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Newfoundland Scans Its Future


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

Today, for the first time in 13 years, Newfoundlanders go to the polls. They will elect a National Convention the members of which will discuss, but not decide, the future form of government for the ex-Dominion. Since 1933 it has been governed as a Crown Colony in a constitutional experiment unique in the history of the British Commonwealth and perhaps of the world.

It will be the business of the Convention to hear expert evidence on all aspects of the country's financial position, which is sound at the moment; on its economic future, which is uncertain; and, presumably also, on its strategic importance, which is great. The Convention is to seek to evolve recommendations on the basis of which the British Government can conduct a plebiscite as to what particular form of future administration is preferred by the people of Newfoundland .
Current reports, including statements of candidates for the Convention, indicate that Confederation with Canada will be one of the forms of government discussed. Since it is difficult to see how the matter could be intelligently debated otherwise, it is reasonable to assume that the Newfoundlanders will ask Canada to give them something more definite to go on than Prime Minister King's masterly non-commitment of July 12, 1943 , when he declared in the House of Commons:
If the people of Newfoundland . should make that decision (to confederate) clear beyond any possibility of misunderstanding, Canada would give most sympathetic consideration to the proposal.
Confederation with Canada is of course only one of the forms of government that will be discussed after today's election. The delegates will also consider the restoration of full responsible government with Dominion status as in the past. On the other extreme they will discuss retention of the present form of Commission of Government. They may even strive for a happy medium that will give their countrymen some voice in the affairs of state without putting the country completely on its own.
One matter which is giving general satisfaction in Newfoundland is that, contrary to earlier indications, most of the seats in the convention will be contested by two or more candidates. This has exploded fears that the voting would be met with "political apathy".

Source : "Newfoundland Scans its Future", editorial, Montreal Gazette , June 21, 1946 , p. 8.


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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College