Newfoundland's Day of Decision
[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]
Today the people of Newfoundland are being called upon to decide by referendum whether they will join the Dominion of Canada as a tenth province or whether they will return to their former position as an independent responsible government.
Today's voting will fifer from that held in June in that the third choice - the continuation of the present Commission of Government - has been removed. This difference may well determine the outcome of today's decision. For it means that the 22,000 votes which were cast last June for Commission of Government will now be divided between the other alternatives. The proportion of this division may decide the issue.
There has been much speculation as to where these 22,000 votes will go. It might seems that those Newfoundlanders who voted for Commission Government may now vote for responsible government, inasmuch as they seemed hesitant over any drastic change in the island's administration, and Confederation with Canada would constitute such a change.
On the other hand, it might be said that they would vote for Confederation, inasmuch as their desire for a continuation of the Commission must have been motivated by fear of the conditions which prevailed when responsible government was last in effect in the island.
The influence of the 22,000 Commission Government votes is considerably diminished, however, by two considerations. In the first place, the Confederation party was some 5,000 votes behind the responsible government party in the voting in June. This means that the Confederation party would have to win 5,000 votes of the Commission Government votes just to make it equal with the responsible government party. In the second place, the decisiveness of the Commission votes would be greatest supposing that the voting as a whole followed the same proportions as it did in June. But whereas the voting in June was very high - amounting to about 90 per cent - today's voting will, it is said, prove far lighter.
This is an important day in the history of Canada , as well as in the history of Newfoundland. But the decision that makes it important is one which the people of Newfoundland must make, and are making, according to their own judgment of their own interests.
Source : " Newfoundland 's Day of Decision", editorial, Montreal Gazette , July 22, 1948 , p. 8.
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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College