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After Eighty-Two Years


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

The unanimity with which the leaders of the four parties in the Canadian House of Commons have welcomed the legislation for union with Newfoundland is pleasing. It means easy passage for the bill. It must be flattering to the people of Newfoundland to find themselves welcomed on every hand.


Taking it for granted that the bill will get through in quick order, there remain but two items to complete the union. The Newfoundland commission government must take a similar step and then the British Parliament at Westminster must pass an enabling bill.


It may not be as clear sailing at Westminster.


A group of British MP's are convinced that the processes of union have so far not been democratic. Sir Alan Herbert is sponsoring a bill in the British Commons to grant Newfoundland self-government once again on the ground that Newfoundland ought to be independent in order to make a real bargain of Confederation. It is hard to see the logic of this, since the progress of bargaining and decision was handled within Newfoundland, along the most democratic lines and after the fullest discussion.


Sir Alan and those who support his view seem to have fallen victims to the arguments of the die-hard anti-Confederationists who had thought they would have their own way in a straight choice between self-government and the continuation of the commission form of government - that is, colonial status under Britain. The Confederation party was given no chance of success and, indeed, strong efforts were made to keep them from getting their case across at all. That was far from democratic, but the majority of Newfoundlanders put that right when the final balloting took place.


Sir Alan's bill, being a private member's bill, is hardly likely, however, to get a showing in Parliament. By March 31 Canada will have a tenth province and Confederation will be completed after 82 years.


Source: "After Eighty-Two Years", editorial, Vancouver Sun, February 9, 1949 , p. 4. Article transcribed by Christos Kampouris.


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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College