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No Union Now


[This text was written in 1947. For the full citation, see the end of the document.] 

Like cullers grading a catch of salt cod for market, Newfoundland's National Convention sifted forms of government. The 45 members drew their $10 to $15 a day apiece, and took their time. For six months they bickered and bantered on everything from relief to roads, from fish to politics. Then last month the Convention decided that it needed more information. It picked a six-man delegation to talk over with the British Government 1) a return to full self-governing dominion status, or 2) a retention of the present seven-man Commission of Government. Then it appointed a second delegation to find out if Ottawa would welcome a tenth province.


Last week Member David Jackman charged that the convention had become a "Doodlebug of Confusion." He promptly added to the confusion himself. With one eye on the hundreds of millions the U.S. had spent on bases in Newfoundland , he proposed that a third delegation be sent to Washington to "inform the . . . U.S. of the convention's wish to learn the [ U.S. ] Government's attitude on federal union of Newfoundland with the U.S. "


That suggestion sat ill on independent Newfoundland stomachs. Member Malcolm Hollett's gorge rose. He stood up, said, "If I make a speech I might lose my temper," and sat down. Member Gordon Higgins kept his temper and made a speech: people in other parts of the Empire might act "like rats leaving a sinking ship," but not in Newfoundland, the Empire cornerstone.


Before the surprised U.S. State Department could do more than say: "This is extremely interesting news," the convention had voted, 34 to 3, to reject union with the U.S.


Source : "No Union Now", Time (Canadian edition), April 21, 1947, p. 16.


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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College