22 March 2007

Danny Williams: the problem of being known

[Update: See note below and crosslink on the movie Secret Nation.]

Responsible Government League
's Liam O'Brien is one turned off Conservative.

If anyone wants to understand the extent of dissatisfaction in some quarters with Premier Danny Williams, take a gander at Liam's posts here and here.

For a guy who is as patriotic as anyone else, Danny Williams' claim that anyone backing the current federal government is betraying his or her province, well, let's just say that as soon as those words were broadcast, you could tell there would be some cheesed off locals.

Liam already staked his position on the budget in another post.

This outburst from Liam dovetails nicely with some comments offered by CBC's provincial affairs reporter David Cochrane on Thursday edition of the political panel. Cochrane said that Danny Williams is persona non grata [Bond words, not Cochrane's] in Ottawa these days.

No surprise for Bond readers since that point has been made here repeatedly. As much as Danny Williams has been trying to change his messaging - or at least was toning down the rhetoric right before the budget - the damage has been done.

That's what makes comments from another CBC reporter, radio's legislative reporter Mike Rossiter a bit odd. In Mike's debrief on the Thursday Morning Show, Rossiter talked about comments by an unnamed person or persons that Ottawa simply doesn't understand Danny Williams' economic goals and his nationalism.

Rossiter also referred to the whole fallow field legislation idea which the Prime Minister rejected flatly. According to Rossiter it fell to people like John Fitzgerald, Williams' ambassador to the Prime Minister's waiting room, to explain what Williams was after.

To be frank, that sounds like something we'd hear from the Premier's personal emissary in Ottawa, the highly expensive but apparently ineffectual position Williams created two years ago. While Rossiter is too good a reporter to let slip his sources, his comments sound like they are straight from the lips of the guy whose master's thesis apparently inspired the highly entertaining but highly fictitious movie Secret Nation. [See the correction here. The movie predated the MA thesis so obviously, the later one couldn't inspire the former.]

There are a couple of problems with this view. First of all, if Fitz did such a fine job of translating Danny-speak into something that the ears of federal officials could understand, the whole fallow field issue would have been resolved, wouldn't it?

Second of all, given that Danny Williams is supposedly the Great Negotiator (patent pending), it seems highly odd that a fellow who recently was reduced to sitting in a waiting room hoping to catch a PMO official on the way to a meeting could successfully explain fallow field when the Great Negotiator himself had a meeting with the Prime Minister himself.

If Danny couldn't explain himself to Stephen, it defies even the most fanciful brain to believe that Fitz could do better. Perhaps all that was needed was some appropriate anecdote about 19th century ecclesiastical history and Harper suddenly had a slap-head moment.

Perhaps Harper was convinced by a short recitation of the story linking renovations to the Basilica in the 1950s to Confederation and the Canadianization of Newfoundland and Labrador. ["Skinner consequently had to avoid inflaming anti-Catholic opinion, resurrecting Newfoundland nationalism, or upsetting politicians. If he was pro-Canadian or a 'confederate,' he kept it to himself. ... (The Basilica's interior) spoke more about Newfoundland’s dim Irish past than about its shiny Canadian future..."]

More substantively, though it would be difficult to sustain the argument that people don't understand Danny Williams' nationalism. Their understanding would be born of many things, not the least of which is a traditional townie view of Confederation and Canada. Williams has displayed it openly in many places. In his now famous June 2001 speech in Halifax, Williams took pains to describe the federal government in the most vicious of terms. He has made similar comments in the legislature, some of which, such as comments on the Churchill falls deal, are closer to the realm of fantasy than any matter of fact.

Williams' nationalism, though might well be clearly understood by those in Ottawa given who he appointed as his personal representative.

For those readers who aren't familiar with historian Fitzgerald's views, take this portion of a paper prepared for the Vic Young Airing of Grievances:
Accompanying this public discussion has been an academic debate over Newfoundland nationalism and the merits of Confederation. John Fitzgerald has been a prominent critic of the impact of the Terms of Union on Newfoundland. Invoking the weight of archival evidence -— in a published interview, Fitzgerald asserts that "History is incontrovertible on some of this stuff" -— he notes that [Craig] Dobbin and [former cabinet minister Walter] Noel raise legitimate points. Fitzgerald views the current reappraisal of Newfoundland's constitutional relationship with Canada as a positive development: "The one thing that is overwhelming in this is that I think people are starting to realize generally that Canada's best interests are not necessarily Newfoundland's best interests....And that's a good thing." His scholarly work makes three main arguments: the Terms of Union were negotiated through an extremely unfair and flawed political process; Confederation has not served the province's economic interests; and joining Canada marked the grievous loss of Newfoundland's nationhood. The popularity of this view was reflected during the special conference convened by the Newfoundland Historical Society to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Confederation, titled "Encounters with the Wolf."
Fitzgerald's views are not without criticism from other local historians. The above linked paper notes the views of one historian, namely Jeff Webb:

...Webb has debunked the conspiracy theory that the vote for Confederation was somehow rigged and outlines how nationalist historiography has perpetuated romantic myths rooted in an interpretation of Newfoundlanders as victims. Webb argues that these myths not only ignore the reality of Newfoundland's history, but also embrace a disturbing right-wing ideology which implicitly rejects the democratic rights Newfoundlanders freely exercised in 1949. In addition to this ideological component, nationalism draws on the wider cultural appeal that conspiracy theories enjoy in the present period of political malaise — in Newfoundland as elsewhere in North America — because they offer a fulfilling romantic fantasy:

For a generation that came of age under Smallwood, Moores or Peckford, creating a mythology about the idyllic communities before confederation is easy. Other critics will admit to the existence of poverty, but point to the value of the resources that might have made Newfoundlanders wealthy if Canada had not stolen them. While these resources had the theoretical potential to enrich Newfoundlanders, our experience, under several constitutional regimes, has been that the reality of capitalist exploitation of these resources did not benefit most Newfoundlanders very much. In fact, the most hardy perennial in Newfoundland has been the struggle to find a constitutional solution to economic problems."
Of course, if none of that were true, any doubts federal Conservatives had about the feisty Premier of the eastern province were dispelled in October by none other than the Premier's brother. Both the Prime Minister and the federal Conservative party president were given a fine welcome to what the other Williams apparently referred to as "Dannyland".

Any problems Danny Williams is having in Ottawa do not arise from any misunderstanding about who he is and what he is striving for.

Rather, officials in Ottawa and more particularly, Conservative politicians understand Williams very well. His words and his actions have already branded him indelibly in their minds. How Williams might change that view and restore a productive relationship where none now exists, well, that is a matter for another post.

25 comments:

Liam O'Brien said...

Thanks for the traffic. LOL.

Couple of quick points -- I always thought Bren Walsh inspired Secret Nation, which is a great Newfoundland film, regardless of your views on Confederation . . .

The "rigging" laid out in that film is not really anything at all like the problems and issues that Fitzgerald highlights in his fairly decent academic work.

I think it's too bad Fitzgerald wasn't given a place where he could explore these issues more. I do not believe his current position should have even been created. Said it when Rowe held it. I still say it. Even a great chap like Fitzgerald can't really do much with it, and it's taxpayers' money on the line.

As for my responses to Danny and others. It comes out of genuine dislike of the abuse of the views of proud NLers.

One CAN be an NL nationalist, an NL patriot or an NLer who believes in empowering this province (as I do) and see serious and fatal changes and flaws with the position and language coming out of the Confederation building. . . not to mention the neglect of several important issues that, if the premier was serious about his concern for the empowerment of NL, would be at least equally worth his time if not worth more focus.

dbp said...

I think you do Fitzgerald (and yourself) a disservice with the Webb 'rebuttal' that you included above.

I will preface with the fact that I do view myself as somewhat of a nationalist, holding views akin to if not the same as Liam (while being liberal as opposed to conservative with my politics).

From your first excerpt: "His scholarly work makes three main arguments: the Terms of Union were negotiated through an extremely unfair and flawed political process; Confederation has not served the province's economic interests; and joining Canada marked the grievous loss of Newfoundland's nationhood." The first two are valid points, while the third is more an emotional assessment than a political or historical one.

To claim the referendum process was a case of democratic rights being freely exercised (as Webb does) is naive in the extreme, and that is being generous. You don't have to be a separatist to recognize that the decision of a democratically elected National Convention was changed by the British government at the behest of a minority group. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to acknowledge that the campaign was biased toward a vote for Confederation and that the Confederates had significant outside support. That type of political interference by external governments in what should have been a purely internal political issue would be considered today as having tainted the process.

It would also be an exceptionally difficult task to argue that Confederation has been in our economic best interests. Leaving pointless exercises like the cost-benefit analysis conducted by The Independent aside, simply comparing the relative growth and development of each of the Canadian provinces over the past 58 years would present a picture that is hardly flattering to the Confederate cause. Newfoundland and Labrador (like the rest of Atlantic Canada) has seen little in the way of real economic development. Indeed the story of Confederation for most of Atlantic Canada has been the loss of existing industry and a decline into reliance on natural resources. Terms of Union that prevented Newfoundland from exporting margarine to mainland Canada to protect the Canadian dairy industry is demonstrative of the type of 'development' Confederation brought .

Would we have been better off economically as an independent nation? Impossible to predict. We may have the resources, yet the political history of Newfoundland as an independent nation was more frequently a story of corruption and incompetence than that of effective and well managed governance. (Of course one could argue the same could be said of our post-Confederation politics as well.) I would argue however that negotiating terms of confederation as an independent nation would have provided Newfoundland and Labrador an opportunity to obtain a better deal than the existing terms. Events playing out the way they did amounted to agreeing to sell the house without establishing a price first.

The nationhood issue is a purely abstract and emotional one, and while I personally lament the loss of nationhood it is not the basis for reasoned or fact based debate.

Sheesh, maybe I should just start my own blog... ;-)

WJM said...

Terms of Union that prevented Newfoundland from exporting margarine to mainland Canada to protect the Canadian dairy industry is demonstrative of the type of 'development' Confederation brought.

Yes, but for Term 46, we could have been Margarine Magnates!!!

Term 46 has long since been rendered spent. Notice sub (2) of that Term.

dbp said...

Ah yes, the fine art of using facts to avoid the point...

I did say that the term was demonstrative. The point was not that we'd all be living in mansions thanks to Good Luck margarine, but that the existence of the term indicated a) the relative strengths of the bargaining positions and b) the concern (or lack thereof) Canada had with ensuring the growth and prosperity of the new province. Nothing wrong with Newfoundland and Labrador exporting natural resources to a resource hungry Quebec and Ontario, but a manufactured good that would compete with the mainland dairy industry? Especially given the sheer destructive power that our Margarine Tycoons could have unleashed on those poor farmers in Quebec and Ontario. No, better keep a lid on that.

Simon said...

Just to respond to a couple of your points.

It always struck me as odd when the nationalists decry the British action to include the option of Confederation for public consideration as interference and tainting the process. And at the behest of a minority group? ALL the options were in the minority at that point.

The fact that the National Assembly refused to do that on their own when they should have and when it was incumbent upon them to; THAT was clearly a highjacking of a democratic process by self-interested elites.

I agree that the Indy’s “analysis” was junk from the get-go. But as for the loss of existing industry and a decline into reliance on natural resources, any economic development based on extraordinarily high tariffs, as existed in NL at the time, was going to collapse in time and would have happened even if we were an independent state. Unless we decided to sit outside the WTO, for example.

Would we have done better on our own? There is no evidence to suggest that and there’s lost of evidence to the contrary.

Could we have negotiated a better deal as a separate state? Again, outside of wishful think, there is no evidence to suggest that and there’s lost of evidence to the contrary.

What would have been the alternative deal? Is there any realistic expectation that Ottawa, who was a reluctant marriage partner at the time, would have accepted NL under terms that would today be called asymmetrical federalism? Over the objections of every other province?

No. It was either essentially the deal we had or no deal at all. And no deal at all would have lead to all kinds of massive economic and social upheaval in the long-term.

WJM said...

Nothing wrong with Newfoundland and Labrador exporting natural resources to a resource hungry Quebec and Ontario,

Nope. Nothing wrong with it. And nothing nefarious about it either: Labrador's iron ore was already in development before Confederation, and would never have been developed but for the capital invested by the steel industry in Canada and the U.S. The plan, right from the 1930s when approved by the Newfoundland government, was to export iron ore pellets to steel mills. Duh. That's how you make steel.

There's nothing stopping anyone, legally, from building a steel mill in Labrador or Newfoundland, if they want.

And the resources are under the control of the same government now, as they were before Confederation: the one in St. John's.

but a manufactured good that would compete with the mainland dairy industry?

The "margarine Term" was written in at Newfoundland's request, to protect Newfoundland's interests: at the time, butter was rare in Newfoundland; margarine was more widely used, because it could keep longer and be shipped to and stored in more places.

Margarine, at the time, was banned in Canada.

Problem.

Term 46 solved the problem.

Actually, Canadian domestic law also solved the problem; the federal ban was actually lifted before Confederation. In 1950, the courts settled the jurisdictional battle over margarine in favour of the provinces. Quebec kept its provincial ban until the 1960s; many other provinces had "colour" laws on the books until much later, as QUebec still does.

Once the margarine ban was removed in Canada outside Newfoundland, as it was, as per Term 46, it became legal to export margarine from Newfoundland.

Still is.

Wanna open a big margarine factory?

Go for it. There's nothing stopping you.

But, really, don't let ugly things like facts get in the way of a good ol' Newfoundland crypt-separatist mythological rant.

Mark said...

Just to play devil's advocate, if we never joined Canada would they have opened their trade to out margarine? I don't think so.

And if we stayed out of Confederation would we have been "given" more economic development? Not sure about that either.

Sooner or later, we Newfoundlanders (federalists or separatists) are going to have to pull up our own bootstraps.And stop living in this imaginary world that others have stolen everything from us.

And before you say the word "fishery", ask yourself if the level of government who brought us Brinco, chocolate and rubber boot factories, hydroponic cucumbers, 140 odd fish plants, an under the table members' allowance and can't remember how many filights it takes to Goose Bay in a run of day would have really, really done a better job of that too.

100 thing about Confederation that really really suck. The St. Lawrence Seaway, the Auto Pact, Free Trade, etc. All in the interestst of others. But this "we'd be better off on our own" schtick is a pipe dream.

We would, however, be better off if we stopped complaining about the nonsensical stuff of yesteryear and started focusing on our own future.

Absent an environment that welcomes such discussion, most of us will continue to seek (and find) that environment somewhere else.

WJM said...

What sucks about the St. Lawrence Seaway?

Edward G. Hollett said...

I'll take up with Mark's point in a second but first on the matter of Webb/Overton.

The Webb/Overton critique of Fitzgerald is a systematic one that demolishes what amounts nothing more than a recitation of the hoary old nationalist anti-Confederate myths. It's valid to include it here since it does exactly what it is supposed to do: demonstrate the weak foundations of the anti-Confederate mythology.

Liam, I used to think the movie was an amalgam of many myths until I read the piece linked to in the post. At that point it became clear.

As for Mark, you made the point. The essence of the position taken by so many in our province is to simply find some foreign force to blame for everything and avoid any responsibility for our own actions at all.

We have had responsible government again since 1949. You'd be hard-pressed to know that though given the politicians we tend to elect.

There are no constitutional obstacles within Canada to the provincial government in Newfoundland and Labrador developing this province as a wealthy and prosperous place. The political ones are entirely our own.

dbp said...

Simon, in my reading of your blog you strike me as a pretty intelligent chap, which is why I was disappointed in some of your arguments. Not so much the views, but the case made for them.

I said I was somewhat of a nationalist. Not in that I say we should have remained an independent nation for the sake of being independent, in that I want Newfoundland and Labrador to be strong and capable of supporting itself. I'm not anti-Canadian nor pro-Canadian. I'm not anti-confederate or pro-confederate. I do have some serious problems with how the entire process unfolded though.

The fact that the National Assembly refused to do that on their own when they should have and when it was incumbent upon them to

So you are saying that by the authority of your own judgement the fact the Assembly chose not to include Confederation on the ballot makes that a dereliction of their duty and negates the fact that it was the majority decision of a democratically elected assembly? You are certainly secure in your convictions, I'll give you that. They were wrong because they didn't do what you think they should have. How very Danny-esque of you. The National Assembly was hijacked by self-interests, no doubt. Both those of the 'elites' as you call them and of those of Joe Smallwood.

In the end the Assembly unanimously agreed to Responsible Government and Commission of Government being on the ballot. Smallwood's motion to include Confederation was defeated 29 to 16. That does not sound like ALL options being in the minority to me.

The action of the British government to include Confederation despite the decision of the Assembly was a ringing endorsement of Eric Bowring's testimony at the Amulree Commission: "The average person here is such that we ought never to have had self-government, we are not fit for it." Once again Mother Britain must step in and ensure that we benighted fools didn't make a mess of things again. If the decision was supposed to be in the interest of ensuring that the people were not denied choice, why wasn't economic union with the US included? That was an option advocated by some. Yet the concern for democracy and the will of the people didn't extend that far I guess.

My reference to loss of industry was directed more at the loss of the manufacturing industry in Nova Scotia (and Quebec for that matter) to Ontario after the initial round of confederation. Admittedly my knowledge of this is spotty at best and based mostly on discussions I have had with others, so I will not claim expertise on it. The point is that Atlantic Canada as a whole, not just Newfoundland and Labrador, has yet to see the prosperity promised by the Confederates.

I do not lay this solely at the feet of Ottawa. We were quite capable of making a mess of things before Confederation and Bowring's comments stung all the more because there was some truth to them. Yet to claim an abundance of evidence that we would have fared worse while no evidence to support our potential success is as much a fallacy as to argue the opposite. We can predict and speculate all we want and it is all nothing more than an unwritten alternate history novel. Arguing that we couldn't have made a better deal because Canada was reluctant seems specious to me. I somehow find it difficult to believe that a Canada that has grown accustomed to caving in to the demands of Quebec would have suddenly grown a spine when faced with the potential of an independent country blocking easy access to the Atlantic, especially given the possibility that this country would develop strong economic ties with the US. Even if we had done no better, at least it would have been a deal struck between two equals and Newfoundland would have entered confederation not as an unwanted beggar.

You actually sum it up perfectly. It was the deal we had or no deal at all. No real negotiations. We came hat in hand, unwanted by Britain and unable to take care of ourselves. Mother Britain was abandoning us and so we sought the patronage of Uncle Ottawa. Who were we to question his largess? The legacy was an autocratic premier who was appointed to the office to start, allowing him to gain a political stranglehold that lasted over two decades. Decades of yet more inept governance and economic mismanagement. So we got our baby bonus, pensions and pogey, some hospitals and schools, and in the end not so much has changed after all.

Mark said...

Ask the folks in the bustling port cities of Saint John and Halifax what sucks about the Seaway.

Imagine, for a moment if the federal government cut a canal to Winnipeg from the Pacific ocean to Winnipeg to bypass the port of Vancouver.

dbp said...

WJM

For someone concerned about "ugly things like facts" some of yours seem shaky.

I would sincerely like to know what you are referring to with respect to the comment about a 1930's decision. Being a relatively new resident of Labrador West the history of the iron industry is something I'm curious about. I know that the presence of iron resources was well known, but my understanding was that the extent of the reserves in Labrador West wasn't confirmed until the 40's and the Carol Lake project wasn't announced until 1958.

If it was merely referring a decision by government to allow pelletized iron to be exported, so what? I never took issue with the idea of resources being harvested, processed and exported, or with outside investors being involved in the development of those resources. The problem I have is when it appears there is a deliberate effort to ensure that only raw or moderately processed resources flow out of the province while restricting the outward flow of manufactured goods. I don't like that kind of scenario existing between this province and Canada any more than I like the similar situation existing now between the provincial government and Labrador.

As for the comment about a steel mill the biggest thing keeping that from happening is the fact that Joe Smallwood's bungling and Danny's ego has prevented the production of enough locally generated hydro from being available to attract investors. A nickel smelter, steel mill and aluminum smelter in Labardor would make too much sense to ever happen.

With regards to the margarine issue, another reason why margarine was in common use in Newfoundland was that it was cheaper. A principal reason governments in Canada (federal or provincial) wanted to ban or control it was they considered it unfair competition for the dairy industry. I have never seen or heard any indication (other than yours) that the Newfoundland negotiators wanted that term included. I have a hard time seeing why Newfoundland would ask to have one of it's potential exports banned. Term 46 only prevented margarine from being sent out, not butter sent in. How exactly did that protect Newfoundland's interests?

But again you do a fine job of avoiding the point by focusing the the debate on the details of Term 46. The Canadian federation, as it is composed and structured, has demonstrated that it functions to funnel the wealth and resources of the union primarily to the southern Ontario heartland, a process reinforced by CD Howe and the industrialization/conversion of industry efforts during and after WW2. My complaints aren't specifically about Newfoundland. In some ways the issues are magnified by the nature of the resources and history involved, along with the our more recent entry. But in the end most of the same complaints could be made by most if not all provinces outside Quebec and Ontario. I'd be more than happy with a Canada that works for everyone. Unfortunately this one does not, and the way Newfoundland and Labrador became a part of it is symptomatic of what is wrong with it. But hey, go ahead and dismiss my comments as a crypt-separatist mythological rant. Whatever makes that maple leaf brand on your backside stop itching when someone criticises that most perfect and holy unions that is Canada. (And before anyone claims I'm crying for more handouts, I think the Harper Equalization plan is fair and sensible and that the UI/EI system was the worst thing to ever happen to the fishing industry and Newfoundland in general.)

WJM said...

would have suddenly grown a spine when faced with the potential of an independent country blocking easy access to the Atlantic

How would that country have blocked "easy access" to the Atlantic?

On my maps, there are all sorts of ways of getting from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic that don't involve Newfoundland or Labrador.

WJM said...

Ask the folks in the bustling port cities of Saint John and Halifax what sucks about the Seaway.

Not much, really. That's a bit of — no, a lot of — a Maritime myth.

Icebreaking already meant that any seagoing ship that could reach Saint John or Halifax could reach the port of Montreal. Halifax and Saint John never were in contention to serve the hinterlands served by Seaway ports on the upper lakes.

Imagine, for a moment if the federal government cut a canal to Winnipeg from the Pacific ocean to Winnipeg to bypass the port of Vancouver.

I'd imagine that would be the biggest boondgoggle of all time.

While we're imagining stuff, imagine what the cost of Labrador iron ore pellets, FOB the steel mills who capitalized the developments, would have been if the stuff had had to be handled more than twice (into rail cars, then into a ship at Sept-Iles.)

Yeah, it sucks if you're Bell Island, but the Seaway was in effect a big massive subsidy to the development of the Labrador-Quebec iron ore industry.

WJM said...

For someone concerned about "ugly things like facts" some of yours seem shaky.

The jiggle isn't on this end.

I would sincerely like to know what you are referring to with respect to the comment about a 1930's decision.

The original mining leases for Labrador Mining and Exploration — the corporate ancestor of IOC — were issued by the pre-Confederation government of Newfoundland in the 1930s.

I know that the presence of iron resources was well known, but my understanding was that the extent of the reserves in Labrador West wasn't confirmed until the 40's and the Carol Lake project wasn't announced until 1958.

They were known enough to have been issued licenses before Confederation, which the province can't interfere with. Well, not without consequences.

I once naively asked this guy why we don't just raise the royalties on Labrador West iron ore, and he explained to me about the pre-Confederation mineral rights at play. The guy is now Chief Justice.

If he's not available to ask, try "Cain's Legacy", the official history of IOC.

The problem I have is when it appears there is a deliberate effort to ensure that only raw or moderately processed resources flow out of the province while restricting the outward flow of manufactured goods.

"Deliberate effort" on whose part?

It's a piss-poor conspiracy, innit it? What, with that heavily subsidized ferry that should, if local mythology is to be believed, encourage local manufacture.

As for the comment about a steel mill the biggest thing keeping that from happening is the fact that Joe Smallwood's bungling and Danny's ego has prevented the production of enough locally generated hydro from being available to attract investors.

Rubbish. There's plenty of power available; it's only the ghost of Churchill Falls, the fear that someone is out to get us, and the allergy to private or Quebec investment, that's prevented its development.

If power alone is what's preventing it, then why not allow a private company to harness a Labrador site — and there's more than just the so-called "Lower Churchill" to work with — to generate what they need?

A nickel smelter, steel mill and aluminum smelter in Labardor would make too much sense to ever happen.

There are significant geographic and climatic restraints. I remember as a kid watching the icebreaker testing the "Port Labrador" dream.

It failed.

With regards to the margarine issue, another reason why margarine was in common use in Newfoundland was that it was cheaper. A principal reason governments in Canada (federal or provincial) wanted to ban or control it was they considered it unfair competition for the dairy industry.

Yip. They considered it so, WHEREVER it might be made; Canada, Newfoundland, or the United States.

And?

I have never seen or heard any indication (other than yours) that the Newfoundland negotiators wanted that term included.

You haven't done much reading on the subject, then. Really basic stuff. You ever read Bridle? Volume 2, Tome I, p. 595, minutes of the Ottawa delegation meeting of July 23rd, 1947:

"Mr. Smallwood pointed out that margarine was presently produced and used in Newfoundland on a large scale and enquired whether production could be continued in the event of union, in view of present Federal legislation preventing production and use in Canada."

External Affairs responded in August (ibid., p. 618)

"With regard to the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine, Mr. St. Laurent proposed that a clause might be drafted to the effect that the section of the federal statutes prohibiting manufacture and sale should not apply to Newfoundland except with the concurrence of the Newfoundland legislature."

I have a hard time seeing why Newfoundland would ask to have one of it's potential exports banned.

It didn't. It succeeded in having a pre-existing ban of one of its products excluded from application, even though that ban was still in effect, briefly, in every other province.

Term 46 only prevented margarine from being sent out, not butter sent in.

Read Term 46.

Then read it again.

Then, just to be sure... read it again, again.

Term 46 allowed margarine to be continued manufacture in Newfoundland. It prevented the general ban on margarine, in effect everywhere else, from applying to the new province...

How exactly did that protect Newfoundland's interests?

...and the ban on exporting Newfoundland margarine to the rest of the country was predicated only on the ban existing in the rest of the country. Once that ban was gone, so was the prohibition.

Now, go back and really, really, really read Term 46.

But again you do a fine job of avoiding the point by focusing the the debate on the details of Term 46.

You raised it, showed your limited understanding of it, and needed to be straightened out.

Glad to be of service.

The Canadian federation, as it is composed and structured, has demonstrated that it functions to funnel the wealth and resources of the union primarily to the southern Ontario heartland,

How so? In your answer, make particular reference to the fact that natural resources are almost exclusively under provincial jurisdiction.

But in the end most of the same complaints could be made by most if not all provinces outside Quebec and Ontario.

And they have been. You know Roger Grimes' "Blame Canada" commission the other year? Pretty well every province has done the same thing at some point in the past 100 or so years.

It says a lot more about provincial politics than it does about Canada.

But hey, go ahead and dismiss my comments as a crypt-separatist mythological rant.

If the myth fits...

Is the shakiness still there? You might want to try a better mount or a different eyepiece this time.

Mark said...

"independent country blocking easy access to the Atlantic"

Blocking it with what? Our dories? Give me a f***ing break.

There was no such thing as a territorial sea back then. Nobody recognized anything up to 12 miles anyway.

You people are lunatics. Blocking the Atlantic. Come on.

Mark said...

NL nationalists' aspiration of being another Panama. What lofty political ambition. What opportunity squandered. What a great cospriacy to keep "los pueblos" down. Maybe we should make a sequel to secret nation. Or a prequel, in which Bolivar works his way up the continent decades before to free us of our oppressors.

Pass the pipe. It's my turn.

WJM said...

There was no such thing as a territorial sea back then. Nobody recognized anything up to 12 miles anyway.

Even if there were, you can very easily get ships to and from NS, NB, PEI, and QC without ever once touching the sacrosanct territorial waters of Glorious Republic.

dbp said...

It's good to see that discussion can take place without deteriorating into name calling and sarcasm. I'm a big boy. I don't mind having my opinions challenged and when presented with a good arguement or clarification of misinformation, I can accept being wrong and learn from it. Sarcasm not required.

WJM, after wading through the aforementioned sarcasm, your point on the margarine issue is taken. I never intended the point to be one of "the man keeping us down" and if that was the way it came across the I accept the blame for failing to make my point clear.

Either Newfoundland entered into the negotiations viewed as a potential new member and equal parter in the federation, or it was viewed as something less than that, accepted under the duress of political necessity. The fact that the minutes you quote indicate that the Smallwood "enquired whether production could be continued in the event of union" shows it was more the latter than the former. If equals at the table why would be be asking permission as opposed to arguing for Canada to consider dropping its ban? And what would the feds have to loose, given that the federal ban could have been dropped and inter-provincial trade restrictions would still have provided the necessary protections? You are right that my understanding of the issue was inadequate and that I had fallen victim of some of the myths perpetuated. I stand corrected.

Thanks for the info on the mining leases. I had looked through some info on the IOC website and saw reference to the formation of Labrador Mining and Exploration, but none regarding the issuing of mining leases. I have tried to be clear on the fact that I'm not one of those who sees pre-Confederation Newfoundland as some golden age paradise. Our governments before Confederation were as bad for incompetence, corruption and short sighted resource giveaways as anything after 1949. And we had a lot longer time as independents to mess things up than we've had as a province.

I think that the mining industry in Labrador West is an example of a reasonable success in the province. I don't know enough about the royalty rates or nature of the leases to comment on that aspect, but at least it had lead to the establishment of industrial development within the province where resources are mined and processed before export to world markets. It has led to significant revenues for the province, the creation of a lot of quality employment (including my job indirectly) and the development of a local base of expertise. Sounds similar to where the oil industry was heading before Danny decided to muck around with it.

I disagree with your comment about there being plenty of power available. There is plenty of POTENTIAL power available. The problem is that few corporations are interested in doing the work of developing it themselves anymore. Companies that could potentially put an aluminum smelter or steel mill in Labrador would be looking for a low cost power commitment from government and if this governmet couldn't or wouldn't provide it then other global jurisdictions are available. I do agree that the problem is the paranoia about any deal that involves Quebec and right now, Danny's megalomania driving him to "go it alone". The Lower Churchill could and should have already been further along in development, and along with it a block of low cost power to encourage industrial development in Labrador.

There are certainly geographic and climatic limitations, but I fail to see how any would be sufficient barrier to preclude the development of those types of idustries, any more than they prevented IOC, Wabush mines, the Upper Churchill or the proposed LabMag project with a mine near Shefferville piping slurry to a pellet plant at Ross Bay Junction. Create the regulatory and competitive financial environment and engineers will find a way around the rest. (BTW, I blame the lack of those conditions solely on the province, not on Ottatwa or Confederation.)

As for my comment regarding access to the Atlantic, I did say "easy" access. I suspect without foreknowledge of global warming and given your own description of the failure of "Port Labrador", ships sailing from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic would fail the definition of "easy". That said, the choice of the word "blocking" was a poor one. It implied we could somehow prevent access. What I meant was that the prospect negotiating an agreement with a sovreign Newfoundland to deal with issues regarding territorial waters and resources (and passage through Newfoundland airspace for that matter) must have seemed less than appealing to Canadian beurocrats and certainly have been a motivating factor in wanting to get a deal done on Confederation quickly, preferably before Newfoundland became independent again rather than after.

Finally, in response to your question about how it is I feel the federation funnels resources to the heartland, I would argue that when the first round of Confederation took place and with every step afterwards, there was a conscious choice to be made regarding how the Canadian Federation would function. Either the goal would be to encourage regional development to ensure other parts of the country could catch up to the more developed central Canada or to allow a system where outlying regions would feed resources to the growing industrial base at the center. This industry would then in turn supply the manufactured goods outward. Neither system is inherently bad or good, but the second system does bring with it a resultant accumulation of wealth at the center which then requires government action to redistribute. Either way, the federal government would be required to intervene to try and establish some semblance of balance and unity in the country, either in economic development activities (which frequently fail) or in federal cash transfers (which have given us the current equalization mess).

The relative political dominance of Ontario from the beginning of Canada's formation ensured the second route would be the system of choice. Not by some grand conspiracy, but by simple human nature. People take care of their own and tend to want development to take place locally. If government (and more importantly the bureaucracy) is predominantly central Canadian, then the issues that are deemed important will be those of Central Canadians.

dbp said...

Mark, here's your f***ing break. In 1945 Truman unilaterally extended US control of offshore resources to 200 miles, with Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador following suit to cover the Humboldt fishing grounds, all between 1946 and 1950. Of course an independent Newfoundland, with all the motivation in the world to do the same would never have thought of that, right? You may actually have some valid points to make but if YOU lay of the pipe maybe you'll be able to make them in a way that they'll be worth listening to.

WJM said...

Either Newfoundland entered into the negotiations viewed as a potential new member and equal parter in the federation, or it was viewed as something less than that, accepted under the duress of political necessity. The fact that the minutes you quote indicate that the Smallwood "enquired whether production could be continued in the event of union" shows it was more the latter than the former.

No, it shows that the Canadian side had had no idea that the margarine issue was a problem until Newfoundland raised it, and got what it wanted: an exemption from the ban that was already on its last legal legs in Canada, and which was, in fact, struck down by the Supreme Court before the Terms were even signed.

If equals at the table why would be be asking permission as opposed to arguing for Canada to consider dropping its ban?

Probably the context of the times: there was already a high likelihood that the ban was going to be gone anyway. In any event, Canada DID drop the ban, (A) in the particular case of Newfoundland, through the Terms and (B) through the 1948 Supreme Court cast and subsequent legislative amendments. By the time Newfoundland became a province, there was no prohibition either on local manufacture, OR, for that matter, on export to the rest of Canada. In fact, I think one of the local manufacturers did export. (Good Luck?)

And what would the feds have to loose, given that the federal ban could have been dropped and inter-provincial trade restrictions would still have provided the necessary protections?

The feds had supported the ban for the same reason the provinces had: political pressure from dairy farmers that was only overcome by margarine manufacturers taking recourse in the courts.

Our governments before Confederation were as bad for incompetence, corruption and short sighted resource giveaways as anything after 1949.

"As bad"?

Try "far worse"!

Sounds similar to where the oil industry was heading before Danny decided to muck around with it.

Danny and his playtoys.

I disagree with your comment about there being plenty of power available. There is plenty of POTENTIAL power available.

Point.

The problem is that few corporations are interested in doing the work of developing it themselves anymore.

That's rubbish. Quebec opened up small-scale hydro sites to private development, and has had many takers.

Companies that could potentially put an aluminum smelter or steel mill in Labrador would be looking for a low cost power commitment from government

No, they would be looking for low-cost power, whether that takes the form of their own production (like the paper mills in Newfoundland) or long-term low-cost committments from the People's Republican Power Commission.

I do agree that the problem is the paranoia about any deal that involves Quebec and right now, Danny's megalomania driving him to "go it alone".

He has a curious definition of "go it alone", involving loan guarantees from the federal government, and financing whose short list is still, essentially, Hydro-Quebec.

If he really wanted the Sinn Fein approach, he'd at least do what PEI has done with wind energy, and allowed local private investors to buy into the project with bonds. But "private" is a four-letter word in Dannystan, though, to be fair, it was so before Danny's Glorious Revolution of 2003.

There are certainly geographic and climatic limitations, but I fail to see how any would be sufficient barrier to preclude the development of those types of idustries, any more than they prevented IOC, Wabush mines, the Upper Churchill or the proposed LabMag project with a mine near Shefferville piping slurry to a pellet plant at Ross Bay Junction.

Where would you be able to ship bauxite into, and finished aluminum out of, Labrador, at tidewater, all year round?

As for my comment regarding access to the Atlantic, I did say "easy" access.

There's nothing espeically difficult about getting ships in and out of any of four other provinces of Canada from the open Atlantic; two others are at least seasonally open via Hudson's Bay; and the rest, indirectly, via road and rail.

Newfoundland and Northern Mainland Territory could have territorial waters out to the Gulf and Oceanic mid-points, and a massive navy to enforce its jurisdiction, and it still makes no difference.

ships sailing from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic would fail the definition of "easy".

And they would do so, regardless of whether Newfoundland was independent or how extensive and well-enforced a maritime cordon it erected around itself out of spite.

What I meant was that the prospect negotiating an agreement with a sovreign Newfoundland to deal with issues regarding territorial waters and resources (and passage through Newfoundland airspace for that matter) must have seemed less than appealing to Canadian beurocrats and certainly have been a motivating factor in wanting to get a deal done on Confederation quickly, preferably before Newfoundland became independent again rather than after.

Absolutely, but there's nothing nefarious about that. People and governments act in self-interest. I'm shocked.

I still laugh at hearing John Fitzgerald ejaculate "It was a land grab!!!" back in 1999.

The relative political dominance of Ontario from the beginning of Canada's formation ensured the second route would be the system of choice. Not by some grand conspiracy, but by simple human nature. People take care of their own and tend to want development to take place locally.

Yip. What's stopping development from "taking place" locally?

Nothing in the Canadian Constitution or federal policies that I can see. You?

WJM said...

In 1945 Truman unilaterally extended US control of offshore resources to 200 miles

The US did not declare 200 mile EEZ for fisheries purposes until 1977.

Of course an independent Newfoundland, with all the motivation in the world to do the same would never have thought of that, right?

I'd be inclined to think the answer is "no".

Of course, we'll never know for sure, and can play "what if" until the cows come home... but I do recall the tremendous lack of vision shown by the government of independent Newfoundland on at least two major occasions.

First, at the turn of the last century, when Newfoundland bowed to the pressure of cable and telegraph interests and drove wireless out of town. Wireless, of course, won out as a superior technology, but while radio was making great strides in the rest of North America, its development was retarded in Newfoundland.

Second, after WWI Britain offered surplus military aircraft to various Dominions and Colonies. Australia and New Zealand said Hells Yeah, and thus gave birth to the Flying Doctors and air mail.

Canada said Hells Yeah, and from the surplus aircraft were born bush flying, the earliest northern resource surveys (including the first aerial reconnaissance of Labrador timber, in 1919... by Nova Scotians), and the seeds of the Canadian aeronautics and aerospace industries.

Newfoundland said "Huh? What do we need airplanes for, we have the Reid Newfoundland mail steamers. Thanks, but no thanks."

I would argue, in fact, that that was quite possibly the single biggest mistake Newfoundland ever made. Ever. On anything.

Mark said...

dbp - Truman claimed the resources of the shelf, but no rights to the water above it. In fact, at that time the US was THE WORLD'S MOST STAUNCH ADVOCATE FOR FREEDOM OF THE SEAS.

Get your history or facts straight before writing such asinine and ridiculous crap.

So, with that out of the way, tell me once again, oh smart one, how the mighty nation of Newfoundland was going to "block access" to the Atlantic?

Get real.

dbp said...

WJM

We'll have to agree to disagree on the sub context in the Terms of Union negotiations. But I am curious to know if you feel there was a) anything flawed about the process going from the National Assembly stage to the point of actually signing the Terms and b) if Newfoundland and Labrador really has gotten as much as it could have out of Confederation?

"As bad"?

Try "far worse"!


I'll go along with you there if you'll grant that the pre-Confederation politicians had the advantage of greater jurisdiction to mess up in ;-)

Quebec opened up small-scale hydro sites to private development, and has had many takers.

Small scale is one thing, but we we're talking in the context of the potential of operations like steel mills or aluminum smelters. Something on that scale would virtually guarantee either the corporate entity would look for government subsidies (such as the paper mills on the island), a partnership with government (such as was discussed between Alcoa and the provincial government in 2001 and the BC Hydro/Alcan deal currently up in the air) or a commitment on low power rates from a government owned facility. The paper mills on the island that have their own electricity generation capacity are the two oldest. The defunct Stephenville plant had none.

Where would you be able to ship bauxite into, and finished aluminum out of, Labrador, at tidewater, all year round?

Why a port at the mouth of that big massive subsidy for the Labrador-Quebec iron industry of course ;-) Of course it makes more sense to transmit the power south than ship the bauxite to Labrador, but why let that get in the way of new industry? And I'm sure Sept-Isles wouldn't mind some more business for it's port.

Absolutely, but there's nothing nefarious about that. People and governments act in self-interest. I'm shocked.

I never said it was nefarious at all, and that's the point. So why should any of the politically weaker provinces in Canada expect their interests to be protected in the face of those of Ontario or Quebec? The principal example of federal policy going against that pattern was the federal involvement in the Hibernia project which ultimately jump started the oil industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. I give Ottawa full credit for that and would point to that as an example of what needs to be happening more frequently. Yet what was the reaction in much of the "mainland" media at the time? Waste of taxpayer money!

Anyway. Enough of this. The hockey game is on. ;-)

WJM said...

We'll have to agree to disagree on the sub context in the Terms of Union negotiations.

Good. We leave off knowing I'm right, then! ;)

But I am curious to know if you feel there was a) anything flawed about the process going from the National Assembly stage to the point of actually signing the Terms

Not especially, no.

and b) if Newfoundland and Labrador really has gotten as much as it could have out of Confederation?

Yes, and then some.

Has it been short-changed? How?

I'll go along with you there if you'll grant that the pre-Confederation politicians had the advantage of greater jurisdiction to mess up in ;-)

Not by much, really.

Small scale is one thing, but we we're talking in the context of the potential of operations like steel mills or aluminum smelters.

Even an aluminum smelter, let alone a steel mill, would only use a fairly small portion of something on the scale of the so-called "Lower Churchill".

For a steel mill, assuming every other obstacle was out of the way, a fairly small hydro site could do the trick.

Something on that scale would virtually guarantee either the corporate entity would look for government subsidies (such as the paper mills on the island)

The paper mills built their own power supplies.

The paper mills on the island that have their own electricity generation capacity are the two oldest. The defunct Stephenville plant had none.

Which is an object lesson, now, innit?

Why a port at the mouth of that big massive subsidy for the Labrador-Quebec iron industry of course ;-)

Where, exactly?

Of course it makes more sense to transmit the power south than ship the bauxite to Labrador, but why let that get in the way of new industry?

Because, for starters, and this is an odd concept for some people to grasp, industries usually like to (a) turn profits, and (b) as much of them as possible.

And I'm sure Sept-Isles wouldn't mind some more business for it's port.

Not at all, as is already shown at Alouette.

I never said it was nefarious at all, and that's the point. So why should any of the politically weaker provinces in Canada expect their interests to be protected in the face of those of Ontario or Quebec?

How does Ontario or Quebec supercede or deny the interests of those smaller provinces?

The principal example of federal policy going against that pattern was the federal involvement in the Hibernia project which ultimately jump started the oil industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

There are many others. The level of federal involvement in highways construction in Newfoundland and Labrador since the 1950s has been astronomical, and is without parallel in any other province. Our provincial government doesn't like to draw attention to that; they'd rather play Blame Ottawa for every pothole. Some day, though, other provinces might just notice.

Yet what was the reaction in much of the "mainland" media at the time? Waste of taxpayer money!

You mean, the same way nationalist Newfoundlander froth at the mouth about federal money going into, well, anything, anywhere? Or how Danny Williams spits venom if you mention the Vancouver 2010 Olympics within earshot?