Tampering with the B. N. A. Act
[For the source of this document, see the end of the article.]
Margarine is being used by Ottawa to help grease the skids down which if hopes that Newfoundland will slide into Confederation. The upright residents of Newfoundland haven't got much of a dairy industry - and even if they did have one they are too strong-minded to give it a legal monopoly as Canada does.
So Ottawa has promised them the continuation of their right to make and use margarine if they accept provincial status. The gimmick is that they will not be permitted to ship it into the other provinces.
The press of Eastern Canada is horrified, and rightly so, at Ottawa's casual breach of section 121 of the British North America Act. It says that "all articles of the growth, produce or manufacture of any one of the provinces shall, from and after the union, be admitted free into each of the other provinces".
External Affairs Minister St. Laurent blandly admits that "a derogation" of the inter-provincial principle is involved in the Newfoundland deal. He means that it is tantamount to a partial repeal of the B. N. Act.
Mr. St. Laurent does not explain how this could be done with any consistency in the case of Newfoundland margarine and denied in the case of, say, B. C. apples now entering Alberta or B. C. salmon now competing with the Saskatchewan government's fish-filleting plant.
The ban on the shipment of Newfoundland margarine into the rest of Canada could be the precedent leading to a system of provincial tariff walls which could split the country even worse than the present discriminatory freight rates.
The sensible answer, whether Newfoundland comes into confederation or not, is for Parliament to repeal the ridiculous ban on margarine which prevents the citizens of the nine existing provinces from enjoying an economical and nutritious substitute for butter selling at 63 cents a pound - and going higher this week.
Source: "Tampering With the B. N. A. Act", editorial, Vancouver Sun, November 17, 1947, p. 4. Article transcribed by Claude Bélanger.
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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College