Newfoundland Votes Again
[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]
One thing the Newfoundland referendum has settled. There is no likelihood that the ancient colony will stay in its present status of a ward of the United Kingdom, under a commission. The decision in the July referendum will lie between a return to responsible government, which means dominion status within the Commonwealth, and joining Canada as the tenth province.
There is no ground for making confident prediction of the outcome. The responsible government party took first place in last week's balloting, but its lead was small over the Confederation group. The 15 percent of Newfoundlanders who voted for the retention of the commission form of government hold the balance of power and the fate of the territory.
The Confederationists are quite confident that most of the 15 percent will swing to their side in the second ballot. Their confidence seems reasonable. It has to be assumed that this minority voted the way it did because, after the previous experience with responsible government, Newfoundland's future as an independent entity could not be regarded as secure. Disappointed of remaining under Britain's paternal wing, their second preference might be to escape to Canada's wing. As the tenth province of a relatively stable nation of close to 13 millions they would be a lot safer in an uncertain world than they would be "going it alone."
The question of Confederation may not be settled however, even if the majority of the Islanders decide upon joining up with this country. Mr. King has said, with characteristic caution, that Canada would welcome its smaller neighbor into the fold only if the people of Newfoundland clearly showed their desire to join us.
The question is, how clear must the call be from Newfoundland ? If the result is close, Ottawa might decide, with reluctance, that it isn't clear enough. There has been extraordinary bitterness shown in the referendum campaign, most of it being displayed by the anti-Confederationists, who have painted the pro-Canada party in the blackest terms, almost as if they were Quislings deserving the usual fate of such.
Source: "Newfoundland Votes Again", editorial, Vancouver Sun, June 7, 1948 , p.4. Article transcribed by Christos Kampouris.
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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College