Saturday, November 17, 2012

NL and the Confederation debate

The above advertisement was published in the late 1940s in the St. John's-based, pro-Confederation newspaper - the Confederate.

And no better way to tee up Greg Malone's new book, Don't tell the Newfoundlanders: The True Story of Newfoundland's Confederation with Canada.

I look forward to the read.

I have no doubt Newfoundland was maneureved into Confederation - the evidence is overwhelming.

But then we Newfoundlanders were a highly maneurerable bunch back then, as evidenced by the above ad.

No doubt Confederation with Canada  was seen as llucrative.

Ted Russell was a cabinet minister in the very first provincial government after Canada glued itself to us.

According to the 2005 book, Uncle Mose, The Life of Ted Russell, by Elizabeth Miller, during its first year in office, the Joey administration did something Russell would later refer to as “very dishonest,” something for which Ottawa still hasn’t “forgiven us,” and from which “the people of Newfoundland are still suffering because they were corrupted by it.”

In his memoirs, Russell pointed out how, in 1949, a federal civil servant made it known Newfoundland was at a disadvantage when it came to unemployment insurance.

Turns out not one Newfoundlander would qualify for UI on the big wedding day because they didn’t have stamps and hadn’t made contributions.

Special provision was made for Newfoundlanders to the effect that anyone with three months’ stamps by March 31, 1950, would be eligible if then unemployed.

“Immediately, thousands were put to work — in January and February — at such jobs as repairing roads (under four feet of snow) and mending cemetery fences,” Russell wrote in his memoirs.

“On March 31, having supplied these men with stamps, the government fired them, thus qualifying them for benefits. Many men forgot about fishing that spring. For many, it was their first experience with legal cheating; thousands have never recovered from it.”

I've often wondered how many Newfoundlanders didn't vote for Confederation, so much as for the baby bonus et al.

The most interesting piece of the Confederation puzzle that I ever came across was a 1928 letter to the editor of the Corner Brook Western Star by the Father of Confederation himself - Joey Smallwood.

“I would fight against Confederation in any shape or form, now or at any time in the future,” he wrote in the letter.

"Why should Newfoundland enter the Confederation with Canada? What possible good would it do us? Politically it would submerge us underneath a weight of strongly organized, well-knit provincial groupings that know what they want and how to get it … what earthly chance would Newfoundland have of being heard or of being given any attention? Under these conditions Newfoundland would be like the flea on Noah’s Ark. Said the flea to the elephant ‘Who are you shoving?’”

1 comment:

Amanda! said...

Thanks for this post! Do you happen to recall where you found that advertisement? I'm interested in using it when teaching about Confederation but I'm having trouble finding the original source. Thanks!