundland in a different form, and will be further applied if and when we get cottage hospitals and more facilities. You will find that if a man gets taken ill or has an accident on a ship and he puts into port, then he is treated, put into hospital if necessary and the funds to pay are found, by himself if he can afford it, or by his employer; or if he cannot afford to pay anything, by the government. Sir, that scheme is actually in effect at the present time.
For the moment, I am going to pass over clauses 4 and 5, which refer to things which Canada would take over, and pass on to our debts. This creates one of the greatest intellectual difficulties that I found in this book. In fact, if it weren't serious, I would just slap it down and be amused. "Canada will assume and provide for the servicing and retirement of the 3% stock issue guaranteed by the United Kingdom government." I ask you to listen closely. "This, in the opinion of the Canadian government, represents a fair estimate of the amount of debt incurred for purposes which would presumably have been the responsibility of the Government of Canada, had Newfoundland been a province when the debt was incurred." On page 253 of the Amulree Report is a list of the items upon which the $100 million debt that was incurred in this country was spent. It starts with $34 million for railways, it has $13 million for war purposes, it goes on to highroads and other roads, and it goes all the way down through the picture till it comes to deficits January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1133 on current account including railway, $24,460,000. Now when Mr. Smallwood speaks, I would like him. to tell me how any group of experts in Canada was able to break that down and then say that this part of it which they're going to take over, represents that part which would have been the responsibility of the Government of Canada if Newfoundland had been a province. The second part is more interesting still. "All sinking funds against this portion of the debt will be taken over by Canada". But the argument has been that that amount of the debt which they are taking over would have been the responsibility of the Government of Canada. Therefore Newfoundland was not bound to find any part of the sinking fund, or service of the debt, or anything of the kind. Therefore, if it makes sense, and I think it does, the $9 million belongs to us.... That is the position, it is our money. It is money that we would have had in this country if that amount of money had been taken over by Canada, and this argument which they put here is right. I would like to ask the Ottawa delegation if that was put to the Canadian government. You will note that in the part of the debt which is left to us, we are left with our own sinking fund.
Next, our accumulated financial surplus. I got hot under the collar about that once before, and I'm not going to get so again. But I will point out that "Newfoundland will have the right within one year of union to deposit with the Government of Canada all or any part of the surplus held in dollars, and to receive interest at the rate of 2 5/8% annually during a maximum period of ten years after union on the minimum balance outstanding at any time in the year preceding payment of interest". I would draw your attention to the fact, that the people of Newfoundland today have on deposit with the Government of Canada an amount which must certainly be equal to, if not more than the surplus which the government has in hand, in that we have Dominion government bonds and our deposit of money is with the Government of Canada. We do not have to have any special wording put in here, if and when we wish to deposit money with the Government of Canada. We do not even have to have a limit of ten years.... It must be $20 million which is actually on deposit today with the Government of Canada.... That really annoys me. I am sick and tired of hearing people tell the people of New foundland that they got to be protected against themselves, and that can be the only reason that clause was put there.
Now to contract rights arising from the advance of public funds. Well I suppose that if you were drawing any kind of a draft agreement, there are certain things which you would have to put in. That's the only excuse that I can see for putting that in there, for the simple reason it is our money. It's part of what we might have had if we hadn't put it out as a surplus. It might have been added to our surplus.... Subsidies to the provincial government. $180,000 a year and 80 cents per head — $1.1 million. It isn't an awful lot of money, but it's all to the good. It's something which Newfoundland can do with — an extra million dollars.... Clause 12 — tax agreement. Prior to 1939, the provincial governments of Canada, taken together, were spending more money than the federal govemment.... As a result of two world wars and the institution of certain federal welfare services, the federal government has had to get into its hands, to take care of Canada as a whole, a lot more money. During the last war they made war tax agreements with the various provinces. Since that time, tax agreements have been made with seven out of the nine provinces for short periods. Whether they were good or bad, I don't know but what we are asked to do is to assume that a tax agreement will be applied to Newfoundland, the equivalent of which in Canada has been the subject of bitter controversy for quite a few years. The formula itself Mr. Smallwood skipped over, because he knew that nobody in the room would understand it, and yet we are asked to assume that a tax agreement would be applied to Newfoundland, and we are given the probable expenditure of a tax agreement payment for 1947 of $6,820,000. Now the point I'm trying to make is this, that we ought not to expect either this Convention or the people of Newfoundland to agree to an assumption that we would go into a tax agreement until it is very carefully studied by people who know precisely what they're doing. Now we come to transitional grant. We are going to get $3.5 million for three years and that's going to tail off in the twelfth year. After that we get a reassessment of our position ...
Mr. Smallwood No.
Mr. Butt I'm sorry, you're quite right. Within 1134 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 eight years, before we come to $1,750,000 a year, we are going to have a reassessment of our position to tell us if we are to go get any more help, having respect to our ability to pay taxation in line with the other provinces of Canada. That can only be read one way, and that is that we are to get transitional grants for a period until we are able to develop revenue producing services, so that we can pay our own taxes. That's the only way in which I can read it. I said yesterday that we would become the baby province of Canada. This transitional grant, I hope it's not being facetious, makes me feel that while we are the baby province we will get a few rattles and a few diapers, and we'll be kept clean and we'll be fed the extra bottle of milk, and we'll be played with to a certain extent, but when you grow up eight, ten years from now, you carry your own burden.... Representation: I'm going to skip over it — the fact that we're going to get six senators is really delightful. The fact that we're going to have seven people up in Ottawa, miles and miles away, to plead our cause is also delightful.
Mr. Cashin Maybe it'll be the same seven.
Mr. Butt It could be.
Mr. Smallwood I don't think so. There's two of them won't be there.
Mr. Butt ....Now sir, we come to transportation. I can see that the application of the Maritime Freight Rate to Newfoundland may be of help. Why, in the name of fortune we haven't asked for some concessions like that, in view of the favourable balance of trade that Canada has with Newfoundland, I don't know. Why couldn't we ask for it in the future? I took the $40 million that we bought in Canada last year and I assumed that they would make 20%, which turns out to be $8 million that's made by the producers of goods in Canada on their sale of goods to Newfoundland.... I'm talking about the markup and the profits which will be made by the producer or the manufacturer. I don't see that there's any earthly excuse for this country's not asking for concessions of that kind. It's only because we sit down on the job that we don't get these things. 1 don't know whether I'm very young and foolish, but these things really make me boil. There is a definite inertia that comes over the people of Newfoundland, and they're prepared to sit down under anything without asking for concessions from other people. It seems to me to be a stupid sense of pride, or that we're altogether too naive. If we wait long enough, if we find the money to produce the roads and build upour tourist traffic, we'll get a ferry. I don't know how much the ferry is going to cost. I know our present boat cost $2 million, and we found it ourselves. Why couldn't we find an extra $2 million to find a ferry? If we want to go after the tourist business, if we're going to find the roads that are necessary, if we've got to find that money ourselves to build the roads, if we've got to find the money to pay for the lodges and cabins and all the other organisations, I think that we've stretched the point. We may be able to find another million or two to put a ferry on the Gulf.
The government employees — I don't suppose, Mr. Smallwood, that it would be fair to criticise you, in making up your budget, for leaving out one item because I don't see how it would ever occur to you. It did occur to me, however, because I was one time a civil servant. The point is this, you will find the civil servants are on scale, that there are yearly increments that are going to civil servants. That that has to be paid. It has to be found this year, it has to be find again next year.... These increments will have to go on for quite a few years, because a number of young people at the lower part of the scales are being taken into the civil service. I suggest that in the budget made up by Mr. Smallwood you could completely wipe out one item which he put in there this year, and that you would have to double it next year. That particular item is $254,000 from refunds. One man estimated for me that within the civil service the yearly increments alone next year would cost practically 10% of the amount paid to the civil service normally. I'll be accused of propaganda if I say any more about this.... It only means one thing, that if you cut out that item, and I'm not talking about extra increases that the civil service are looking for now, you have to add an equal amount to your budget, which means that you have to add another $2,400,000 a year to your provincial budget, which can only be found out of direct taxation on the people of Newfoundland. I would also point out that federal employees may get better wages than employees in the Newfoundland government. If they do, and if they have got to make contributions to the pension fund, then in all fairness, those that are kept by the provincial government, January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1135 who have given years of service, should be given equal treatment with those that are passed to another government. In fair play that should be done. There is no reason why one man in one department who has served ten years shouldn't get equal treatment with another man who'll be taken over by the federal government, and has also served ten years.
We passed the unemployment benefit. I have nothing further to say about it. I'm going to say nothing about education except this: that I don't see any earthly reason for putting it in there at all. It's a purely provincial matter, and as I understand it we can do exactly as we wish and carry on as at the present time. I would like to point out though, and here I refer to something that Mr. Bailey has been trying to get across, that a lot of the school money which has been paid by the Newfoundland government has been found through municipal taxation. The point that Mr. Bailey, I take it, was trying to make is this: that if you want to progress in education and social welfare, and want to run your government on the same basis as in Canada, we in Newfoundland will have to follow the same pattern. If you don't want to do these things, then as Mr. Bailey says, you can remain as you are. But don't say on the one hand that you're going to have the standard that they have in Canada if you do not apply the same formula. The taxes have to be found somewhere. The whole scheme of municipal government in Canada is an integral part of the scheme of government in that country. I'm not against local councils, I'm all for them. I would like to see them built up. I would point out this though, that under the provincial budget that has been arranged, nothing has been left except the amount which we have at the present time ...[1] and I will say, from personal experience with these matters, that if you are going to develop local councils in Newfoundland, you've got to give them not only the ordinary maintenance services, but something to build up so that they can carry on. That accounts for what the present government is doing, in giving large grants so that local communities can build their roads and keep themselves in a position where their normal revenue will maintain them. I contend that you must add a very considerable amount to this provincial budget which has been produced for us, whether it's the one taken out of the Black Book or the one produced by Mr. Smallwood himself.
Now, sir, I've been talking a long time, but I want to say one or two things more. I want to come to oleomargarine. It says that we can produce it but we mustn't ship it outside of the country. When you read that you made a speech and you ended up by having oleomargarine produced in a magnificent factory on Lemarchant Road, and sold across Canada. I think it's only fair to say though, that a little small company, it can't be bigger then a small empire, like Lever Brothers is very likely to establish branches in Canada, if the time ever comes that they can produce oleomargarine there. And as far as our plant here is concerned, we could not count on a great increase in production which would bring extra wages. Modern oleomargarine is made from vegetable oil, as against the old-time fish oil, and it doesn't seem reasonable that Levers would come to Newfoundland, ship in its vegetable oil make its margarine and ship it to Canada. I mention this fact, because an exaggerated statement of that kind is likely to create the impression that we are going to get much more then we can find from the evidence in the Grey Book or the Black Books.
The pièce de resistance, clause 22. I understand Mr. Smallwood is very proud of this one.... What is proposed is that we should go into Canada first, and then find out what is in this country, rather then staying out, finding out what is in this country, and seeing if we can make better terms as a result of it. We know what we can get without an economic survey. We don't know what we can get with an economic survey. I can understand now why there was such a deadset on the proposal suggested by the chairman of the Industrial Association.... We are told that we'll get the services of technical personnel and agencies to assist in the work. Surely people must know that Montreal brought in experts, not from Ottawa, but from the United States of America. Surely they must know that two provinces brought in experts from America. And yet we were given the bait, that if we get into confederation they will send the experts to carry on this survey. Mr. Chairman, I suggest to you that the only common sense thing to do is to find out what we have in Newfoundland first, and then find out 1136 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 if we have greater bargaining power which can give us more than we can get now. We might be able to get a lot more as a result of that survey.
I'm not going to touch any of this general stuff —it only makes us Canadian citizens and applies Canadian law, and so on. On the war veterans' service, one man rang me up indignantly and said, "Don't the people down there know that what we're doing here in Newfoundland is based upon what they're doing in Canada?" I do. I'm going to skip over the public debt and the tax agreement, which I can't understand. I doubt that there's more then one or two people that could approach it. Then I come to federal revenue and expenditure. I don't propose to go into them. I don't propose to go into the proposed provincial budget, because I hope I'm not hurting anyone's feelings — it seems to me to be too silly to merit much time to be spent on it. I have seen a budget prepared. I have seen dozens and dozens of people work for months, people actually dealing with these matters. I have seen that budget brought forward to the minister, and he has had a go at it and I have seen it in the end torn up by the responsible government of the day.... And then I am asked to accept a budget which is based upon a short study and also has in it the normal capital expenditures ... taken from our surplus. And we are asked to believe that that goes with a province that is self-supporting. I would say this, that looking at Newfoundland over a long period, when the transitional grants and our surplus have come to an end, and on the basis of the figures produced here now, not allowing for the normal increase, that you'll find in the accounts, as governments progress, that the government would have to find $9 million more. It is now finding according to this $3.3 million. It is now finding from the interest from its own surplus, $600,000 under this budget. It is now finding $250,000 just to pay the normal increments in the civil service, $250,000 from refunds, mind you, from refunds.
Mr. Smallwood You mean the normal growth of civil service pay, $250,000 a year?
Mr. Butt Yes.
Mr. Smallwood $1 million every four years.
Mr. Butt Yes.
Mr. Smallwood You think that's going to happen in Newfoundland?
Mr. Butt Yes.
Mr. Smallwood In ten years, that would be how much?
Mr. Butt I don't know how far it can go. I specifically told you, it was because of the age grouping.... The civil service has been reorganised over the past few years and they've brought in men who are younger than the average civil service in an older established country which hadn't been reorganised, would be.... The point is, that we're finding here under this budget $250,000 out of refunds from money which I doubt is paid yet. And if it isn't paid yet, and the government just balances its budget this year, then the money to pay for these steamers will have to come out of surplus, and your $28 million will get another grant of a few million dollars. If they keep balancing as they are at the present time, and there's no surplus this year, that money will have to come out of surplus. Then the tax rental, well I already spoke about that. How any person could recommend to the people of Newfoundland that they should accept that just because seven provinces have accepted it, is beyond me. Several provinces which carry, I believe, about two-thirds of the population of Canada, do not accept it. Gas and electricity — $50,000. I would point out that that represents half that would be collected from these companies. Incidentally I thought they were public utilities — publicly owned. I may be wrong. That involves taxation of $100,000 — on some of it. That's what they pay now, I think.
Mr. Smallwood We get half.
Mr. Butt Now we come to the transition grant, and to the new taxation to be imposed of $1,236,000, that has to be found in direct taxation. In addition we are to take out $3 million a year from our surplus to spend on ordinary capital expenditure. It's the sort of thing that must be taken into consideration when you're considering the working of a govemment.... I contend that the surplus should not be touched under any circumstances, except in the case of national emergency. If I were a member of a government, I would suggest that if we didn't have a surplus, that we would build one up. And my reason is this: because we have not developed to the point of self-sufficiency. When we must depend upon the outside world, we must take care of emergencies.... I contend it is criminal to get rid of our surplus, I don't care what kind of a government January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1137 we have... We need it, in case of national emergency....
The point that I've been trying to make is this: that it is positively stupid, wicked, to ask a group of people organised as we are, who cannot, because we have not had the experience, deal with matters of this kind, and to ask the people of this country, who spend their time catching their fish, tilling their farms, going to church ... to decide a matter of this kind. The only way in which it can be done is to get a properly organised group, who understand all the implications of these matters, to lay it out so as the people can understand.
A number of things have been said here I would like to refer to, but I want to pick one or two only. Mr. Vincent said he was ashamed of the price of a loaf of bread in this country. I would point out that if you were to go to Puerto Rico, that the Puerto Rican would probably be equally ashamed at the price that he has got to charge the poor Puerto Ricans for Newfoundland salt codfish. Instead of being ashamed of a thing like that, it is up to you to find out why these things cost as much, and see if it can be settled so that it will not. I think it is up to you to point out that the wheat, that price of the flour that sells in Newfoundland did not originate in Newfoundland, but in Canada. And that's the reason why the price of a loaf of bread has got to be 18 cents. There are dozens of other things which have been told to this country which are wrong in essence and in spirit. I cannot and will not take the time now, but they will, I am sure, be said to the people of this country. We're going to have, I think, an extra 1,000 employees in the government if we become a province. In 1937, Prime Minister Mackenzie King pointed out that one of the big problems of Canada was the fact that they had such a small population in such a big area. And I would only point out this one thing. If Newfoundland is going to have an extra 1,000 employees because we're going to have an extra government imposed upon us, then presumably it's equally true all the way across Canada; which means that in time the civil service is bound to cost the people of Canada, including the people of Newfoundland, much, much more than is necessary.
Before I sit down I go back to one thing that I spoke about yesterday. I laid some emphasis on the question of morale. I expect it to be sneered at in certain quarters. I expect it to be said that you can't eat morale. I am well aware of the fact that you cannot eat morale, that it is all very well to have morale in a family, but that a child has got to have boots and shoes and clothing. But I would say this, and I want to repeat it. That if the scrounging for material things is important, so is morale. When England was practically on her knees in 1940, she didn't ask where the materials were coming from, in fact she didn't have them. But she did have guts. As a result, you got the salvation of England. What happened? Once they produced the morale, the material was forthcoming. I leave you with this thought. The people of England today are facing up to their problem, and as a result of it, in the end they will come out on top, in spite of the fact that at the moment they do not know where the material things are coming from. What I am fighting against in this country is inertia, against something taking hold of the whole world — gross materialism. That's why I spent the time that I did yesterday on the question of morale. That's why I say to you, that if you give away the advantage that might come from your strategic position; if you give away your control of your communications; if you give away control of your fisheries; if you give away the right to settle your own taxation and methods of taxation; if you give away the right to discuss as an entity in the family of nations your geographical position in an age which is just coming; if you give yourself into the hands of Canada so that you will be bound by laws and regulations to purchase your goods solely there instead of in the open market; if you give away these things to find the easiest way out, then you've lost your morale and you've lost the advantages which give you the material things which bring about the social welfare and progress of this or any other country.
Mr. Northcott I have not used up much of the Convention's time over the proposed terms of confederation now before the Chair. I figure that it is a job for an elected government, and that is why I voted against sending a delegation to Canada. Now sir, none of the Ottawa delegation said very much about the Canadian divorce law. This is a very important matter. The Good Book still says, "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder." This, gentlemen, this is very important. Surely we're not going to allow this to 1138 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 be part and parcel of the terms to confederation? Are we going to allow this divorce question to come in, to sow the seeds of unrest amongst us? I hope not. We are a happy and contented people. We want to remain happy, and I pray to God we will. I would like to ask Mr. Smallwood, when the time comes in his rebuttal, if he would turn back to the Black Books, part 2, appendix 4, and explain something about marriage and divorce. If he does I'll have no more to say on this matter. Will you do that?
Mr. Smallwood Yes.
Mr. Northcott Thank you. Mr. Chairman, after studying the Grey Book and the Black Books, and after many weeks of listening attentively and patiently, I find the issue of confederation becoming more and more bewildering, conflicting, and confusing. And I fear that this can be said of many people in our island home today. They haven't as yet got a clear picture. However, much credit is due to Mr. Hollett, Mr. Fogwill and Major Cashin, for their great pains in trying to reveal the truth, as they saw it, regarding taxation and confederation. Sir, our people must be enlightened on this very important matter. The people want to know the whole truth and the truth shall make them free. You cannot light a candle and put it under a bushel, for if you do, you cannot get a very effective light. This can be applied to our people. They are still groping and wandering around in darkness over the issue of confederation and taxation. Sir, whatever be the form of government, we shall still have to pay taxes. But the vital and burning question now being asked is, are the federal, provincial and town council taxes, all three combined, more than the taxes now being paid under Commission of Government? This is what the country is asking, and is demanding of us as members of the National Convention. We must in all honesty and sincerity give the answer to the best of our knowledge and ability. We must be honest with ourselves and the people and explain every note and angle of taxation. Then, and only then, can the people have a clearer picture of the proposed terms of union with Canada. We cannot, we dare not, allow ourselves to make a leap in the dark... There must be nothing hid, not one single iota. There can be no misunderstanding then, and everything shall and will be open and above board; and we will have fulfilled our tasks. We then can leave the whole matter in the hands of the people, and make no mistake about it, they will decide. In closing, the terms of confederation are not in my opinion very attractive or encouraging, especially when one has to borrow to pay one's budget. But be that as it may, as with all these things, let the facts be known to the country, and may the great Master of all guide and direct our people when the time comes to decide.
Mr. Starkes Mr. Chairman, this Convention has been dubbed as a glorified debating society. To my mind I think that's wrong, because so far it seems that everybody is on one side, the negative, I think I'll speak from the affirmative side, because it makes it more interesting to the people of this country. It's not my intention to go into a long speech about taxation, federal, provincial, or municipal. In my opinion this House is already familiar with all forms of taxes, and the people will remember the taxes they had to pay under responsible government as well as those under the present form of government. I do not think that we are concerned with one member being interested in the moving picture business and the amusement tax in Lewisporte in particular. I am not concerned if any one member is doing business for an outport or a junk dealer in Montreal, whether he is selling merchandise to the Newfoundland shopkeepers or selling ships and coals to the Newfoundland Railway. If a member feels obligated to repay money, then let him pay it, and he will have the admiration of all concerned. But why all this bickering and filibustering at a cost of $1,000 day? We have heard all about our country being sold down the St. Lawrence over and over again. For two years over the radio, every Saturday night, how did we miss the introduction of that beautiful record, the Banks of Newfoundland?
Mr. Cashin They're going to have a maple leaf if you have anything to do with it.
Mr. Starkes Mr. Chairman, when Major Cashin was speaking, I was ruled out of order by interrupting, you made a ruling ...
Mr. Chairman Will members not interrupt unless they're rising to a point of order.
Mr. Starkes Page 19 of the BNA Act, you'll see the London resolutions adopted at the conference of delegates from the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They all visited the Westminster Palace Hotel in December, 1866. January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1139 And it reads thus: "The best interests and present and future prosperity of British North America will be promoted by a Federal Union under the Crown of Great Britain, provided such Union can be effected on principles just to the several Provinces. In the Confederation of the British North American Provinces, the system of government best adapted under existing circumstances to protect the diversified interests of the several Provinces, and secure efficiency, harmony, and permanency in the working of the Union, is a General Government charged with matters of common interest to the whole country, and Local Governments for each of the Canadas, and for the Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, charged with the control of local matters in their respective sections, provision being made for the admission into the Confederation, on equitable terms, of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, the North West Territory, and British Columbia. The Executive Authority or Government shall be vested in the Sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and be administered according to the well-understood principles of the British Constitution, by the Sovereign (meaning the King), or by the representative of the Sovereign, duly authorised." So I think that there's not much to this talk about us being sold up the St. Lawrence. Let us for a moment give a little thought to the value of the Black Books. One member has stated they're not worth 25 cents — remembering of course, that the same gentleman said this Convention is a fraud, and said so before it came into being. Still, you let him become a part of it, and he is still with it. With the knowledge the thing is wrong, he still remains in it. Is it too much to assume that the same member knows responsible government is wrong, as far as the working man is concerned? Whether he is activated by personal motives or the well-being of the people may be debateable...
Mr. Cashin I rise to a point of order at this point... I gather that Mr. Starkes intimated that I was actuated by personal motives.
Mr. Chairman He doesn't know — one or the other.
Mr. Cashin Well, he had better find out. It's just as well for him to understand right now about the personal motives. I have only one personal motive, I'm a Newfoundlander. And as far as New foundland is concerned, I have probably done just as much in the interest of Newfoundland as Mr. Starkes has done. And if he reaches to cross swords with me in that respect, I don't know who's going to come off second best.
Mr. Chairman He stated he didn't know whether you were motivated by personal motives or the interest of the country.
Mr. Cashin Politically, if I look at that angle, if I was a confederate I would have just as much opportunity of going into politics as I would have with responsible government.
Mr. Smallwood Better.
Mr. Cashin Oh, no.
Mr. Smallwood Oh yes, better.
Mr. Chairman This is entirely irrelevant. Will you please proceed?
Mr. Starkes Personal income tax. It is true that income tax is owed in Canada. But what does it amount to? For example, take a married man with no children in Newfoundland. He would pay no income tax up to $2,000, but he pays at least 15% on the $2,000 that he spends in this country, which means that he pays in duty $300 to the importer of the goods he buys, and he also pays that importer at least 20% on the profit on the duty, making a total of at least $360 that family man paid at the present time. In union with Canada he would pay no duty if he imported goods from Canada, but he would pay sales tax on say $1,000 of the $2,000, because over 50% of what he was buying would be exempted from sales tax. Therefore, on the $1,000 that he spent he pays 8%, which is $80. That is sales tax. So union with Canada takes from that man $80; while responsible or Commission government takes from that same man approximately $360. That is to say he is paying $280 more each year than he would have to pay under confederation. Now take a married man earning the same amount, with three children in the family. He would pay no taxes in Newfoundland under $2,000 except the duties. He now pays, as already stated, around 15% and the profit, which totals $360. Under union with Canada, he would pay the $80 sales tax only, and he would receive from Canada at least $250 family allowance — that man would save $360 plus $250 family allowances, which gives him a total of $610. And he pays out $80 sales tax only. He therefore has approximately $530 more to spend under con 1140 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 federation then he would have under responsible or the present form of government. The personal income tax in Canada is being reduced each year since the war. A single man earning $750 in Newfoundland pays no income tax. But on spending that money, he pays at least 15% duty on his goods — that is $112, plus the profits on that duty, 20%, which is $22 or a total of $134 extra. In union with Canada, he pays only 8% on approximately half his items. That is around $30 sales tax compared with $135 under responsible or Commission form of government. In other words, that young lad would save at least $105 under union with Canada.
Take the retail prices in Canada. The tax on a fur coat from Canada was mentioned the other day. We'll say a fur coat in Canada cost around $150. An importing agent in Newfoundland first pays $55 duty which is $82.50, and with a 20% profit to the importer, the total duty and profit on that coat is $99. The coat costs the purchaser a total of $249. Under union with Canada, you would have to pay no duty whatever on that coat. Take an alarm clock — and by the way, we're thinking of the fishermen fishing 20 hours a day out of 24 off Cape St. John, and the man using the bucksaw in the woods down in Bishop Brook all day, working long hours and having only a few hours to rest, who might need an alarm clock. If he wishes to buy one from Canada, and it cost him $3.50 in Eaton's catalogue, he pays 60% duty on that $3.50, which amounts to $2.10, and on that $2.10 the importer has his profit, making a total $2.50 ... and that makes the alarm clock cost $6. Under union with Canada, he pays only the sales tax of 8%, which is 30 cents, making the total cost $3.80. Therefore, under union with Canada the poor fisherman or the lumberman will get his clock $2.20 cheaper. Now we'll come to shoes. The shoes on my feet cost in Canada $7. The duty on those shoes is 40%, which is $2.80. And to the importer who has his profit of 20%, we must pay the total $3.35, so the shoes will cost me $10.35. Under union with Canada, the 8% sales tax would cost 50 cents, so the shoes would cost not over $7.56. Therefore, my shoes would be $2.80 cheaper under union with Canada than they cost today. We'll take a suit of overalls, say they cost $5 in Canada, plus the duty of 40% coming into Newfoundland, which means there's $2 duty, 20% profit on that $2 is a total of $2.50 which gives a total cost of $7.40 for the suit of overalls. Under union with Canada you'll get them with only a sales tax of 8%, and the same overalls would be $2 cheaper. Major Cashin mentioned playing cards, I think he said there were two jokers in a pack. If so, Mr. Chairman, there are three at the present time. Two in the pack and one in the Newfoundland customs, 60% duty. If, for instance, a champion player of 45's wants a pack of good cards, and decides to pay $2 for them in Canada, on that pack of cards he pays $1.20 duty and 25 cents profit on the duty, a total of $1.45, making the total for the cards $3.25. Under union with Canada he would save that duty of 60% and pay 25 cents tax per pack. He would then have the cards for $2.25 and save $1.20, which would give a good player a chance to reach the jackpot. Even a bottle of Milk of Magnesia can be purchased 25 cents cheaper in Montreal than in St. John's, so if a man has a hangover after drinking, he can get a straightener in Canada cheaper then he can in Newfoundland.
Pickled beef and pork in barrels. It was stated here that under confederation pickled beef and pork imported from the United States would cost under sales tax, $369,000. This figure must be wrong. The total number of barrels imported from the United States last year was approximately 34,144, and at the present rate today, $4 a barrel, this would be $136,488. We also imported 26,223 barrels from Canada, being 8,000 barrels less than from the States. Having consulted with three Canadian packing firms in this country, they state that they can sell pickled beef and pork in Canada considerably cheaper than they can import it from the States. In the magazine Maritime Merchant there are three pages giving prices of food, and only in three instances can I see any reference to sales tax, on bacon, shortening (but not on pure lard) and barrelled beef.
Some have taken the total of our imports from Canada for the fiscal year which ended in March, approximately $43 million, putting them in the categories of sales, excise and luxury to get the total we would pay — forgetting that in Canada there are thousands of items which are not taxed. Railway travel tax — to base the Canadian government 15% travel tax on the number of tickets sold by our railway, to get the figure for this tax, cannot be correct. In Canada, the first January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1141 class railway fare is 3.45 cents a mile, plus 15% sales tax, as against 7 cents a mile in Newfoundland. Instead of travelling costing us more, it would be considerably less. For instance, a 500 mile ticket in Canada would cost less than $20. In Newfoundland, a 500 mile ticket at 7 cents per mile would cost $35. Therefore, if we were in union with Canada, the traveller would get that ticket $15 less then he is paying in Newfoundland today.
Newfoundland government credit — while Commissioner James stated that our surplus is around $38 million, it has been said that it is only $30 million. I'm satisfied to take the official figures. I was not a party to the last parliament of this country, nevertheless there is one fact which cannot be overlooked; only by default on the interest on our bonds could we have been able to carry on. It may be recalled that the late F.C. Alderdice, during the campaign of 1932, said that if elected he would get all the money he wanted within 48 hours. He was elected and what did we find? We found he couldn't get a cent. I am stating this to show that we had very little influence as a dominion in raising a loan. We could not put our own currency on the market as it would not be accepted as legal tender in Canadian banks. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge the last 14 years, but we did not then and we do not today exert very much influence in the world. If prices soar in Canada, from which country we import the bulk of our goods, they will affect our prices throughout Newfoundland, and the same applies to other countries from which we import. It is too bad that some people have great doubts about Canada being solvent. I suppose they're what the Finance Minister would call a reconcilation account — even in that, very much attacks a country where the grand national income for this fiscal year is around $13 billion. And you deduct her national debt, an amount of $3 1/2 billion arising out of the war, and a billion dollars spent on the rehabilitation of the personnel of the fighting forces the wealth for one year is almost equal to her accumulated debt of 80 years of confederation. I don't feel the crushing burden as being so great after this review.
Not one family in 80% of our population will pay one cent in taxes on personal income, because they do not earn enough to come within the range of the taxable sale. Any Newfoundlander can check on this. In basing the amount Newfoundland would pay in personal income tax, corporation and succession taxes, the Canadian government took the returns of the past fiscal year, and I'm satisfied the figures are correct. What the amount will be under confederation, nobody can accurately foretell. Using the figures of the last fiscal year on the basis of Canadian scale, gives you the actual account if we had been under confederation that year. Future returns can only be estimated... Naturally we would not pay any duty on goods produced within the Dominion of Canada. Of the $25 million we purchased in the United States last fiscal year, 80% of this would be bought in Canada under union. There is an average duty paid of 25%, being $6.25 million; that would be saved, plus a cheaper freight rate from Quebec to St. John's, 20% less than at the present. Are we going to import animal and poultry feed from the United States when we can import it freight free from Winnipeg under confederation? I cannot understand any person saying that the Canadian government's estimate of customs revenues is guesswork. The Canadian government has complete returns of the $43 million they exported to Newfoundland in the last fiscal year, and it would be easy to get returns of what came into our country from the United States, Great Britain and the rest of the world. The Dominion government figures would surely be more accurate than an individual expressing a viewpoint that is mere assumption. The same applies to the Canadian government's liquor estimates... Surely a government which compiles statistics of millions of dollars each year, would be more likely to be accurate then any one individual in Newfoundland. Of course, I am not a connoisseur of liquor, but I venture to guess that Seagrams whiskey had the same potency in Montreal during the past Christmas season as in the city of St. John's.
Mr. Cashin You are not going to have any more.
Mr. Starkes Of course, we do not have John Barleycorn's brew in St. John's, as in Montreal. Mr. Chairman, I apologise for this digression but it is just as sensible as some of the remarks we have had to listen to in recent days... As far as we are aware, the United States - Canada defence board is still in existence, and I would like to refer to Mr. St. Laurent's statement when questioned by newspapermen in Ottawa during Mr. Mack 1142 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 enzie King's absence in London. He said that the agreement existing between Canada and the United States regarding the bases in Newfoundland....
Mr. Chairman From what are you intending to quote, sir?
Mr. Starkes I am quoting official records, sir.
Mr. Chairman What are the official records?
Mr. Starkes Mr. St. Laurent...
Mr. Chairman You're quoting an extract direct from the speech, supposedly by Mr. St. Laurent, in what circumstances?
Mr. Starkes In the absence of Mr. Mackenzie King, he made this statement.
Mr. Chairman In the House of Commons?
Mr. Starkes Yes.
Mr. Chairman Well, are you quoting direct, are you quoting from Hansard?
Mr. Starkes No, I'm not.
Mr. Chairman In that case, I can't...
Mr. Starkes Well I won't quote from the papers.
Mr. Chairman No, no, you can't quote from papers.
Mr. Starkes No, I won't quote from the paper, I'll just explain it. Mr. St. Laurent said that the agreement existing between Canada and the United States regarding bases in Newfoundland would not in any way be affected by confederation.
Mr. Chairman You're quoting....no, you're not quoting newspapers.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, to a point of order. Why can't he quote? He's not quoting from the newspaper, he's quoting a statement made by Mr. St. Laurent. He's not saying where he's quoting it from. We've been doing that every day, quoting what this man said and that man said.
Mr. Chairman No, I approve...
Mr. Smallwood He's not quoting from newspapers.
Mr. Chairman You are not to quote from the newspaper.
Mr. Smallwood He's not doing that.
Mr. Chairman If you are referring to a speech, or paraphrasing a speech made by Mr. St. Laurent, that's in order. I permitted the same latitude to other people here and I must of course do the same now.
Mr. Cashin Mr. Starkes said Mr. St. Laurent said this in the House of Commons when Mr. King was absent. I'd say the House of Commons wasn't open when Mr. St. Laurent...
Mr. Chairman My only point was that if he was quoting from Hansard, of course I'd allow him to do so. But otherwise, he's not permitted to quote from the newspaper as such.
Mr. Starkes Therefore Mr. Chairman, the United States would still maintain bases in this country, for at least the next 99 years.
Mr. Cashin Because it would be up in 93...
Mr. Starkes For at least 99 years.
Mr. Cashin No, it will be up in 92 or 93 years.
Mr. Starkes Not for the next 99 years, for at least 99 years.
Mr. Cashin For the next 99 years, you said.
Mr. Starkes You're a bit hard of hearing. Here again I'd like to refer to Mr. St. Laurent when being questioned regarding the assertions of Mr. Duplessis that the provinces had not been approached before terms of confederation were forwarded to the Governor. He said it was not necessary to consult the provinces as provision had been made in the British North America Act for the inclusion of Newfoundland in confederation. How can we negotiate on terms that are provincial if the British North America Act provides the conditions under which a province can enter the union?
The family allowance immoral! It is strange that 22 nations have adopted these immoral family allowances. Can it not be realised that there's a very great principle behind government assistance for children of families? If we will not admit the justice of these monthly grants, so that our future men and women will be brought up better by being able to buy more food, we must condemn progress and social justice. If we cannot recognise that as a progressive step, it would be just as well to go back to the cave man days. Here it is in a nutshell: a greater distribution of the produced wealth to benefit children of fathers in lower earning classes. Even in Great Britain, they are endeavouring to provide money to pay family allowances as outlined in the Beveridge plan. Not so long ago I read in the Canadian Yearbook that family allowances were introduced for the purpose of equalising opportunity for the children of Canada. What is immoral about this, Mr. Chairman?
War veterans — we have the Canadian War January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1143 Veterans Act before us, and also the Newfoundland act. This I know very little about, except I feel sure that if the officials of the Great War Veterans' Association were questioned on the difference between the benefits from Canada compared with those from Newfoundland, they would agree that the Canadian war veterans' agreement is at least 70% better than the present Newfoundland agreement.
Mr. Ryan Mr. Chairman, I wonder if Mr. Starkes has asked his question to any of those veterans about that, and got an answer from them?
Mr. Starkes Yes.
Mr. Ryan What was the answer, please?
Mr. Starkes 70% different.
Mr. Ryan 70% different.
Mr. Cashin No, no, no. Did you ask Mr. Marshall the president or chairman of the Great War Veterans' Association, or did you listen to his address over the radio with regard to that matter? Did you?
Mr. Starkes I was talking to an official of the Great War Veterans'...
Mr. Cashin I'm thinking now of the President.
Mr. Chairman Major Cashin, it's out of order.
Mr. Starkes I was told one instance, Mr. Chairman, that I'm very much interested in. Take a man who returns from the war after 19 months, and during that time, through no fault of his own, he fails to make application for assistance in the manner of children. Under the Newfoundland act he is not entitled to anything, except the Great War Veterans' Association and the Women's Patriotic Association would take it up with the government and do their best to get something. I know for a fact that in some cases the returns they received were nothing except dole, which is facing the unemployed civilians. That is how the Newfoundland returned man is treated.
It is the overall picture that counts. Making our deductions, not on opinions or hearsay, but wherever possible on statistics, is confederation a good thing for the country or is it not? In arriving at our conclusion, we must be guided by history. It is over 450 years since this country was discovered. It's only 80 years since confederation took place in Canada. Why has Canada developed into a large industrial nation while we have not made the same progress? The position should be reversed, considering that Canada was discovered a very long time after this country. Average standard of wages. Isn't there a higher average standard of wages in Canada than in Newfoundland? Hasn't the dollar more purchasing power in the Dominion of Canada than in Newfoundland? Forget about hidden taxes and figments of the imagination. There is not one here but will admit that a dollar has at least 25% more value in the Dominion of Canada. You can be assured that if prices soar in Canada they will be much higher here in a country that has to import about 80% of its requirements. There's a book here, Mr. Chairman, that costs 25 cents. Some member said that you could get all the information you want in this book in connection with taxes, I think 120-odd taxes on shoes, 150 or 160 taxes on something else, and so forth. Mr. Chairman, we've been paying that all our lifetime. Under union with Canada we would have to pay in no more; and we wouldn't have to pay any duty.
Major Cashin was a member of the government of Mr. W.S. Monroe, who tried to sell our Labrador to the province of Quebec for $15 million. Now there are some who say that Duplessis is scheming to take it away from us. It is good to know that some realise the value of this territory today, but he should know that it is remotely impossible for Quebec or other provinces getting out territory. The tendency is to overestimate the power of 3.5 million French Canadians. Only in the Province of Quebec do French Canadians have a majority of the population.
Municipal taxes. Those who state that in the event of confederation the property tax will be enforced on fishermcn's motor boats, stages, houses, etc., are not stating facts. As far as Newfoundland is concerned, after confederation no property tax will be imposed. Mr. Chairman, all down through my life I've often heard the story that if we went in confederation with Canada, the glass in our windows would be taxed, our motor boats, fishing lines, and everything else would be taxed to the limit. If we turn to the British North America Act, clause 125, it states: "No land or property belonging to Canada or any province shall be liable to taxation." Now that's what we have got to go by — with the exception of municipal taxes, municipal councils and outport town councils. There is not one act of the Government of Canada or the provinces that states that 1144 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 it is compulsory to tax property, or compulsory to have such municipal governments. Nevertheless, some communities might consider it to their advantage to ask for a town council, and the people there would elect their representatives and decide the amount of tax to be imposed on the people. I'm merely pointing this out to show that I am not against municipal government, if certain improvements could be carried out with the small taxation the people of the place can afford.
Newfoundlanders residing in Canada. It is being stated that there are over 100,000 Newfoundlanders or descendants of Newfoundlanders residing in Canada. In Verdun, Quebec, alone there are over 11,000, most of them hold responsible positions there. Some of them employ large numbers of men. With very few exceptions they are strong in their conviction that Newfoundlanders would benefit by confederation.
Mr. Cashin Mr. Chairman, can Mr. Starkes produce that figure?
Mr. Chairman I have the statement made by him, which will be passed or rejected by members as they see fit.
Mr. Starkes Mr. Chairman, the other day when Major Cashin was talking, he got up on his high horse and put up a wonderful kick because I just said a few words — once, and I was stopped. It seems that there's something getting under his skin this afternoon.
Mr. Cashin Did you say the people of Verdun said that they were in favour of Newfoundland going into confederation?
Mr. Starkes Mr. Chairman, I have the floor, not Major Cashin.
Mr. Chairman I had to rule you out of order when you interrupted Major Cashin at that particular time, I recall the incident quite clearly... I ruled against you on that occasion and consisteney will not permit me to do otherwise now. I have to rule Major Cashin out of order.
Mr. Starkes Unemployment. There is unemployment at the present time in Canada as well as in Newfoundland, the number there being around 65,000 or a half of 1%. The number unemployed in Newfoundland is very much higher proportionately. Canada is bringing monthly over 10,000 people from Europe, so this would indicate that the country is in flourishing condition. Prime Minister King stated some time ago that there were more people employed than at any other time. The federal government has set up an advisory committee of experts who are advising on public works to be started in a period of recession. They have allocated in the last few months $400 million worth of new public works to cushion this recession period, and they propose some very large expenditures this year. Taking all in all, if conditions get bad in the world the Canadian unemployed will be better off than in Newfoundland. For instance in 1934 there were 80,000 unemployed Newfoundlanders living on 6 cents a day. At that period, in the whole of Canada, you could not find from coast to coast 80,000 living in such poverty. This is a very serious matter, and the people should endeavour to find out the truth for themselves, and not be guided by the ravings of a few who may not be working in the best interests of the people as a whole.
Mr. Burry As this debate proceeded ... I found myself, sir, more and more satisfied with the conclusion that I was able to come to from a few months ago, after we finished our work in Ottawa. That conclusion is that the political, economical, and industrial life of this country should be more closely tied in with the great neighbour of ours to the west, if we are to avoid some of the pitfalls that we have experienced in the past. I am very conscious that it is easy to make a statement like that. But I can assure you that I have not come to that position easily, or by any haphazard process of reasoning. It has not been a hasty decision, and I don't think I have been persuaded by sentiment. I certainly do not have any political aspirations. I have been often kidded since I went to Ottawa that I might get a senatorship but I have no aspirations for that at all. I certainly do not want to take any part in federal or provincial politics.
Mr. Higgins You'll get your senatorship in the next world.
Mr. Burry That may be, sir. I hope that we all will. I have got enough politics during the past 15 or 16 months, although I must say that I am not too disappointed with the way that things have gone here in this National Convention that has been so much abused by the public. I am not disgusted with our discussions here, and the way they have been carried out. There have been some pretty rough spots and I've felt sometimes like January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1145 raising my voice in protest at some of the things that have gone on, and I know that some of my friends outside have expected me to do that. But seeing it from inside this chamber and seeing it from outside is different; and 45 men getting together here, knowing human nature as I do, I don't think that we have done so badly. I am bound to say that there's been too much politics in it. I didn't bargain for that when I came to this Convention. I didn't think there was going to be any politics at all associated with it. But that shows just how innocent I was, and just how ignorant I was about politics. But on the whole, while I have had to hang on to my chair sometimes to keep myself from rising in protest at the way that some of the members have acted, yet I have allowed discretion to be the better part of valour and I have held my chair, although I have been much criticised for not sometimes rising...
I want no part of politics in the future. Therefore I don't think that the decision that I have been able to make has been prejudiced. I have come to that decision as a result of a careful and intelligent analysis of the facts that I have been able to gather; and of the experience that I gained with the Ottawa delegation, the study that we were able to make of the British North America Act and of the federal system of government in general... I have come to the conclusion that this country's future should be tied up to the great country to the west of us.... I feel certain that I am right, and I have a reason to say it, that this country's future is definitely tied up within the federal system of government that we have so close to us.... Long before this Convention started, in the days of Commission of Government — I believe with all my heart that we've seen the best days of government in this country under the Commission of Government, they've done some very, very fine things, but I've always thought that it is not the form of government that we should continue to have. While we were under the Commission and before the National Convention was thought of, I was thinking that when the time came to think of getting back to a more democratic form of government, that at least we should give this federal system an opportunity to be surveyed. When the National Convention was announced and it came to my notice, I thought that this was a splendid opportunity to do that... I have made the study, and as I say, as faithfully and as carefully as I can, and I have come to the conclusion that my thoughts along that line have many things to justify them. Our destiny, our future, if we are to have anything better than we have had in the past, is definitely tied up with a federal system of government.
I'm encouraged by the fact that some of my friends within the city and around this country, men and women who could not be said to be biased in any way, who are detached from politics and business life, whose minds have been trained to think things through objectively, many of them think the same as I do. My mind is made up. It has been made up for a few months now, since I have been able to study it with the Ottawa delegation. I will admit that it is not made up in such a way, closed in such a way that it is incapable of being changed... If anyone can show me why we should not go into federal union with Canada, and if anyone can show me that this country will be worse off, that our people will suffer more under confederation, I am perfectly willing to change my mind and to work just as hard for that form of government which will give our people the very best that they deserve. Having made up my mind and done it as seriously as I can, with as much thought as I am capable of, I think I am in a position to advise the delegates here, and through them the country in general, to give this type of government a careful consideration.
We have done it here as carefully as we can. We've all been serious about it. There have been some arguments against it, but I have not been swayed to the point that I am able to make a change in the position that I have taken. There have been some arguments that have had something to justify them. But they can be refuted... Some of the arguments, and I don't say it unkindly, have tended to drive me into confederation, even if I didn't feel that I could support it intelligently. But that's by the way.... The issue is soon going to be put into the hands of the people, and I would say to my fellow delegates that we ought to see to it, whatever our opinions are, that the people get the opportunity to express themselves on this matter. And not only that, but we ought to see to it that they get the opportunity to express themselves on other forms of government as well. They are the final judges and they have a right to have the final say. Perhaps never before have they had, or will they have such a fair opportunity to 1146 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 express themselves, because before, when they have been called upon to vote upon certain issues, it has been tangled up with politics. I think that the people should have an opportunity to express themselves on the form of government that they want for this country.
Now, as far as the terms are concerned, the terms laid down in this Grey Book that has been so much talked of, I find myself agreeing with my colleague from the Ottawa delegation, Mr. Higgins, when he says that they are the best possible terms that Canada could offer. Of course, he qualified it by saying "under the conditions." I can put in that qualification also but I do not consider the circumstances as unfavourable as Mr. Higgins does. It is true that we did not have a battery of experts with us in Ottawa, it is true we were not experts ourselves, it is true we did not have any of the civil servants which we tried to obtain before we went, but were denied. If we had had these civil servants with us, I feel sure that we would not have spent three months in Ottawa. But while we weren't experts ourselves, and while we didn't have civil servants with us, make no mistake about it gentlemen, we had the facts about this country. Members of this delegation who don't like confederation can say a lot of things to deny that, but I want to tell you that we had facts, the facts about this country; and we had men on that delegation who could present these facts. We had men who were very capable of presenting the facts. I don't claim to be one of them. I took a small part, as faithfully as I could. And what is just as important, we had men of goodwill. We had men with a good spirit backing them, and men who gained the respect of the federal government officials in Ottawa. With that, with the facts before us, and with goodwill, we made what I consider to be the right and proper approach. We laid the facts before them. And together, in an atmosphere of respect for one another, and in an atmosphere of trust and sincerity, we worked out a plan whereby Newfoundland might fit into the federal system of government and operate as the tenth province.
Now it's been said that we didn't get good terms; we didn't get the financial end of it very generous. But in my estimation, take it for what it's worth, we got just as good terms as we could possibly get, recognising the fact that the federal system is made up of different provinces that have their claims; they came into the union, and they were brought in on certain terms, and we had to come in on certain terms, and if we had been given more generous terms.... It wouldn't be fair for the federal government to go too far to give us special services, special concessions when they have to consider that there are other members of the family who have to live within the family. To go in at all, we must go in on equal terms, and we are going to need to go in with these terms. I'm not convinced that, these are not generous terms under the circumstances. I think they are generous terms; what is worrying me is whether the Parliament of Canada will ratify these terms or not. And I wonder if they do not feel that they are so generous that perhaps they will not be ratified. But I feel that they will, they are generous, and I would pay a lot of attention to the arguments that Mr. Butt made here so ably this afternoon. If I were thinking that Newfoundland under federal union to be an ideal place, one which will have after union unlimited prosperity, I would pay a lot of attention to the arguments being made. But I don't see that it can be an ideal state, or that we will have unlimited prosperity. I don't see the road ahead of us as too straight, with too many roses. I feel that we have a hard uphill climb to make. We have got a hard country to live in. We haven't got the natural resources that other countries have, don't let us kid ourselves. We're not too generously supplied with natural resources, and the means of making them a good living. It's going to be a hard job for us to do it. But I am of the opinion that we can do it better within the federal system of Canada, than we can do it on our own. I agree with Mr. Butt, when he raised his voice in the interest of the morale of our people and all that, but there's a limit to it. And our people will have the morale and the spirit, and respect for themselves, when they find that they're getting somewhere. I feel that we'll get somewhere under confederation, and our people's respect for themselves will be forthcoming when they see that. That's all I have to say on that line. I would like to reply, though, to my friend Major Cashin's contention that we went representing a subservient people, begging for help — Major, you know that statement, something like that.
Mr. Cashin You appeared to be.
Mr. Burry Appeared to be. Well, if you made January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1147 that statement, sir, I contend that you're wrong. We went there representing not a subservient but a brave people, a financially strong country, and a people capable of good government. That would be the general tone, I think, of the delegation which went to Ottawa and worked there for three months. We were led in that spirit by our Chairman, Mr. Bradley, when he made his two masterly replies to the addresses of welcome from Mr. Mackenzie King on the first meeting in his country club and the next morning when he made the official welcome speech. Mr. Bradley made two masterly replies to these speeches. I am told that they did not appear in our newspapers in Newfoundland If they didn't, it's just too bad. Those pieces should have appeared in our papers, and when the history of Newfoundland is written, they should be put into that history to give our people something like the Gettysburg address that is so respected by the people of America. That's how I feel about these replies that Mr. Bradley made, and the spirit of them. He pointed out among other things in those replies that we were not a crippled people, and we did not come to Ottawa looking for economic crutches to lean upon, and other things along that line.[1] That whole spirit was maintained through-out our discussions. We weren't a subservient people. We went there representing a bold, courageous people and tried to hold our end up as best we could. I think the Major is absolutely wrong, and I think he's unfair. If he'd examine the facts I think that he would find that we did not do badly and that we did do a good job. Now sir, I don't know if I have more time to continue. Do you want to be in till 6 o'clock? I think I'll be finished in a quarter of an hour.
[The Convention adjourned to 8 pm]
Mr. Burry When the committee rose for the dinner recess I was dealing with the charge that Major Cashin has made that the delegation went to Ottawa representing a subservient people begging for help. I was trying to point out that as far as I could see, that had no foundation whatever. I think it was altogether unfair that Major Cashin should make that charge unless...
Mr. Cashin Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order. I didn't make those charges. I said, if my memory serves me correctly, that the delegation went to Ottawa in a subservient manner, not as representatives of a proper and prosperous people. I can remember my words.
Mr. Burry ....Now sir, I do not intend to reply to the many, varied arguments made in this Convention against the terms that we have here in the Grey Book. I think that this Ottawa delegation is acting the part of wisdom when it allowed Mr. Smallwood to reply to those who had spoken on the question. I think that it's wise to do that, not only because he is in my estimation the most capable person of doing it, without casting a reflection on any other member of the delegation, but his doing it naturally limits and conserves time in this debate. But there is one matter that I would like to draw attention to. As we all know, Labrador has played a prominent part in these discussions and rightly so. It is an important part of our territory, made all the more important because of the great iron ore deposits already found there and the timber wealth that we know it possesses. But I have a feeling, sir, that sometimes that importance is altogether warped out of shape when some member or members are trying to make a point and ... sometimes I feel that we are boosting a little too much in making claims for the great wealth of Labrador, as much as I feel that it is a value to this country and will be in the future. It has been said here that Labrador is so important that Canada is intending to get it at all costs, by hook or by crook. That I am not able to follow. My experience at Ottawa and what I know about the Canadian ambitions do not lead me to that conclusion. We all know that Canada has great vast territories to the west and to the north and it has great natural resources. The resources that we think of as ours in Labrador — the mineral wealth there, the iron ore that's found there — one must remember that we only possess a part of it. When the Mining Committee brought in its report sometime last year we were able to say that the deposits were fairly equal. But I understand that that would not be true today, that the better part of the deposits of iron ore are being discovered on the Quebec side. But there are great deposits on our side also. I'm not so much afraid that we are going to lose the Labrador possession as some of the members seem to be.... I place my trust, sir, in the Privy Council and also 1148 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 in the sense of justice that they're building up in this great western hemisphere of ours. I don't feel that we have much to worry about in the fear that we might lose our Labrador possession, seeing that it is legally handed down to us by the Privy Council, and seeing that we're living on this side of the world, this western hemisphere where there is such a high sense of justice. I feel that we might have more reason to be afraid of losing our Labrador territory not so much from anyone outside taking a hold of it, not so much that Quebec will come and take it from us but perhaps there might be some weakness within our own selves, or in our governments of the future which might succumb to offers made for Labrador and we might lose it in that way. We are reminded here this afternoon that a deal was contemplated in selling it for $15 million. We had a question asked here the other day whether there was an offer made recently for the sale of Labrador at $150 million. These are very attractive figures, and there is a possibility that sometime our own government might succumb to accepting such an amount as that and thereby lose a great possession....
I am very proud to represent that great country, that great territory in the north which means will mean so much to us as a country. But the concern that has been expressed so far in this National Convention about Labrador has been a concern about the iron ore deposits and the great timber resources that we have there. We must not forget that there is in Labrador a population of over 5,500 human souls.... These great people in the north have received very little consideration from governments of this island in the past. They have been sadly and wilfully neglected by our responsible governments in the past.... It might almost be described as a shame and a disgrace on past governments, the way that Labrador has been neglected, until we found some iron ore deposits and became conscious of its great timber resources and so forth. If we as delegates were to go to the people of Labrador and ask them what they think of governments of Newfoundland in the past, I'm afraid that we would get answers that would humiliate us, as I have been humiliated very often when talking to people in that country about governments of Newfoundland, and trying to uphold the governments that we have had in the past, and making excuses for the way that they have been treated.... Why I bring this matter up, sir, is that recently two members of the Convention pointed out that when Mr. Smallwood brought in his budget for provincial expenditure, he omitted to put in $10,000 for dole for the Labrador people. That was pointed out by two members of the Convention and I was asked on one occasion what I thought of it. It was pointed out also on that occasion that responsible governments in the past made provision for dole for Labrador and that's very true.... But very little other consideration was given to these people. Now in the plan that Mr. Smallwood had for the government of the future, there was preparation made for the health of the people in Labrador.... There were plans made for the people of Labrador in that government envisaged by Mr. Smallwood as he brought in that provincial budget. Now dole, it is true, was something that legitimately belongs to them and some plansmade for them whereby they might be able to earn a decent living. From the family allowances, from one source alone there will go to the people of Labrador every year...[1]
Mr. Vardy ....It's not my intention to speak at length on the question of confederation because I am still prepared to cover the whole ground under forms of government, and I wish to avoid as much repetition as possible. I realise that a very large proportion of what has been said will be said again before the final date of this Convention. Those who advocate confederation will talk very little else in the debate to follow, what should or should not go on the ballot paper. I think the digest of whatl have prepared to the last question was given over VOCM and published in the daily press on December 27. My position was stated unequivocally, and I have never seen any real reason to alter the views I have always entertained, that our people in this modern, civilised, Christian age should be permitted to think, act, pray and manage their own affairs.... As I view it, taking the English-speaking world as an example, we have Great Britain, the United States of America and Canada strongly contesting for the central seat of government; and well-wishers in Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the British and American colonies in the West Indies. Now all these people January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1149 are being speedily forced together by various sets of circumstances... Now to summarise the position regarding Newfoundland, let it be made clear, that it's not our people, our economy, or both, which interests that group, or any member of it, but rather our clearly defined geographical or strategical position, the Gibraltar of the west. It is from this angle rather than our intrinsic value as the possessor or producer of wealth that we should lay a special emphasis on, stressing our real worth as a proposed partner with any member of that group. Notwithstanding the fact that our virgin territory in the Labrador may possess much valuable wealth, I am of the very definite opinion that Newfoundland is controlled and will be more fully controlled in the future by an international body in which Great Britain, the USA and Canada will be represented. The unfortunate, unsettled and troubled conditions in the world today makes this impossible to avoid. But the interest of our population and Newfoundland as a whole could best be served by a revised form of self-government for our country. And I would not agree to more than 15 members serving on that body. The basis of terms may have appeared at first sight to be generally fair to Newfoundland. But the more we examine them the more we are reminded of a huge iceberg which starts to sway toward the sea.... Mr. Chairman, unless our Canadian friends are prepared to equalise our national debt, putting aside the difference to be spent for the development of this country, and accept us as equal partners and prove we are to be treated as such, I fail to see how any fair- minded Newfoundlander can vote for confederation. We have all heard sufficient proof from both sides since the day it started. We should know by now what is fair and what is not fair in these terms. There must of necessity be inherent in every man such a thing as reason. And regardless of how they vote I'll give to every man the credit of possessing a fair and equal proportion of this gift. Mr. Chairman, I feel compelled to appeal to every member of this Convention to put both conscience and reason to the test. This is not a matter that we should take lightly. It is very, very serious. And it would be nothing short of an act of betrayal of your people's trust, to ask them to vote for a form of government which has not been fully explored or negotiated by a properly constituted or elected government of the people of Newfoundland.
We have a serious task to perform, and it is our right and duty not to fail the people at this crucial hour. I advise you, gentlemen, to put Newfoundland and our people first, and never let them down. You must know that when we voted to get these terms, we were all anxious to give Newfoundland the best form of government possible, subject of course to the final wishes of the people. We are undeveloped solely because our progress has been incessantly retarded ever since 1497 by the ancient and worn-out colonial policy of the mother country, and by the constant fear and dread in the minds of our past governments of creating too great a national debt. Spend $13 million a year for the next ten years on development work in Newfoundland, and our social and economic structures will be above what Canada's are today; and we would still have a much lower per capita debt. This debt must be breached, in addition to receiving sufficient back from the federal government to balance our provincial budget. I strongly think then that is reasonable. Supposing my friend Mr. Ballam...
Mr. Chairman Gentlemen, would you kindly refrain from talking, please?....
Mr. Vardy Supposing my friend Mr. Ballam and I decide we're going into partnership. We're going to buy a schooner together. We put $1,000 each in the deal. Now let us say that Mr. Ballam owes Mr. Hickman on my left $200, and I owe him $1,400, just the same proportion as we have between Canada's and Newfoundland's debt today. Would it look fair to Mr. Ballam or the public for the partnership to pay the two bills? Someone may say, but this is different, this is a country, a piece of land. All right, we will call it a piece of land. Now Mr. Ballam's land is uncleared, undeveloped and he owes only $200. Mine is cleared, has a nice farmhouse on it, a good road through it, hothouse, machinery to do the work, but I owe for it all. Would it be right for Mr. Ballam to assume my bills unless lpaid into a trust fund sufficient cash to develop my partner's property to the level of my own? That's exactly the picture as I see it, and I'm trying to make it plain to the people. That's about as plain as I can go and that is exactly how I view the plans before us. I am not really prejudiced. I want what is best for our people but no outside partnership would ever prove best unless a sound basis of 1150 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 common reason is used. And a lot of the arguments we've heard here are not what any intelligent person could call sound reasoning. Our people are not as gullible as some persons may think.... The arguments in many cases are weak. Let us have faith first in ourselves, for without trust and confidence in our own ability we will not be much of an asset to any country. Let us pave the future with courage and devotion to the land that gave us what we have. If we are hurt in the process, let us try to do better, and the same hand that guides all nations cherish such ambitions, and faith in themselves will bring Newfoundland to her reward. I recommend an independent country on her own, or a proud partner in a larger family. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Hillier Mr. Chairman, with your kind permission, I wish to make a few remarks of a general nature. During the past few days, I have had the privilege to listen to some eloquent speeches bearing on matters now before the Chair. They made recommendations on which confederation might be considered. Major Cashin in his forcible address made reference to the necessity of a comparable future in considering the entry into confederation; to that I agree. He also gave evidence that the ancient political spirit is not dead. Mr. Higgins, among other things, pointed out that by reason of Newfoundland's geographical position she gradually grew in influence. He felt that under the circumstances the Ottawa delegation had done a good job and that the recommendations before us were a good basis for future negotiations. He stated further that confederation could be taken up at some future date. He gave me the impression that he had a feeling that at some future date it would be to the advantage of Newfoundland to unite with a larger power. I might say in passing that there are those who share our view. Mr. Harrington gave us a historical picture of Newfoundland, leading us step by step to her present importance. Other speakers have had their quota of interesting information. The majority, I think, advocated a return to responsible government realising of course that the final say rests with the people of Newfoundland.... I have but one vote and after careful consideration of the whole question confronting us, I shall do what I feel is in the general interest of this country.... The debate on the terms is shortly to be concluded, as is the Convention itself. In connection with the latter I say that it is high time. On the former, I am led to wonder to what extent have our people been helped in the making of the great and serious decision they will eventually be called upon to make. Personally sir, I feel they have not by this Convention been given the help they expected, and could and should have been given. I am convinced, further, far too much time has been taken up in airing our special political views. In consequence our people are left in mid-air, left to decide a great question based on knowledge they have acquired apart largely from that which was drawn out through the medium of this Convention. I said some time ago that this Convention would go down in history. It certainly shall, and be remembered for one of two things: either what it did or did not accomplish for the common good of our fellow man. During the Christmas recess, Mr. Chairman, I met and conversed with men from districts other than my own and I am more than ever convinced that a lot of our people are disappointed because of the lack of helpful information thus far emanating from this Convention.... I would have to say that it is not too late yet. The choosing of forms of government sir, is something which should not be treated lightly.... It is generally felt that the mischief started in the early stages of the Convention by the entry of party politics which still is in evidence, that it has retarded somewhat the real purpose and work of this Convention. Some have expressed themselves in favour of responsible government. Some have expressed themselves as favourable to union with Canada. That is their right.... Personally, because I feel that the question of confederation calls for careful thought based on definite and reliable facts, I refrain from expressing my opinion as to the wisdom or otherwise of union with Canada. I do not mean to infer that the facts before us are not reliable or that I am hostile to confederation. I feel that at some time in the not too distant future, it will be much to the advantage of Newfoundland to unite to some larger power than herself, whatever that power may be. Every man and woman in this land will, in due time, be called upon to consider and make a choice of forms of government submitted to them. How necessary it is then, that they be well, impartially and correctly informed on all matters and that any personal ambitions of ours which January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1151 might induce us to make things appear other then they really are should be kept in the background. We know that the most solid foundation of a true democracy is a well-informed electorate. I am personally not aspiring to any place in any future political service of this country. But I do desire that which will produce the most good for the most people.
Going back briefly to touch on the document before us on the question of confederation ... I believe that I am correct in saying that the average man ... wants some definite information, something he can clearly understand, and I think I am correct in saying that he wishes to have this. One, what will be the purchasing ability of his dollar under the Canadian set-up as compared with the present? Two, what taxes in every particular and the nature of those taxes payable as compared with ours. Three, he wishes so far as is possible to have a fair knowledge of the whole confederation question that he may place that knowledge side by side with the knowledge he has of Commission of Government and responsible government and act accordingly. He wants the comparative picture all around so far as that is possible to give....
Mr. Chairman, speaking of faith, faith in ourselves, faith in our neighbours, we can only show our faith in the common sense, sound reasoning power and good judgement of our fellow men by being honest and above-board, by furnishing truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The people of this country do not expect to get something for nothing. They have not been brought up that way. And because they have not been brought up that way, all who are responsible, they want to know how much they have to contribute towards providing these things. Speaking of family allowances, old age pensions — these are good things, without a doubt. I have for years been greatly interested in the question of providing a decent pension for our old age fishermen. I introduced a scheme at the opening of this Convention but the Convention having no legislative powers, nothing could be done about it.... I find myself not quite in agreement with the Canadian pension scheme as outlined in the act before us. First, the age is quite unsuitable.... It is too late in life and then again there is the claim of the pension authorities upon the estate of the pensioner. I do not like the scheme and am con vinced that very few in Newfoundland would approve of in its present form. But I feel that it's possible to improve that scheme and so make it suit our people I believe, in connection with the old age fishermen's pension, that it should come about through the medium of contributions on their part either directly or indirectly, because it is common knowledge that one appreciates to a greater extent that to which they made a contribution than that which comes to them apart from that....
I am most anxious that the Convention finish its work as quickly as possible. So I do not propose to speak at length. I sincerely hope that between now and the day of the referendum, that our people will have gleaned a general knowledge of the possibilities for Newfoundland under the forms of government which are to be placed on the ballot paper, and from which they shall have to make a choice. Whatever our future form of government may be ... its path will be by no means strewn with roses. We will acquire, whatever the form of government, strong, fair, sincere men at the helm. Co-operation will be necessary between government and people and there must be a full realisation of the necessity of each to each. The time will eventually come sir, when we shall be called upon to make a grave decision, such a decision as we have never been called upon in our day to make, a most serious decision upon which will depend what may be the future welfare of our children and our children's children. In the light of that, Mr. Chairman, God grant that our decision may be based on sound reasoning and not on selfishness and fear.
[Short recess]
Mr. Smallwood I'm not going to use up much of the precious time we have left talking generalities. I'm going to use my share of it answering point by point the almost countless wrong charges made against these terms of confederation. But there is one general remark I do want to make because it badly needs to be made. We've been told by speaker after speaker how complicated these terms are. They've been telling us again and again how hard they are to understand. They tried to paint a picture of something so hard to understand, so complicated, so mixed up and confused, so inaccurate and so lacking in information that it would be just a waste of time for our people to try to understand 1152 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 it. I suppose after painting that picture, their play is to vote against submitting them to the people on the grounds that if they can't understand them, how could the people understand them? Well, you can lead a horse to the well but you can't make him drink. None so blind as those who will not see. There is nothing complicated or hard to understand about these terms, as I shall show before I sit down. They are plain, simple, straightforward, and they can be understood by any average Newfoundlander. But first we must strip away the tangled brush of wrong statements and twisted thinking that has been thrown all around us. When we have done so, these terms will stand out bright, understandable and attractive.
Now sir, I wish first to address myself to some of the points made by Major Cashin in his speech. It was very noticeable that during the three weeks we were debating these confederation terms, Major Cashin remained silent except for one or two remarks he interpolated as we went along; but now it seems that he was saving up his breath, saving it up for one big effort to destroy confederation with one big blow. So like the big, bad wolf, sir, in the fairy tale, he huffed and he puffed in a long straining effort to blow the house down. For three days he blew and what did he accomplish? He only made confederation stronger than ever. Indeed, his effort was so feeble that I'm forced to conclude either that he has a soft spot in his heart for confederation and didn't want to hurt it, or else that he really wanted to hurt it but didn't know how because he didn't know enough about it and hadn't studied it enough. Certainly, if his speech was the great, expected, big gun that was going to thunder against confederation, the big gun turned out to be only a pea-shooter and a not very good pea-shooter at that. As might have been expected, Major Cashin got off his usual stuff about plots and conspiracies. This Convention he tells us again is just a plot, just a conspiracy, deliberately planned to confuse the people; planned to kill responsible government; planned to force Commission government upon us. Well, I won't waste time commenting on that. Major Cashin evidently believes it, certainly he has said it often enough. I don't believe there's one single word of truth in it. Now he tells us that my introduction of the confederation question, four or five weeks after the Convention opened, had the effect of dividing what should have been a united Convention. Isn't he forgetting something? Isn't he forgetting that he himself divided the Convention weeks and weeks before I ever even mentioned confederation? Surely, surely he has not forgotten that inside of a week after the Convention opened, he launched an attack upon the Convention, upon the Commission government and upon the British government itself. He told us that this Convention was dripping with treachery, that it was a glorified stall, something to fool us into Commission government. He told us that we should have responsible government, and that responsible government was the only thing we should discuss; all that in the very first week of the Convention's life, and now he turns around and says thatI am the one who divided the Convention by introducting my confederation motion five or six weeks after he had made his famous speech, the very speech which threw down the gauntlet for responsible government. Then Major Cashin tells us that for 14 years the British government has been controlling Newfoundland's treasury, that is Newfoundland's public chest. For 14 years the British government has been controlling Newfoundland's treasury and confederation means that the Canadian government would control it. Mr. Chairman, if the Canadian government controls our treasury as decently, as efficiently and as honestly as the British government has done it these past 14 years, it will be a grand thing for Newfoundland to be a province of Canada, for the Government of Canada has fashioned its fiscal system fairly and squarely after the British system, than which there is none better in the world, none cleaner, none more decent, none more efficient and none more honest. It will not go down well with our Newfoundland people as an argument against confederation to say that the Canadian government will control our treasury if we become a province as the British government has controlled it in the last 14 years. Major Cashin tells us that it's the historical policy of the imperial government of Great Britain for the past 80 years, for Newfoundland to go into confederation with Canada. He tells us that the British government and the Commission government are both in favour of confederation, that they're both promoting and backing confederation. Mr. Harrington, incidentally, sir, told us the same thing. January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1153 I don't know how true this is. But there's one thing I do know. If Major Cashin can convince the people of Newfoundland that the British government and the Commission government believe in confederation, if he can convince our people that the British government and the Commission government want us to vote for confederation, if he can convince our people that the mother country thinks that confederation would be the best thing for us, if he can convince our people of these things, then nothing on earth, nothing on earth, will hold our people back from voting for confederation. As a confederate, I say now that I hope with all my heart that Major Cashin is right....
At several points Major Cashin compared our railway with Canada's superb and world-famous transportation system. Mr. Chairman, didn't he realise that there's something comical about comparing our 600 miles with Canada's tens of thousands of miles of railways which happen to be amongst the very finest railways in the whole world? He spent practically an hour here telling us of the hundreds of millions and the thousands of millions of dollars that Canada's government has spent on her railways....[1]
Major Cashin told us that the Bank of Canada made $150 million out of Newfoundland in United States dollars...
Mr. Cashin That it made $150 million worth in the transaction makes a different light in the terms.
Mr. Smallwood In Newfoundland?
Mr. Cashin Oh, no.
Mr. Smallwood The note I have made here, I misunderstood Major Cashin and the last thing I want to do...
Mr. Cashin I'm sorry if I...
Mr. Smallwood It was such an amazing statement. I was going to go on here, but I won't go on if you didn't make that statement, I'm glad you didn't make it because that $150 million struck me between the two eyes.
Major Cashin told us this, I jotted it down, I won't guarantee, sir, that it's the identical words he used, pretty close. He said if we go in, we can't get out. Incidentally, it's a good slogan.... Meaning, of course, if we go into confederation, we got to stay there. Now sir, that statement is just about as true as a lot of others we've had flung at us in this debate. What is the simple truth of the matter? If, when we go in, we find it a good thing, then we won't want to get out.... If we find it a bad thing, we cannot be kept in. We cannot be kept in against our will. There are nine provinces in the Canadian union, four of them came in in 1867, one in 1869, one in 1871, another in 1873, and two of them in 1905. Not one, not one of these provinces has ever tried to get out. No province can be forced into confederation and no province can be forced to stay in against its will. All right, let's look at that for a moment. It's quite important. Let us say that in the referendum our people vote for confederation and that we become a province of Canada. Let us say that after ten or 15 years or 20 or 30 years we don't like it.... What can we do about it? Can Canada force us to stay in against our will? Can't we get out if we want to get out? Of course we can get out. We've got to want to get out. It's not enough for half a dozen people to want to get out. You have in Nova Scotia today one man, at least one man, who thinks Nova Scotia should get out. And on July 1 every year, which is Dominion Day, the first day of confederation, that one man flies his flag half- mast. It's not enough for one man to want to get out. It's not enough for ten men. It's not enough for 50% of the people. But if the people of Newfoundland wanted to get out of confederation, if they really wanted to get out, nothing on earth, in earth or out of it can keep us into confederation, if we want to get out. Just in the same way that nothing will keep us from responsible government if we really want it. Nothing will keep us from Commission government if we really want it, but we must want it. We must want to get out of confederation and if we do, nothing can keep us in.
To go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Maj or Cashin told us that we wouldn't be allowed to import a fur coat from the United States. That, sir, will be bad news to our fishermen and especially bad news to the thousands who are on the dole this winter. They won't be allowed, under confederation, to import a fur coat from the USA; if they import a fur coat it'll have to be from Canada.
I want to take up a point made by Major Cashin that Mr. Burry has touched upon here in his speech today, when the Major said that the 1154 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 Ottawa delegation went to Ottawa hat in hand — those were his words — begging from Ottawa — those were his words — hat in hand, begging from Ottawa. Now nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is the exact opposite of what Major Cashin said. We went to Ottawa holding our heads high. We gave Newfoundland the highest kind of a name. We told Canada that Newfoundland was sitting on top of the world. In all our newspaper interviews, and there were dozens of them, we kept up Newfoundland's name. In his speech at the very opening session of our conferences in Ottawa, our Chairman Mr. Bradley said this, and I quote his exact words. He said: "Should these talks produce an understanding between us, and that understanding be endorsed by the country in the forthcoming referendum and Newfoundland becomes the tenth province of your Canadian union, you will be receiving a proud people eager and determined to pull their weight in generous measure. For make no mistake, union of Newfoundland and Canada will never take place, while our people have the decision, unless Newfoundlanders are convinced that they have a contribution to make towards the general good of the partnership in which they share.".... It was broadcast over the entire network of the Canadian Broadcasting Commission, and thousands of our own people heard it that night here in Newfoundland. As for myself, as I go back over the clippings of the interviews I gave to the Canadian newspapers, I find that I made this public statement and I quote my exact words: "Mr. Smallwood termed Labrador the richest area in the world today". Is that letting the country down? Is that putting on the poor mouth? Is that giving Newfoundland a bad name? "Mr. Smallwood termed Labrador the richest area in the world today", God forgive me, and though I may not be so far off, I don't know. But I didn't put on the poor mouth. Again I made this statement: "While we have survived for 450 years in isolation and made tremendous progress, we will never reach our maximum strength in isolation, we must be part of North America." You might take note, sir, of the words "while we have survived for 450 years in isolation and made tremendous progress". Then again I said, "Newfoundland is not bankrupt but blooming". Sir, I could go on quoting dozens of statements like that made by me to the newspapers of Canada during our visit to that country. It may suit Major Cashin to say that we went up there running the country down or putting on the poor mouth or as beggars, but it simply isn't true. The exact opposite is the truth.
Now sir, one thing I hardly expected was that Major Cashin would trot out Premier Duplessis again, but he did. He still professes to be afraid that the Quebec fascist, I beg your pardon, the Quebec premier will somehow or other manage to rob us of our Labrador. And while Major Cashin was discussing this matter of Labrador, he gave utterance to what surely must be the strangest remark ever heard in this building since it was erected over 100 years ago, he said this, what dependence can we place on a mere decision of the Privy Council? What dependence can we place on a mere decision of the Privy Council? Was Major Cashin serious? Did he mean that question to be taken seriously? Would he, a former cabinet minister, a former minister of the Crown, would he seriously suggest to the people of this country that no dependence can be placed on a decision of the Privy Council of Great Britain? Can Major Cashin name any other court in the whole world whose verdicts and judgments merit and receive such universal respect and which are so binding as those of the Privy Council? He cannot and no man can. But he finds himself straight up against what is for his argument a very awkward fact, the fact that the Privy Council has laid down the boundaries of our Labrador. So what did he do? He makes the futile and foolish attempt to throw doubt upon the validity of that Privy Council award and makes the extremely foolish statement that no dependence can be placed upon their famous decision on the Labrador boundary. And then he makes this further statement. The only inducement, he says, for Canada wanting Newfoundland is to get Labrador's mineral wealth. In fact, he says that when he was in Montreal the other day, some businessmen he met told him so. I won't dignify that statement with a reply, for any fifth form schoolboy could tell Major Cashin that it's highly unlikely that the petty businessmen that he met in Montreal would be in the confidence of the Government of Canada. Let's look at this matter clearly and squarely. Is that why Canada wants Newfoundland, to get the minerals of Labrador? January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1155 Who has the minerals of Labrador right now? Isn't it the Labrador Mining and Exploration Company? Isn't that company spending millions of dollars to develop those mineral deposits? And isn't this company a Canadian company with American capital in with them? What more could Canada want? They have Labrador's mineral wealth right now tied up safe and secure. And our Commission government gave it to them under an act of parliament. Canada already has the mineral wealth of Labrador. For goodness sake, let's keep our feet on the ground and not be led astray by such foolish statements.
Several times since this debate began it has been hinted or bluntly stated that if we go into confederation the Newfoundlanders working on the American bases would lose their jobs. Major Cashin apparently couldn't resist the temptation to make the statement. If this were true, if those 2-3,000 Newfoundlanders now working on the American bases were to lose their jobs because of confederation, or if they could be made to believe that they'd lose their jobs, that would mean many thousands of votes against confederation. Now what's the truth? Every member of the Ottawa delegation knows the truth, for the matter was raised by me in our talks with the Government of Canada, and every member of the delegation remembers what happened. We were told bluntly that the American bases would remain here. Mr. St. Laurent told us bluntly that the American bases would remain here as American bases. They would not be disturbed, and that the men would not lose their jobs through confederation. More than that, we were assured that an official statement would be made in Parliament this winter to this very effect. And I see that since then Mr. St. Laurent in a public announcement in Canada, sir, at a press conference has announced publicly to the world that the American bases in Newfoundland will not be disturbed by confederation. The American bases will go right on as though nothing had happened. And later this year there will be a statement in the Parliament of Canada itself, an official statement to that effect, saying that in plain words. The Newfoundlanders working on the bases may become deceived on this matter for a short while, but they'll know the full truth before the referendum takes place.
Mr. Chairman, something of the same situa tion exists with regard to the 4,000 men who are employed on our railway system. A strong effort has been made to persuade our railroaders that some of them would lose their jobs under confederation. The cold-blooded truth of course is that their only hope of not losing their jobs is confederation, their only hope. Sixty men have lost their jobs in the last few days already in Port-aux-Basques.... If we don't get confederation, if our transporation system is not taken over by the Canadian National Railways, then hundreds of railroaders are doomed to layoffs and wage cuts. Confederation is their only hope of security, stability, steady wages and expanding opportunities. When the matter came up early in the debate, I said I would settle it once and for all. I addressed the following question to the Government of Canada: "To ask His Excellency the Governor in Commission to ask the Government of Canada to state whether in the event of union and the consequent operation of the Newfoundland railway steamship system by Canada, whether it would be the policy of the Government of Canada to continue in their employment all the employees of the system at the time of union, with the rights and privileges with respect to continuity of employment that are accorded to employees of the Canadian National Railway." Now I ask you to note carefully how I worded that question, for you may be sure that the Canadian government noted the wording very carefully. I did not ask if it would be their policy to hold on to some of the employees of the Railway, but all the employees existing at the date of union. That's why it breaks my heart to see 60 men laid off today in Port-aux-Basques. I want to see no railroader laid off until after this referendum, not another man. Because all who are employed on the railway at the date of union will be kept on and it's a shame to see a man laid off before that. I did not ask if it would be the Canadian government's policy to hold on to some of the employees, but all the employees existing at the date of union.... My question was unmistakable in its meaning. And what was the Canadian government's answer? I'll read it to you:
As provided in clause 17.1 of the proposed arrangments, if the Canadian National Railways were to assume responsibility for the operation of the Newfoundland Railway and 1156 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 its steamship services, employees of the Newfoundland Railway system would be offered employment with the Canadian National Railway with the rights and privileges with respect to continuity of employment accorded to employees of the Canadian National Railway.
Could words be plainer? If we enter confederation, our railroaders will be offered employment by the CNR, not some of them, not nearly all of them, but all of them. Not only will they all be employed, but employed with all the same rights and privileges of permanent or continued employment of other employees of the CNR. Mr. Chairman, it will take some twisting to change the meaning of that. There's no crowd of men who will gain more from confederation than our railroaders.... Their unions are all connected with the railroad unions of Canada, and under confederation the Canadian National will stretch all the way from St. John's to Vancouver. And they'll have the satisfaction of seeing passenger rates, freight rates and express rates in Newfoundland brought down to the same rates as in Canada. They'll have the satisfaction of seeing the wages of some of them brought up to the Canadian level. Above all, their professional pride in the railway will be pleased by a great program of improvement and rehabilitation of their railway system by the CNR, for we're told by the CNR experts that $17 million will have to be spent by Canada in the first ten years to put our transportation system in satisfactory shape.
Sir, as we have only one stenographer, I think the thought was that we might rise till tomorrow. In that case sir, I move the adjournment of the debate and that the committee rise, report progress and beg leave to sit again on tomorrow.
[The committee rose and reported progress]
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, speaking to your motion to adjourn, I wonder in view of the fact that the sands of time are running out not only for the Convention in general but in particular for this debate, would it not be possible to have a night session tomorrow?...
Mr. Chairman ....I think that if the Convention desires to continue tomorrow evening, I'll be perfectly willing to sit if I get a quorum...
Mr. Smallwood Sir, having told us that, I would like to say it's not my idea that I should occupy all the remaining time of this debate in my reply.
There's no reason that I know of why any member desiring to speak to this debate shouldn't do so after I have completed. There's no thought in my part of using up all the remaining time in this debate. I believe there are a number of members who do wish to speak... I have no intention whatever of replying to any member who speaks after I have finished. I don't guarantee that I won't. I'm quite sincere about it. To the best of my knowledge and belief, I will not speak any more after I have finished this speech that I began tonight. But if something outrageous comes up, something that I think I absolutely must answer, well then, I can't guarantee that I won't answer it. But honestly sir, I have no intention of making another speech beyond the one I'm making now.
Mr. Chairman Before I put the motion to adjourn the actual position is that the order paper tomorrow will of necessity contain a closure motion. I've intimated already to the House and I reaffirm that ruling now, that I have a discretion as to when that motion should be put. Unfortunately, a number of members have seen fit to quite improperly telephone me or communicate with me in my private offices and at my home, to make sure that I could guarantee them that they'd be able to speak. Of course I can give no such guarantee to any members, and I think Major Cashin with his very wide parliamentary experience can quite sympathise and agree with me in this. I have to give the floor according to the rules to any man that occupies the floor at any given time. But in view of the fact that there is a closure motion coming up, and in view of the fact that some members have not been able to address themselves on this matter and desire to address themselves on the matter, I will have to consider when that closure motion is to be put. In doing so, I naturally want to facilitate members who have not been able to address themselves on this question, because I'd be very reluctant by prematurely putting a closure motion to abridge or take away the rights to speak that they would otherwise have had. Therefore the actual position is simply this. While this closure motion is coming up tomorrow, I may conceivably not put it tomorrow. Not saying when, I'll have to be guided by the temperament and the assistance of the House in trying to determine the time at which that closure motion should be put. But meanwhile, to facilitate the House and in particular members January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1157 who have not been able to address themselves on the question, by and with the permission of the house, if I get a quorum, it will be my endeavour to go ahead tomorrow night...
[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] The following debate is taken from the recording of the proceedings.
  • [1] The motion was to send a delegation to Washington. Above, p.473.
  • [1] Gap in the recording.
  • [2] Great Britain, Interdepartmental Committee an Social Insurance and Allied Services (London, 1942).
  • [1] Gap in the recording.
  • [2] Gap in the recording.
  • [1] Gap in the recording.
  • [1] Paul Bridle (ed.), Documents on Relations Between Canada and Newfoundland Volume 2, 1940-1949, Part I (Ottawa, 1984), p. 520.
  • [1] The rest of Mr. Burry's speech is not available.
  • [1] The recording becomes inaudible at this point.

Personnes participantes: