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A Tenth Province ?


[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]

Decision of the Newfoundland National Convention to send a delegation to Ottawa to ascertain what "fair and equitable" basis may exist for union with this Dominion is not to be taken as meaning that the ancient British colony has at last decided to seek admission to the Canadian Confederation. The mission, which will be nothing more than exploratory in nature, was only authorized after considerable debate and by less than a unanimous vote. Also to be considered is the fact that a similar delegation is being sent to London , and it is possible that a third will visit Washington .


No doubt exists as to the reception the delegation will be accorded by the Canadian Government. Speaking in the House of Commons last session Mr. St. Laurent said that if the Newfoundlanders sent delegates or representatives to Ottawa they will be welcome "as cordially as we can welcome them". The Minister gave the further assurance that if the people of Newfoundland come to the conclusion that they will be happy to throw in their lot with Canada "their representation will be given most earnest and sympathetic consideration".


The Minister could hardly say more than that, particularly since this country has been careful to avoid giving the appearance of attempting to advise the people of Newfoundland at a time when they are deciding their political future. This is not to say, however, that Canadians are not interested in the possibility of the colony joining the Dominion. Since the first years of Confederation it has been a subject of lively discussion and at times actual negotiation. In 1915 an amendment to the British America Act provided for six additional members of the Senate should the colony decide to take the step.


Because of insolvency, Newfoundland gave up its Dominion status in 1934 and its Government was taken over by a British commission. The colony made little progress, however, until the outbreak of war which brought the Newfoundlanders a measure of prosperity never before experienced. It seems unlikely, however, that this prosperity can be maintained because of the Island 's limited and undeveloped resources.


Should Newfoundland become part of Canada it obviously and for some time at least would be among the "have-not" Provinces. It probably would mean new obligations for the Dominion. It is inconceivable, however, that if invited this country would for a moment hesitate to accept these responsibilities. Newfoundland is one of the Empire's problems and if Canada is to continue to share in that partnership she cannot be unmindful od Newfoundland 's welfare.


Newfoundland would bring to Confederation assets as well as liabilities. This country built up a considerable defense establishment there during the war. It has a 99-year lease on the $20,000,000 Goose Bay air base in Labrador and commercial control of St John's Torbay Airport. This country has the right by agreement to establish and operate additional defense facilities in Newfoundland. Newfoundlanders import most of their goods from Canada . Under such happy circumstances this country should be only too glad to welcome Newfoundland as the tenth Province in the Confederation and not be too harsh about the terms.


Source : "A Tenth Province ?", editorial in The Globe and Mail, March 7, 1947, p. 6.

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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College