Welcome, the Tenth Province
[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]
If patriotism means anything, Canadians must be proud today because of the signing at the weekend of the agreement to bring Newfoundland into Confederation.
The ceremony was 81 years late. Newfoundland was one of the original colonies which took part in the negotiations for Confederation in the 1860's. But in 1869, two years after the original four provinces combined, a pro-Confederation government was defeated decisively in the "oldest colony", and the gap has remained - widening or narrowing according to time and circumstances - until now.
Thus is history made. It is a solemn moment, the significance of which can not be over-emphasized. Canada has suddenly become a greater, richer nation. And both sides of the deal have reason to congratulate themselves on the gains made, but most of all on the swift, relatively smooth way in which it has been negotiated.
The union is not yet formally completed. The government of Newfoundland and the Parliaments of Canada and the United Kingdom must give assent. And there is considerable agitation yet, chiefly from advocates of return to responsible government and those who want Newfoundland in economic union with the United States, against the pact.
However, it is difficult to see how there can be any chance now of reversing what has taken place in Ottawa. When all is said and done it is the people who have decided. Majority must rule, and the majority of Newfoundlanders were for Confederation.
Many of those who voted the other way in the referendums earlier this year were not so much against Confederation as wanting a better position for bargaining.
It is hard to see how Newfoundland could have had better terms than those offered. Most will agree that the terms are very generous. There may, in fact, be some jealousies in other provinces when the terms are fully understood. While British Columbia, for example, struggles to end the Mountain Differential, Newfoundland gets a freight rate scale among the lowest in Canada. Its people will continue to manufacture and eat margarine while the rest of us suffer from a butter shortage.
In the financial terms, Ottawa seems to have gone far to soften matters for Newfoundland. The former dominion will be much better off under Canada's wing than 15 years ago, when inability to make ends meet lost it its autonomy.
But Canada also gains much. And what it gains is shared with the new Canadians of Newfoundland. There is the gain in security in a troubled world and there is the gain in natural resources, especially in iron ores, of which Labrador has a fabulous store. These resources will be developed for the benefit of both peoples. But Canada's greatest gain, after all, is the addition of 320,000 sturdy folk of British stock to its family. Even if there were some disadvantages in the deal, it would still be good for us to be together. As it is, the advantages to both sides are overwhelming.
Source: "Welcome, the Tenth Province ", editorial, Vancouver Sun, December 13, 1948 , p. 4. Article transcribed by Christos Kampouris.
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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College