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An Agreement Reached With Newfoundland


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


The delegation from the Old Colony and Canadian Ministers and officials seem to have had not too much trouble in achieving a meeting of minds on a satisfactory arrangement for the entry of Newfoundland into Confederation. The negotiations have not been unduly protracted, nor has there been at any time any indication that the problems encountered have been particularly thorny. With the final terms in process of official drafting, it appears that the completion of the project to bring Newfoundland into the Canadian family is not to be much longer delayed.


To learn what changes have been made in the draft terms made public a year ago now, we must await publication of the official document within the next few days. It is apparent without further information that the negotiators on the Canadian side did not cling to the position stated last year that Canada's last word in the matter of finance had been said. The Star's correspondent reports on what is believed to be good ground that the Dominion payments have been increased by an amount somewhere between three and six millions of dollars. Mr. Blair Fraser, Ottawa correspondent of Maclean's magazine disclosed information to substantially the same effect.


The difference between the two totals is, from the Canadian point of view, small. It is, of course, significant from the point of view of Newfoundland. It represents approximately fifteen per cent of the budget of the province-to-be.


The most important question to which an answer is awaited is the formula found for increasing the Dominion contribution to the Newfoundland treasury. There are sound arguments for Governments at Ottawa treating the financial problem of each province on its particular merits. Yet from Confederation onward, the rule followed has been to treat all substantially alike, to calculate requirements on a per capita basis. More for one leads to demands for more from others. The payments to Newfoundland will be of particular interest to treasurers of the other provinces, a fact which Ottawa has, of course, had constantly in mind. It is possible that the situation has been met by increasing the amount of the promised transitional grant, first set at $3,500,000.


It would be unfortunate if the arrangements made with Newfoundland should add to the long-standing difficulties in the financial relationships between the provinces and the Dominion. It would be no less unfortunate if rigidity of viewpoint left Newfoundland to contend with the same sort of problems that have troubled the history of some other provinces.


Our view we have already stated, that Newfoundland should, as a province, be able to undertake the difficult governmental tasks before it adequately financed, satisfied that its situation has been fairly assessed and its needs met.


Source : "An Agreement Reached With Newfoundland", editorial, Montreal Star, November 22, 1948, p. 10.


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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College