Essay Guide
Québec History
Civilisation Occidentale
About Claude Bélanger

Lost Cause


[This document was written in 1948. For the full citation, see the end of the text.

Delegate Joseph R. Smallwood would rather argue than eat, fight a lost cause than back a winning one. Last week, as Newfoundland's dawdling National Convention ended a 13-month wrangle over the island's future, effervescent "Joey" Smallwood went down with arms waving over what looked like his biggest lost cause yet: confederation with Canada . The convention had tossed out his motion to put confederation before the voters in next spring's referendum. Instead, it plumped for other alternatives: 1) return to the Dominion status existing before 1934, or 2) keep the present, London-appointed caretaker (Commission) form of government.


To ardent Joey, that was but a temporary setback in a crowded career. He was a printer's devil before he became a publisher, and then in turn a union organizer and a co-op organizer. He was a teller of tall tales on the radio before he got a wartime job as manager of an R.C.A.F. piggery. In June 1946, Joey left his pigs, became the lone confederation candidate to be elected to the fact-finding National Convention.


In & out of the convention, Joey argued for confederation. But his arguments were not good enough. With fisheries and industry booming, and with over $35 million in the treasury, most delegates bristled at the thought of becoming mere Canadians just now. Last week, as they gave confederation the hoist, Joey made his position clear: "Only half the battle has been fought. The second half will be a countrywide crusade to let the people know the truth."


Source: "Lost Cause", Time (Canadian edition), February 9, 1948 , p. 13.


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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College