Fair to Newfoundland
[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]
The Confederation terms offered Newfoundland strike us as attractive enough to be decisive. Newfoundland seems to have only two other choices: resumption of dominion status given up 13 years ago, or retention of the commission form of government which replaced dominion status.
Opinion on joining Canada was sharply split before the seven-man Newfoundland delegation came to Ottawa last summer but the terms now made public surely ought to convince the sturdy islanders that they have little to lose and much to gain.
Ottawa is willing to take over most of their public debt and let them keep the surplus they have built up during the war years. They would get grants, assistance and taxation agreements as good as any other province, plus an annual transitional grant ranging from $3,500,000 down to $350,000 over a 12-year period.
This extra sum is to help tide the tenth province over until it works up sources of provincial revenue to replace customs and excise, which would of course be taken over by the federal authority. Canada would gain about $20 millions through customs and excise, but the federal payments for family allowances, old age pensions and other social security aids - on top of taxation subsidies - would total $26 millions.
It is also admitted that Canadian public services are an improvement in most respects over existing services.
However, offers of this kind are not always decided on the basis of profit. Newfoundlanders, while friendly on the whole toward Canada, have always been proud of their uniqueness. It will be natural for them to take a hard look at the mouth of this gift horse, handsome though it is.
Canadians would be pleased to have the Newfoundlanders with them. In Quebec there is likely to be some heartburning over Labrador, which Quebecois still consider should be theirs. But most people would consider it unimportant whether Labrador were Quebec's or Newfoundland's, so long as it became Canadian.
The advantages to Canada in the Newfoundland deal would not be small - control of the strategic gateway to the St. Lawrence; access to the Newfoundland import market; the cod fishing trade; control of Gander and Goose Bay airports; and an entirely new field for Canadian investments.
Source: "Fair to Newfoundland ", editorial, Vancouver Sun, November 7, 1947 , p.4. Article transcribed by Christos Kampouris.
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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College