Terms of Union with Newfoundland
[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]
The precise conditions upon which entry into Confederation has been offered to Newfoundland have at last been made public. They are sufficiently different from the data released on October 10 to acquit the Government of the charge made then that it was quibbling in saying that what had just been released was not the terms.
The arrangements which Premier King describes as going "as far as the Government of Canada can go under the circumstances" seem resigned to meet the island's needs with some margin of safety to allow for contingencies in the immediate future.
The fixed subsidy of $180,000 plus 80 cents per capita of population, the $1,100,000 grant on the same footing as the special grants made to the other Maritime provinces, the transitional aid grant starting at $3,150,000 and payment of $6,200,000 under a tax-surrender agreement would give a Newfoundland provincial administration a total in Federal aid of nearly $11,000,000. This with provincial revenue from remaining sources between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000 would more than meet the estimated requirements of $14,000,000 for carrying on a provincial administration.
The assumption by the Dominion of all but $15,000,000 of Newfoundland's debt and retention by the island of its surplus would provide conditions under which a Newfoundland provincial administration would have no immediate financial problems.
The provision for a re-examination of Newfoundland 's financial position within eight years, however, reflects the speculative nature of forecasts regarding the island's economic future. Its resources are not large, nor are its markets always dependable and the nature of its economy may be expected to create problems from time to time which would call for special treatment.
The Newfoundland Assembly has been in effect marking time since the return of the delegation it sent to Ottawa , pending disclosure of the full details of the offer Canada was prepared to make. Now discussion can begin there. It is time now for the same discussion on our part.
Geographically, it would seem natural and desirable from the Canadian point of view if Newfoundland should choose to throw in her lot with ours. It would round out our Atlantic front strategically. The union would involve some financial burden on our part, which should be understood as fully as possible before it is undertaken. The burden would not seem to be important in view of other considerations involved.
The has been little evidence that the people of Canada generally are more than casually interested in the question of bringing Newfoundland into Confederation.
There has not been the interest which the prospective addition of a tenth province would warrant. It is to be hoped that disclosure of the "terms" will provoke discussion full enough to ensure that the wishes of all on both sides may be known and taken into account.
Source: "Terms of Union with Newfoundland ", editorial, Montreal Star , November 7, 1947 , p. 12.
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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College