All This & Canada Too
[This document was written in 1947. For the full citation, see the end of the text.]
Canada was willing to go a long way to capture Newfoundland as a tenth province. Newfoundlanders could even continue to spread their bread with margarine, outlawed elsewhere in the Dominion. That fact was hammered out in 99 days and 84 meetings in Ottawa between officials of the Canadian Government and a delegation from Newfoundland 's National Convention. Not in 80 years and three tries at confederation had Canada been in such a giving mood.
What interested canny Newfoundlanders most was the money involved. Canada would offer a direct payment of $6 to $7 million annually, plus $11 million a year more for old age pensions, family allowances. In addition, Newfoundland would get a special $3,500,000-a-year subsidy for three years (decreasing by 10% every year after that). Also, Canada would operate the railway, ferry service and broadcasting. Best estimate: Newfoundland would cost Canada some $25 million a year, pay back $20 million in taxes.
As a sop to her Roman Catholics, Newfoundland (which now has no divorce law) would get the same divorce setup as Catholic Quebec, where it takes an act of Parliament to get a divorce. Canada would even write a footnote to the British North America Act to take care of education. The Catholics could keep their own schools; Protestants could keep theirs or pool their Government grants if they wanted to run public schools. All this and more Canada was prepared to do, but she was not prepared to say so finally until the Government had weathered the York-Sunbury by-election in the Maritimes at the end of the month. Ottawa had no desire to fight that one on the issue of confederation.
Back in St. John's, ardent pro-confederation Delegate Joseph R. Smallwood bubbled: " Newfoundland will be a Canadian province by the end of 1948 . . . . We have a deal that will sweep the country." Voters will decide that next summer in a national referendum.
Source : "All This & Canada Too", Time (Canadian edition), October 13, 1947, p. 26.
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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College