Newfoundland National Convention, 15 January 1948, Debates on Confederation with Canada


January 15, 1948.[1]

Mr. Chairman Mr. Higgins, I still have the closure motion moved by you under consideration and I can only repeat to a limited extent what I said yesterday. It isn't for me to decide the wisdom or otherwise of carrying the motion; but it is my duty to put the motion at such time as I consider to be fair and reasonable. The House tomorrow will have had a week's clear notice of this motion, and the sands of time are running out. So that if a number of members desire that this Convention should finish its deliberations and work by the end of the month is to be given effect to, it obviously follows that the debate on the business presently before the Chair must shortly come to an end. Unless and until I'm shown between now and tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock some good and sufficient reason why I should not put this closure motion, I would like to inform the House now that it is my intention to put it immediately after the order of business begins tomorrow afternoon. Will members please govern themselves accordingly? I do not want any suggestions made outside the chamber, I know there'll be none made inside, that in putting this motion at that time I am leaning one way or the other. The fact is I have taken already the responsibility for deferring this motion for 24 hours, and I am going to assume the responsibility for the next 24 hours of deferring this motion. But having regard to all the attendant circumstances, I think that at 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon the final decision should rest with this House... Therefore, Mr. Higgins, as far as I know, I have every reason to believe that I'll put this motion to the House tomorrow afternoon.
Mr. Higgins I think it's quite fair, Mr. Chairman. After all nobody will agree that we haven't given full debate to this matter in three weeks. I think even Mr. Smallwood will agree. I think every member who's wanted to, would have spoken by the time we conclude our session tonight.
Mr. Chairman I think the opinion of the House should certainly be ascertained. My only worry, you will appreciate Mr. Higgins, was to ensure that this motion wasn't jumped on the House at a time when they didn't have notice... Tomorrow will constitute one week's clear notice of this motion, and I will have withheld putting this motion for 48 hours. I do not propose to go beyond that, because it might very well be that I will be exceeding my discretionary power....
Mr. Smallwood I agree that very ample time will have been given by the end of the sitting tonight for the debate of these terms. I think it's very generous of the House, and very ample. If, sir, you put the motion of closure at 3 o'clock tomorrow, and the motion is adopted, I will not have any regrets or recriminations.
Mr. Chairman Thank you very much.
Mr. Smallwood I want, sir, to direct the attention of the House to the fact that I have learned within the past 20 minutes that the Hon. Mr. Job, who has been sick at home and unable to attend, seems to have got the impression somehow that this closure motion is to be put tomorrow, but that it would be put at a stage in the proceedings which would allow him to deliver a speech which he has spent some time preparing. I haven't been talking with Mr. Job, and if I were to consult only my own feelings in the matter, as Mr. Job is not likely to make a very strong speech in favour of confederation, if he hasn't got the opportunity of speaking, I will not shed bitter tears. But I do ask the House to remember that Mr. Job does wish to speak, and if the House were willing to indulge him for say half an hour or an hour, and then put the closure motion, I think you would have been completely fair. He couldn't be here, sir, he's been sick at home. I'm putting it to the sense of justice of the House itself to hear Mr. Job attack confederation, though I would not like him to do it and I would rather he did the other thing.
Mr. Chairman Nobody has more respect for and more sympathy with the Hon. Mr. Job than I have, but I direct members' attention to the fact that the motion is as follows: "To move that immediately before the order of the day is called on Wednesday, January 14, 1948, for resuming the debate on the motion that the Convention resolve itself into a committee of the whole to further consider and discuss the proposals received on November 6 from the Rt. Hon. the Prime Minister of Canada, that the said debate shall not be further adjourned." Now this motion supersedes the motion to resolve the House into a committee. Therefore, it is not for me to alter the form of this motion, which is what I would be January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1189 doing were I to attempt to put this motion at any other time.... I have deferred, or will have deferred by 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon, from putting this motion. If because of the uncertainties of this world, because of illness or physical disability, the Hon. R.B. Job or any other member is prevented from attending, and I don't put this motion tomorrow in its present form I have no authority to put it off until next Monday. Anybody might be deferred because of the unfortunate circumstances which prevent Mr. Job from attending the House, and then there are members who haven't arrived back here yet, and may very well take the view — because I have created a very dangerous precedent ... if they requested me to defer the motion after Monday, and I didn't do it, I would leave myself wide open to the charge that I had deferred for Mr. Job but I wouldn't defer in order to give other members the same opportunity. Therefore, the position as I see it now is that I have to put this motion tomorrow afternoon, or I have to defer putting it until Monday afternoon. The form of the motion allows me no discretion at all in the matter.... While I have the greatest sympathy and the greatest admiration for Mr. Job, I am duty bound to put this motion at 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon, and I definitely propose to give the House the responsibility of determining the fate of the motion... I will have taken the responsibility for 48 hours. After 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon it is going to become the responsibility of the members of this House. Therefore with this in mind, we'll move on to the second order of the day. Mr. Smallwood...
Mr. Smallwood I move that.
Mr. Chairman The motion is that the Convention resolve itself into committee of the whole to further consider and discuss the proposals received on November 6 from the Prime Minister of Canada. Before I put the motion, let me again remind the House that if the closure motion is carried tomorrow afternoon, that of necessity means that if the present motion to go into committee is carried, that there will only be this afternoon and this evening left to discuss the business which is now before the Chair. So will members please govern themselves accordingly....

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

Mr. Crosbie It is not my intention to take up much of your time and the time of the Convention. But I feel that certain statements made here must and should be corrected in order that our people may judge for themselves the merits and demerits of confederation. It is not my idea to go into the many questions involved, but to deal with only one which I consider of major importance. As you all know, a country's growth and expansion depend on the supply of raw materials and of these we have more than sufficient; however, if the development and exploitation of these resources are interfered with or harmed in any way, there is nothing left but disaster and privation for the people. I can see a very real danger to our fishery under the proposed terms of union with Canada. For a few moments let us look at Mr. Smallwood's estimate of expenditure if Newfoundland were a province of Canada. What would we find in the Department of Natural Resources?....[1] The expenditure is given at approximately $112,000, a mere pittance, or as Mr. Smallwood would say, chicken-feed. He's quite right; $112,000 is chicken-feed. Of course his explanation is that the federal government takes over where the province leaves off...[2]
Mr. Smallwood, they want an explanation. Mr. Chairman, I'm here to inform you and the Convention, this is not so. And to prove my point, here are the actual facts that I know. I would ask you to look at note four of Mr. Smallwood's budget under the Department of Natural Resources.[3] According to Mr. Smallwood, items numbered l, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, of the estimates of 1947 and 1948 would be present. Gentlemen, this is not so. Items 1, 2 and 3 refer to the maintenance of bait depots and the supply of bait and the operation of the Malakoff[4] for freezing and transfering [4] The S.S. Malakoff was a small government vessel used in the bait service. 1190 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 bait for fishing, which services we agree meet the real need in this country and which I am afraid are threatened. The actual position is that the federal government does not operate or maintain any bait depot in Canada, or supply bait. Wishing to be sure on this point, I sought and obtained this information from two of Canada's largest fishing provinces — namely British Columbia and Nova Scotia. And I am sure Mr. Smallwood will agree, what the federal government does for one province, it must do for all. If the federal government is not supplying bait for British Columbia and Nova Scotia, the federal government will not supply bait for the Province of Newfoundland. Both in Nova Scotia and British Columbia the fishermen have to buy their own bait from private operators, or catch and store it themselves. Those items mentioned in 1947-48, $238,000. Now let us turn to item 9 — erection of new bait depots. This is not paid for by the federal government in any province, and cost in 1947-48, $294,000. Item 11 — alteration and extension to existing bait depots, $30,000. This also is not a federal charge. In other words, we have roughly $562,000 excluded in this preposterous budget. Our fishermen are to do without free services. Can they afford to do without them? The answer is clear — no. The position therefore is this: we actually have expenses in these items alone totalling $562,000, for which nothing has been provided in Mr. Smallwood's budget. So either we have a deficit of $562,000 or we go without fish services. Such a thought to me is fantastic and unthinkable under any form of government this country might have. Mr. Chairman, if the record of figures, and the estimates of expenditure and revenue of the provincial budget, are as far astray as these are, then it follows the figures of other estimates of the same sort are just as unreliable.
Some months ago I made the statement that sooner or later our American friends would be obliged to come to this country for their fish supply. Many people, I know, did not believe this. But today, much sooner then suspected, my forecast has come true. Last Monday, two trawlers ... with a crew of 18 men each sailed from St. John's on their first fishing voyage from Newfoundland — under the flag of the United Kingdom. Until a very short time ago, these splendid boats were sailing from the United States under the flag of Atlantic coast fishermen. But due to many circumstances with which I am not familiar, they are now here. And in my opinion, they are the forerunners of many more — if, and I say if, this country is permitted to run her own affairs. Now you might say, what do I mean by this? Well, in a nutshell it is this. Let us turn again to the federal government. In Nova Scotia and other provinces, a licence is required before trawlers can be used. To obtain these licences, application must be made to the federal Minister of Fisheries himself at Ottawa. Now the Minister of Fisheries in Ottawa is a very busy man and has many pressing problems for his attention. He may not have time to consider immediately a request from Newfoundland for a licence to operate trawlers and draggers, and unintentionally the opportunity to progress is gone or delayed indefinitely. Again, we all know New England interests are already coming to Newfoundland in preference to Canada. Now is it likely that the Minister of Fisheries at Ottawa is going to issue licences to Newfoundland to operate trawlers etc., if pressure is brought to bear by Nova Scotia to have the business placed there? Of course he won't, in my opinion. Nova Scotia is far more important politically then we are. So right away we run the risk of losing to one of our keenest competitors. Gentlemen, it is neither feasible or sensible for this country to have remote control. We have it now under Commission of Government. Are we to trade one remote control system for another? It has taken Nova Scotia a lifetime, practically, to obtain a licence to operate six trawlers and eight draggers, which is all that operates from there today. Dr. Douglas I. Cooper, Director of Fisheries for the Department of Industry for Nova Scotia asked if they were going to expand to the limit of exploitation and were they going to modernise to the limit, or were they going to perish? Gentlemen, Nova Scotia is now a case of progress or failure. There are three reasons for this situation. One, failure to recognise the fishery as a whole was changing from saltfish to fresh. Two, high taxation resulting from the war. Three, the McLean Commission decision condemning the use of modern January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1191 trawlers except in restricted areas.[1] Nova Scotia today is rectifying this decision, but it is admitted Newfoundland has far outstripped Nova Scotia in modernisation and expansion.
We have the Fisheries Board which administers inspection and control of exports to all our great markets in Europe and the West Indies. Under this set-up, inspection is compulsory and fish cannot be shipped without an inspection certificate. If we enter confederation, this will be a federal function. Canada has no compulsory inspection, with the result that the quality of her fish has gone down during the war years, while ours has improved and we have held our market against Canadian competition. Is it likely that the federal government will permit Newfoundland as a province to control these exports which will be Canadian under confederation? The answer is no. Would a federal government allow Newfoundland to refuse to export fish to another province, say Nova Scotia, if it were found necessary in order to maintain prices in our markets to do so? Certainly they wouldn't. As you all know, Halifax used to depend on Newfoundland to supply fish for re-export. And they used this fish to compete with our own, until under the present system this was stopped to the great advantage of Newfoundland. For some years Canada, and Nova Scotia particularly, had a large share of the European market and produced as much if not more saltfish for these markets than we do, But over a period of years she lost those markets while we held them. She also lost the West Indies markets to a great extent, which at one time were exclusively Canadian and which today are ours. I wonder why these markets were lost? And I wonder if under confederation we'll find ourselves in the same position as Nova Scotia? During the last quarter of a century we have been able, with the help of England, to sell to Spain, Italy, and Greece while Canada was unable to make the same exchange agreement and consequently could not ship. High officials of the federal government have made statements that our marketing system is far ahead of Canada's. In fact, it is so far ahead that last year a Canadian delegation came here to study our system and Went away amazed at the strides we had made. Is a federal government going to permit Newfoundland as a province to exercise federal rights by permitting the Newfoundland Fisheries Board to control exports? Certainly it won't. At any rate I see nothing in all the terms presented to us, in either the Grey Book or the Black Book, indicating that she will. I for one would like assurance on this matter before I could mark my vote for confederation. It must be remembered that Canadian provinces are our keenest competitors, and under confederation we will not sell one pound of fish more to Canada than we do today. It is quite evident that our salt codfish trade will suffer practically the same fate as that of Nova Scotia and the Gaspé coast.
Our present system, and the Fisheries Board, will be demolished overnight. And if you think this is not so under confederation, all you have to do is turn to Mr. Smallwood's budget.[2] "Of the total expenditures of $282,800 by the Fisheries Board, $158,358 would be federal. Reduction of function should produce a saving of $12,000 on Board expenditure." The cost of operating the Fisheries Board is cut from approximately $282,000 to $158,000, or $125,000 roughly is deducted. And they visualise, mind you, a further saving of $12,000 because the Board's functions are going to be reduced — not increased, or any further assistance given, but reduced. What functions of the Board do you think they intend to reduce? Perhaps members of the Fishery Committee on the delegation to Ottawa can tell us, although I understand that only one meeting was held, attended by only two members of the Newfoundland delegation. Mr. Chairman, one of our chief industries took the time of one meeting and the attention of two of our delegates, and we're expected to vote on a referendum for confederation. That committee should have had with them Mr. Raymond Gushue, who in my opinion knows more about trade agreements and what's best for our fishery then any member of the Ottawa delegation. And if this is correct, that it was only attended by two members, all I can say is that they had very little interest in their country and the most important branch of its economy. Just in case they can't tell us what functions are to be reduced, to me it is quite obvious that these 1192 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 functions are those that encroach on federal rights, mainly the controlling of exports.
Another alarming result of union with Canada is the statement contained in section 9, subsection 3 of the Grey Book. I'll read it, it's a honey: "No part of the surplus shall be used to subsidise production or sale of Newfoundland's products in unfair competition with similar products of other provinces, it being understood that this proviso does not preclude assistance to industry by such means as developmental loans on reasonable conditions or by ordinary provincial administrative services." Now Mr. Chairman, the substance of this particular section conveys to me at least that the Canadian government will do everything it possibly can to prevent any serious competition from our fishing industry. This is not the first time that Canada has shown its feelings with regard to our fishery. The Bond-Blaine treaty has been dealt with many times in this chamber and outside, so it's not necessary for me to go into further details on it. I only wanted to point out that it has been one of our fondest hopes that our fishery should be developed along modern and scientific lines, and there are many cases where government assistance would be of the utmost value. But the Canadian government, in these proposals, tells us that we will not be permitted with our own money to further develop our industry. I would like to take your minds back to last September and October, when it was necessary for our government to use approximately $7 million in order to obtain foreign exchange to pay for Newfoundland fish production of 1947. I wonder would this be called a subsidy? Or would it have another name?
Mr. Smallwood It's not a subsidy.
Mr. Crosbie It's all according how you look at it, Mr. Smallwood, and I'm not in the Canadian government. I know what I'd do if I was there. I'd call it a subsidy.
Gentlemen, I'm not interested in baby bonuses. They may be good, they may be bad, but they are something for which our people must pay. I am only interested in the life-blood of this country, which permits individuals to make a living. Let's assume that a fisherman with four children under 16 receives $288 baby bonus. What good is it to him if our marketing system is gone? The price of fish falls, and he receives only $5 a quintal where he might have received $10 on say 100 quintals of fish. I am confident that at the moment we enter confederation our Fisheries Board, our whole system of marketing that has been built up at considerable cost by the government, will be demolished overnight, and that we will have the chaotic experience of the early twenties and the early thirties, when so many of our people are depending on this for a livelihood. Let's go back again to last September and October. The catch for 1947 was roughly 1.1 million quintals, and I am sure that if the $7 million had not been used to make exchange available, and if we hadn't had the system of marketing that we have today, the price of fish would have fallen at least $5 and might have been on sale. Let's assume it dropped $5 — $5.5 million, gentlemen, that was our baby bonus gone overboard right away.
All this being so, I cannot see what we can possibly gain from federal union with Canada. We may even lose many of the advantages we now have. To summarise, gentlemen, it is my firm and considered opinion that under union with Canada we will bring about the following: the abolition of the Newfoundland Fisheries Board; two, the abolition of compulsory inspection and control of exports which have been so beneficial in the last few years; three, the bait system as a government facility, as the province could not afford to maintain the cost; four, we would be under the dictates of Ottawa with regard to the export of our fresh fish; five, we would be deprived of the power to negotiate our own trade agreements with any country, and particularly with the USA which could be so essential to our economy today; six, we would lose assistance from England in our current fish arrangements, thus running a great risk of losing our European markets; seven, the loss of the use of our surplus for anything by way of subsidy, particularly if we wish to use it for subsidising exchange as was done last fall. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, in view of this I say honestly, I feel this very definitely, I say to you all and to the country, think and think well before we vote to enter union with Canada.
Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Chairman, I'd like to make a few remarks on the proposals now before the Chair. Having had the honour of being a member of the Ottawa delegation I think that with the knowledge gained during our stay in Canada I can speak with a certain degree of assurance and January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1193 confidence on these proposals. I'd like to say that during my recent visit to Twillingate, and during 1947 I was there about three weeks of the year, I found in the minds of some of the people a certain amount of confusion. I hope that I shall be able in some way to bring some order to the minds of those who were confused. Personally I consider these proposed arrangements good, and do not see how we can afford to turn them down. I am a pro-confederate. If we turn down these arrangements that the Canadian government has submitted to us, what have we to substitute for them? Canada is enjoying a marked degree of prosperity, has a record of savings accounts, plentiful employment there and business is booming. It is, as has already been said, one of the most fortunate countries in the world. And if we cannot manage to do it with Canada at our back, however are we going to do it by ourselves? There are people today who question our ability to stand alone. They remember the time was when we had to look for somebody to assist us. At that time Great Britain came to our help — for which we should never be too thankful, and which we should never forget.... Mr. Chairman, unless we have Great Britain or Canada at our back, how long shall we be able to go alone? That is the question that is uppermost in the minds of some of the people today. They realise as I do that we are a small number of people, a small number of producers in a large area, and with a considerable amount of our area cut off during the winter months with consequent loss of employment. I know on the other hand that our geographical position is a strategic one, and Canada realises that as well. There are people who live in the outports, and the life is quite different than here in the city. I represent an outport district, and I know the conditions under which our people out there had to live. I do not think that the British government made any mistake when they had a proviso in electing members to this Convention that they had to reside in the district for which they were elected. I hope that when we get back our government there will be some such proviso, so that the majority of outport districts will not be represented by people who live in St. John's and the Avalon Peninsula. How do you think the people in St. John's would like to be represented by a man living down in White Bay? It is preposterous to think of it.... Our economy is a limited economy. Our gross national earning power is far lower than the Canadian earning power. And I wonder how long our surplus is going to last us. I don't think any member of this Convention has prophesied how long our surplus is going to last, and what we're going to do when that surplus is gone. In my opinion, we just can't do for the great majority of our people what we would like to do, and give them the things that we would like to give them. We can't close our eyes to economic factors. My advice to the members of this Convention is to examine these terms dispassionately, cooly and in the light of economics. We are a small number of people, yet we are a proud and sturdy race. But on the other hand, Mr. Chairman, I do not see why we should always want to remain independent and isolated, particularly when there is a neighbour that's been good to us, Canada, these last few years — what would we have done if we hadn't got them? Only last fall, as far as I understand we wanted 60,000 sacks of flour. We sent up to Canada; the request was granted.
Mr. Cashin They charged us double what they should have.
Mr. Ashbourne Well, they've given to England what England certainly deserved after what she's gone through.... Canada has certainly backed her up, and certainly has done her share in order to help out the old country, that has been demolished and bore the brunt, and marched to victory for civilisation. Now surely the 12 million people in Canada can't be wrong in the nine provinces when they joined up together. And as far as I'm concerned, the form of government which worked for 12 million people will work for 12,327,000, if the people of Newfoundland decide to go in there. We would then have a country where our young men could go when the fishery was over in the fall of the year, particularly if the fishery was poor; they could go from Halifax to Vancouver and earn other monies rather than be unemployed. The whole range of Canadian cities would be open for them. And if some of them want to go there and settle down, and make homes like a lot of Newfoundlanders have, who are we to say that they shouldn't? ....
Now we are dependent on Great Britain and Canada to help to defend our shores. We haven't got a submarine or a warship of our own. But we have the men, and the men in the past have played 1194 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 their part nobly for defence of empire. It has been said by some member here that we may have a war at any time. Perhaps we may. And we realise that these countries have recognised the strategic position of Newfoundland; and not only that, the great United States of America has bases here in Newfoundland. These bases are part of a plan of defense for the western hemisphere. I don't think that Canada is going to make any move as regards these American bases, particularly as it works in with their scheme of defense....
Now I know that time is running short, and it is not my intention to go through all these terms which have been fully explained by Mr. Smallwood. Members have had as much explanation on these terms as probably they want. But there are a few points that I would like to touch on, such as the slight change in our form of taxation, and in the manner of raising taxes, which may have to be made if we become a province of Canada. But we must not assume that because we have been accustomed to a certain way of taxation for 100 years of so, that that way is according to the law of the Medes and Persians and cannot be changed. If it is in the interest of the masses of the people for a change to be made, then certainly it should be made. Very few people know exactly how much taxes they're paying. I doubt it.... Personally I can't say what taxes I'm paying. All I know, according to the last budget speech that was delivered, is that 54% of our revenue was collected through the Customs, something over $20 million. Under these terms it's estimated that we shall be paying $2 million. According to that, there would be a saving of $18 million. Well, suppose we do have to find ... new taxation of $5-6 million. Well, aren't we saving a considerable amount then?
Mr. Smallwood Don't forget the profit on the duty.
Mr. Ashbourne Yes that's right, there is a profit on the duty. Now the people who have to go to the bank and get the money to pay into the government chest, they're not going to get that money from the bank without interest. And if they have money of their own, well, their money is generally able to earn some interest. That's how the world is run. These people can't really be expected to take their money and pay the government without getting a certain profit on it. But if they don't have to make that outlay on government duties, then they can't make a profit on it. And it's quite clear that the cost of living will come down, and people will have then more money to spend.
Now so far as I am aware, no province has seceded from the Canadian confederation. There are nine provinces and not one of them has seceded. If things were so bad in Canada why is it that one of the provinces has not left? During my stay in Canada I questioned a captain of one of the boats in which I was travelling, and I asked, "What about all this talk we hear down in Newfoundland sometimes, that you people, not being satisfied with confederation, would like to get out of it?" "Sir," he said, "I never heard talk of it." .... Do you think that Canada would send an army down here to keep us in confederation if we wanted to get out of it? I think it would be the other way around.... In union is strength. I believe that some real and marked increases in the money that the people would have in their pockets would ensue as a result of confederation. And if Newfoundland, after her surplus was used up ...[1] naturally, being a part of Canada, we would know where to look in order to get help. We have a tremendous overhead in Newfoundland. We have the trappings of an elephant and the back of a cat.
Somebody has remarked that the terms might be improved. But I read here in Prime Minister King's letter that the government could not readily contemplate any change in these arrangements which would impose larger financial burdens on Canada. We know that the economy of a country can change very quickly. We have been very fortunate in Newfoundland these last few years, in that millions of dollars have come in here from Canada and from the United States of America. We have had good prices for our fish, and the result is that we have built up a surplus. But let us not forget that we are spending this year about $40 million. How long can we go on spending such a sum of money as that? It is only for the price of fish to drop and of certain other basic commodities, for the beginnings of a depression to start again. We are dependent upon world markets and dependent upon countries overseas to take our products, in Europe and the West Indies as regards the fishery, and America to take January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1195 our paper — we are very fortunate in being able to sell America paper, because it gives us a lot of American dollars. We know that Canada has a shortage of American dollars, that does not reflect any weakness in Canada, nor would it reflect any particular strength in Newfoundland because she happened to have a surplus of American dollars. It's only a matter of having goods available which America wants and can take. How do we know that we can get these terms extended, if we turn them down now? If there's any doubt about being able to get better terms, then why not ask our government? There's been a lot of talk about governments negotiating instead of members of a delegation, so why not ask the Commission of Government to inquire and see whether or not Canada can improve upon the terms, and then we'd know for sure.
We would be part of a bigger country should we join up with Canada, and it is thought by some that within five years there may be economic union between Canada and America I am not one who thinks that Newfoundland would stand much of a chance of getting economic terms from America separately from Canada. The Bond- Blaine treaty proved that to us.... Is it reasonable to think that America would do for Newfoundland and her people what she wouldn't be prepared to do with her largest customer — Canada? How far could Newfoundland get with the Bond-Blaine treaty when Canada stepped in and said, "What about our fishermen? What are you going to do for our fishermen?" And surely she had had as much right to look after the rights of her fishermen as the Newfoundland government had to look after the rights of hers? If there is any economic union coming between Canada and the States, we, if we were part of Canada, would certainly come in under it at that time.
Now, sir, if we can now barely balance our budget, what are we to expect except deficits and borrowing when the sunny days are over and our surplus reduced, and economic storms and world depressions beset our path? If our people now, with high revenues and high prices for paper, fish and minerals, can only moderately get along, how are they going to get along unless we can reduce taxation by ourselves? We have in Labrador tremendous resources, but unfortunately we in Newfoundland haven't the capital to develop them. Look at the three big companies which operate in Newfoundland now — the AND Company, Bowaters and the Buchans Mining Company, how much of their capital came from outside? We have to look for outside capital to come in and help to develop these great natural resources. Some people consider that confederation is inevitable in time, but I say why not now? It has been said by Mr. Smallwood that we're about the size of a small city, split up into 1,300 communities. We have to find the communications, transport and facilities to run Newfoundland and give our people as good services as we possibly can. As I said before, if we can't do it with the millions that Canada is prepared to give us, however are we going to do it by ourselves? Some people are just waiting for the time to come to mark their ballots for confederation.
Now, sir, as regards provincial government taxes. We realise that if we become a province we shall have a smaller revenue then we have at the present time. But what will that mean? That will mean of necessity a closer watch on how these taxes are expended. We have had to cut the garment according to the cloth. And if taxes were raised clearly and squarely, no doubt they will be well spent because the people will take an interest in how they are being spent when they know exactly what taxes they are paying. I maintain the people do not know exactly how much taxes they are paying, except as a gross sum when we get the budget at the end of the fiscal year. I have reason to believe that a closer scrutiny will be exercised by our people and a closer watch on expenditure. If fairly applied and wisely spent, true value will be received by our people.... The government is put in the saddle by the people but the people are the final masters.
It has been said here that it would be criminal to accept these proposals. I can't understand that reasoning. Do members think ... that Canada would submit anything to us that would be criminal to accept? Nonsense! Now, if we join up with Canada, we would be within the great British Empire. I believe that we would make a tremendous amount of progress with Canada. The difference in the per capita debt of Canada and Newfoundland has been spoken of: yes, there is quite a difference. But look at the resources of the two countries, see them as you come across them, the broad expanse of Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Look at her resources. The 1196 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 United States with a population of almost ten times that of Canada has a greater per capita debt; and England has a bigger per capita debt than either Canada or the United States. But does that say they'll ever default as we did? They can raise their loans and get along. We know that in England there had to be an austerity programme. but we know something of the great fight she put up and what she's gone through. I believe that if we join up with Canada that there will be more Canadian tourists coming down here. That is a thing we want — more tourists. We have a wonderful climate here. Those of us who were members of the Ottawa delegation know something of the heat that is experienced up there, and what a relief it would be to get out and get down to a place like Newfoundland in the summer time; and these people have the money. We saw their cars up there, cars from the States coming down through Canada — tourists spending their American money. I believe that they'd come to Newfoundland too, enjoy our climate, our natural beauty and our fishing. But we want a road joined up with the Humber valley, and if we become a province of Canada, we can make a national park over there somewhere, and Canada keeps up the roads in national parks. I believe that with this ferry that the Canadian government will put on the Gulf to bring across the cars to Newfoundland, that there will be a lot of Canadian and American money coming into Newfoundland....[1] Now the question is can we do that ourselves?
Mr. Crosbie this afternoon has spoken about the fisheries. I would like to refer to the fisheries as well. It was a very sad thing that happened when we were in Ottawa this year, the death of the Hon. Frank Bridges, who was Minister of Fisheries for Canada.... It was certainly very pleasant to meet such a man.... I believe that we would have had quite a bit more information about the fisheries if it hadn't been for the death of Mr. Bridges. I would like to read from information that has been placed on the desks of members.... It says here that the "Deputy Minister of Fisheries pointed out that there was in Canada a growing movement in support of regulatory measures of the type enforced in Newfoundland. The establishment of the Canadian Fisheries Price Support Board which would be set up shortly (by the way, sir, that has now been set up) would have considerable influence and it might be expected that federal policy would evolve in the direction of the measures already adopted in Newfoundland. Mr. St. Laurent stated that it could be provided in the terms of union that fisheries legislation presently enforced in Newfoundland would remain in force until amended or repealed by the appropriate legislative authority." I understand that all laws that are on the statute book in Newfoundland at the time of union remain operative and are still the laws of the province until they are repealed or amended, "The federal government," it goes on to say, "would not be disposed to interfere with the system presently in effect in Newfoundland, unless it proposed to introduce legislation which would represent an improvement over present regulations, and therefore would not be likely to repeal Newfoundland legislation in order to remove a regulatory system which had proven beneficial. The Newfoundland fishing industry must reasonably be informed that it need anticipate nothing prejudicial in this respect as a result of union with Canada."
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, who was it that said that?
Mr. Ashbourne This was Mr. St. Laurent in one of the plenary sessions at our conferences in Ottawa this summer.
Mr. Cashin Is it from the Grey Book?
Mr. Ashbourne Yes.
Mr. Chairman Well, I thought you might be able to read that...
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Ashbourne just read it.
Mr. Chairman Under the terms of union?
Mr. Smallwood Yes, in the terms of union.
Mr. Cashin In the Grey Book?
Mr. Smallwood Yes there is a clause and I'll point it out to you.... Here it is, section 23, subsection 2, the continuation of Newfoundland laws, courts, commissions, authorities such as the Fisheries Board, etc., until altered by the appropriate authority and as to altering them...what did Mr. St. Laurent say?
Mr. Ashbourne "The Newfoundland fishing industry might reasonably be informed that it need anticipate nothing prejudicial in this respect as a result of union with Canada."
Mr. Chairman What does section 4 of these comments say, Mr. Ashbourne?
Mr. Crosbie As I have it here, sir, Mr. St. Laurent stated that it could be provided in terms of union, that the fishery legislation in force in Newfoundland remain in force.
Mr. Smallwood Well, hasn't that been provided?
Mr. Crosbie Not necessarily and specifically, no.
Mr. Smallwood Well it's not only that law, but all laws stay as they are until altered. And as to altering them, we have the statement there that the fisheries trade can be reassured, the Fishery Board and the fishery regulations will not be abolished. Clear as daylight... Maybe for Mr. Crosbie's benefit, Mr. Ashbourne wouldn't mind reading the whole minute, it's a minute of a plenary session.
Mr. Ashbourne "Mr. St. Laurent stated that it could be provided in the terms of union that fisheries legislation presently enforced in Newfoundland would remain in force until amended or repealed by the appropriate legislative authorities. The federal government would not be disposed to interfere with the system presently in effect in Newfoundland unless it proposed to introduce legislation which would represent an improvement over present regulation; and therefore would not be likely to repeal Newfoundland legislation in order to remove a regulatory system which has proven beneficial. The Newfoundland fishing industry might reasonably be informed that it need anticipate nothing prejudicial in this respect as a result of union with Canada."
Now, sir, I would like to read certain excerpts from ... the Fisheries Prices Support Act, 1944....
There shall be under the direction of the Minister a Fisheries Prices Support Board consisting of not more than five members... The powers of the Board: (a) for the purpose of this act the Board shall, subject to and in accordance with the regulations of the Governor in Council, have authority to prescribe from time to time prices at which the Board may purchase fisheries products; (b) to purchase directly or by means of agents at such prices any fishery product, if such product on inspection meets standards as to the grade and policy prescribed....; (c) pay to the producer of the fisheries product directly, or through such agents as the board may determine the difference between the price prescribed by the Board ... and the average as determined by the Board ...[1] store, ship, transport or export directly or by means of agents any fisheries product; (f) to enter into contracts, or appoint agents to do anything authorised under this act; (g) to purchase at market or at contract prices and export any fisheries product under any contract or agreement between His Majesty in right Canada and any other government or agency thereof...; (h) to purchase at the request of any department of the Government of Canada any fisheries product required by such department; (i) to appoint commodity boards or other agents to undertake the purchase and the disposition of fisheries products provided that any boards appointed under this paragraph shall include representatives of the primary producers; (j) to appoint a committee or committees...
Mr. Smallwood I wonder if Mr. Ashbourne would permit me just for a moment. Does Mr. Ashbourne, and do the other members of the delegation, recall how it was pointed out that under that very subsection that Mr. Ashbourne has just read, where the Fish Prices Support Board of Canada may set up commodity boards, that the Newfoundland Fisheries Board might well be a commodity board of the Fish Prices Support board?
Mr. Cashin If it is changed to a fish prices commodity board, it won't be allowed to function like it does now.
Mr. Smallwood Function, actually function as now within the Fish Prices Support Board.
Mr. Ashbourne Yes, Mr. Chairman, I maintain that that is the idea.
Mr. Smallwood The Fish Prices Support Board is federal and it may appoint other boards throughout Canada. In the case of Newfoundland, we already have a board, the Fisheries Board could be the commodity board for Newfoundland under the Fish Prices Support Board of Canada.
Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Chairman, as far as I can gather in Canada they are most favourably impressed by what the Newfoundland Fisheries Board has accomplished. And as has already been related by Mr. Crosbie, they sent a delega 1198 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1984 tion here from some of the fish producing provinces, probably two of them, Nova Scotia I know was represented...
Mr. Smallwood Four of them.
Mr. Ashbourne Four of them last fall, to confer with the Fisheries Board and certain others and I believe that they may possibly be taking our Board as a pattern. I believe the Fisheries Board has done a good job, and taking that as a pattern, there will be evolved everything necessary for the orderly marketing of the fish catches of Nova Scotia and the other provinces. This, as I would like to explain, is an act which was drawn up in order to stabilise prices if the need arose, and to give the primary producer reasonable and proper return for his fishery product. If on account of conditions in the markets the catch couldn't be disposed of, they would see that the fishermen did not suffer. The Board has the power to go in and buy the fish and then dispose of it and if necessary deficits can be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Someone asked me a question, Mr. Chairman. I believe that the Canadian government marketed the apple crop from Canada and put certain prices on it at which they paid the man who got the apples. And then they went and they marketed them, and I believe gave some of them to England.
Mr. Smallwood They gave them away.
Mr. Ashbourne They gave some of them, and saw to it that the man who produced them didn't suffer. That is the idea behind this Fisheries Support Act. That rather than the producers should suffer, they would buy the whole catch if necessary...
Mr. Smallwood And give it away.
Mr. Ashbourne And if they couldn't market it properly they could go to work and dispose of it and any deficit would be paid out of the consolidated revenue account.
The Board may use money appropriated by Parliament for the purpose to pay all necessary administrative expenses... Expenditures for the purposes of this Act, other than administrative expenses, shall be paid by the Minister of Finance on the requisition of the Board out of unappropriated monies in the Consolidated Revenue Fund... There shall be kept by the Minister of Finance an account called the Fisheries Prices Support Act, to which shall be charged all expenditures by the Board other then the aforesaid administrative expenditures, and to which shall be credited all proceeds of sales of fisheries products...
Such, Mr. Chairman, is a gist of the act for the support of the prices of fishery products during the transition from war to peace. It was passed in 1944 and it became operative I believe in September, 1947....
I feel that there are a lot of Newfoundlanders living in Canada who would like to see us join up with Canada. That was the sentiment that was expressed to me by quite a few that I met during the past summer. We realise that if we go into Canada we shall have those social benefits which Canada is giving her people — the family allowances, which to my mind are good and very beneficial. It puts the money right in the hands of the people who need it most, and I certainly can't see anything wrong about that. It would give our aged people, to whom Newfoundland doesn't give the old age pension now until they get 75 ... the pension at the age of 70. We would be able to participate in these benefits.
Now, sir, it has been mentioned here about the sales tax. I believe that the income tax has been already reduced a couple of times
Mr. Smallwood Three.
Mr. Ashbourne Three times in Canada. And it is currently thought that the sales tax will be the next tax to be cut. At present it is 8%. We realise that at the present time prices are inflated. A few years ago, when I had the honour to have a seat in the Assembly, we were trying to run the country on about $9 million and of course it couldn't be done. We just had to go out and borrow money, year after year. There were a good many deficits, and after a while, when our credit gave out and we couldn't borrow anymore, we lost our government. These family allowances alone are estimated to bring in about $8 million, over 50 years, $400 million.
Mr. Cashin But are we assured that they're not going to cut that out?
Mr. Ashbourne We have no assurance that they're not going to cut it out...
Mr. Cashin You are so sure that they are going to reduce taxation, but you have no assurance they won't.
Mr. Ashbourne ....We know that $8 million for 50 years is $400 million, and that's been practi January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1199 cally our total revenue according to Finance Committee, $400 million in the last 50 years.
Mr. Cashin Suppose they cut it out in two years' time.
Mr. Ashbourne If they cut it out then the taxes will be less, and our people will benefit that way. But there's no evidence that family allowances will be cut out.
Mr. Smallwood Family allowances, cut them out? Why, the government that tried would cut its own throat from ear to ear. They're not going to do it with their eyes open.
Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Chairman, if we go into confederation we shall be transferring certain powers to Canada, but we shall be reserving others to ourselves. There can be no fear of our losing the Labrador. The responsible government of Newfoundland one time offered to sell the Labrador, twice. I hope they don't try it again.... We want the tremendous wealth of Labrador, but we in Newfoundland haven't got the capital ourselves to develop it.
Mr. Cashin Neither has Canada.
Mr. Ashbourne Canada and the States can help to develop the Labrador. That's what I maintain.... And I believe that were we to join up with Canada and become a province more Canadian money would be forthcoming to help develop Labrador. There can be no doubt at all of our ownership of Labrador.
I would like to refer briefly to the benefits which war veterans would receive. I've already enumerated them. The great benefit is the war veterans' allowance, by which a qualified veteran when he attains the age of 60 may get an allowance for himself and for his wife, and for the widow of a war veteran at the age of 55. If he is incapacitated and unable to earn before he reaches the age of 60, he may be able to get something then. This is a great thing for the war veterans of Newfoundland.... We know that the benefits extended to veterans by Canada were extra good. Provision was given for fishermen on provincial lands, whereby they would get a grant, which they didn't have to repay, of $2,320. We in Newfoundland allowed them $700.
We're told that within eight years ... we'll have a royal commission to assess the whole picture of Newfoundland. It seems to me that Canada might have made a mistake in the premature withdrawal of price controls. We know that when controls and rationing are removed, there generally follows inflationary pressure. Rapid spending sometimes is the result when controls come off. The shortage of American dollars does not mean that Canada is financially or fundamentally weak. We recognise that the trend of the times is for greater union. Look at the British West Indies at the present time, see how they are beginning to confederate, how they are joining up and seeing how they can pool their resources and work together. We in Newfoundland have no control over export markets. Years ago, and in the depression, our exports dropped from about $39 million to $23 million, and our fish exports dropped from $15 million to $6 million. Some people wonder when this economic recession may start again. The ebb and flow of trade is after all — trade is a two-way street so to speak. It's a one-way street going backwards with traffic going and coming on it. And we know that over in Europe they want our fish and they must naturally be able to give us something that we can use to convert into the means of buying what we require This was amply provided this fall when the difficulty of sterling exchange became most acute. Fortunately, we had the money on the other side and the Commission negotiated and the result has been a great thing for our fishermen. We have other years ahead to look forward to, and we have to realise that in this matter of trade we are, so to speak, one world. We are dependent one upon the other. This was amply exemplified this year when it was explained that our sale of fish in Spain depends upon the United Kingdom taking Spanish oranges. For awhile the sales were held up but finally, when Great Britain bought these oranges from Spain, it gave the Spanish some sterling in order to buy our fish. While we are dependent upon these markets in Europe and elsewhere, we realise what a great economic question is before us. We realise how these economic forces work, and that they, when not properly controlled, are the means of starting depressions. We are benefitting from the result of war prices. The inflated prices of the war are still in effect, they've not yet subsided. Peoples of the world are trying to settle down in a changing world, and we know that after the last war a sharp collapse in prices resulted in many failures. Export prices for fish were cut in half between 1920 and 1923.... Relief was required in quite a few 1200 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 places. I maintain that when prices get back to normal, we can't reasonably expect 325,000 people to keep on raising $40 million in taxes. The progress of a country is limited to the amount of money the people can earn. As a government we shall want to balance our budget, or as near as possible. We realise that the amount of money that Canada is prepared to give us over the first 12 years of union will be a help in trying to get the provincial form of government operative, providing that the Newfoundland people decide to enter into confederation. Our surplus can be used if necessary for certain things which would help our province. There is a provision that a certain amount of it has to be put on interest. This surplus will be a great help to Newfoundland because there are certain things which we need to have done. We want a further extension of our road programme. We shall have certain other needs which will be evident from time to time. I don't fear any great difficulty to arise from the change in taxation if we enter the Canadian confederation. We're going in with a country which is a big and wealthy country. The fact that Canada has got a seat on the United Nations Security Council this year proves that it is not immature politically; but that it is attaining full maturity amongst nations. I had the honour myself of attending one of the sessions last fall when I happened to be in New York. I went to the United Nations meeting. It was quite an experience. I found that the afternoon when I was there the committee on Palestine was meeting for its first session, and all the seats which were ordinarily available for visitors had been occupied....
Mr. Chairman Will you state your point, Mr. Ashbourne?
Mr. Cashin I don't think the United Nations Council has anything to do with this discussion, and there are other speakers to comment.
Mr. Chairman Which is a point well taken, Mr. Ashboume. Frankly, I can't see what possible connection there can be between the meeting on Palestine affairs to which you refer and the business before the Chair.
Mr. Ashbourne Sir, I was just going to say that I was at that meeting of the United Nations in order to counteract the remark that Canada was immature politically. Canada today is the third largest trading nation.... Her aid to Europe has been greater than even that of the great United States itself.
It has been mentioned here about the duty that's put on pork and beef coming into Canada from the States. Does any member think here that the cows that grow in the States are better then the cows that grow in Canada? Or the pigs that grow in the States are better then the pigs that grow in Canada? No. Years gone by, sir, I saw some of these animals slaughtered myself in the Canada Packers plant in Toronto, put out in huge quarters, some of them put out in cuts for the Royal York Hotel. Now it's only reasonable to think that there would be some protection granted to Canada on pork and beef coming in there, and I think ... that if we could get all the beef that we want in Canada, there won't be very much coming in from the States at a duty of $4 a barrel. Flour is being subsidised to a certain extent in Canada, with the result that the Canadian people are paying less for flour than we are. Flour at $20 a barrel in Newfoundland, it's quite an item, quite an item. I believe also that they're paying a subsidy on soap. You can buy a cake of soap in Canada for 8 cents.... Somebody said the other day there was 126 taxes on a pair of shoes...[1]
Mr. Chairman Mr. Ashbourne, I'd like to address myself to members generally on two points. One is, I would like members to be as brief as they possibly can. The time is running out and I'm not going to permit a filibuster. I'll stop that, if I have to put the closure motion... I've withheld this motion for 48 hours in order to permit members who had not had the opportunity of addressing themselves on the matter to be afforded the opportunity of so doing.... I have to ask members, will they please at this stage make their remarks as terse and as brief as possible, bearing in mind the fact that there are a number of members who have not had the opportunity of speaking, and again bearing in mind that my purpose in deferring this motion is going to be defeated if one member is going to occupy the floor to the exclusion of other members who are entitled to equal treatment.
The next point, is a request that I want to make, and it arises out of some remarks made by Mr. Smallwood before we went into committee this afternoon, when he directed my attention to the fact that the Hon. R.B. Job would like to speak in January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1201 the matter.... My position is simply this, and I have to appeal to the generosity of members. Mr. Job has been very ill, and I know what I'm talking about because his doctor brought the question before me since Mr. Job insisted that he was going to come into this House contrary to his doctor's instructions, when he shouldn't attempt to walk across the sueet. I called on Mr. Job and pointed out to him what a great risk he was taking.... I felt it my duty to communicate with him as a result of the remarks that were made by Mr. Smallwood this afternoon, and Mr. Job intimated that his doctor may allow him to appear for a few minutes when the evening session begins. As far as I'm concerned, I'm prepared to sit here until 3 or 4 o'clock tomorrow morning on condition that Mr. Job should be permitted to speak. He isn't going to speak very long, and it's my intention to ask him to remain in his seat. I think having regard to all the attendant circumstances the House will endorse my action. I have no power, of course, to take the floor away from the speaker. But I would appeal to your good nature, gentlemen, and ask you that should it develop that the Hon. Mr. Job is permitted by his doctor to attend the evening session for a few minutes, would the member who then has the floor be good enough to yield it for a few moments, so that Mr. Job may be able to express himself briefly on the question.... It may very well be that we would be doing a great kindness in enabling Mr. Job to discharge a duty which has been troubling him now for some two weeks. Therefore I ask the member who may be occupying the floor at 8 o'clock, would he kindly consider yielding to Mr. Job when he comes.... I assure you the circumstances are very urgent.... Would you be good enough to go ahead, Mr. Ashboume.
Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Chairman, I want it distinctly understood that I am not a party to any filibuster. I don't believe in any such tactics.... I think that you will admit, and members will admit, that I haven't taken up a very great amount of time in this Convention.
Mr. Chairman No, you certainly haven't.
Mr. Ashbourne Others have come in here, and for days have gone on. I've sat here and listened to them, and any day that I've been in my seat here I haven't left, with the exception of answering three phone calls, not for a minute.
Mr. Chairman That's perfectly true Mr. Ashbourne, perfectly true.
Mr. Ashbourne I've been speaking a little over an hour. I realise that members probably would like to have some explanation from me as regards the fact that I was a member of this Ottawa delegation. Sir, I don't intend to take up much more time. I shall be a happy man when it's over and done with, and when our work is finished and I can go back to settle down to some real work. I am fond of Newfoundland and of its people, the men and women and the boys and girls. For our children we want to plan what we consider the best. Our people deserve the very best, and nothing short of this can adequately satisfy their aspirations or bring them prosperity and lasting happiness.
Mr. Reddy Mr. Chairman, for a great many days and weeks we have been listening to the arguments in favour of confederation by the member for Bonavista Centre, which arguments have been based on the offer contained in the books sent here by the Canadian government. I want to congratulate the member for Bonavista Centre, who in his own masterly manner has explained the meaning and the application of these terms. I must confess that to me Mr. Smallwood is a magician with words, and I have listened to him repeating and repeating the points that he wanted to stress and to be remembered by the radio audience. And he has shown the same ability to side-step and gloss over the shaded and dark spots that for his purpose might best remain hidden and ignored. Mr. Smallwood, by his ability to outtalk and outguess any member here, has usually had the last word time and again. He has drawn one or other of us away from our point that he did not wish to discuss, and then having his opponent in deep water, so to speak, he has proceeded to drown him by something irrelevant to the case in point. Mr. Smallwood has reminded me of a French chef who, with a few scraps of leftovers, can combine them and with a little flavour make it appear a dish for a king. But unfortunately, in this instance, it is not the appearance that matters, much less Mr. Smallwood's ability to debate it. We cannot live in a beautiful picture or a fantastic dream, because we do not live in a land of make- believe. We live in a hard world, where facts and not debates are the most important things.
A few days ago in the papers, there was an 1202 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 account of a trial of a famous Dutch painter. This man was on trial for collaboration with the Germans when they were in Holland. He was accused of selling to them some of the world's famed Dutch paintings. His defense was that the paintings were not genuine, but were all fake. Experts were called in, not Canadian experts, to express their opinion, and experts agreed that the paintings in question were genuine, 200 to 300 years old. The accused Dutchman was in a tough spot. In order to clear himself he dumbfounded the experts by showing how he did it; how he mixed the paint to make them seem 100 years old, and how he prepared the canvas to give it an aged appearance. And before the eyes of the experts he showed that the pictures, supposed to be genuine, were really fake pictures; and while he himself was a faker, that those who believed the pictures were genuine fools to have been taken in.
I am not insinuating in any way that our good member for Bonavista Centre is a faker — far from it. But I do think that the picture is comparable inasmuch as what seems to be a genuine thing to many people, when closely examined is not genuine at all. There have been times since this Canadian business has been debated and as I listened to Mr. Smallwood's description of Canada, I have wondered if it were not some never-never land that he was talking about, or the lost Atlantis that some of the poets have written about. Mr. Smallwood's description of that country leaves an overall picture of a present-day Utopia, where the sun shines every day and where everyone goes singing on his way. One is reminded of Mr. Macaulay's rhyme that we learned in our school books:
Where the rich men help the poor, And the poor men loved the great, Where the spoils were fairly portioned, And the lands were fairly sold, And all men lived like brothers, In the great days of old.
But unfortunately we are not living in the great days of old. We are living in an age that can best be described in terms of dollars and cents rather then in poems. And the issue before us here in Newfoundland is whether we want to have another country take us over, or whether we want to go on being Newfoundlanders.
There are certain indisputable facts which I did not manufacture. They are published by the Canadian government, and these facts we must bear in mind in connection with this confederation, because they have a most serious impact on our position as part of Canada. In 1945, 2,365,000 people paid income tax in Canada. On a per capita basis, an average of one person in every family in Canada, that amounts to $288 per person. A single person earning $750 a year up and pays income tax...
Mr. Smallwood What year was that?
Mr. Reddy In Canada.
Mr. Smallwood What year?
Mr. Reddy A single person earning $750 per year.
Mr. Smallwood What year?
Mr. Reddy I didn't say any year. You can go to your books...
Mr. Smallwood No, you were quoting some figures for some year, what year?
Mr. Reddy 1945.
Mr. Smallwood 1945, during the War.
Mr. Reddy In this country a single person has to earn $1,000 before he's subject to income tax. According to the Canadian index from which I give these figures, in 1945 the federal government collected in taxes an average of $142 per capita. This you will please note does not include the various provincial and town taxes, which are numerous and add up to a large figure per person. In Newfoundland in 1945, the per capita tax collected by our government amounted to $115 per person, or just about a quarter of the amount collected by the Candian federal government. And please bear in mind, that outside of St. John's and the other places where there are town councils, there are no additional taxes in Newfoundland. Now apart from the federal tax in Canada the provinces imposed additional taxes, and there are I believe eight of these taxes, the most important ones being gasoline tax, liquor tax, corporation tax, public domain tax and the Dominion of Canada subsidies system. Referring to the liquor tax, I am very much afraid that under confederation our good old Newfoundland screech would even be taxed. During the past year I have been meeting and talking to quite a few Canadian businessmen and others here in St. John's, and I have been inquiring about the tax situation in Canada. They relate a long litany of taxes, some of which I never have heard before, January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1203 such as school tax, road tax, stock tax, sales tax, so by the time they are finished they leave me wondering if they are talking about the same country that my good friend the member for Bonavista Centre has been telling us about. Maybe these Canadians to whom I have been talking are all wrong, and maybe they only think they are being taxed, and maybe Mr. Smallwood is right, but I am satisfied that they can't both be right. That is something you have to decide for yourselves. The gentleman for Bonavista Centre reminds me of a tourist who visits another town or country and then comes back and tells the local boys of the marvellous sights he has seen, and the beautiful things he has encountered, and how everything is so much better than in the old home town. It reminds me of an old saying, the grass is always greener in the other fellow's yard.
The good member is like an individual who is called a barker, who stands in front of a tent at a circus and has a very convincing story to tell you. He tells you that for 25 cents, if you will just step inside, you will see some wonderful things. I don't mind admitting that I visited Coney Island once and I was hypnotised by this barker. I parted with 50 cents which I could illafford to spend, but which I thought was little for what I was going to see. But I don't mind telling you, and I use a common but explicit word, I was a sucker. And since then I am inclined to be very suspicious of any gentleman who says in effect, "Will you walk into my parlour, said the spider to the fly." Fortunately for me, I was able to get out of the circumstance. But in this instance the tent we are invited to enter has no exit, and over the door might well be written, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."
I want to compliment the gentleman from Bonavista Centre for the resourcefulness that he has shown whenever this subject of Canadian taxes has been brought up. In effect he's brushed it of by saying, "Oh don't worry about this tax, don't worry about that tax, because the federal government will pay them for you. It does not come out of your pocket at all. It comes out of the pocket of the federal government." The good old fairy godmother the federal government, whose sole purpose of existing is apparently to throw out gratuitously, to all her offspring, including the Newfies, big hunks of confederate money every time they go crying to her door. Yes, Mr. Chair man, that is the picture that the good member for Bonavista Centre has endeavoured to create in the minds of the people. And I believe that he has done a very good job. I will now digress a moment to pay a tribute to Mr. Smallwood's ability in this respect. I believe if it were possible for that gentleman to descend into the inferno that the poet Dante speaks about, and then come back again and write and distribute his prospectus, I am convinced that he would describe that inferno in such glowing terms that they would be swamped with applications for ringside seats. Seriously, Mr. Chairman, while I am on the subject, I recommend now that if we do not go into confederation, that the member for Bonavista Centre be appointed head of our tourist bureau, because I think that a man with his imagination can write such a glowing account of this country that he will bring sufficient tourists here from Canada to pay off our national debt, and convince even Mr. Smallwood himself that we are self- supporting.
From the Canadian people whom I have met and talked with, and there have been many during the past year, I know that it is not a dream world that Mr. Smallwood would have us believe. It has a bright side and a dark side and I think I might glance at a few figures. Canada's population in the last census, 1941, was 11.5 million. Most Newfoundlanders have a hazy idea that if we would join Canada we would be joining up with much the same kind of people as we have in Newfoundland, that is English, Irish, and Scotch descendants. If you think that, you are wrong. Fifty percent of all Canada's population are of English, Irish and Scotch descents, and the other fifty are French, Polish, Russian, Italian, and so on. So that we would be really joining a foreign power, in more ways than one. And if in the years ahead the foreign population outgrows the people of the British Isles, which could happen, and these people take charge of Canada, a lot of trouble that we never dreamed about we could be letting ourselves and our descendants in for.
Mr. Smallwood Have you looked up the landed immigrants in the USA?
Mr. Reddy No, Mr. Smallwood, I haven't.
Mr. Smallwood No, I thought you hadn't.
Mr. Reddy The national debt of Canada is now about $14 billion. The national debt of Newfoundland is about $65 million. This means that 1204 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 every man, woman and child in Newfoundland is liable for $220, and that every man, woman and child in Canada is liable for $932. So that if we join Canada we cease to have this burden of $220 around our necks, and we take on a new burden of $922 instead. I was surprised some time ago to hear the good member for Twillingate attempt to say that a change from $220 to $932 was really nothing to worry about. Since this Convention began I have noted that no man here has shown a more scrupulous regard for clearing expenditure, watching our surpluses and our resources. But suddenly the good gentleman blossoms forth and goes on a bus, so to speak... Oh, that is a mere bagatelle, a per capita tax of $932. Mr. Ashbourne attempted to justify it by stating that to a big man, or a big business, a big debt is no more then a small debt to a small man. That may or may not be so. But it is not so if the people of Newfoundland become bigger men, if we enter into confederation We will have to fish on the French Shore, on the Labrador, or if Mr. Ashbourne wants it nearer home, Twillingate Long Point. And the fact that these fishermen are into confederation is not going to put any more fish in their traps. They are still the same fishermen, doing the same things as before, and I doubt if Mr. Ashbourne or anybody else will pay them any more for a quintal fish in order to pay this additional burden.
And now with respect to the famous baby bonus that we've heard so much about. The Canadian trade index says that it cost Canadians annually $25 million in taxes to meet this allowance. This means that there is on average a tax of $20 per person on each man, woman and child. If the tax were raised by taking from the rich, it might have a Robin Hood justification. But it is raised as part of the general revenue and is collected in part as import duties. The poor pay as well as the rich. This baby bonus has good features, but like a lot of these things, we would find out in time it has a hurtful effect as well, and all is not gold that glitters. I could go on much further with respect to what we would have to pay in the shape of taxes if we became part of Canada. As I said before, every Canadian I talked to reeled off taxes that they have to pay. Every Canadian government statistical book I take up is a story of taxes and more taxes. I have come to the conclusion that as far as I can learn, compared with Canadians we don't know what taxation is. I am willing to admit that in Canada they have generally better schools, better trains, better hotels and better public services all around. But don't let anyone tell you that these come like manna that fall from heaven. In a recent issue of Maclean's Magazine, there was quite an article giving the statistics of the number of immigrants from Europe entering Canada. They are many thousands annually. But the article also shows that there are more Canadian immigrants entering the USA from Canada annually than there are people coming into Canada. If it is the promised land that has been described to us, why is it that they are leaving Canada in the thousands each year?
Mr. Smallwood They'll be back now. It's too dear to live in the States, prices are too high. They're coming back.
Mr. Reddy You know, Mr. Chairman, most of us in Newfoundland have been born and brought up in small harbours, and a mile or so behind the harbour are the wide open spaces. All of us during our young days have gone into the woods and roamed the hills and valleys, picked berries, snared rabbits, and caught trout in the ponds. All of us that felt that this was our country, our own ponds, valleys and rivers. We did not have a fence around it, and it was ours to use when we wanted. It is a part of that freedom that we have been brought up to in Newfoundland. If confederation comes, my guess is that all that will change. We will have the surveyors from Ottawa who will have the boundary lines marked, and like you see in Canada, there will be "No Trespassing" signs all over the country. The laws governing what you can and what you can't do will be far different from what they used to be, and what they are today. Then you will know that Newfoundland is ours no longer. I know quite well that you cannot put a money value on this sort of a thing. Maybe it does not feed a hungry man, but nevertheless it is worth a lot. It is well worthwhile holding on to. The value of this freedom that we have known so long is something that has to be decided by the heart and conscience of each of us.
As we have read in the papers recently, Canada has just had to borrow $300 million from the USA. The chief advocate of confederation said here some time ago that Canada was borrow January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1205 ing money because she is prosperous. This gentleman gave a very clever explanation as to why that is, but Mr. Chairman, you know and I know and even the simplest child knows, that one usually borrows money because one hasn't got it. In this connection I read an article in the financial section of the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, which says that the financial position that Canada finds herself in today is not, as Mr. Smallwood says, because the Canadians have been spending money lavishly, but the Canadian government (the article says) has been on a spending spree, and careless of public interest, so that the government is now in the embarrassing position of trying to find some US dollars, and is forced to go to the USA and borrow them. That is the financial section of the New York Times, Mr. Smallwood to the contrary. In the Geneva conference recently there were certain reductions made on goods coming from the USA to Canada to lighten the financial burden of the Canadian taxpayer. But the same day that these tax reductions were announced, an embargo came into effect in Canada on various other facets of US merchandise. So that according to the Canadian papers, the advantages of the reductions brought about by the Geneva conference were completely wiped out overnight...
The Canadian terms of union have been presented to us with the implication that they are something that are permanent and unchangeable and everlasting. In my own lifetime I have seen terms and agreements among the biggest nations amended, watered down, and even torn up when it suited the strongest of the contracting parties. We all know that the famous Atlantic Charter, agreed to only six years ago by Mr. Churchill and the late President Roosevelt at Argentia, is now not only forgotten, but its terms are being honoured in their breach and not in their observance. So that is were we in confederation; when it suited Canada, she could place a new interpretation on any clause of the agreement that she wanted to, and we could do nothing about it. There would be loopholes in the agreement big enough, as the lawyers say, to drive a horse and buggy through. There is an old saying that promises are made to be broken, and if we have learned anything. we know that agreements like promises are made to be broken. There is nothing permanent in this world except death and taxes. For instance, the well-known Yalta agreement between Britain, the USA, and Russia. It was signed by all three, and all three were agreed. But hardly was the ink dry when they started arguing about the meaning of this clause and that clause, and it is generally understood now that they will never agree on what the words of this treaty meant. Britain and the USA say it meant one thing, and the Russians say it meant something entirely different. And the men who made this treaty were, all of them, experts. And yet we are asked to believe that seven inexperienced Newfoundlanders went to Ottawa to confer with some of the cleverest, keenest, financial experts, and that our delegation was a match for the clever, able, and political men that they met in Canada. Surely no one can be so simple as to believe this. And while I haven't a great deal of intelligence, the little experience I have tells me that an amateur is no match for a professional.
There has been, Mr. Chairman, some debate with respect to the Privy Council decision on the Labrador boundary. I think I'll leave that till after I come back. It's a quarter to six.
Mr. Chairman We will recess until 8 o'clock.
[The committee recessed until 8 pm]
Mr. Reddy I have much pleasure, sir, in complying with your request and yielding to the Hon. R.B. Job. I will speak after Mr. Job.
Mr. Job Mr. Chairman, I really feel very embarrassed and appreciative. I don't know what to say, because it was a very nice gesture indeed. I've been confined to the house, as you know, sir, threatened by my doctor, and I have got to obey him. I've been listening in to everything that's been going along, and naturally I've felt very much out of it. I certainly didn't expect to come back to such a sympathetic and kindly welcome, and I very much appreciate it from both from you, sir, and especially from Mr. Reddy who so gracefully has given me the floor.
Mr. Chairman Thank you, Mr. Job. I too would associate myself with the enthusiastic welcome so properly given you by members here this evening, and I'm sure that I express the hopes of all members, when we hope that your convalescence will be speedy and permanent. In giving you the floor, sir, may I respectfully suggest that you remain seated, because it might very well make too great a demand upon your strength where you should speak standing up. I'd be very 1206 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 happy and pleased to hear you sitting in your seat.
Mr. Job That's very kind and thoughtful, sir, and I think I'll probably avail myself of your suggestion, if I may.
Mr. Chairman Certainly, sir.
Mr. Job I desire to make a few remarks with regard to the Ottawa proposals. I wish first of all to make it absolutely clear that I'm not in principle against confederation, nor am I an anticonfederate, as suggested since by Mr. Smallwood to the Canadian press. I don't want to be unkind, but that's the fact. In order to avoid any misunderstanding as to the position I take in connection with the confederation issue, let me say that it was my view that unless the advantages and disadvantages of confederation with Canada are very clearly set forth, the electorate will not be placed in a position to fairly weigh the issue. And the outcome of the decision is so far-reaching and irretrievable that a snap judgement might be fatal for the future of our country. I doubt very much whether the disjointed debate which has gone out over the air from the Convention has conveyed any idea of the true position on this issue. In spite of the voluminous, valuable but still very incomplete information contained in the so-called Black Books compiled as the result of three months' discussions in Ottawa, the situation is far from clear. I'd like to say in that connection, that I'm not at all sure that those gentlemen who wired suggesting the return of the delegation from Ottawa should not have advised them to stop there for another six months; because they could not in the time be expected to bring about a thorough, clear picture. The position is very far from being clear, and it is evident that it cannot possibly be made clear to the Convention delegates or to the electorate prior to the termination of the Convention's proceedings, assuming that our deliberations are to end this month and that the referendum will be held in May. The question therefore arises as to whether or not this Convention is justified in recommending that such incomplete information should be placed before the people of Newfoundland for an irrevocable decision at the present time.
The very ardent advocate and/or advocates of confederation may contend that this is merely an attempt to shelve forever the question of confederation. But I cannot accept that idea, as it is perfectly clear that should a referendum covering responsible government or Commission government result in favour of responsible government, a general election would then be held. And there would then be an opportunity for those who favour confederation to form a party and contest the issue. If the confederation party were elected, they would then be in a position to pursue negotiations for confederation. It must be kept in mind that up to the present time there have been no negotiations, but merely a statement of Ottawa's views as to a fair and equitable basis. Newfoundland's views as to a fair and equitable basis has not yet been formulated. It may be argued that in the case of the choice being Commission instead of responsible government there would not be a chance of considering the confederation issue. I do not think that is necessarily correct. Presumably the continuation of Commission government, if placed on the paper, will be with a limit of perhaps three or four years. And if that is the case, the government might be asked to set up a royal commission to endeavour to set forth more clearly the advantages and disadvantages to Newfoundland of union with Canada. As an alternative to a royal commission, the idea expressed by Mr. Pratt, chairman of the Newfoundland Industrial Board, might be adopted and the government might arrange for an expert economic survey of our position which would include details on the impact of confederation with Canada on our future prosperity. There should be no hurry to decide such an irretrievable step as the confederation issue. The electorate must be absolutely clear as to its effect before voting on it. We have not yet got all the facts by a very long way.
Now, sir, I wish to emphasise that Mr. Smallwood must have been aware of the views I have just expressed before he sent that despatch to the Canadian newspapers. I made them clear on 6 December last through the local press. I do not take it lightly that Mr. Smallwood would let anything of importance go in the newspaper. However, I will forgive this indiscretion and call it a politician's license to discourage an opponent. There is probably no one in this assembly who takes a more independent view than I do upon the subject which we have been sent here to discuss. I offered myself as candidate without any expectation of future political associations, which is easily imaginable in view of my age and January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1207 the fact that within less than four weeks I shall be in my seventy-sixth year. My sole reason for offering myself as a candidate was that after a family business connection of over 180 years with this charming and fascinating country, and after 50 years of personal residence here myself, I felt that in this great crisis I would like to do something to assist in improving the living conditions of our people, and especially of our fishermen. This was, and is still my sole objective. I only give these facts in the hope that they will remove the impression created by Mr. Smallwood's propaganda, indicating that my views on confederation are prejudiced and unworthy of consideration.
I am not going to enter into a long argument for or against the Ottawa proposal. I think the pros and cons have been thoroughly dealt with by previous speakers during the recent debates. Although I have been absent during the past ten days due to temporary illness, I have listened in to the broadcasts with very much interest. I was particularly struck by the fine argument of my co- member for St. John's East, Mr. Higgins, and especially with the strength laid by him upon the enormous value of the strategic position of Newfoundland. The point overlooked by many is that we have a very strong bargaining card in the undoubted fact that the use of Newfoundland's strategic position is vital for the welfare and protection of not only Canada, but also of the United States of America and of Great Britain. I entirely agree with Mr. Higgins that much better terms than those offered should be obtained by reason of our strategic position. I feel quite certain that with skillful negotiation by properly authorised authorities, better terms would have been finally, and perhaps grudgingly given by Canada.
Mr. Smallwood and his supporters appear to think that it would be sound business to jump at this offer from Canada. Mr. Smallwood himself is very able and willing to utilise his ready tongue and quick and fertile brain to induce the people of Newfoundland to accept these terms without any attempt to better them. Don't let us be led into grabbing the elusive bait in the shape of a s-— called baby bonus without first considering the full impact of the confederation issue. It is to my mind so obviously unreasonable to urge the im mediate acceptance of these unnegotiated terms, that I earnestly appeal to those members who are inclined to support Mr. Smallwood to reconsider their viewpoint...[1] Mr. Smallwood has to stop being a very strong supporter of confederation. He has already influenced thousands of voters in this small country to share his extreme views, even before any indication was received as to the basis upon which, in Canada's view, we should accept confederacy. I have small hope of influencing Mr. Smallwood. I hope I may have some influence with a few others. From the start of this Convention and probably for many months before, he has been advocating confederation without even knowing what terms were available. Above all things, this conception of confederation is a matter of terms. Are we going to barter away our valuable strategic position without endeavouring to obtain something really worthwhile? I ask you sir, when a fisherman wants to sell his fish, what does he do? Does he sell it to the first bidder? Or if there's only one bidder, does he accept the first offer that comes? In my experience he is shrewd enough to try very hard to secure a better price, and he uses every argument he can think of to do so. Mr. Smallwood and his supporters, however, appear to think it is sound business to jump at this unnegotiated and undiscussed offer.
Now, sir, there are several good reasons for deferring this question of confederation until we have our own elected government. One of these is that, in my opinion, there is a strong tendency in the country for a trusted relationship with the United States of America, and the possibility should be carefully and closely investigated before the country is projected into the irretrievable step of confederation with Canada. Our future prosperity, and particularly the prosperity of our fishermen, is mainly dependent upon reciprocal trade with the United States of America, and this would receive its death blow by our entering into confederation. Some people, including my friend Mr. Bradley, who I'm sorry to see is absent, apparently believe that the prospects of obtaining anything by approaching to the United States of America are unfounded. But surely to goodness this cannot be ascertained until some approach is made. The recent arrangement dealt with the Geneva conference has made very little 1208 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 improvement so far as Newfoundland is concerned in our trading relation with the United States of America, because the arrangements have merely stabilised for the time being the current duties on our fresh fish, and the result from other concessions is negligible. It is true that the duty and processing tax against our seal oil and whale oil entering the United States of America has been reduced by 50%, but the existing tax is still a prohibitive duty. As you know, sir, I have been a steady advocate of the idea that a so-called partly internationalised position, or what has been termed the position of a condominium, might be the better solution for the future of Newfoundland. My reason for this is that I believe we are dependent for our future prosperity not only upon our trade with the USA, and with Canada to a small extent, but also upon our relation with the mother country, without whose assistance in various ways our trade in salt codfish with European countries would be cut short, and our fishermen would then indeed have a hard time. Anyone who imagines for one moment that the old country is permanently down and out, and will not be in a position to assist us, is making a grave mistake and they will find that her recovery will be very much quicker than they imagine. As heretofore, Newfoundland will be able to rely upon the mother country, whether under Commission government or not, not only for assistance in marketing our fish in the European countries and providing exchange for it, but also for a market for a great many of our products which found a market there prior to the recent war. This question of fostering a joint interest by Great Britain, the United States of America and Canada in our future development, in terms of giving them the right to use our strategically placed country for their own defence and the defence of democracy everywhere, should be carefully investigated before confederation is placed before the people of Newfoundland in any form. All opportunity of making Newfoundland a prosperous country reliant upon its own resources may be entirely lost if we act too quickly; and instead of enjoying a development of our own resources, we may be in the humiliating position of living upon a Canadian government with a much reduced population. It is my considered opinion that if Great Britain is sensible, and I believe she will be if we make our viewpoint clear, she will help us to obtain our goals, and at the same time give us back, if we wanted, a useful form of government with proper representation by our people. If she does not help us to do this, I do not hesitate to say that in my opinion the strength of our people will be towards political as well as economical and fiscal relations with the great and wealthy republic to whom Great Britain has already given a footing in this island without the consent of our people.
In closing this address I will ask Mr. Smallwood and his supporters to reply to one single, simple question. That question is this, does Mr. Smallwood, and do those who apparently think as he does, really and honestly believe that it is right and proper that the terms indicated, not offered by Canada, which have not resulted from any negotiations, and which many people confidently believe could be improved upon, should be placed before the people of Newfoundland now, for an irreversible or irretrievable decision? Or is it not reasonable that such a question should be deferred for a specifically limited period until there have been proper negotiations by an authorised government after very thorough investigation? I would like this question clearly answered without any equivocation. That is all I've got to say.
Mr. Reddy First I must congratulate the Hon. R.B. Job for his intelligent address.
When I left to go home to tea, sir, I was discussing the Labrador boundary situation. There has been some debate with respect to the Privy Council decision on the Labrador boundary. Mr. Cashin said that this decision would be upset, and Mr. Smallwood said that such an idea was fantastic, and that the only way that Quebec could take over Labrador was by raising an army. I know that Mr. Smallwood is not quite as naive as that. Mr. Cashin said he knew of three different ways by which Quebec might get Newfoundland-Labrador, perhaps the biggest asset we possess today. There will be produced there 10 million tons of iron ore annually when they get going, four or five years from now. Mining experts in Canada and the USA say that it is the biggest thing of its kind in the world, that its richness is beyond financial calculation. One of the officials of the American government publicly recommended to the US Senate that the USA January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1209 should get a slice of this iron ore body in return for American aid to Britain under the Marshall Plan. This iron ore body extends right close to the border between Newfoundland-Labrador and Quebec — it crosses the border in several places. As there is nothing else like it in the world, we have no doubt that Quebec wants it. As a matter of fact. the French Canadian people are living right up close to this border now. If the mine develops, as we are given to understand it will, I imagine that Mr. Duplessis or his successor will take care to see that 300,000-400,000 French Canadians are settled in Newfoundland- Labrador in the course of 20 or 25 years. And when this happens there is no need to upset the Privy Council decision; no need for Mr. Smallwood's army. A major portion of the people in Newfoundland and Newfoundland-Labrador may well be French Canadian, and by popular vote they can vote and change the boundary between the two provinces. Do you know that famous Grand Falls[1] at Labrador, with all its tremendous water-power resources is not 20 miles from the Quebec border? The population of Quebec now is something over four million, and is increasing at the highest rate. One does not have to be a prophet to see that in 20 years from now the number of French Canadians in Newfoundland-Labrador, provided the mine develops, will exceed the population of all of us here on the island of Newfoundland. Mr. Smallwood tried to convince us that French Canadians would not be allowed into the province of Newfoundland-Labrador.
Mr. Smallwood No, I didn't.
Mr. Reddy Or something to that effect. That may be quite true at the present time and under the present agreement with the Hollinger Corporation, but if we become a part of Canada, just as a Newfoundlander is entitled to go to live and work in the city of Montreal, so also those French Canadians now living close to the Quebec- Labrador border may, if they want, come and take up residence on the Newfoundland-Labrador side. Anyone who says anything to the contrary is either talking nonsense or trying to deceive. The late Sir Wilfred Laurier, a French Canadian, was Prime Minister of Canada for 16 years. It is now generally expected that Mr. St. Laurent, another French Canadian, is likely to succeed Mr. King next year. If Mr. St. Laurent holds the office of Prime Minister as long as Sir Wilfred Laurier did, I have no doubt but that several ways will be found to get around the decision of the Privy Council. I feel sure that Mr. Smallwood is sincere and means well, but Mr. Smallwood is a idealist. He dreams dreams and he sees visions, and wants everybody else to do as he does. But we do not believe in a world of dreams. In a few years, both Mr. Smallwood and myself will be pushing up the daisies ... but the people of Quebec, like Old Man River, will keep on rolling over the border into Labrador, as they are doing now in every province in Canada. And when a sufficient number of them have gone into Labrador, there will be another referendum and at that time Mr. Smallwood will not be here to protest. Our valuable territory will be passed over to Quebec by the new method, which dentists call painless extraction.
A lovely picture has been painted with respect to all the money that Canada is going to pour into Newfoundland to develop our resources once we become a province. I agree that what we want in this country is more employment and more industry, rather then more baby bonuses. A country will never become prosperous by getting its income from this sort of a thing. In a sense it is like dole. It gives relief, but the kind of industry it encourages is not the kind best calculated to put us on the road to prosperity. It is a matter of record that all the premiums and earnings of our $100 million in life insurance are in Canadian companies. Also there is an additional $40-50 million of our savings on deposit with the Canadian banks and trust companies in Newfoundland. The total of these monies, I suppose, is not less then $50-60 million. And so it has been for years, that the bulk of our people's accumulated savings is in the hands of Canadian banks, trust companies and insurance companies. What have these Canadian financial institutions done with these monies, and what industries have they started and developed in Newfoundland with these monies? The Corner Brook paper mill is all English capital. The Buchans Mining Company is, I understand, 52% English and 48% American capital. The AND Company at Grand Falls is all English capital. The St. Lawrence Mining Company is all American capital. The salt codfishery is all New 1210 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 foundland capital with the exception of some American capital that is invested by the Gloucester interest in our saltbulk fish industry. The frozen fillet fish industry is mostly Newfoundland capital, with I believe some American capital in North Atlantic Fisheries Ltd., in which the Hon. R.B. Job, I understand, has a good deal of money invested. Fishery Products Ltd, which operates a large filleting industry on the south coast, particularly in Burin and Burgeo, owned by Mr. Monroe, is Newfoundland capital — plus, and I am subject to correction on this, some American capital. As for the herring industry, we know that this is all Newfoundland capital with the exception of Mr. Crosbie's herring oil and meal plant at Bay of Islands, in which I understand there is some American capital. As for the lobster fishery, seal fishery, squid fishery, there is not as far as I know one single Canadian dollar invested in one of these enterprises. A few months ago a small Canadian fishing venture was under way in Bay of Islands, but that is only a year or so old, and it is too early to say how it is going to develop. The only Canadian dollar that I know that is invested in the way of industry that is giving work to Newfoundlanders, is in the iron ore mines of Bell Island. This mining company agreed, I believe, in the beginning, to pay an export tax on ore if they exported from Newfoundland. We know that with the exception of a very few years this tax was never paid, and the story behind it is not very complimentary to that particular company. It is a matter of public record that the Hollis Walker inquiry unveiled some of the manoeuvres of this company, and that is one of the darkest pages in our history....[1] It was a dirty, despicable deal, where reputations were ruined but where this company still continued merrily on its way. So we see, gentlemen, that all the money that we have invested in Newfoundland today for starting new industries and developing old ones is either Newfoundland, English or American capital.
Yet we have people saying, wait until Canada takes us over and develops our resources. Why? For the past 50 years every dollar that we have had has been in Canadian hands, and any development that has been done has either been the development of the Prairies or the factories in Ontario. None of it has been used to develop anything in Newfoundland. And yet there are people foolish enough to think that Canada will be different in the years to come than she has been in the years that are gone. I ask any one of you who has visited the paper towns of Corner Brook and Grand Falls, or even the mining town of Buchans, and seen the lovely homes, gardens, and trees, to contrast and compare those homes with the houses built at Bell Island. You know there is no comparison.
....The man who is going to send a schooner fishing on the Grand Bank searches around and gets an experienced captain to take charge. Then he selects for his crew experienced men who have fished on the Grand Bank before, and he spends some considerable time and money in fitting out his schooner and checking to replace any equipment. He knows that unless he has good equipment and a good crew he is going to wind up in the hole, and his year is going to result in a loss. If you ask that man to select men who would determine his economic welfare not for one year, but for his lifetime, and for all time, don't you think he would take considerable time, and exercise extreme care in selecting the men that he would give this reponsibility to? Now, as for those who went as a delegation to Ottawa — Messrs. Bradley, Higgins, Ashbourne, Crummey, Ballam, Smallwood and Rev. Burry — all these gentlemen are friends of mine, very fine men and I have nothing against them... But they were no better qualified to go to Canada on that mission than I was, and I know I am not qualified. The selection of these gentlemen was done in a matter of minutes on an afternoon 12 months ago. Off they went to Canada with little or no equipment, and to expect these men to come back here with the best terms is expecting miracles. In short, the men we sent, through no fault of their own, were not qualified to do the job for which they were sent. Would you send them on the Grand Bank in your fishing schooner? No. They were as qualified to engage in the Grand Bank fishery as they were to engage with the financial and political experts in Canada. If we could send a delegation to Ottawa comprised of such men as Mr. John Power of Carbonear, Mr. Harry Fletcher of Grand Falls, Mr. Aaron Buffett of January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1211 Grand Bank, Mr. Cal Pratt of St. John's, Mr. Gerald S. Doyle of St. John's, Mr. F. Moores of Carbonear, Mr. George Kennedy of Avondale and our worthy Chairman, J.B. McEvoy, to interpret the legal points and to keep our delegates out of Canadian goal, I think that a delegation such as this could come back with any juice that might be extracted from the Canadian apple. In other words, I think that the gentlemen I have mentioned could drive the hardest and best possible bargain, and would extract everything in the way of advantages for Newfoundland before they said adieu to Mr. St. Laurent. I do not think that the men who went to Ottawa were capable of driving a hard bargain. As for Mr. Smallwood, I do not think mat there is a more sincere man in this House than he is. I have known Mr. Smallwood long enough to know that he is utterly sincere and honest in his convictions. He is a very kindly gentleman, and possesses all the virtues and none of the vices. As they say, to know him is to love him. But one quality Mr. Smallwood does not possess. With all his virtues he is not the kind of a man thatI would hire to drive a financial bargain; and unfortunately that was the kind of a bargain that was laid in Mr. Smallwood's lap. The men to do this kind of thing are keen, experienced, hard-headed businessmen, merchants, which Mr. Smallwood is not, and which he does not want to be. It is nothing against Mr. Smallwood to say this. In a sense it is to his credit. But in dealing with our Canadian cousins, the quality of the bargaining and horse trading is very necessary for a man to have.
We all know how much the USA is interested in this country. I think if we were wise enough to take advantage of the rivalry between Canada amd the USA, we could get almost any concession from either of these two countries. If we had our own government, and sent a good delegation to the USA, I am inclined to think that we would get a trade treaty, and that country would take all the fishery products that we might produce in the years ahead. It is in the USA that our economic welfare lies. They want the things that we have. Canada does not want the things that we have. And we can only prosper by exporting what we produce. I have no wish for a political union with the USA. I think as Newfoundlanders we have more freedom, and a lot of other good things that we would lose by joining politically with either Canada or the USA. But our economic welfare lies in the direction of the USA, and with our own government we will have very little difficulty in finding the USA very much interested in giving us fair economic terms. We have reached the point where our mineral resources on the Labrador are beginning to bear fruit, and are wanted by the USA; ourfresh fish industry is only in its infancy, and is finding a ready market in the USA. And since the USA recognises our immense strategic importance, we are, so to speak, on the threshhold of a brighter economic era. It would be a form of madness to throw all of this away by giving it to Canada, with nothing in return. I hope that when the time comes to vote our Newfoundlanders will not be hypnotised by the pied piper. Do not listen to his tune, because if you do, you will do as the pied piper of old did, and if you follow him you will drown in the Cabot Strait. Yes, Mr. Chairman, we have had our ups and downs, and our way has been hard and the struggle long. But we have enjoyed some things that we had, and there is more freedom in Newfoundland than anywhere. We are all one big happy family, so to speak. And I think you will agree with me, that neither you not I want to be living in a time when we cannot sing as our forefathers did, that good old come all ye, "We'll rant and we'll roar like true Newfoundlanders."
Mr. Fudge Now, I do not object to any member making speeches in reason, or when he has something to say that is worth listening to. In such cases I can overlook even the most enthusiastic Windjammer. For the same reason I could approve of Mr. Smallwood's efforts, if at the same time he had given us some real facts about this confederation business. I find myself in the dark on many matters on which he should have thrown light. I feel that other members of the Convention and the people of the country feel as I do in this respect. Of course, he said many things and made many statements. But in my opinion, for every thing he did tell us, there are at least two others that he did not tell us. He handed out to us in plentiful supply his homemade forecasts and prophecies. He gazed long into the crystal ball and told us of the bright new world that was to be. But while that might be of value to him as an _ advertising stunt in the event of his opening a fortune teller's parlour, I am afraid that it is not much use to me, because I gave up going to 1212 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 fortune tellers long ago. I was too often put on the wrong track. So, Mr. Chairman, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to find out the facts of this confederation issue, I should have to forget Mr. Smallwood and have recourse to other sources, and to facts which would enable me to come to some common sense conclusions on this whole matter.
When I first came here it was in the fond hope that this gathering of Newfoundlanders could function as an impartial body of examiners of the condition and prospects of our country; that in friendliness and co-operation we would pursue our labours and within a matter of months we would be able to present a report of our deliberations to the country. But what happened? Before we could get settled down to our job at all, we had this issue of confederation shoved across the table. At that time it struck me that it seemed strange, strange indeed, for this matter to come before us, seeing that we had neither examined nor reported on the matter of our own country, or whether it would be necessary for us to consider going in with any other country. It was obvious to me then that the parties responsible for introducing this confederation issue were not concerned with what this Convention thought was best for the country, or what its final decisions might be. They apparently did not care what a survey of our accounts would show. Whether we were prosperous or insolvent did not seem to matter anything to them, because they acted without waiting for these things to be decided. In effect their actions seem to say, no matter what the findings of the Convention might be, no matter whether we wanted confederation or not, they were there for the express purpose of hanging it around our necks... Talk about your closed minds, Mr. Chairman. Here is a case where we seem to have the mind which has never been anything else. We all know the unhappy results of this misguided action on the part of the confederates. It destroyed the efficiency of this Convention before it could get down to business. It did away with any possibility of harmony or co-operation. It set the seed of political misguidance. In a word it sabotaged this Convention, and at the same time any hope which we might have entertained of obtaining beneficial results for our people. It is quite plain now that these people have placed their political aspirations before the interest of the country. Can we wonder then, can we be surprised at the state of things which resulted? Some outsiders are inclined to blame all of us for the unsatisfactory manner in which this Convention has conducted its sessions. But I ask, how could it be otherwise? Did they expect the delegates to allow this confederation issue to be shoved down their throats without making their judgement known? Refusing to accept the high pressure sales talk which the agents of our bartering of our country rained on them? The main reason we are here at all as a group is the desire of Newfoundlanders to live in freedom, to resolve the future in their own way. Yet before they had hardly taken their seats, we find them subject to this four-speeding Canadian pact. For myself, I can only congratulate my fellow members on their tolerance and forbearance in the face of the threat of dictatorship.
Mr. Chairman, as one who was born in this country, who is proud of the name Newfoundlander, whose lifetime has been spent in her forests and on her sea, and who loves every inch of her soil as such a one I find it difficult to understand the mentality and the outlook of those who call themselves Newfoundlanders, yet are working for the end that Newfoundland shall no longer be Newfoundland, who are prepared to see her and all that she stands for passed into the hands of strangers, who are ready to make those who share its blood and toil servants in the house of another, instead of being masters in their own. To me at least there seems to be something wrong about it. It seems to violate some law of happiness. It seems to be a sin against morality itself. Yet that is the spectacle which I am witnessing here day after day.
Now let me say that in spite of anything which I may have said, I am capable of viewing things fairly, and in the present instance I have tried to apply my sense of fairness to the present matter of the transfer of our sovereignty. Perhaps, I ask myself, we Newfoundlanders are a country that cannot stand alone, perhaps we are too small to survive as a country. But when the Financial Report was presented, what did I find? I found that every page in that report gave the lie to the questions I had asked. There I found undeniable figures and inescapable conclusions which proved to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that my country is not only solvent, but is one of the January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1213 best—off countries in the entire world for its size and population. Next I considered the possibility that even though we were well-off now, what about the future? Could we stand up to the future? Can we carry on? I got my answer to that when the Economic Report was read. I saw that report viciously attacked with all the resources of the opposition. I heard a Newfoundlander many times run down his country to the dirt. I saw every effort being made to create despair and blue ruin. But I also saw the report stand up to all its attackers, and when the smoke cleared away its findings were just as staunch and undeniable as when it first came before us. [found that not alone was our future bright with hope, but that hope was also accompanied with a definite assurance that, as far as human vision and foresight can reasonably expect to go, the future for Newfoundland looms up as the brightest in its entire history. These were the facts presented to me. These were the facts which as a sane logical person I have to accept, and which for the same reason all our people have accepted unless we are afraid to face the truth. Having then accepted the facts of our present prosperity and our hopeful outlook, I began to ask myself, if these things are so, what is all this talk about out having to have someone else to take us in? Why should we think that someone would think of rescuing the perishing, caring for the dying Newfoundlanders? What is the reason for all this confederate propaganda which I see around me? I have asked that question to myself many times, and I have gotten no answer. I ask it again today, and I still get no answers. Day after day, week after week, month after month, you and I have listened to the endless speeches of the confederates, waiting to see if they would give us the explanation we wanted. Waiting, waiting to see if they would give us some sane reason why we, the people of this country, should sell our sovereignty, bury our national heritage forever in an obscure corner of the Canadian backyard...[1] But I repeat, we have never been given the answer and the reason is simply this — they have no good reason to give us.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman, a point of order. Mr. Fudge can't look into people's hearts, he can't tell why they do what they do. He's attributing motives and not very good motives. The debate is nearly over. It's all been friendly the last few days. I think if we don't get vicious about it now, everybody would be a lot better off.
Mr. Chairman Mr. Fudge is simply drawing a conclusion.
Mr. Smallwood An improper conclusion.
Mr. Chairman Well, that is a matter open to question. The fact is that conclusions have been drawn by members of this House on every conceivable question... Who am I to decide whether the conclusion drawn by one person, and not shared by any other person or persons, is incorrect?
Mr. Smallwood ....My point of order is that he has drawn the conclusion that the motives of the confederates are bad. Is he entitled to draw that conclusion and make that imputation?
Mr. Chairman I don't think...
Mr. Smallwood That's what he said, sir.
Mr. Chairman ....If the language employed is calculated to impute a design or motive, then Mr. Fudge had no right to use that language.
Mr. Fudge No such a thing, Mr. Chairman. Before interruption I said they had no good reasons to give us. I state now we either buy their pig in a poke, sight unseen, or we do no business. Now Mr. Vincent, yesterday I believe, made some reference to the difference in the price of hay in Canada and here in Newfoundland. I believe he stated that the price of hay in Canada was $30 a ton and that it was $60 a ton in Newfoundland. New surely Mr. Vincent, who is a businessman, is not trying to impress upon the people that he has $30 profit on a ton of hay. I don't think he intended to do that. I did expect Mr. Vincent to explain the difference between the $20 and the $30. I understand that the cost of transportation on hay is around $20. The duty on the hay is approximately $5. And he knows, as I find the figures, there's about a profit of $2 on the sale of hay. I want to impress upon the delegates that no matter whether we went into confederation or not, the cost of transportation will be the same, whether in or out, unless somebody in this country is prepared, or Mr. Smallwood might be able, to go up and bring it down for nothing. Mr. Smallwood 20% off.
Mr. Fudge I'm talking about the freight rate. Mr. Smallwood The freight is 20% off.
Mr. Fudge They're looking for an increase up 1214 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 there now of ...
Mr. Smallwood No matter what it is, it's still 20% less under confederation, you know that. The hay that comes by rail is 20% off.
Mr. Chairman I don't want any arguments at all. Mr. Fudge has the floor, and unless and until any member arises to a point of order or a question of privilege, he is not to be interrupted... Mr. Fudge We've been told that under confederation the cost of living would be reduced. We have been told this repeatedly. I fail to see to what extent. We must not forget that we are living on an island. In Canada, where rail haul is short, and consequently tranSportation and delivery costs low, the position is quite different to what it would be in this country. No such benefits would accrue to our people. We would still have to pay the regular freight direct from western Canada to the eastern seaboard — Montreal, Halifax, Sydney or Prince Edward Island to Newfoundland —— marine insurance, wharfage, and distribution costs. Many of the items coming into this country from Canada pay little or no customs duty at the present time. All importations from the United States and the United Kingdom will be subject to customs duty under confederation, and these are no small amounts of our total volume of imports.
Another matter I wish to refer to is a statement made by Premier Jones of Prince Edward Island the other day, when he said, in substance, that with Newfoundland coming into confederation with Canada, his island province could expect to market an additional amount of its produce. This would mean, according to Premier Jones, that an air transport service would be inaugurated with the west coast of our island. Let my constituency businessmen of Corner Brook and the Codroy Valley, the latter represented by Mr. Keough, take note that Premier Jones says that potatoes, vegetables of all kinds, livestock, meat, eggs and grain, should find a substantial market in Newfoundland and Labrador — Labrador's mine development especially, Premier Jones said, when the Labrador railway is completed. When Newfoundland joins Canada, Frontier Jones said, a weekly service would be developed by steamer, and if the Harmon airfield in the vicinity of Stephenville could be operated for commercial freight planes, commodities such as milk, etc., would be carried by air freight to the west coast. Air traffic would also be developed with Labrador through Goose Bay, and all commodities from PEI would be flown in there and to Newfoundland. Commodities such as milk, eggs, fruit, butter, pork, cheese, and other goods would gain a market now served partly by our farmers of the Codroy Valley. I wonder what does my friend Mr. Keough, who so ably represents the district of St. George's and the Codroy Valley, think of this.
Mr. Smallwood presented his budget some time ago showing that he would require some $15 million or$16 million to run the province, should we become one. When asked how he proposed getting this revenue, he stated that as in other provinces in Canada, the industrial towns would be taxed to pay for the poor ones. He Mr. Smallwood Point of order. Mr. Chairman, I made no such statement. I'm not going to be misstated, and I said nothing even like that, nothing.
Mr. Chairman I have no recollection of his having said that.
Mr. Smallwood Complete misrepresentation. Mr. Fudge I understood that Mr. Smallwood, in pointing out about raising taxes, referred to the industrial centres in Canada which were paying the high taxes.
Mr. Chairman His statement was that 89% of the total revenue derived by the federal government was obtained from the three provinces of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, and the remaining six provinces paid the remaining 11%. That was the statement Mr. Smallwood made. Mr. Fudge If that is so, Mr. Chairman, the industrial towns in Newfoundland such as Corner Brook, Buchans, Grand Falls, Bell Island, St. John's and some of our largest outport towns will be trimmed to balance Mr. Smallwood's budget. When I look at this confederation in such alight, the whole thing seems so silly and extravagant and stupid, that I ask myself how this crazy issue ever got into this chamber. And how did he manage to get us to take it seriously? And he can tie up our work for over three months. But it seems we have to face reality. The absurd thing has been foisted on us. It has destroyed the work of this Convention. It has to all sensible Newfoundlanders become an actual fact, and whether we like it or not we have to deal with it. The records of our proceedings indicate that we did January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1215 not receive the report of the Ottawa delegation with any great amount of enthusiasm. Even more significantly, people outside this chamber have not allowed themselves to be carried away by its rosy contents. The answer to this is not hard to find. Newfoundlanders are as a whole a realistic and common sense people. They know by hard experience that pennies don't fall from heaven. They look with suspicion on anyone who tells them they are going to get something for nothing. In spite of all the high pressure sales talk, in spite of all the hour-long speeches our people are still suspicious. In the meantime this Canadian prospect is being stripped down to its frame and the stuffing has been taken out. In short the thing is being debunked and Santa Claus is having his whiskers pulled off. If I were to give credit to any one man for his valuable service in showing up this confederation issue, it would be Mr. Smallwood. His over-eagerness to convince us showed us that we should not allow ourselves to be convinced, and above all, he is the one who impressed it indelibly on our minds, that we should not for a moment consider anything that would be of sound presumption. We remember how, when the Economic Report was brought in with its modest three year forecast, he denounced the committee for daring to make any forecast. Such things, he said, were not worth the paper they were written on. Mr. Smallwood told us it was neglect for us to work on the basis of presumption. And this same gentleman, this hater of presumption and forecast, came in here and coolly asked us to accept his budget based on no less than an eight year forecast. Well, we knew then just what we were up against. We knew just how much value we could place on all that he had said before. I at least am duly grateful to Mr. Smallwood for his distinguished service in helping me to see the real meaning of this confederation issue.
Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to waste the time of this Convention by dealing in detail with the report before the Chair. Other members have already dealt with the figures contained in it. They have dealt with them as they deserved, and it is not worthwhile kicking a dead horse We know that they are unreliable. I feel sure that all intelligent Newfoundlanders already know this, but there are doubtless many who have not the means of getting in touch with our deliberations, and they are still under a delusion. It should be the prime duty of all of us to get the truth to these people. I heard a lot of talk about taxes. But I note that when Mr. Smallwood is asked about certain taxes, he tells us that the Canadians won't put that tax on us, that will be the matter for the provincial government. Is he trying to give us the impression that since the federal government won't impose a particular tax, it won't be imposed at all? We know too well that every tax necessary to balance our budget will be placed on our people. What does it matter who takes our taxes, so long as we have to shell out our dollars? This is one point you will not hear Mr. Smallwood talking about. All he has told us are the good things. For instance, they say that every Newfoundland child under a certain age will be entitled to a baby bonus. But why not say that the same child after he comes of age will spend the rest of his life paying back the baby bonus in taxes? They tell us all of all the benefits which will come to our workers under confederation. But they do not tell us that under confederation every small industry and factory in the island will be put out of business and its workmen out of jobs. In St. John's alone, Mr. Chairman, and throughout the country in a few years those industries will be reduced and our people out of work and forced to go and make a living elsewhere. In time, all we will have in this country will be the very young and the very old. Why not tell about the Canadian tax collector who will go around selling our people's property? Why not tell our people that no government on earth gives its people something for nothing; that for every dollar the Canadian government gives us, it will demand a dollar, perhaps more in return? We will be taxed here, there and everywhere. We will be taxed from the cradle to the grave. This report is only a reminder of the saying that figures sometime lie, that it is easy to put a bright coat of paint over an old rotten skiff and pass it off as something good. I suggest therefore, that in the matter of this Ottawa report we accept Mr. Smallwood's own advice and accept nothing which is not based on facts, and that we throw his eight year budget, with all its presumptions, into the waste basket where they belong.
If we want to find out about living conditions in Canada, let us ask the man who lives there. Does he shout about Canada like this advocate of 1216 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 confederation? Not at all. He is quite sober about the whole thing. I have talked to many of them lately. I have been talking to a Newfoundlander who sold his home in Canada, gave up his job and returned here because he could not pay his income tax. I have heard from Canadians who say that Newfoundlanders would be crazy to enter union with Canada. And by the way, Mr. Chairman, I've heard of some of the Canadian politicians who say how generous Canada is in taking over our national debt. Why don't some of our Ottawa delegation tell us how foolish we are to take over Canada's huge and ever increasing public debt? Only this morning I came across the following in the Financial Post dated January 3, 1948.
Mr. Chairman There's some articles you can't quote from.
Mr. Fudge I'm not quoting, but Vancouver in November had 1,000 jobs opened and 12,000 applications — 12,000 applicants. Since then things are believed to have gotten worse. The same thing is true in the Maritimes and to a lesser degree in other provinces. There is a flash message to you from Mr, Smallwood's Garden of Eden... The proof of the pudding they say is in the eating, and the best voice is the voice of experience. In this case the voice of the people who live in Canada.
Just one other point. It seems to be forgotten that Canada's present position financially and economically is the offshoot of a war boom. It is not a solid peace-time economy, and we must also bear in mind that the recent surplus announced by the Canadian government is not earned revenue. As you have heard Major Cashin say, Canada is at present a hard-up country. She is short of dollars and is even talking about holding a sweepstake to obtain American dollars. Her people are entering on the road of austerity, which is only a more polite term for poverty. That is the position now. What might it be this time next year? By then Canadian taxes and Canadian prices may be gone sky high. The baby bonus may be a thing of the past. What consolation will it be for us to say then that that was not what they told us in the Grey Book or the Black Book? These are the things which we must consider, not financial statements and the like. It is time we put dreams of Santa Claus aside. Christmas is over. When it is all boiled down, we will find that this Black Book and the Grey Book are nothing more than an empty gesture which can disappear like a bubble overnight. Is that the sort of thing they want us to base the future of this country and its people on?
Mr. Chairman, I conclude my remarks in the full confidence that when the people of this country realise what this proposal of confederation means to them in their everyday life, when they realise the rain of taxes which will descend on them from every direction, when they realise the overlying plan which has as its object the swallowing up of this country, then I have confidence they will know how to deal with the situation — just as I trust the members of this Convention will know how to deal with this costly and worthless Ottawa report when the time comes for voting on it. At the very opening of this Convention I said that this good old ship, a ship of state in my opinion, was not in a position to send out an SOS to a Canadian rescue tug. She is still in that position. She is awaiting her Newfoundland crew to sail her into her home port. I say to you, and to my fellow countrymen, get on board, sail her over.
[Short recess]
Mr. Keough Before I begin to address this Convention I wish to pay a word of tribute to the Hon. Mr. Job upon the action that he has taken this evening. All my own life I have been considered somewhat of an extremist, and in consequence I can appreciate the gesture of a man who is prepared practically to risk his life in order to have his say upon a matter so vital to his country, that is now before us. And whilst I'm afraid that I cannot quite concur with the Hon. Mr. Job in all that he has said, I nevertheless wish to avail myself of this opportunity to pay my tribute to a gallant gentleman, and one who I have always credited with being perfectly sincere according to his own lights, as I hope, when this Convention is all over and done with, I will be credited with being sincere according to mine.
"'I know what you are thinking about,' said Tweedledum, 'but it isn't so, no how.' 'Contrary wise,' continued Tweedledee, 'if it was so it might be, and if it were so, it would be. But as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic." I wonder if by any chance Lewis Carroll was vouchsafed a vision of this great debate that is now drawing to its close, and drew therefrom his inspiration for those January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1217 lines. Certain I am that Tweedledee and Tweedledum would both have felt very much at home in this chamber during the past several weeks. Up until as late as only yesterday I had no intention of risking my reputation, such as that may be, by becoming involved in this great floundering around the Canadian mulberry bush that has been going on here for some time. When at this late moment I do so, it is against my better judgement, and because I have been unable to resist the temptation to have a final word upon a matter that I have been at pains to stress throughout this Convention. I have kept out of this debate so far for a great many reasons, and by no means the least of these has been that I had a very inadequate training for effective participation in the genesis and genius of such debate that has been going on in this chamber of immortals. You see, sometime when I was very young I had the very great misfortune of being taught that two and two make four, and I have believed that all my life. But whenever during this Convention I have tried to put two and two together, I have found that my argument has been misinterpreted as adding up to 3.999 or 4.111, or what is undoubtedly held in some quarters to be the final treachery of all, an argument for confederation. Or again, I have to be of the mind that what matters most to the average man, once he is free in the practice of his religion, is three square meals a day. And that granted that, he doesn't worry very much about who sits in the seat of government and gets the grant. But I have found that to say as much in this Convention, has been to invite condemnation as a materialist. This I have found to be strange logic indeed, particularly when I remember that in 1933 the only answer of some of our best minds to all who took a stand against the surrender of our constitution was, "And how do you propose to feed this people?" I have failed completely to understand how it could be patriotism to worry about three square meals a day for all in 1933, but merely materialism to worry about three square meals a day for all in 1948. In consequence Ihave preferred to stay out of this debate by distortion. That, in my opinion, is exactly What it has been, and I will content myself with the statement that during this debate statements have been made, and many of them, calculated merely so to distort the whole confederation issue as to leave the Newfoundland people completely confused.
On the one hand I have heard everything conceivable thrown at the idea of union. All the old arguments, all the skeletons of ancient bogies that have been dangling in the closet since 1869, have been given a new coat of whitewash and brought out for further service — all, that is, with one exception. I have heard no mention as yet of that most effective propaganda piece of 1869, that Canadians shoot babies out of cannons. I suggest that that is something not to be overlooked. For after all, it would be just as logical to expect people to believe that as to expect them to believe some of the things that I have heard in this chamber during the past weeks. On the other hand, it is not impossible that some of our people may have been left with the impression that with confederation, we should come into the inheritance of a new Jerusalem flowing with milk and with honey and with maple leafs. I have no objection to the coming of the millennium except, perhaps, that I think that I should find it dreadfully boring. But I don't expect to see it come to pass in my time, and I very much doubt that my son will see it come to pass in his time. Being a reasonable man, I am quite prepared to think that Mr. Smallwood is not inclined to tell us that the millennium will come upon us in consequence of confederation.
It is not my intention at this late date to try to sift for you the proof from the propaganda. But for the satisfaction of my own conscience, I have tried to keep in View the point that this debate was supposed to be about in the first place, namely whether or not a fair and equitable basis may exist for federal union of Newfoundland and Canada. That is what the delegation was sent to Ottawa to investigate, and that is what each of us has to decide for himself upon the basis of the documents submitted to us. The only alternative is to play it safe, and to avoid the issue and take refuge in a confession of inability to complete the work that in standing for election we undertook to do. I have no intention of going into the decision that I have come to in this matter. I shall get around to that in the great final debates that will follow immediately. For the moment, I want merely to relate my concept of what confederation would mean, as formulated from the documents before us, to that matter upon which I have been so insistent throughout this Convention — namely, that for the future the ordinary man of this island 1218 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 must have a greater portion than has been his historic portion. We have been witness in our time to a great movement of the minds of men that's already come to have some effect upon the economics we live by and that cannot but have further considerable effect upon the shape of things economic in this land. But before I go on to relate these proposed arrangements for the entry of Newfoundland into confederation to all that, let me say this.
During all the days of this Convention, Mr. Newell and myself have gone out of our way at times to emphasise and italicise and reiterate the economics. We have hammered away at the theme of three square meals a day, and a decent suit of clothes on the back, and a tight roof over the head, every time that we have had our mouths open. Maybe we've overdone it, But I doubt that in this land such a theme can be overdone. I know that more often than not we have not said the proper things. But then, the thoughts that one has had holed up for the night in a tilt on the trail to Flower's Cove, or wallowing around the bill of Cape St. George in a lobster smack, have not been particularly proper thoughts either. And the mere shift of scene to the National Convention has not been anything like enough to stifle that. We have had a long association, Mr. Newell and I, with the men of this island whose overalls reek with the salt of the fish flakes, the manure of the barnyard, and the resin of the pulpwoods, and it has not been particularly conducive to the mouthing of platitudes. If at times we have sounded somewhat bitter, I hope that we haven't, but if we have, then that has been because we have sometimes seen such sights as a whole family curled up for a winter's night in a circle around the fire, or on the floor of a tar-paper shack; or a mother cooking for her children a dinner of pancakes of sourdough on top of a sawed-off oil drum that served as a stove, or because, to quote Mr. Newell, "I saw death and hunger on a barren coastline/The empty cupboard and the lean winter — /But deeper than all the beaten look of despair/W as the dumb and impotent fury/In a man's eyes as he tumed/To the thing that had to be done."[1] So if we said things that have rankled, don't think that they were dreamed up in an easy chair before a comfortable fire, because they weren't; and don't think we're sorry if by any chance we've disturbed somebody's peace of mind, because we're not. We may have had some hard things to say, but if we have, then it's been because we've felt that at this moment of historic decision, a few hard sayings wouldn't go amiss.
Now, the great movement of the minds of men to which I refer has been a movement ofthe minds of men to the left; and this movement has had repercussions in the economies of most countries, including our own. All the days of all our lives, this movement of the mass of men to the left has been going on. Sometimes it has been a dribble, sometimes a torrent. With some it has been a matter of honest, intellectual conviction that that is the way that they should go; with most, it has been merely a matter of hoping to be cut in for a larger slice of the cake to be divided among the numbers of the nation. Indeed, irrespective of what may have driven the pundits to the left, it has been the hope of more bread and more lavish circuses that has enticed the people. Inevitably there has been class conflict over the division of the cake. In some countries this has led to bitter class warfare resulting in the elimination of the older aristocracies and the setting up of a new aristocracy ruling in the name of the proletariat. Just how much of the cake the proletariat has come to be cut in for in consequence of all this, however, seems rather problematic. Every now and then there are disquieting rumours out of Russia, for instance. Other peoples have settled for less than the dictatorship of the proletariat and are content, for the moment at any rate, with social security legislation calculated to improve the economic condition of low income groups. Scarcely a country but has in our own time made provision for a wider distribution of the cake. That is why you have workmen's compensation, minimum wage legislation, unemployment insurance, widows' pensions, family allowances and all the rest of it. These are things that everyone has come to take for granted in the countries where they have them, or to look for in the countries where they haven' t. So I say that the whole consciousness of mankind has moved a little left of centre. Even your arch- conservative today is more social-minded than was his grandfather. At any rate, if he be eligible for old January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1219 age pension, you won't find him turning it down. Most people don't give a second thought to social legislation which, a generation ago, would have been damned as rank socialism. Indeed, right, left and centre may hardly be said to be positions in politics and economics, forever fixed by immutable law, but are instead fluid positions determined from time to time, and we're witness that what is held to be extreme by one generation is often held to be conservative by another. Therefore, it may be said that the centre itself has lately come to be a little left of centre.
In our own land one doesn't have to go very far out of one's way to observe what has come of the movement of men's minds to the left. There was first of all the organised attempt to secure a wider distribution of the cake to the various unions of fishermen, loggers, labourers, clerks and so forth....[1] Now I grant you that the cake we have to cut in this island is no Christmas cake; rather it is mostly a fishcake'. But I am ready to agree with Mr. Newell, that cut into such slices as social justice would dictate, it could provide a frugal living for our people, and in that the labour and co-operative movements apparently concur. Otherwise they would merely be engaged in the rather futile endeavour of butting their heads against the stone wall. And there has come of the desire of men in this island to achieve a wider handing out of the cake some social legislation, but not nearly enough of it, and some admission by management of the common man into a greater return from the increment of production. In evidence of the same, witness old age pensions, workmen's compensation, minimum wage legislation, improved public health services and so on, and many union working agreements, higher wages and improved working conditions.
But as Mr. Newell has already pointed out, social legislation is not enough. Social legislation is merely stop-gap legislation. Family allowances are merely something that a man must have, because the character of the economy is not such as enables him to provide adequately for his family out of his own efforts. Old age pensions are something that the aged must have, because the character of the economy in which they lived was not such as to permit them in their youth to provide adequately for their old age. Unemployment insurance is something all modern men need, because they can never be certain at what moment the economy will put them out of a job and out of a livelihood. Minimum wage legislation becomes necessary when the economic organisation of society tends to deprive the labourer of his just hire. Not that I'm against social legislation — at this juncture it is most necessary. But at its best, what it attempts is to make the best of a bad bargain. What men everywhere, and in this island, have been seeking in edging to the left, in demanding the wider distribution of the cake, has been simply this — the opportunity from an honest effort to make a decent living, the opportunity to come by such return from their labour as will enable them to provide their families with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical attention, recreation, and yet enable them to put aside something for their old age. Only within an economy that admits of as much can Mr. Newell's fisherman hope to come by sufficient to send his son to Memorial College to study Greek if he wants to, and can my last forgotten fisherman on the bill of Cape St. George come to have, in addition to his three square meals a day, his mug-up going to bed. And if any delegate is still of the opinion that not all men can have that much, maybe he will undertake to answer the question thatI asked way back at the beginning of this Convention — what men are you going to require to be satisfied with just exactly how much less?
The common man of this island now has ideas about a larger slice of the cake. He will likely become insistent, beyond the point of merely pounding the table, as time goes on. I know of but two methods of approach to the resolution of that difficulty, without running the risk of strife and unrest, which we want to avoid at all costs. I have been at pains in my examination of the Grey Book and the Black Books... and in listening to this debate, to seek to determine if confederation would provide a third formula for a redistribution of the cake. I am convinced that to a not inconsiderable extent it will. It will go as far as family allowances go, which is no little way. It will go as far as unemployment insurance and augmented old age pensions go, which is no mean distance. It will go as far as taxation related to capacity to pay will go, which is a considerable distance. But I am not completely convinced that 1220 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 confederation per se and in itself will set to rights the basic economic maladjustments from which arises the necessity for a wider distribution of the cake. Not that that is anything to confederation's detriment. To adjust those maladjustments you have to do more than change the form of government, you have to change the economics that men live by. In other words, as far as I can honestly and in conscience go at this moment is to say this: that I think that confederation is part of the answer that I am looking for, for Newfoundland, but that it is still not the complete and final answer. No form of government can be that. The complete and final answer to a more spacious destiny can come only from among the people themselves.
I look in the first instance to the co-operative movement to set to rights the basic economic maladjustments of this land. Someone, in a rather obvious attempt to smear the movement, called the co-operative movement communist. It happens to be the very antithesis. The co-operative movement is private enterprise carried to its logical conclusion, for the aim of private enterprise is ownership, and what the co-operative movement seeks is the widest ownership for the greatest number. I am convinced that Newfoundland cannot afford not to have a largely co-operative economy, but I know that such an economy is not going to emerge next year, or the year after, or the year after that. All we have to show for ten years of effort is a few hundred organisations from the first 10,000 disciples. That is a creditable showing. But I nevertheless doubt that the co-operative movement can take up the slack in our economic and social system fast enough.
That leaves only one other acceptable formula immediately available that could be employed to achieve a more equitable division of the cake; that is participation by labour, through ownership, in that margin of return from commerce and industry up till now earmarked for the recompense of capital and management. Various labour and protective unions have done much to have the cake and pass it around more generously, by securing a greater return to the labourer for his hire and to the producer for his produce. But there are real economic limits to just how far that can be carried, particularly in a country of primary production whose industries must endeavour to hold their own in the rough and tumble of world competition. There is just so far that collective bargaining and mutual assistance associations can go to achieve wage increases for the labourer, and price increases for the primary producer, and thereby increase the common man's share in the national income. Some unions and associations are well along toward that point of just-so-far already. But even if further increases could be achieved, they would not alter the basic insecurity that attaches to the lives of the wage- earning class, would not guarantee them permanently a larger slice of the cake. That can come only in consequence of ownership.
It could very easily be that we shall shortly witness a great translation of most of our people into wage earners in consequence of an industrial revolution in our fishing industry. Predominantly, our people have always been and still are of considerable personal independence in industry. That independence has been founded upon their ownership of their own instruments of production, upon their ownership of their own fishing boats, their own fishing gear and their own fishing rooms. But we have now come to the point where a considerable mechanisation and centralisation of our fishing industry is inevitable; either we shall have that, or we shall have no fishing industry. It is easy to foresee how such mechanisation and centralisation could lead to the creation of a large fishing proletariat employed as wage earners on draggers, at processing plants, at central curing stations and canneries, but not participating in the ownership and earnings of those new fish enterprises. The creation of such a fishing proletariat is something to guard against at all costs It could lead only to great dissatisfaction, great unrest, maybe even strife. I am convinced that it can be avoided only if some formula be worked out to provide participation for fishermen in the ownership and earnings of such new fishing structures as may emerge.
It is not for me here to indicate in what fashion all that may be brought about. But for the peace and the happiness of this land, the effort had better be made to bring it about, and not only in the fishing industry.... We have to have for the future a more even distribution of the national income than we have had in the past. We can achieve such results if we are willing to make the January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1221 effort, without disorder, without upheaval, without injury to the essential character of our national institutions. But if we won't try it, don't be surprised if some arise in our midst who want to try it another way. I hope I haven't been sounding like Jeremiah helping Cassandra with her homework. It has not been my intention to try to put the fear of God into somebody by scaremongering. It's been my intention merely to indicate a significant phenomenon of our times, in consequence of which our economy will come to be changed. In that regard there is this that I can say in favour of these proposed arrangements for union. They meet the inevitable half-way. I hope that the change that must come will be accomplished without class conflict and social unrest. It can be, given the will. Economic security and political liberty are not incompatible. I think that a satisfactory synthesis of the two can be achieved, to which the Christian conscience can subscribe. In our instance, the cause of peace and happiness, and the dignity of life in this land, will best be served if we go forward into the future prepared and ready to put in the way of the common man a larger slice of the cake that is ours to share. Indeed, only if the like be done all over the world, can mankind hope to see restored and kept inviolate the temple of human freedom and dignity.
Now, gentlemen of the National Convention, we go on to the last theme of all, to the recommendation of forms of government to appear upon the ballot, and a page of history is waiting to be written. A page of history is waiting to be written by the people of Newfoundland too. As they turn to face the greatest challenge that has ever been theirs to face, as they come to the making of the greatest decision that has ever been theirs to make, I should like to repeat for their guidance and their consolation the words with which His Majesty the King concluded his first wartime Christmas broadcast: "And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light, that going forth into the darkness I may know whither it is I go. And he said to me, 'Go out into the unknown and put your hand into the hand of God, and that shall be to you better than a light, and safer than the known way.'"
Mr. Ballam Mr. Chairman, I have said nothing so far in this debate because I did not see the need of saying anything. The piloting of the debate has been in good hands, and my feeling has been that too many cooks might spoil the broth... This debate is now drawing to a close, and I want to say a few words just so that my silence might not be misunderstood. I want to go on record as being deeply impressed, as one of the Ottawa delegation, by the warm and sincere reception we got in Canada. From the time we stepped ashore in North Sydney, all we met was kindness and sincerity. It was very plain to see that the Government of Canada was very glad to have us visit them, as I know they will be glad to have Newfoundland. It is very plain that they would welcome Newfoundland into their family of provinces. This feeling was not confined to members of the government, all the public men of all political parties were very glad to see us and to make us welcome. I'm sure that my friend Mr. Higgins will remember the delightful evenings we spent at the home of the leader of the opposition, Mr. Bracken... In every way possible the people and the Government of Canada made us welcome. Before we left Ottawa, we had all come to feel that we were among friends. There was no gulf between us, except for the Cabot Strait of course, just friendly and sincere understanding all the time. Whatever the people may do in the referendum this spring, the members of the Ottawa delegation, that clever and austere body of men, will always remember the kind friendships that we met in Ottawa. 1 think I can also say, Mr. Chairman, that we were surprised almost every day by the knowledge that these Canadians showed of Newfoundland. I can assure you that we didn't have to go up to Ottawa to tell them anything about Newfoundland, because they knew all about it before we went. This book on Newfoundland by Dr. MacKay is a masterpiece... They had studied our country, our trade and industries, and they certainly had an excellent knowledge of the country.
This Ottawa delegation, this famous delegation that will go down in history, was sent to Ottawa by this Convention for a special purpose. We knew what we were going for. We were going there to ascertain what fair and equitable basis there might be for federal union. That was our job — what we sometimes call the terms of federal union or confederation. We never lost sight of that for one moment. Mr. Higgins might have, but the rest of us didn't. It is quite true that we did not 1222 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 bring those terms back with us, but they were sent down through the Governor. Nobody can deny that it was our visit to Ottawa and our work in Ottawa that secured these terms. It was not until they were read out in this chamber that we really knew for sure just what the terms would be. But it was impossible for us to be there all that time, and to be meeting almost every day with the Canadian ministers or officials, without getting a pretty shrewd idea of what the terms were going to be like. But we held our peace... We wouldn't say a word until they came here in writing...
I think these terms are pretty fair. We were told by these gentlemen in Ottawa that no other body, even an elected government, or the Commission of Government, could not get better terms: that these were the best terms available at this particular time. There's no reason that they can't be sort of added to at some future time.... If you look at the thing fairly and squarely, I think that even the Major ... knows in his heart and soul that they're very good, and that it would be the best thing for the people in this country. I do not think that everything would be perfect if we became a province, it could not be, but there would be a great many improvements. The bulk of our people would be better off, and that is the most important thing. I think most family men would find it easier to bring up their families, and our younger generation would have a better chance in life. I think the working man would have a better chance, although our working men are doing very well, I must say....
It was not my first visit to Canada, Mr. Chairman, but while we were there last summer we were given every opportunity to see a very large section of it. We certainly saw enough ... to see what a great country Canada really is. I'm sure that there's nobody can deny that Canada is a really great country... By joining with Canada we're still going to be Newfoundlanders. You can't take that out of us. I think we were patriotic, although we were told that we weren't patriotic, we were called Judas Iscariot and God knows else. I and my three brothers served overseas in the first war and I had two people serving in this war. That is a patriotism of one form, and there's another form of patriotism, and that's being truthful and sincere and honest with your fellow man. If I really think in my heart, and I do, that con federation is the better thing for most people in this country, then I think I'm being patriotic, and I'm being sincere and honest with the people of the country.... We never went back on our country, I can guarantee you that.... But at the same time, we were all very deeply impressed by Canada's greatness, by her progressive methods, by her wide-awake system of doing things.
There's one thing that strikes my mind very much, Mr. Chairman, and that is the fact that if we decide to tie on with that great country, things will have to fall pretty low indeed for Newfoundland to go under. If we become a province of Canada, all that big country will have to fail for us to fail. That's a very important thing, and it doesn't seem that Canada is going to fail very soon. Although Canada may not always be blessed by the wonderful prosperity they have right now, I find it impossible to believe that she will ever go under. I look to see her go onward and upward to ever greater things in the future. I regard Canada as one of the coming powers of the world, and I honestly believe that if we link our fortunes with hers, we'll go up with her. There's one thing about Canada more then anything else that impresses my mind, and that is the wonderful way in which she backed the old country in this last war, and since the war ended. There's no country in the world doing better.... There's one thing about confederation that satisfies my mind, and that is the fact that Canada is a great British nation — don't forget. It's true that there is great friendship between Canada and the United States... But Canada is still British and proud of it. If we do decide to join up with Canada, it's a British nation we'd be joining.
There are many things about confederation that we would be a while getting used to. Canada is something like the United States in her form of government, she is a federal union. She's really nine countries in one, and she'd be ten countries in one if we get in, only they don't call themselves countries, they call themselves provinces...[1] It is very much like the Newfoundland Federation of Labour, which is a federation of unions, or a federal union in itself. This union runs its own show. There are certain matters that are too big for an individual union to run, and that's why they associate with the federal union. That's how it is with the Canadian federal union. Each province January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1223 runs its own show in so many things, and the federal government runs the rest. I suppose it would take us all a little while to get used to it, but I don't doubt that we would get used to it. We Newfoundlanders are famous for being able to adapt ourselves pretty quickly. We're a smart bunch of people. When it was proposed to change the rule of the road in Newfoundland last year, and make all the cars and trucks drive to the right, some people prophesised all kinds of accidents and deaths. But it turned out all right. And although we've only been a short year driving to the right, and we drove to the left for over half a century, we're so used to it now that we never even think of it. That's how it would be with confederation. It looks like a pretty big jump for us to take right now, but we'd get used to it....
The way I look at this confederation idea, Mr. Chairman, is simply you have to think of the majority. It's not what would suit a few but what would suit the many. I suppose some people might be hurt a little by confederation — I see my friend Mr. Hickman smiling over there — especially at the start. I would not be glad to see anybody hurt. But what comes first is the welfare of the many, and perhaps a very few would be hurt anyway... There's another thing I like about this confederation idea, and that's the fact that it will give us political democracy. We mustn't forget that. It would give us political democracy, just the same as responsible government would give it. I can see Major Cashin now up in the Houses of Parliament up in Ottawa, the Minister of Finance of that great big Dominion of Canada, not a little place like this.
I suppose all of us would be inclined to give the Commission government system credit where they deserve it, and they do deserve some credit. We've said some very hard things here about the Commission of Government, but we must admit that they have done some good and they're deserving of a little credit. I'm not swinging on the Commission government gate either.... But I'm ready to give praise where praise is due. But we've all got to be sensible about these things. In the spring we'll all be going in to vote for a form of government we want, for the form of government we want for our country in the future. And I think most thinking men know very well that we can't decide that we'll have the Commission of Government here forever. It was never meant to stay here. Commission government gives us no voice at all in our public affairs, while confederation at least will give us better democratic government. We'll not only elect our seven members to the House of Commons in Ottawa, but we'll also elect our own House of Assembly. It is true that our House of Assembly wouldn't have the whole show to run, but still it will have plenty to do. We will be electing our own government and we'll also be helping to elect a government for the whole federal union. I won't go any further, Mr. Chairman, with this line of argument, because you'll probably have to rule me out of order. Anyway, one of the things I noticed about this confederation idea is that it will bring back to us a democratic form of government after a long and perhaps painful absence. Mr. Chairman, I have purposely kept away from discussing details of these confederation terms because they have been drawn over so often by everybody that I'm sure they've been worn out. And we don't want the people in the country to forget about it just yet. I can assure you that we all appreciate the fact that they were handled very ably by Mr. Smallwood.... So there's nothing further that I would add just now. For about five weeks we've been debating these details and I guess the Convention and the country have a fair idea of them by this time. I regard the terms as fair and attractive. I think that under confederation we would get a square deal. I think our country would go ahead. I think our people would be better off and I think most of our families would live better and that, like Mr. Keough said, is the most important thing of all. That is the thing which we're to decide. I think the people will know how to decide this fact. One last thing I want to emphasise. We may decide to join up with Canada. If we do, we would become Canadian citizens, and Canada would be one great nation stretching from St. John's right out to Vancouver. We'd become Canadian citizens, but we'd never cease to be Newfoundlanders. That would be impossible. To us Newfoundland will always be home. To us Newfoundlanders it will always come first. And if in the referendum I cast my vote for confederation, it will not be for Canada's sake but for the sake of the generations yet unborn here in our own island home.
Mr. Fowler I have listened long and patiently to the confederates and the anticonfederates express 1224 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 their beliefs with varying degrees of ardour and ability. And with Mr. Hollett's closure motion hovering over this debate, I assure you that I will not occupy much of your valuable time. I realise that there are matters of great importance yet demanding the consideration of this Convention. Mr. Chairman, at first I had not intended to say anything in this debate, because I considered too much had already been said. But as it has been my custom since this Convention opened to briefly comment on matters before the Chair and to make my position clear regarding them, I decided to make a few general observations on this issue. They are as follows. First, I contend that the matter of confederation should never have been the business of this Convention and that responsible government should have been restored in accordance with the agreement of 1934.
Mr. Chairman You can't do anything about that. You have no jurisdiction over that matter at all. In the first place if the matter is to be debated at all it comes within the purview of the different forms of government, which is not yet before the Chair. You must confine yourself to business before the Chair, the terms of union.
Mr. Fowler That's what I'm trying to do — just following out my arguments, sir.
Mr. Chairman Mr. Higgins, there's no need for you to prompt the speaker, I've just ruled that this matter isn't debatable.
Mr. Fowler If confederation is to be a live issue, let the people interested form a party, go to the country, preach their doctrine and if given a mandate from the people, go as honourable men and negotiate the terms of union on equal footing with the Canadian government. Gentlemen, I contend that in contrast to this, we should look at what really happened. Mr. Smallwood asked this Convention to send somebody, anybody to Canada to discuss terms of union. First we said no. Then sometime later some of us got softhearted and by a scant majority agreed to send seven individuals to Ottawa. No qualifications were required, and as we all know that delegation consisted of every type of gentleman with the notable exception of an expert. And it must be borne in mind that the people of Newfoundland were not asked if they wanted a delegation to go to Ottawa or not. Much less were they asked to select the members of this delegation. It is doubtful if any delegation would have been wined and dined in Ottawa for that 100 days had the people of Newfoundland been asked to decide. Secondly, we have these one-sided terms or proposals here. They are one-sided. That must be evident to all, because scores of questions of prime importance to Newfoundland have been asked and the answers could not be found in these costly documents we have before us. Mr. Smallwood has attempted to explain them. But with all due respect to Mr. Smallwood, what right has he to speak for the Canadian government? What authority has he? How does he know what any government of Canada may or may not do in the future? Mr. Chairman, we know only what is contained in the Grey Book. And that document, sir, will be longer remembered for what it does not contain than it will for what it does contain.
Gentlemen, one of the things our people want to learn is the truth about this burning question of taxation. All I can say is that it is like the truth about the next world: we hear a lot about it, but we will never know the real truth until we go there. We will never know the real truth about taxes under confederation until we become the tenth province of Canada. But always remember, that if things do not turn out as you expected, you will never be able to do anything about it. Thirdly, people should disabuse their minds of the idea of getting something for nothing, and realise that whatever form of government you have, you pay for what you get in one way or another. If you don't pay indirect taxes, you will pay direct taxes. If the federal government does not collect them, the provincial government will. If the provincial government does not collect them then the municipal government will. And remember, that under confederation we will be subject to all three forms of taxation — federal, provincial and municipal. The other nine provinces have them, how can we expect to escape them? Mr. Smallwood labours the point that we will not be compelled to have land taxes, property taxes and the like. He tells us that it will be entirely up to the province. But that is the point. Nobody compels me to eat, but I must eat in order to exist. And in order for Newfoundland to exist at all as the tenth province of Canada, it will be necessary for her to avail of every known means of taxation.
Mr. Chairman, I cannot see why we should join Canada or any other country at this time. It is common knowledge that the eyes of the North January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1225 American continent are focussed on us, because of our strategic importance and because of the natural resources of both Labrador and Newfoundland. Can we not hold on to this a little longer and find out what it will really mean to us? After all, only yesterday, through the efforts of Mr. Fudge, we learned officially that somebody had offered $150 million for Labrador.
Mr. Smallwood No, no, no — no such thing... No one has made any offer at all, no one.
Mr. Chairman The position is that the offer was allegedly made by an undisclosed principal.
Mr. Smallwood No sir, it's not even that.
Mr. Chairman You read the letter, but the name of the person was not made known.
Mr. Smallwood The letter merely said that somebody wrote the department suggesting that it be sold. The one who wrote it wasn't offering to buy it. He didn't say that anyone was offering to buy it. He merely up and said it should be sold for $150 million. That's what's in the letter...
Mr. Chairman If it's important I'll make a decision, so we'll all see what the letter contains.
Mr. Fudge I said before, Mr. Chairman, I read that letter.
Mr. Chairman If you don't mind Mr. Fudge, please, ...
The Department of Natural Resources St. John's
January 13, 1948
With reference to your letter of 9th January, 1948, I am directed to inform you that in a letter to the Department of Natural Resources dated the 15th October, 1947, the suggestion was made that Labrador should be sold for $150,000,000. The letter did not indicate who was the prospective purchaser and there were no further developments.
I am sir, your obedient servant
J.J. Carter Secretary for Natural Resources Secretary, National Convention.
The answer is, my interpretation of that letter is it was not an offer. You can't do business with a man who doesn't disclose himself. The letter is plain and clear... The suggestion was made that Labrador should be sold for $150 million. The letter did not indicate who was the prospective purchaser. And there were no further developments.
Mr. Smallwood So there was no offer?
Mr. Chairman Not at all. It's incapable of that interpretation... Go ahead, Mr. Fowler, please.
Mr. Fowler I really brought it up because I knew there were some doubts about it, and I think it's very good to have it cleared up. Gentlemen, even though we have been dead politically for the past 14 years, let us bestir ourselves, awake to the importance of our inheritance, and if any advantages are to be had, let us as Newfoundlanders reap the benefits, and if Canada or the United States are interested, we will be in a position to do business with them as friendly neighbours. For these reasons then, it is my opinion that responsible government, the goal of all civilised people, should be restored to Newfoundland so that the people should be free to do business with the United States as well as Canada, if they so desire. And in any event, they would be free to act according to the dictates of the country. Thank you.
Mr. Crummey Mr. Chairman, it's a pity almost to spoil that happy relationship we had in Canada, so ably demonstrated by our friend Senator Prospective. I did not intend at this juncture to take any part, but seeing I'm the lone bird of the Ottawa delegation, I thought that possibly it might be thought that I was in accord with the majority of the delegation that returned from Ottawa. I want to say without any shadow of a doubt that I am anticonfederate on the terms that have been brought down here. Mr. Burry, I think, hinted yesterday that if we had had some Newfoundland experts up there we would have been back in possibly three weeks. I'm half inclined to disagree with him on the grounds that if we had had all the experts in Newfoundland and elsewhere, it was not possible to get back before we did. I doubt very much, Major, that we would have been back by the time we did arrive, had not that famous message been sent up and a copy sent to the Prime Minister of Canada.
We went there and we discovered...that we came a little ahead of the time that they would have liked for us to come. True, they said come around June or the lst of July. But they discovered politically that we arrived a little too early. The suggestion was made that we go home and come back again in September. But we...thought that if we came back the possibilities were that we wouldn't get back again in Septem 1226 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 ber. Now what delayed us? ....There's an election on in Halifax. The government had a seat there that they had to win. We couldn't make very much progress until that election was decided. Mr. Chairman, what I'm doing now is trying to show you why I'm anticonfederate. Then the next thing turns up is the Dominion-provincial tax agreement down in Nova Scotia that has to be signed That comes up the 20th of August, I believe — couldn't release any terms up to that time. Nova Scotia had to sign those tax agreements. And then we were making progress, but unfortunately the Minister of Fisheries, the Hon. Mr. Bridges died. That created a by-election down in New Brunswick. We couldn't come home then, because if they'd released those generous terms, the opposition in New Brunswick would play on them. Finally, up comes this message. It came before the plenary session, and I'd say they were a little bit tormented. They thought the best thing they could do was get the Black Books ready — give us the Black Books, and after the election in New Brunswick they'd send us down what now has been termed the Grey Book. Now as a member of that delegation, I thought that there was too much politics in the whole game. I went there with an open mind. I went there to get hard facts, and I am of that nature that I've got to be convinced before I really agree. And I've been charged with being cantankerous. You can call it that if you will. But there's the position.
Now then, I notice in that Grey Book that there is no mention whatever of the matter of divorce. Why? Take up your Black Book and it says that the whole matter is a matter for the province. How many provinces in Canada have no divorce laws? ....In Quebec there are no divorce laws — look what happened. Parties have to go before the Senate. They have to have all the evidence without belabouring the question. The position now is there's a movement afoot that it will not be necessary to go to Ottawa, that the evidence will be taken in the courts of Quebec. If you have all the provinces except Quebec with divorce laws, if you go in as a tenth province, what chance have you got in Newfoundland for being driven into divorce? Look at it in the common sense way. I would like to say that overtures were made in Ottawa so that it would be possible to have some clause in that Grey Book regarding divorce. I'm inclined to think too that there were some overtures made here in Newfoundland since we came back along the same lines, but nothing became of it and you have no reference whatever.
Same thing applies to education. Mr. Small- wood said last night that I was an ex-school- teacher. In the old days, when I was a schoolteacher, in the early days of high school teaching, I was public school minded. I've had some experience in Canada and in the United States regarding education. I followed the whole situation and I completely changed my mind, and decided that the best form of education for Newfoundland, as the settlements are divided, is the system that you have. Again, they tell you in the Black Book that education is a matter for the provinces. How many provinces in Canada have denominational schools? Can't you see that if you go into confederation, there is always a possibility that your educational system will be upset? It's one of the reasons why I'm not prepared to take the chance. I don't know, sir, whether the time limit is up or not....
Mr. Chairman Take your time.
Mr. Crummey Mr. Crosbie mentioned it this afternoon, he talked about the Fishery Board in Newfoundland. I know of a certainty that the Fishery Board under confederation has got to go out of existence, irrespective of the opinion of any other of the members of the delegation. They searched around everywhere in the statutes, laws of Canada and they couldn't find any place where they could allow Newfoundland to keep that Board in existence. You can look in the Black Book and you'll find very nice phraseology covering up the situation. The next one and I'll soon be finished. That is the deficit that's going to be created by going into confederation. There's definitely going to be a deficit on the terms in that Grey Book. It was pointed out to the Canadians and asked how we were going to get around that situation. Put on more taxation or take your surplus, and in the Grey Book they've made provision by taking one third of your surplus to cover up any deficits that you'll incur. I could go on a bit longer, but I don't feel like keeping people here any longer. What I'm trying to say is that I am opposed to confederation on the terms presented in that Grey Book. I am not against going into confederation if the terms suit me, being a Newfoundlander first.
Mr. Higgins I move that the committee rise, report...
Mr. Chairman No, I've already received a motion.
Mr. Smallwood No sir, that is not the motion that Mr. Higgins was about to make.
Mr. Chairman Oh, I'm sorry.
Mr. Higgins That the committee rise, report that they have considered the matter to them referred and recommend that it lie on the table of the House for future reference. That's the motion that I would make, sir. That would dispose of the debate. The adoption of that motion would be the end of this debate.
Mr. Smallwood I wonder, we've all been especially fair the last few days, and I want to be extremely fair. I wonder if I could have one minute — just one minute. I just ask one minute on one point only.
Mr. Chairman I suppose, one minute.
Mr. Smallwood And that is one point referred to by Mr. Crummey. I'm sorry he referred to it. When he says that overtures were made in Ottawa and in St. John's on the question of divorce, I'm sorry he said it. That is true, overtures have been made.
Mr. Crummey Mr. Chairman, if Mr. Smallwood is going to raise that, it's going to create a discussion.
Mr. Smallwood No.
Mr. Crummey He is not going to have one minute and then I'm not going to have a reply to it.
Mr. Smallwood You may reply.
Mr. Crummey Yes I know, but we have till 12 o'clock.
Mr. Chairman I don't know what he said yet, Mr. Crummey.
Mr. Higgins Mr. Chairman, I move that the committee rise now.
Mr. Smallwood No, it's my motion and I have the floor. I'm speaking to the motion.
Mr. Higgins I'm going to a point of order now. You can bring in a motion to rise and...
Mr. Chairman I've allowed him one minute, Mr. Higgins, and I've just allowed him one. Now please, Mr. Smallwood, everything has been very harmonious here, just get it off your chest.
Mr. Smallwood No, a very serious statement has been made in the closing moments of the debate. A very serious statement and I know why, but I'll leave that out.
Mr. Chairman Now please correct it, if you would.
Mr. Smallwood The statement made by Mr. ...
Mr. Crummey Mr. Chairman, I'd like a point of order.
Mr. Chairman Please state it.
Mr. Crummey It's an insinuation, and I think I know why.
Mr. Chairman I must sustain you on the point of order.
Mr. Smallwood I withdraw.
Mr. Chairman Please get on.
Mr. Smallwood The statement was made by Mr. Crummey that overtures were made in Ottawa and in St. John's with regard to the question of divorce. I say that that is true. And I say this, that whatever Newfoundland wants, whatever it be, the proper authorities, whatever they want in a matter of divorce, they can have. I say so, and I know what I'm talking about. Whatever the proper authorities of Newfoundland want in the matter of divorce, they've only got to ask. I say that, and I'm sorry the matter has been mentioned here at all. Sorry.
Mr. Chairman Now just a moment, Mr. Higgins, before Iput your motion. Is there at this time any member who hasn't spoken on this question, and who feels that he would like to address himself on the question, because I'm going to put the closure motion to the House tomorrow afternoon. I don't want it to be said that there was anything improper I did, that certain members were allowed to speak to their heart's content and other people weren't allowed to speak at all. I don't want that situation to arise. If there's any member who hasn't addressed himself to this question and feels like doing so, now is the time.
Mr. MacDonald Mr. Chairman, it's not my intention...
Mr. Chairman Sir, I don't have to leave here at all, if I decided I could stay here till nine tomorrow morning if I like. If you don't like it, it's your right to walk out of the House. I'm not going to take the right of Mr. MacDonald to speak when he hasn't had the opportunity to address himself on this question at all, and other people have been able to address themselves tonight. There's a case of discrimination that I could be probably charged with that I'm not going to be charged with. Please go ahead, Mr. MacDonald.
Mr. MacDonald I wouldn't have asked, Mr. Chairman, only the invitation was put to any person who wished to rise. I could have very well left it alone for that matter. But it's not my intention to address the Convention at any length on the subject matter now before the Chair, as it is more than probable that most of it will be repeated again when the question of recommendations arises. We have heard various opinions and many contradictions on the subject of the proposals for union with Canada. What results as far as the members of this Convention and the people of the country are concerned is a matter of opinion. I take it, Mr. Chairman, that the idea of holding our sessions in public, and that of installing the microphones in this chamber, was for the purpose of acquainting our people as to what was going on and informing them as to the economic and financial position of this country of ours and giving them the facts. I repeat, Mr. Chairman, the facts... I submit that a good many of our thinking people are more bewildered than they were when we started 16 months ago. We have disagreed and wrangled about every point that has been brought forward in our various debates, often descending to tactics more worthy of a gathering in a pub or the oft-quoted beer parties than that of a body of men gathered together to consider the future of our country. We have individually criticised and abused almost everything from the British Dominions Office down to the Commission of Government to the Convention itself and the members thereof, I might add. Now do not let us forget this part. That whatever our individual opinions may be of the necessity of this Convention, we must realise that the people who voted in the election of 1946 did so in all good faith, and sent their respective delegates to this Convention not only to make recommendations as to possible forms of government, but also to get information for them so that when the time came for the referendum they would be a position to decide intelligently as to the type of government which in their opinion would be the best in the interests of Newfoundland. Have we succeeded in this? Or has our time been more occupied in using this Convention as a forum from which to preach our own particular form of political ideology? In this very important matter of the Ottawa proposals for confederation ... we are faced with something that may well mean the future welfare or otherwise of Newfoundland to generations yet unborn. We have heard these proposals very ably, if somewhat heatedly at various times, supported by Mr. Smallwood. We have heard them also very ably and sometimes heatedly criticised by Major Cashin and other speakers. We have heard a lot about sales taxes, excise taxes, etc., even hidden taxes such as shoe taxes and gasoline taxes and so on. But we have not stopped to explain that outside of local sales tax, we are possibly paying all these taxes every time we buy these goods from Canada at the present time...
Mr. Chairman, we are nearing the end of our deliberations as a National Convention. In the course of our work we have accumulated a great quantity of information, both essential and nonessential, and in what way are we to present all the facts to the people is the question which concerns me considerably. I doubt that the members of this Convention can even agree on facts. I do not know yet what choices of government will be placed on the ballot papers. But whatever they may be, the people are entitled to know the pros and cons of each form of government placed before them. If this is not done, then we have failed miserably in our efforts of the past 16 months. The people want to know whether confederation will lower their cost of living and thus raise their standard of living. And I don't think it can be contradicted, and I state this on very good authority, Mr. Chairman, that the cost of a month's groceries in New Brunswick is considerably less then one half of that in Newfoundland at the present time in spite of the austerity programme. And I state that on good authority. They will also want to know as to whether it is to their advantage to have the whole Dominion of Canada open to their sons and daughters when they are unable to get renumerative positions at home. That's another matter that's never been brought up. Of if they wish to advance themselves more quickly in their chosen trades or professions and not as at the present time be treated as foreigners and be admitted on a quota. These things and scores of others they will want to know. I agree with Mr. Higgins that the proposals are good as a fair and equitable basis on which to work, and undoubtedly the proper authorities who would finalise the deal, if the people so wish, would recognise this and possibly get further January 1948 NATIONAL CONVENTION 1229 concessions if that is possible. In conclusion, I think our delegation to Ottawa did a fairly good job under the circumstances, and that their report as contained in the Black Books shows they did the best they could and most decidedly as good as any delegation we might have sent. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your forbearance and wish to say that any further remarks I may make on this matter now before the Chair may be left until the question of recommendations comes up.
Mr. Penney May I ask you, if in case the motion is adopted, will the delegates be allowed to comment on confederation under the heading of forms of government?
Mr. Chairman Yes, Mr. Penney, I've given considerable thought to the question. Mr. Higgins has a motion on the order paper, covering responsible government or Commission government. As far as Mr. Higgins' motion is concerned, it follows that discussion will have to be confined to the two forms of government. In addition to this, Mr. Smallwood has given notice of motion covering three forms of government including confederation with Canada... In other words, the position is that under Mr. Higgins' motion, re sponsible government and Commission of Government would be disposed off. Once Mr. Higgins' motion is disposed off by the House, you will not be able to re-introduce discussion on either of the two forms of government covered by Mr. Higgins' motion because it's res judicata. It's been disposed of by the House and that's the end of it. It will therefore mean that the confederation matter will have to be dealt with by the Convention on Mr. Smallwood's motion. Therefore to answer your question in a roundabout way, yes, you will have an opportunity of expressing your opinion on the confederation question after and when Mr. Higgins' motion has been disposed of by the House.
Mr. Penney Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I intended to say something on about confederation and forms of government, and I wouldn't like to be deprived of that privilege...
Mr. Chairman ....The motion is that the committee rise, report that they considered the matter to them referred, and recommend that it lie on the table of the House for future reference...
[The motion carried. The committee rose, the Convention approved the report, and 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] Gap in the recording.
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  • [3] Volume II:522. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Canada, Royal Commission Investigating the Fisheries of the Maritimes and the Magdalen Islands (Ottawa, 1928).
  • [2] Volume II:522. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
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  • [1] Now Churchill Falls.
  • [1] Thomas Hollis Walker held public hearings from January to March 1924 to investigate allegations of corruption and graft in the government of Sir Richard Squires.
  • [1] Isaac Newell's poem, "Lines for an Anniversary (1497- 1947)" won the O'Leary Newfoundland Poetry Award in 1947.
  • [1] Gap in the recording.
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Personnes participantes: