24 April 2007

The Newfoundland Nationalist orthodoxy

Given the nationalist rhetoric permeating the latest provincial throne speech, it might be useful to examine the writings of another Newfoundland nationalist.

The following piece appeared in the St. John's Telegram in 1998 under the title "Confederation orthodoxy". It's author, John Fitzgerald, today serves as the provincial representative in Ottawa, or as it might seem to some "our man in a Blue Line cab."

While his doctoral thesis was on the Roman Catholic church in Newfoundland in the middle of the 19th century, Fitzgerald's master's thesis was titled The Confederation of Newfoundland with Canada, 1946-1949. His interpretation has been criticised by other historians, but it did serve as the inspiration for the entertaining but fictional movie Secret nation.

The film contended that Confederation was the result of a giant plot involving foreign powers that included falsifying the final referendum result. Fitzgerald's account below does not come to that conclusion, but there is no doubt that he leans heavily on a peculiar interpretation of selected information to attack what he views as Confederate mythology. It is all to common for self-proclaimed myth debunkers to propagate a few myths of their own and Fitzgerald is no exception. He recites neatly the townie anti-Confederate catechism.

For that reason, and given Fitzgerald's current position as a senior advisor to the Premier, here is Fitzgerald's 1998 view:

Confederation orthodoxy
John Fitzgerald
The Telegram
St. John's, NL
April 6, 1998
Page 6

The Telegram editorial of April 1, celebrating 49 years of Confederation as a "qualified success," claimed that Newfoundland would have been much worse off as an independent country than as a Canadian province, and that without Ottawa, Newfoundland might return to the "grinding poverty" of the 1930s. This is the same tired orthodoxy that The Telegram and Smallwood preached in 1948: Newfoundland would not survive without Confederation.

Newfoundland very likely could have prospered without Confederation. For nine of the 10 years before Confederation Newfoundland had a balanced budget. On the eve of Confederation, Newfoundland had two-per-cent unemployment and a per-capita debt which was one-tenth of Canada's. On the eve of Confederation, Newfoundland had an accumulated surplus on current account of $43 million and $12 million in interest-free loans to Britain. In 1998 dollars this would be close to $1 billion. Was this prosperity temporary? No. Newfoundland changed forever in the 1940s. If the absence of a House of Assembly at the time prevented Newfoundlanders from knowing it or doing anything about it, then Canada certainly did know the wealth and value of Newfoundland.

Confederation may have been an qualified success for Canada, but not so for Newfoundland. Canada feared that Newfoundland could have used its resources to survive and prosper independently. The Ottawa mandarins realized that Confederation would help extract the Americans from their bases in Newfoundland. Newfoundland also had two of the largest airports in the world, situated on the Great Circle air route.

Canada wanted them, and acquired them with Confederation. It then used the control of the airports and landing rights to force its own way into American markets which had previously excluded Canada. In 1946, Newfoundland had an estimated 300 million tons of iron ore in Labrador, which Canada was interested in exploiting. (In March 1996 the IOC blasted the one billionth ton of iron ore out of Labrador, while Newfoundland still collects revenues under the 1944 royalty regime established by the Commission of Government which allows Newfoundland five per cent of what the IOC tells us their profits are.) Ottawa knew that controlling Newfoundland's fisheries would eliminate Newfoundland from competing with Nova Scotia for markets for its fish. (Could Newfoundland have managed its cod stocks any worse than Canada has?)

On Oct. 17, 1946, the Canadian High Commissioner in Newfound land, Scott Macdonald, wrote Ottawa about the benefits Newfoundland would bring to Canada. Newfoundland had "very considerable mineral and forest resources as well as easy access to the finest fishing grounds in the world." Confederation "would solve, permanently, all questions of post-war military and civil aviation rights which are at present terminable after March 31, 1949, on 12 months' notice. It would make possible a common jurisdiction over North Atlantic fisheries. ..."

And would Newfoundland return to poverty? Not likely. "Moreover," Macdonald wrote, "(Newfoundland) is richer by the investment of at least $100 million by Canada and at least $300 million by the United States primarily for defence but much of which was spent on roads, wharfs (sic), telephone lines, warehouses, similar buildings, radio ranges, airfields, the training of Newfoundlanders in various technical jobs, etc. and has redounded to the general development of the country." In Macdonald's view, Newfoundland thus had the infrastructure to sustain prosperity.

For Canada, Newfoundland's Confederation was not about the welfare state or about helping Newfoundlanders "out of poverty" (for which, The Globe and Mail tells us, we must be eternally grateful). Rather, it was about acquiring valuable resources, eliminating competition, acquiring very valuable aspects of Newfoundland's sovereignty, and doing it all rather deeply [cheaply?]. After all, Smallwood's Confederation campaigns only cost CD Howe and the Liberal Party of Canada a cool half-million bucks.
-30-

27 comments:

Liam O'Brien said...

Ed, did Fitzgerald misquote MacDonald or incorrectly represent Canada's interests in having NL join Canada?

I don't see it. Simply applying blanked statements aimed more at simply painting the works as "Townie" and "Catholic" shows a real lack of substance in your arguments. I think you just want others to share in a good old prejudiced romp here. Otherwise, why use such words here?

Try responding to what Fitzgerald actually said; take issue with the specific points.

Newfoundland journalist Bren Walsh quotes from an official memorandum out of the Canadian Department of External Affairs from June 13th, 1947:

"Newfoundland's economic union with the United States would greatly weaken the competitive of the eastern Canadian fishing industry, since the U.S. tariffs would no longer operate against Newfoundland fishery products. Under such circumstances, moreover, the Newfoundland [fishing] industry would undoubtedly attract U.S. capital. American Modernization of the Newfoundland fishery would
jeopardize Canada's position.
"

Was this too a myth? Was this stated just in jest?

Fitzerald's worries about resources issues were around back then too and shared by as many non-townie members of the Newfoundland National Assembly as the townies . ..

Charles F. Bailey, a former fisherman and boat skipper and representative of the outport Trinity South constituency was one of them. He warned about Confederation's effect on our fishery on November 25, 1947 in the assembly:

"I Refer here again to British Columbia. On the coast of Vancouver Island in 1935 certain concerns got control from the Canadian [federal] government. I was not able to get the whole story; but I found out that these trapmen had gotten control of the waters within the three mile limit and all the handline fishermen were not allowed inside it. I was told that RCMP were patrolling the coast. We [Newfoundland] have full control over our fisheries, something I believe we always had. I know something of the rows between trawlers and handline men. . . Should the people vote for Confederation, I want them to keep this in mind. There should be a clause whereby the federal government will not be able to lease any part of our waters to the detriment of the fishermen. I want our people, in negotiating for Newfoundland, whatever they do, not to turn our fisheries over to remote control. We want to see that the rights we have always fought for are kept for us.."

Edward G. Hollett said...

Liam:

At what point did I use the word Catholic in reference to nationalism? You seem to assume that "Catholic" means Roman Catholic. Other Catholics, namely English Catholics supported both the RGL and the Confederate causes. Perhaps you might be more specific in your use of language.

Aside from anything else, this tendency to invention shows the lack of any substance in your comments.

And please try and deal with things without resorting to your own preconceptions and misrepresentations as if they were evidence of anything beyond your own views. I understand it is difficult when your oxen are being gored but please try. in your own space you can be as inventive as you wish but do try and stick to the point and those pesky things called facts.

In the case of the quote you take from Walsh's piss poor excuse for history (incidentally long-ago debunked and discounted), you are quoting a memorandum on the possible implications of economic union with the United States. Since this was never a credible option, the quoted section merely serves as a curious example of a bureaucracy at work spitting out analysis.

What do you think it proves?

You wrote: "Fitzerald's worries about resources issues were around back then too and shared by as many non-townie members of the Newfoundland National Assembly as the townies."

At no point do I see any indication that Fitz is "worried" about resources. Rather he makes the ludicrous claim that "Canada wanted them, and acquired them with Confederation."

it is ludicrous since the Terms of Union specifically retained for the provincial government control of all lands minerals etc under Nl control in 1949. This includes the IOC property which he subsequently cites as an example of "Canada" taking control of NL resources. IOC was not and is not now a federal Crown corporation.

If it were an American company would you have concluded that its licenses represented a source of American government control of NL?

Of course, with respect to the fishery and offshore oil, Fitzegerald subsequent made a claim similar to some of yours namely taht in 1949, NL gave these things away to Canada. Well, it is preposterous. NL did not control them at the time and therefore could not give them away. Britain didn't control it, nor did Canada.

Do you have one quote from anyone prior to 1949 that suggested any concern that NL was ceding control of offshore oil and gas 200+ miles offshore? Just one quote would suffice.

Your quote on the fishery appears to be based on hearsay and a considerable degree of misunderstanding. Do you have anything better?

Perhaps you share AJ Baker's view that Canada failed in 1949 to advise NL that three decades hence, a completely unforeseen set of circumstances would occur, namely the 200 mile EEZ and NAFO.

In 1949, anything beyond 3 miles was the high seas and subject to foreign fishing, virtually unfettered. What control, therefore was lost in 1949 or, to use your wording "given away"?

Fitz also makes this nonsensical claim: "Ottawa knew that controlling Newfoundland's fisheries would eliminate Newfoundland from competing with Nova Scotia for markets for its fish."

Both before and after Confederation, NL fish products competed with Nova Scotia and other Canadian fish products both in domestic and foreign markets. This is a simple insight into the obvious. Should it really be necessary to systematically rebut for anyone with half a clue such piffle?

With respect to MacDonald's comments as quoted, what do you think they mean, beyond what they say, namely that both Canada and the US had invested in infrastructure in NL?

It certainly isn't any evidence to support Fitzgerald's contention on postwar prosperity for an independent NL. To the contrary it seems to ignore the post 1949 experience of successive NL governments that still could not make a very good go of things despite having fewer financial obligations and considerably more revenue than previous NL governments (both own source and from the federal government.)

So at the end of all that, perhaps you could enlighten us on what exactly about a serious of completely ludicrous, nonsensical and patently ridiculous claims, you find so convincing.

WJM said...

We [Newfoundland] have full control over our fisheries, something I believe we always had.

That's interesting.

Then what were the Fortune Bay Outrages all about? Why were there Americans, Nova Scotians, New Brunswickers, Prince Edward Islanders, Quebec/Canadians, and Europeans fishing in "fully controlled" Newfoundland waters before 1949?

WJM said...

it is ludicrous since the Terms of Union specifically retained for the provincial government control of all lands minerals etc under Nl control in 1949. This includes the IOC property which he subsequently cites as an example of "Canada" taking control of NL resources.

I pointed that out to the editor of the Newfoundland Weekly Separatist once after Fitzie spouted that theory in the pages of that organ.

Fitzie was not amused, and called to say so.

I was amused, though.

If it were an American company would you have concluded that its licenses represented a source of American government control of NL?

Actually, IOC was. It was formed by Hollinger, M.A. Hanna, Labrador Mining, National Republic, Armco, Youngston and Wheeling-Pittsburg, largely underwritten by the U.S. insurance industry.

Edward G. Hollett said...

"Actually, IOC was. It was formed by Hollinger, M.A. Hanna, Labrador Mining, National Republic, Armco, Youngston and Wheeling-Pittsburg, largely underwritten by the U.S. insurance industry."

Well, indeed. The conspiracy widens.

can we get the masons involved too, just for good measure?

In other words, according to this whole theory of the Great Conspiracy, "Canada" acquired control of Nl resources in 1949 and proof of this rests in the fact that an American company acquired mineral rights in Labrador in 1944.

It is all so obvious. How could anyone not see what is as plain as the nose on your foot?

WJM said...

It is all so obvious. How could anyone not see what is as plain as the nose on your foot?

You have revealed the truth. You are dangerous, and a target now.

Liam O'Brien said...

Ed, it was your use of the word "Cathechism" in that context.


Ed said:
"And please try and deal with things without resorting to your own preconceptions and misrepresentations as if they were evidence of anything beyond your own views."



That's very rich coming from somebody who is not above slingin' in dismissals and offering little more than descriptions of that which is being dismissed beyond "townie" or on other files "American" or "Connie" or whatever. . .

Your mindless claim that Walsh's word was all completely "debunked" etc . . . means less than nothing here. If you want to "de bunk" something -- address it specifically, don't waste time with "just because" or "it's obvious" when you're already called on such crap.

Of course, your response is golden:
"Since this was never a credible option, the quoted section merely serves as a curious example of a bureaucracy at work spitting out analysis."

It would be poor and useless analysis if it didn't proceed with Canadian interests understood and in mind. The interests at play were still very much evident and at that time the option was far from being discredited or put out of reach. You have offered no reason to assume that to be the case. But I'm sure this won't stop you from saying "oh, it's obvious" or "oh it's logical" and then never actually demonstrating it in any way shape or form -- as you usually do . .

You then finally address Fitzgerald's letter's main points - something you didn't really see fit to do very well in the main post.

Ed said:
"Well, it is preposterous. NL did not control them at the time and therefore could not give them away. Britain didn't control it, nor did Canada."

What's preposterous is you reacting to things that weren't claimed.

The fishery may not have been managed or managed to the same scope that it would eventually be managed, but there was law making on fisheries and fish harvesting matters. It was under the control of the government of Canada then just as it is today. Of course this didn't Stop Joey Smallwood from reacting to concerns raised by Bailey by essentially telling a lie and claiming that most matters would be run by the provinces.

Ed said:
"Your quote on the fishery appears to be based on hearsay and a considerable degree of misunderstanding. Do you have anything better?"

The quote was in support of the point that there were real and serious concerns about the loss of control over fisheires (as it was understood then - and accepting that understandings of such thinsg evolve over time). Why is the quote invalid?

As for the fact of the jurisdiction, anything better to demonstrate that? Yes, the British North American Act s. 91 and teh Fisheries Act.

Ed said:
"Both before and after Confederation, NL fish products competed with Nova Scotia and other Canadian fish products both in domestic and foreign markets."

Well, I guess you choose to ignore the analysis from external affairs already offered.

Clearly even Canada saw a difference in the prospects for NL if it was on its own (and the effects on Nova Scotia) as compared to if NL was subject to Canada's trade policy and trade wall.

It's not the first time such concerns were expressed. Your blog's namesake, Sir Robert Bond, got the Blaine-Bond agreement going back in 1890 only to have Canada jealously help scuttle it.

Ed said:
"With respect to MacDonald's comments as quoted, what do you think they mean, beyond what they say, namely that both Canada and the US had invested in infrastructure in NL?"

To anyone who isn't as desperate as you are to try to downplay the significance of Canada's interests here, they clearly do provide some hints as to Canada's interest in NL.

It's not evil or sinister or anything else. . . just as it's not really relevant to bring up a comedy/fiction film called "secret nation" every time you speak of Fitzgerald (very little that would in any way relate to his actual work in that film, if you've actually seen it).

So why, Ed, do you feel the need to respond with such hyperbole? Why is everything ludicrous and wild and mythical and outrageous?

Canada obviously had interests in NL joining Canada. Canada obviously wanted it to happen. Canada didn't just adopt NL as a poor sick orphan out of the goodness of the great Canadian collective heart, as the Smallwoods of the world tried to convince us for decades afterwards.

Say words like "myth" all you want. You're usually saying them after facing assertions supported by cold hard government documents and other cold hard sources of fact.

WJM said...

Ed, it was your use of the word "Cathechism" in that context.

Is Catholicism the only denomination which has a catechism?

Heck, is a catechism even inherently a relgious document?

WJM said...

Canada didn't just adopt NL as a poor sick orphan out of the goodness of the great Canadian collective heart, as the Smallwoods of the world tried to convince us for decades afterwards.

Nor was Canada the Cinderella's stepmother to Newfoundland, as the Cashins of the world tried to convince us before, for decades afterwards, and still do today.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Liam:

Catechism is a general term which applies to doctrine or dogma. It was used for a reason, but not the one you assumed.

Walsh's work has been debunked by historians. Believe it or not. It's your business if you continue to accept it.

With respect to the assessment of economic union with the United States you again conveniently ignore fact - as ahistorically as most of the anti-Confederate mythology. The section you quoted discussed what would happen or what the implications "might be" "if" something happened.

It proves nothing beyond that.

As for the rest of your stuff, let's run through simply, since it remains simple:

On the fishery: point addressed directly. You have confused two different things, namely competition in a context in which NL had priority access to US markets - i.e. the old reciprocity issue - and a situation you rest on, namely that Confederation somehow stopped NL.

Clearly Confederation did not stop NL fish from competing with NS fish. Your point is so obviously wrong. Your continued adherenece to it will have to remain your problem.

With respect to MacDonald, what do you think the comments mean? You did not address the question. The bit you quoted made no reference to "Canada's interests." Of course Canada had interests as did all the other parties, this is a penetrating insight into the obvious but it is a long way from the conspiracy fantasies of the anti-Confederates. or to be accurate, the anti-democratic musings of the crowd that lost.

Now toher than all that blather on your part, you at no point address the obvious:

each of your claims and those of other self-proclaimed nationalists are factually false.

Untrue.

Incorrect.

Wrong.

You do address these.

Thank you for demonstrating that I didn't need to belabour the obvious for most readers. Then again you aren't most readers.

Starrigan said...

Well well well, WJM or should I call you Ottawally. Here you are appearing on another blog doing your best to poo poo anything pro Newfoundland. I shouldn't be surprised.
I wonder if the readers of this blog are aware that part of you "job" in Ottawa is to scope out any pro NL sentiment on the blogs and do your best to stamp it out. Yes indeed Ottawally is an expert at questioning every little detail, sometimes down to the word, in an effort to bog down any kind of debate. It's the oldest debating trick in the book. Wally uses it extensively so do not buy into it. Let's keep the debate moving along.
It appears that Ottawally and Ed are cut from the same cloth. Although Ed seems to far more well informed than our friend Wally. Maybe Wally has just spent a little too much time in Ottawa, now that he's converted to Mainlandism he seems to have lost his edge. We mourn.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Starrigan:

Rather than pop in a deliver a broadside at WJM, perhaps you'd like to contribute to the discussion.

Perhaps you could start with explaining how propagating myths is "pro-NL".

WJM said...

Here you are appearing on another blog doing your best to poo poo anything pro Newfoundland.

I've been here almost from the start; you're the newbie, noob.

I wonder if the readers of this blog are aware that part of you "job" in Ottawa is to scope out any pro NL sentiment on the blogs and do your best to stamp it out.

It is? News to me.

Yes indeed Ottawally is an expert at questioning every little detail, sometimes down to the word, in an effort to bog down any kind of debate.

Yes, of course, questions should never be allowed in public discourse. No one should ever question anything. That's just the way Joey - I mean, DANNY, likes it.

No questions.

now that he's converted to Mainlandism he seems to have lost his edge.

Mainlandism?

I was born and raised on the mainland.

Right smack dab in the middle of Labrador.

I wear my Mainlandism with pride!

Vive le Mainland libre!

Liam O'Brien said...

Ed said:
"Walsh's work has been debunked by historians. Believe it or not. It's your business if you continue to accept it."

It's ridiculous to talk of an entire book, citing hundreds if not thousands of documents as being somehow entirely "debunked." I use it insofar as it does chronicle some interesting specific facts supported by real documents.

Ed said:
"The section you quoted discussed what would happen or what the implications "might be" "if" something happened."

And I don't think I'd be a crackpot to say that the people responsible for the memo and the people for whom it was written realized the prospects of such union were greater should NLers vote for a return for Responsible Government. As such clearly, this is more evidence of one of Canada's interests in a vote for return to RG not happening.

Ed said:
"You have confused two different things, namely competition in a context in which NL had priority access to US markets - i.e. the old reciprocity issue - and a situation you rest on, namely that Confederation somehow stopped NL."

Actually, I have pointed out a problem/issue relating to both situations. NL, if it returned to responsible government, would likely be able to negotiate its own deal for reciprocity or economic union or whatever regardless of where Canadian trade policy was or was going. It could do no such thing as a part of Canada. In terms of that level of trade it would be much more in lockstep with whatever Ottawa decided to do or not do and how it figured it might affect the maritimes, which clearly was also identified as an interest for Canada wanted NL to be a part of Canada. . .

Ed said:
"Clearly Confederation did not stop NL fish from competing with NS fish."

Confederation removed important potential tools for NL in such a competition -- ie the ability to strike a separate and possibly better trade arrangement.

Ed said:
"Thank you for demonstrating that I didn't need to belabour the obvious for most readers."

what's so hard about actually saying what you mean? not everything in Fitz's letter was wrong.

Edward G. Hollett said...

On Walsh's book, the interpretation has been debunked. Some of the evidence is interpreted inaccurately or incorrectly, if memory serves.

What value it has depends on what use you use you put it to.

As for the rest of the discussion, let's see:

1. Liam wrote: "the people for whom it was written realized the prospects of such union were greater should NLers vote for a return for Responsible Government."

Your reasoning here is off. If you go back and take a look at the overall context from another source - say Neary 1989 - you'd get a much different and much more accurate sense of what the possibilities are. Canada had little to fear from a Newfoundland reciprocity agreement since its relationship with the US was significantly closer and stronger than that of NL.

The prospects of union were greater? I don't know that that was true.

2. On the fishing competition thing, you really haven't pointed out a problem in either case. Other courses of action were open to Canada if NL had returned to independence and looked to have a free trade arrangement with the United States.

One of the complicating factors in your contention is the burr known as the leased bases. This was an issue the Americans were not interested in opening. Again, for a decent summary, I'd refer you to Neary.

3. Further on fishing competition:

"Confederation removed important potential tools for NL in such a competition -- ie the ability to strike a separate and possibly better trade arrangement."

Again, you seem to covering two sides of an issue at the same time. If protecting Canadian fishing interests was the goal, then staying out of a Confederation was the option. Canadian political might would have crushed any NL overture to the US as it had done with the two reciprocity treaties previously.

Through Confederation, the federal government had to deal with objections of Nova Scotia (a head-ache in itself).

Your contention actually supports no Confederation by Canada.

more to follow.

Edward G. Hollett said...

And now the rest of it...

4. Liam wrote: "not everything in Fitz's letter was wrong."

So what was correct about the interpretation it offers?

Liam O'Brien said...

Ed said:
"Your reasoning here is off. If you go back and take a look at the overall context from another source - say Neary 1989 - you'd get a much different and much more accurate sense of what the possibilities are."

Even Neary admits and concedes that the Sunday Herald had recieved mostly positive responses on the prospect of a trade deal between NL and the US.

Ed said:
"Canada had little to fear from a Newfoundland reciprocity agreement since its relationship with the US was significantly closer and stronger than that of NL."

Well, it feared things like this before . . .Blaine-Bond, for instance. . . .

You also seem to accept that there was nothing in particular about NL that would have prevented a trade deal except perhaps objections and concerns from Canada . . . hmm...


Ed said:
"The prospects of union were greater? I don't know that that was true."

At least quote the full sentence instead of slivering it. I said they realized the prospects of NL achieving it with a return to Responsible Government than they would be if NL lost the ability to make such a deal on its own.

Ed said:
"One of the complicating factors in your contention is the burr known as the leased bases. This was an issue the Americans were not interested in opening. Again, for a decent summary, I'd refer you to Neary."

I've ready Neary more than once. You seem to think that if responsible govt got a majority that this would necessarily mean that most NL legislators elected afterwards would want this. Given the interests, as Neary descibes them, I'm not sure that would happen. Bradley/Smallwood and crew weren't exactly weak, Crosbie and co wanted nothing to do with the bases issue, and the RGL - while having done some swaking on it, was divided on the issue.

You just described an important issue in terms of the US in negotiations with any independent NL govt on trade and relations in general. You haven't described something that would make it impossible for economic union to happen.

Ed said:
"f protecting Canadian fishing interests was the goal, then staying out of a Confederation was the option. Canadian political might would have crushed any NL overture to the US as it had done with the two reciprocity treaties previously.

Through Confederation, the federal government had to deal with objections of Nova Scotia (a head-ache in itself)."


The job is even easier to do with NL in Confederation. It can just flippantly and without any alarmed calls/letters to Washington or London or wherever, simply by saying to the government of NL what it has said to the unaninmous resolution of the NL House of Assembly on Joint Management, most of the Royal Commission recommendations, and initial Shelf ownership claims - "No."

NL outside Canada - a deal was at least twice close to coming tofruition.

NL in Canada - the deal can't even be initiated by NL. Cut off at the pass.

Ed said:
"So what was correct about the interpretation it offers"

Fitz was right to point out how unfair it was for the Tely to pull the Smallwood move and try to claim that RGL in 1948 would somehow mean a time machine ride back to the great depression/poverty etc in NL in the early 1930s.

I believe he was right to assert that it was possible for NL to prosper without Canada.

While he could have used better or more appropriate quotes form even his own work, he was right to point out the clear interests Canada had in getting NL into Canada.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Liam:

There obviously is no end to your ability to selectively quote and intepret material.

1. Yes, the Sunday Herald found some support in NL for economic union. But what about the US? Not at all interested. You ignore the point since it it is inconvenient to have your entire theory of the US be shot to pieces.

As for the other two reciprocities the experience of those are evidence that Canada had little to fear from tiny Newfoundland. Your theory only works if Newfoundland actually had an opportunity or some power to thwart Canadian interests in the scenario you paint. You strip away the context and give a situation the opposite meaning to the one it actually has.

2. "I said they realized the prospects of NL achieving it with a return to Responsible Government than they would be if NL lost the ability to make such a deal on its own."

Ok. There's the full quote.

It is still nonsense since in order to make the comment you have to ignore the fact that the United States was simply not at all interested in dealing with an independent NL, preferring instead to work with a larger power like Canada or the UK.

3. On the leased bases issue, you say you've read Neary. Ok. Apparently none of it sank in. Your entire response to the point on what did occur is to imagine what might theoretically have happened. Go mad, sunshine. And when you get back from Fantasy island tell us all if Tattoo is really that short.

4. Then you return to the competition issue making these statements: "NL outside Canada - a deal was at least twice close to coming to fruition.

NL in Canada - the deal can't even be initiated by NL. Cut off at the pass."

Well, we've already identified the difference in your first comment as being so infinitesimally small as to be irrelevant. Take 2/3rds of 3/5ths of fuck-all and double it. There ya go.

On the second one, you can only make such a proposition if you ignored 60 years of Newfoundland fish companies exporting into the United States with the assistance and co-operation of the Government of Canada.

Yes, by. Your argument is right, if you ignore FPI's plant in Danvers. Confederation was a plot to keep Newfoundland from the US market to the advantage of Nova Scotians.

There sheer inanity of your claim should be a clue that it is wrong.

Evidently not.

5. "I believe he was right to assert that it was possible for NL to prosper without Canada."

Theoretically. Theory is fun stuff. Speculation is marvelous when you are a second-year undergraduate. When you grow up, that sort of stuff gets boring. Maybe he's right on that point. Maybe he's right. Evidence suggests he's wrong.

The only way you get the theory to look good is if you ignore everything that actually occured, to wit your comments on fishery competition among other things.

"he was right to point out the clear interests Canada had in getting NL into Canada."

My God. Stop the presses. Canada had interests. The United States had Interests. Newfoundland had interests.

So there's a penetrating insight into the most obvious of obvious things.

If that's all the value in it, then let's applaud the statement of patently obvious and move on to a more substantive discussion. Since by your account, there is precious little else to commend that letter, we can safely agree that you have abandoned the anti-Copnfederate, nationalist orthodoxy implicit in it.

Liam O'Brien said...

Ed said:

"There obviously is no end to your ability to selectively quote and intepret material."

LOL . . oh it ends -- and well short of your ability to dismiss entire books, people, and political cultures with a generalized overly simplistic sentence or two. . . .

Ed said:
"Yes, the Sunday Herald found some support in NL for economic union. But what about the US? Not at all interested. You ignore the point since it it is inconvenient to have your entire theory of the US be shot to pieces."

LOL. Given that I was responding to your original point about upport for such a deal in the US why would you assume I'd be talking about the Sunday Herald Surveys (which, yes, found overwhemling support for such a deal in NL)???

I was referring to replies from most of the US senate to Sunday Herald inquiries.

Ed said:
"As for the other two reciprocities the experience of those are evidence that Canada had little to fear from tiny Newfoundland."

Putting aside the interesting point of your casual acceptance of Canada's tactics in those cases, I'd just point out that evidently, based on documents from the 1940s, Canada had its preferences and interests and preferred that NL be in Confederation rather than out. It also recognized that NL was less able to secure an arrangement with the US if it was inside Canada. You dance around this, but it's there pretty much in black and white.


Ed said:
"Your theory only works if Newfoundland actually had an opportunity or some power to thwart Canadian interests in the scenario you paint."

The Americans were open to discussion. Many if not most of their senators were reacting favorably to the prospect fo talks for a deal. Cnd. External Affairs clearly believed that this was a possibility too, otherwise, why the memo(s)????


Ed said:
"It is still nonsense since in order to make the comment you have to ignore the fact that the United States was simply not at all interested in dealing with an independent NL, preferring instead to work with a larger power like Canada or the UK."

It's not fail to say the US was not at all interested. Even Neary admitted that the Herald found mostly positive responses from the US senate. There was a history there of trying to achieve such a deal before too.

You put an amazing amount of weight on the US preference for dealing with larger powers.

In any case, it clearly wasn't as motivated towards having NL in Canada as was the Canadian political establishment -- which influenced many matters, not the least significant of which being the masses of cash that poured into Confederate Campaign coffers from Canada.



Ed said:
" Your entire response to the point on what did occur is to imagine what might theoretically have happened. Go mad, sunshine. And when you get back from Fantasy island tell us all if Tattoo is really that short."

I do no more speculating than that done by Neary or by yourself.

I merely point out the cleavages as they existed in the late 1940s. There WAS a group in NL that wanted to get into the bases arrangement. . . but it wasn't Ches Crosbie's, and I doubt that Gordon Bradley would have seriously rocked the boat if things went that way.

As Neary points out, it was a camp within the RGL that was interested in tinkering with the bases arrangement.

If you disagree with my view here, explain why.


Ed said:
"Well, we've already identified the difference in your first comment as being so infinitesimally small as to be irrelevant. Take 2/3rds of 3/5ths of fuck-all and double it. There ya go."

Yes, I suppose the US Senate IS a weak and meaningless body in the book of Hollett . . .

And Canadian External Affairs wastes its time talking about Canadian interests that aren't possibly in any way shape or form at risk . . .

and Dominions office takes an interest in stymying efforts in a direction that would ultimately have failed anyway . . .

yes, it's all falling into place now. They were all just doing it for the good of their health.

Ed said:
"On the second one, you can only make such a proposition if you ignored 60 years of Newfoundland fish companies exporting into the United States with the assistance and co-operation of the Government of Canada."

You seem unable to even conceive of the possibility that an independent NL would be able to move faster and with more flexibility in trade matters than it could when dealing throug Cdn Trade policy. That's porobably why you just state the obvious -- that trade did occur with the US - yes, but even the Canadian dept of External affairs realized the possibility of NL being able to get access to a better situation sooner and jeopardize Martiime Canadian interests.

It took until the 1980s to get the Canada-US FTA. Based on the evidence we have, a free trade deal between NL and the US would have probably come sooner.

As for Canadian diplomats' "assistance" of NL -- explain to me why Al Beesley decided to ignore the demands of the government of NL government on the Nose and Tail and Cap during the Law of the sea conferences of the 1970s. When you're done explaining that, if you're fair about it, you'll have outlined another hurdle NL faces when its representative on the world stage is Canada . . .


Ed said:
" Confederation was a plot to keep Newfoundland from the US market to the advantage of Nova Scotians."

Last refuge of someone who doesn't have a main point -- create a fake one and react to it instead.

I'm not saying NL was barred from access to the US. I'm saying there were more trade possibilities -- something even Canada realized -- with NL's return to resp government.

The ones who were concerned about this, and interests such as those of the Nova Scotians, were Canadian government officials.



Ed said:
"Theoretically. Theory is fun stuff. Speculation is marvelous when you are a second-year undergraduate. When you grow up, that sort of stuff gets boring. Maybe he's right on that point. Maybe he's right. Evidence suggests he's wrong."

Funny, I think he showed us some strong evidence that shows otherwise, including a breakdown of Nl's financial situation in the 1940s, the prosperity that came with US and other investment etc. . .

It's amazing to watch you snipe selectively too. When you need to speculate about the prospects of economic union with the US -- it's all about the evidence and it's fine. When I talk about prospects for NL, I'm doing the "2nd year undergrad" thing . . .



Ed said:
"My God. Stop the presses. Canada had interests. The United States had Interests. Newfoundland had interests."

I realize this should be obvious. . . but then you just spent a dozen posts fighting bitterly to deny that Canada might have trade and fisheries related interests in having NL part of Canada or that it might be less in Canada's interest to have NL not in Canada.

Add to that three decades of the Smallwood cult preaching that NL was taken in as an act of charity and that all hands would have either starved to death, died of TB or been shot by a St. John's merchant, and you've got yourself some funny but prevalent orthodoxies that need to be challenged. Good on Fitz for his attempt to do that.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Liam:

1. The US senate interest you found was very specific and localised. It was by means wide spread and by no means represented the position of the entire American government. This is as useful as quoting - as Bren Walsh does - comments made by a lone parliamentarian in the middle of the night.

Selective presentation of information carefully culled to eliminate context and meaning doesn't constitute proof.

2. There is nothing casual in anything. Rather it is an acknowledgement of what occurred and why it occurred. Big trumps small.

Yes, Canada had certain interests and certain individuals had an interest in Confederation within the Canadian government at the time. If you look across the country and within the Canadian government you see other opinions and ideas.

As for dancing, this would seem to be your speciality, to wit: "It also recognized that NL was less able to secure an arrangement with the US if it was inside Canada."

Newfoundland as a government, of course would not seek or be able to seek a preferential trade arrangement with the US were it a Canadian province. This is another of your penetrating insights into the obvious. Rather Newfoundland comapnies would be able to trade into the US and elsewhere as they had done.

All Confederation did was convert and international competition or potential competition into an internal one. The problems between NS and NL over fisheries jurisdiction etc didn't vanish with Confederation.

And even if all that weren't true, I would find it strange that anyone in Ottawa was so panicked by the threat of a reciprocity deal that they would use it as an impetus for "capturing NL".

3. On your next point re memos, go back and read Neary's analysis, among other things. As noted earlier, memoranda themselves do not constitute in and of themselves
I put no amazing amount of weight on anything other than the points.

I am not the one claiming that Confederation was a way of getting rid of the NL fishery competition with Nova Scotia. That would involve placing a great deal of weight on a smoke ring.

4. If your point is that theoretically NL could have become a wealthy and prosperous place as an independent country, go mad.

if you think it could have been such a magical land, far different than it was before, please explain why within Confederation with control of all the things it had control of before 1949, the NL government did such an evidently piss poor job of finding propserpity.

That would be a far more useful exercise than concocting more of your what if scenarios. You are very good at inventing fake points to react to. In this case i have taken your argument re: Nova Scotia, presented it as is and demonstrated why it just doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

5. And speaking of inventing myths, as I noted, the anti-Confederate orthodoxy which Fitz attempted to bolster is merely attacking another myth. You join in the fray.

Big deal. Look at the facts and deal with the facts rather than attack one myth with a bunch of counter-myths and useless speculation.

next thing you'll be denying that Cashin went to London and didn't ask for financial backing for NL's independence.

Liam O'Brien said...

1. Ed - read Neary again. The Herald heard from 70+ Senators. Most of the responses were positive. Very few were negative.

2. Ed said:
"Newfoundland as a government, of course would not seek or be able to seek a preferential trade arrangement with the US were it a Canadian province. This is another of your penetrating insights into the obvious."

Yes, it is obvious. . . but you spent a dozen posts downplaying and dancing on this point and/or the significance of it for Canada.

The conversion of international competition or potential competition into an internal one is a significant change and worth something to Canada. It changes the gatekeeper and the decision makers.

As for whether or not Canada was "panicked, I couldn't say - and I've never said anything about that. I HAVE asserted that Canada and the Canadian political establishment of the day had interests that it moved to protect.


3. Memos are still written for reasons, they still illustrate interests and intentions in many cases.

also . .

Ed said:
"I am not the one claiming that Confederation was a way of getting rid of the NL fishery competition with Nova Scotia. "

Neither am I. Re -read what has been said here.


4.Despite what Joe Smallwood might have told you, the period before Newfoundland and Labrador Joined Canada can't be summed up a s single unchanging stagnant economic and social horror show. Throughout the early 20th century, major improvements were made, many in spite of amazing and tough challenges with the first world war , fisheries problems, and then the depression. Nobody denies there were very serious issues that existed in the early 1930s with political accountability and governance. I think it's worth noting, though, that one of the individuals who did ultimately expose and call down these practices was a man at the front of the Responsible government Campaign in 1948 - Peter Cashin.

And by the late 1940s, NL was very much in transition again.

I don't know what would have happened. I never suggested it would be magical, though I'd point out that there were some talented people in RGL and EU parties (and with the Confederates - Bradley for instance) who would have done a better job than I think you're giving them credit for. . .

5. It's not about more myths.

It IS about the facts.

And on the facts, including the one you claim I'll be "denying" "next", I don't deny any of it.

In fact, in that department, I'd say you're suffering from a little more denial than I am . . .

You put a lot of lot of stock (which is fine) in one part of Neary's conclusion re a possible deal with the US - but also deny the very evidence that even Neary admits re the US Senators' responses.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Liam:

1. In general on the fisheries issue I think you make way too much of it as a strategic consideration on the Canadian side, except to the extent that it brought more pain than not.

If Canada wanted to forestall a free trade deal to protect Nova Scotia, then far easier to leave NL out on its own.

The bigger strategic consideration, if memory serves was that NL would not merely be in a free trade arrangement but would otherwise be so closely integrated into the US that it became either Puerto Rico or the next state. This had far more serious implications for Canada than fishing competition alone.

Now I haven't gone through all the files in detail but I suspect that somewhere in there, there should be a discussion of the leased bases problem and an exploration of its impact on the potential for Union with the United States.

After Confederation, the federal Canadian government had far more significant problems with respect to fisheries, I'd offer, than it would have had if fisheries were such an important objective or issue and Nl remained either independent or a colony of the UK.

2. The famous senators and their views on economic union and as described in Neary:

- 29 were unconditionally supportive, based on the Herald's approach;

- 19 were favourable but wanted further conditions such as having the approach come via State;

- 9 were unwilling to support it for various reasons; and,

- 13 offered no opinion "due to illness or absence".

Unless my math is wrong, another 26 didn't reply.

That means that half the senate either ignored the approach, were opposed to it or had a note excusing them from having an opinion because they were out that day.

Of the remainder, 19 attached various riders and conditions on endorsing the idea and only 29 supported it outright.

This is certainly an overwhelmingly positive start, especially considering that Neary describes one communciation from NL as referring to the Confederates as an "anti-American minority party spreading class hatred."

In other words, in a time of burgeoning concern about communism, somebody wanted the Americans to believe that the Confederates were a bunch of commies.

So anyway, keep going as you imagine the bright future that might have been. It would make an interesting academic exercise, but that's about all it is: intellectual masturbation.

3. Wow. I really don't have the time or the space to get into your rather rosy view of pre-Confederation NL.

Take a skim through the births and deaths of any church in east end St. John's and take a look at the appalling conditions in which many people lived. That will give you a start.

Great strides were made indeed and there were some insignificant problems in government in the 1930s. With that view, you could give pollyanna lessons in optimism and putting a happy face on things.

WJM said...

Many if not most of their senators were reacting favorably to the prospect fo talks for a deal.

Oh?

Source?

Liam O'Brien said...

1. Ed - I wouldn't have to say a whol lot more about the strategic consideration if you hadn't spent the last 20 posts downplaying/denying it.

Ed said:
"If Canada wanted to forestall a free trade deal to protect Nova Scotia, then far easier to leave NL out on its own."

Wouldn't it be far easier if the talks can't even start?


2. About half were favourable. . . a lot more than you were willing to let on about earlier:

"The US senate interest you found was very specific and localised. It was by means wide spread . . ."

It's fun to watch you change your tune from that line, when you realize that half the US Senate is hadly specific/localized or not widespread and instead go with 'the glass is half empty' approach . . .

3. I fair to see how even somebody who spins as much as you could try to sum up what I said about the VARIOUS eras pre-Confederation as simply "rosy." I'm glad you don't have time to get into it. Since the toe-print you put in there was so very off base, I'd hate to see you waste time and bandwith with any more misrepresentation.

Also, I'm sure in Dust Bowl Saskatchewan, Rural Cape Breton, and the Territories nobody died or was buried in churchyards, or ended up with TB, or was ever poor . . . after all they had the Confederation faeries to protect them . . .

Nice to see you downplay the progress made by FPU, or the properity in communities like Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Buchans, Labrador, the bases, etc . .

Wally asked:

"Source?"

Neary p.320. Ed broke down the numbers himself . . . all that non-widespread half the senate and all . . .

Edward G. Hollett said...

Liam:

At no point did I deny strategic interest. I denied your view of it.

On the senate: In the haste of the original post I got the point out clumsily.

The opposition was localised. The overall support remained weak.

You have half endorsing the idea.

That assumes - and this is by no means a safe assumption - that the half that liked the idea:

a. knew where on the planet Newfoundland was; and,

b. knew what an "economic union" would look like let alone if it was feasible.

That's not even getting to the other half of the senate who either ignored it altogether - a number almost as big as the wholehearted (but likely ignorant of the details) endorsers - ot those who attached various riders and provisions.

You make your case on this point based on numbers. I analyse it and come to a more detailed conclusion.

Overall though, you are engaging in what Gene Long has correctly dismissed as an entirely futile exercise.

It is essentially imagineering a past that never was to bolster and argument in the present that otherwise doesn't hold up.

On the economic condition of NL pre-Confederation, you have offered no example of how wealthy and prosperous the country was.

Please do.


I should like you to explain to everyone the extensive road network, the electricity infrastructure, hospitals, schools and so forth that made Newfoundland a wealthy and prosperous land until Canada came by to steal everything that "they" of course never actually did acquire.

Please tell us about public health and sanitation even in St. John's pre-Confederation. I should really like to hear about the modern, thriving idyllic world of pre-Confederation Newfoundland.

Enlighten us all.

I suspect, though, that rather than facts, you will have to do another imagineering job worthy of Walt Disney himself to create it.

Liam O'Brien said...

Ed said:
"On the economic condition of NL pre-Confederation, you have offered no example of how wealthy and prosperous the country was."

I said there were periods of transition and improvement that went beyond what any Confederate was willing to admit -- as they preferred to pretend that NL always was and ever would be as it was in the early 1930s.

The surplus, the base developments, the progress made by FPU, the industrial towns, the prospects with the US that are too often downplayed as you do here, the return of the fishery, all count for something.

Was it glowing and perfect prosperty? No. Never said it was.

Would we have all the infrastructure and the like? I don't know? We definitely wouldn't have had it as quickly. . . but then I don't think that's the test of whether or not it made sense to give up our independence. . . especially considering the various forms of rot in our political culture that got to creep back in with that lovely transfer net under us . . . we're dealing with that to this very day. . . and no -- not even the terms as sought with London would compare to what came with Confederation, in any case they were denied and there was still a strong group of NLers who wanted to give it a try on our own.

When somebody falls back on Joey Smallwood's "Newfoundland: Canada's Happy Province" to argue against NL ever seeing independence again, I don't for a minute deny the services and cashola pumped in here. I don't deny it would be a road with more challenges on that front without Ottawa. I just don't believe we'd be as desperate and destitute and diseased and poor as you'd try to paint it. Moreover, I think it's sad that you try to compare NL in the 1940s to NL in the early 1930s or any other earlier point. It's simply not a fair comparison.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Who said it would desperate, disease-ridden and poor?

Part of the problem with the fantasy world you try and invent is that it is premised on proposing a mythology in reaction to a mythology.

Rather than take a comprehensive look at the situation, you simply propose something else (without foundation, for the most part) in reaction to what was fairly obviously political propaganda.

Well, rather than do that perhaps you should try taking a look at post-Confederation political and economic development without the anti-Confederate overlays.

Perhaps what occurred after 1949 came for a bunch of reasons that had nothing to do with the supposedly evil federal government making cash available for roads, schools, etc which St. John's simply could not have afforded on its own.

Maybe, just maybe, the current $12 billion debt is not the result of Otttawa being there at all. Consider for example the numbe rof people, like former LG Jim McGrath who blame the debt on the federal government NOT providing Equalization and other transfer.

McGrath's published two letters in the past two weeks that seem to be the exact opposite of your position on independence. After all, if the debt if the result of a lack of federal financial aid, then the situation that existed is comparable to what would have occured without Confederation.

Obviously there's something pretty dramatically wrong with an argument that Canada is to blame for the current state of NL by NOT giving money and over here you are arguing it's a wreck in large part because it did. (There is some hyperbole in there for dramatic effect)

I'd suggest that neither is a reasonable proposition. The provincial government got into its financial mess all on its own. It racked up a $12 billion debt in spite of having considerably greater financial resources than it would have had as an independent country for the past 60 years.

It got there because - like pre-Commission governments - the provincial government took the opportunity to spend when it had cash and worried about the poor times when they came.

Even today, a supposedly independentist government with fiscal responsibility on its agenda is actually doing what?

Spending on programs and program delivery, looking for more transfers from Ottawa, failing to pay down the debt and pointing out that the rich times will be over soon enough (so enjoy it while you can.

Rather than deny the responsibility of the NL government perhaps you would consider holding them responsible for something. It doesn't matter whether it is a provincial government or a national one, just the same as Iceland's independence is not the determining factor in its relative success. There's another explanation