Could Newfoundland Secede?
[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]
Is it constitutionally possible in the future for Newfoundland if at any time an anti-Confederate government were elected by popular support to secede from Confederation? Is there anything in the British North America Act to prevent the people of Newfoundland , should they so desire it, from bringing this about?
Grounds for this possibility exist because of many known factors. One of these is the known resistance of half the population to Confederation.
Secondly, the people of Newfoundland are very individualistic, and do not like outside governmental control.
Thirdly, should they become wealthy in time because of Labrador producing large sources of revenues, they may feel it unnecessary to carry on as a province of Canada in much the same way as Cuba does to the United States of America. Pan-American Union would give them defence protection if so desired.
Fourthly, history will not accept the constitutional negotiations of the present parties conducting negotiations at Ottawa . The National Convention, after two years of deliberations, rejected Confederation as an issue in Newfoundland 's affairs. In spite of this, the United Kingdom saw fit to put it on the ballot paper. The so-called referendum has therefore no legality in fact, in spite of the provision in the National Convention Act that the United Kingdom did not have to abide by its decision. The present members of the delegation are appointees of the Commission Government already shorn of its power since June 3, 1948.
Lastly, at least fifty per cent of Newfoundland population, now anti-Confederate, would end discussions and negotiations if Section 146 B.N.A. Act were adopted as it is read and understood in its present interpretation. Responsible government and duly elected representatives can only sign away a heritage of children not unborn. Canada is completing an agreement which is very vulnerable and not likely to stand the test of time.
Source : Dr. L. J. JACKMAN, "Could Newfoundland Secede?", letter to the editor, Montreal Star, November 12, 1948, p. 12.
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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College