Newfoundland House of Assembly Debate
April 27, 19041

Pursuant to notice, Mr. Morine moved, seconded by Mr. Howley, the following resolutions:-2

Whereas, in 1857 assurance was given that “the consent of the community of Newfoundland is regarded by Her Majesty's Government as the essential preliminary to any modification of their territorial or maritime rights;”3

And whereas by a Convention recently made by His Majesty's Government and the Government of France grave and far-reaching modifications have been made in the territorial and maritime rights of the aforesaid community without their consent;

And whereas the aforesaid Convention was made without full and accurate knowledge of its contents by the Government of Newfoundland, and without their complete concurrence;

And whereas in framing the aforesaid Convention due regard was not paid to the representations made from time to time by various Governments of this Colony;

And whereas the language of the Convention is in several respects ambiguous and capable of interpretations injurious to the community of Newfoundland, particularly in relation to the right to obtain supplies and bait in the ports and harbors of the coast, and the termination of the fishery on the 20th of October in each year on that portion of the coast between Cape John and Cape Ray, passing to the North;

And whereas the said right to obtain supplies and bait was granted not alone without the prior approval of the Government of the Colony, but in violation of a pledge given by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with despatch dated the 22nd of January, 1904;

And whereas it has been for many years the patriotic ambition of the community of Newfoundland to procure the termination of all French territorial and maritime rights in this Colony, and the aforesaid Convention, while extinguishing territorial rights of little value to the French, confer upon them new and valuable maritime and commercial rights;

Resolved,- That this House, while appreciating the boon conferred on the colony by the extinction of French territorial rights, expresses its strong disapproval of the conduct of His Majesty's Government in conferring new maritime and commercial rights on the French, and desires to place on record, in the name of the community it represents, the conviction that nothing less than the complete abolition of all foreign rights on the soil and in the waters of the colony will be satisfactory to that community;

And further resolved,- That the execution of the aforesaid Convention without the consent of the community of Newfoundland, and without a provision making it subject, so far as it concerned this Colony, to the ratification of this legislature is, in the opinion of this House, a violation of the rights of the community as assured to it by Her Majesty's Government in 1857.

… [Mr. Morine]4 said that a few days ago, when the correspondence was tabled, the Premier intimated that the Government would introduce resolutions, and so those now submitted were held back. Considering the Government display in the city, the resolutions passed by direction of the Minister of Justice, and the great shouting on the part of the Government newspapers and other supporters, it was peculiar that this public court, the Legislature, was not asked to place any opinion of the Treaty on record. The Government were either shirking a plain duty, or else had no faith in the Treaty and wished to prevent intelligent discussion of it. When we look at the Minister of Justice's telegram, and the resolutions in reply, we find the information furnished was exaggerated and improper. Either the Minister of Justice did not understand, or else he did not want the people to understand the Treaty …

It was a marvellous exhibition on the part of the Government that adjournment was decided upon without any expression of opinion as to the action of the Imperial Government. The Premier's assurance that the negotiations would be subject to ratification by the Legislature, was met by the subsequent fact that the convention had been finalized, and the Treaty signed, without so much as by your leave. It was made without the will, consent or knowledge of the Colony, and in defiance of the 1857 despatch which provided that in all matters pertaining to territorial rights, Newfoundlanders should be consulted. .... Are the well-recognized liberties of the people under their charter of independence to be bartered away without protest? …

The resolutions were not aimed at the Government. By voting for them, or something similar, the Government would show independence. If against, it would be evidence that they are particeps criminis in a measure designed to injure the Colony. That our rights have been modified, none will deny. The French never had a right to buy bait, but now they are permitted to do what before was a violation of the law …

… the Colony had been treated with scantest courtesy. [The correspondence] was evasive where explicitness might just as well have been provided, and would have been most proper. Days were allowed to pass without answer to important questions, and it was four days after the treaty was public property on the streets of London before the Imperial Government thought it worthwhile to notify this Colony of a treaty, the provisions of which were so vastly important to its welfare. The Government could only be absolved because it had not been frankly dealt with. But it was blameable for lack of promptness, vigor and independence; and by its frantic efforts for display and political capital had not only accepted a violation of constitutional rights, but had fawned upon the Imperial Government … The Government manifested thanks alike for what was good in the treaty and also for the contemptible treatment meted out to it. A Colony that will not stand up for its rights cannot expect other than poor treatment ever afterwards.

The terms of the treaty were capable of doubt in some cases but it was clearly ambiguous and open to dangerous misunderstanding …

The Treaty gives certain privileges, but they have been purchased at the expense of other concessions to the French which are as odious as any rights which the French have lost. The convention when properly understood can never be satisfactory to the people of this Colony. Nothing but the complete extermination of every French right on our coast will satisfy our people. The French Shore Question is not “settled,” it has only begun.

… [Mr. Howley] said he was in hearty accord with the previous speaker. He spoke in the general interests of the Colony, but particularly as the only representative in the House, from that part of the Colony known as the French Shore. He was convinced that the ambiguity of the Treaty alone was sufficient cause for protesting against it .... It was quite apparent that if phantom privileges had been gained, the Colony had lost directly many things which affect the fishing population, and puts the Colony in a worse position than ever. Now was the time to protest against any wrong, imaginary or otherwise. It would be too late when disaster and ruin stared the people in the face. The Legislature was being rushed to a close, and no steps were being taken to find out the real facts or bearing of the Treaty upon the Colony. When the Shore was depopulated through emigration or starvation, there would be little use to kick or protest. The damage would be done and the awakening be too late in coming.

[Evening session]

Mr. Warren:5 The question before the House is one which must engage not only the attention of all Newfoundlanders … but also the interest of those outside who have been following the intricacies of the questions in dispute between England and France, and which have now been claimed to be settled. As the occasion is a peculiar one, I may therefore be pardoned if I, a junior and tyro in affairs such as this, inflict upon the House a statement of the ideas which come to my mind upon a careful consideration of the facts, and a perusal of the various authorities upon the subject.

The Government opposite have taken to themselves the credit of settling this vexed question. From a careful perusal of the evidence at my disposal ... I can find nothing to substantiate their claims. The French, who up till now have claimed exclusive rights upon the Treaty Shore, have more to show for their contention than have my friends opposite for theirs. Indeed the point upon which the Government offered advice, and which advice was acted on by the Home Government, was the one which is now a bone of contention, and one which seems to be about to become an open sore if not promptly healed by the party affected.

I cannot conceive by what right the Government opposite discard all the honest efforts made by statesmen greater than they for a settlement of the French Shore Question. Is no credit to be given the various other delegates which preceded that of 1901, which was composed of R.H. Premier and the Hon. Minister of Justice? I can find much more evidence about the views, ideas and actions of other men upon this question. In fact I can find nothing which can establish any claim on the part of the Hon. Minister of Justice to a more scientific knowledge, or a keener knowledge of the matter than the man in the street …

… The Government have no more settled this question than I have. I can only felicitate the Government upon their excellent good fortune in being in office when the matter has been partially settled for them.

It is a significant fact that although meetings have been held in every corner of the Island … yet in this, the people's House … not a word, either of approval or condemnation would have been said had not the Opposition brought in the present resolutions before the House … It is very strange that while the people of Britannia Cove, Trinity Bay, had been invited to hold a public meeting and pass resolutions, yet we, their representatives had not been offered an opportunity of expressing our views.

But has the French Shore Question been settled? I think not, Sir. The difficulties have merely been shifted from the land to the sea. …

This treaty then by strict construction says that the fishing season closes for all parties on October 20th of each year. That is plain and clear, and generally admitted … Are any words inserted in the treaty which say that the fishing season closes for the French only upon that date? I cannot find them … If the word “all” is used then “all” is meant …

[Warren then cited the despatch from the Colonial Office stating that British fishermen can continue to fish after October 20.]

Now as a lawyer can the Chief Law Officer of the Crown say that that despatch removes his doubts? Does that despatch affect the wording of the treaty? Are the words of the treaty any less ambiguous for that despatch? If the other parties to the treaty have their minds made up as to the meaning and effect of the words, will this despatch affect their minds? … The actual wording of the treaty or its effect are not affected by this despatch …

It therefore resolves itself to this, that the treaty says the fishery closes for all parties on October 20 and there is nothing to contradict the statement except the despatch of the Secretary of State for [the] Colonies which would not be admitted as evidence in construing the treaty by the veriest novice in law.

The Secretary of State says the construction I put on the treaty “is not admitted” by the Government of His Majesty. I have seen those words before in previous despatches …

… The French claims have been characterized in despatches similar to this as “unwarranted,” “unfounded,” and “to be resisted.” … And what has been the result of the disputing of these rights? While French rights have been disputed on paper and only in that manner, in fact and in deed French claims and contentions have always been upheld and recognized. In view of our experiences in the past what dependence can we honestly put on the last despatch from the Secretary of State for [the] Colonies? Members of the House must put away from their minds any idea they may have that this Convention was signed in haste or that these words crept in by mistake and were never intended … That treaty was signed after most careful consideration and thought had been bestowed upon it, and every word in it had been weighed carefully …

… Until the treaty contains clear and unmistakable language and says to the French thus far shalt thou go and no farther, we cannot consider the matter settled. Nor would it be wise to consider the matter settled until the French have no rights whatever on any part of our shores …

Can the French derive any benefit from reading the clause in the treaty so as to shut down our fishery on October 20th? I trust I am not taking up too much time when I endeavour to point ot how the two parties are affected. Of what vale has the French Shore been to the French during the last few years? Practically no value whatever and they have merely insisted upon their rights there for the sole object of concessions. Their claims were to them a means whereby they could for relinquishing them obtain a substantial quid pro quo.

Now the cry of the French has been and is bait. They want bait. And with bait and their bounties combined we know from past experience what to expect. Negotiations took place between the two Governments of England and France, having as their basis the relinquishing of French bounties and in return therefor the repeal or modification of the Bait Act. These negotiations were broken off by the refusal of the French to entertain any idea of relinquishing their bounties .... What was their object? It could only be this - that they intend to continue their bounties and further they intend at some time to obtain bait. That is their aim and for that object they will work …

… And in the clause which expresses that the fishing season closes for all parties on October 20 is the pin wherewith we are to be pricked. In that clause will be found their power. In that clause is contained the key to our bait supply which is at present so securely locked away from them. If French cunning and ingenuity in the past have gained exclusive rights where none were given, if French brains have gained a lobster fishery where none was contemplated, then French brains and ingenuity will take every means of gaining a supply of bait where the mere thought of such a thing forebodes calamity.

In view of the conduct of France in the past, such a thing as I am about to suppose is not only possible but probable. The French want our bait. We refuse to let them have it. They in return refuse to let us fish after the 20th of October. There, in my mind, is one, if not the chief reason for the presence of the word “all” in the treaty and in that clause. Unless we concede to them the right to buy bait all over the island, it is extremely likely that they will refuse to concede anything which they may claim, justly or unjustly, under the Convention. Cannot they say to us, “you give us bait or we will stop you fishing for bait (herring) during the winter.” A lever is by this treaty given to the French to do this. Whether or not they will use it we cannot say positively, but that they will if they can is as certain as the stars shine. … We have been too badly treated in the past to have any ambiguity about this matter. The words of a Secretary of State are not sufficient for us .... We want not words in private despatches but words in public treaties. … Let the winter fishery of the people on the west coast of the island not be put in jeopardy, let not the French gain even the semblance of power over us, for as sure as they do they will wield that power to its utmost extent … Until the day comes when the French have no rights whatever on our coasts then on that day we may say with assurance that the French shore question is settled. But as long as they have even the foundation of a claim then they will use it to further their own ends. That they will not be successful must be our prayer.

… This is not the time for partial adjustments, this is not the time to leave room for word-quibbling. Let that Imperial Government which has done much for us do more. Let it put to rest any fears. For the Mother Country to leave her colonial offspring in doubt is not the care and attention which is to be expected of a mother for her child. We have suffered from ambiguities in the past, let us not do so in the future. Rather let us be the Cinderella of the colonies than let us come to be one of her more unfortunate sisters.

Hon. Minister of Justice6.- He wished to make a few observations with respect to points advanced by the hon. member of the opposition. He quite understood that hon. gentleman's opposition to the treaty; it was one in which they certainly could not claim any interest or have any grant.

The treaty might be well illustrated by the case of a man who had seven mortgages on his house and someone comes in and pays 61/2, leaving a half of one of the mortgages remaining. Practically all the trouble in connection with the French had gone. The British government had bought them off. With the exception of St. Pierre nothing remained. With respect to lobster canning, his message had read “No lobster canning on land;” he had been very careful to give accurate information; the expression had been used advisedly. In one of the papers the term “island” had been used, but that was an inaccuracy, his expression had been “on land.” There could be canning on board ship. The French had no right to go on the Treaty Shore land, much less build factories thereon. Their previous land rights had been swept away, and nothing of all that old right was left except the right to purchase bait, which right they always had.

The leader of the opposition stated that the treaty was ineffective because the French could settle on the coast, purchase land and put up cod rooms and lobster factories. Certainly they could. He honestly hoped that 10,000 of them would purchase land, become domiciled on the island and be peaceable, law-abiding British subjects. He had yet to learn that a Frenchman who paid his duty on goods and obeyed the laws was not as good an immigrant as any others likely to come here. The French in Canada were good citizens. It was true that they were not so far advanced as others, but they were, nonetheless good subjects. The present ruler of Canada was a Frenchman, Sir Wilfred Laurier.

It had been truly stated that the fishery was not a valuable asset to France. If that had been so in the past when everything was favorable, what was it going to be now that all advantages had been taken away. If it had not been a success before, could it be anything else than a positive failure now? These resolutions were based on totally false promises, and that the hon. gentleman was well aware of the fact he had no manner of doubt. The British government had paid off the mortgage which was upon the island, and had been upon the island for 200 years, and nothing else could be made of the treaty. The island now belonged to its inhabitants and no territorial rights were vested in any other people. It was a matter over which the whole country should rejoice, and he felt that he would not have been doing his duty if he had not telegraphed to the people of the country generally news of the settlement which had been made. But these messages contained nothing which could in any way justify the attack which the leader of the opposition had made. No one but a person totally ignorant of the facts and circumstances of the case could be capable of such gross misrepresentations of the words used. He had sent the messages in question, and was prepared to send as many more as might be necessary without any regard whatever to what the leader of the opposition might think concerning them.

Mr. Morine - The Hon. Minister of Justice had been known to give opinions before which had been for political effect. He, Hon. Minister of Justice, wished them to understand that he was a Simon Pure, and was not appealing to his electors. They would take him at his word, and the people would believe that as much as the rest.

Up to the present he, Mr. M., had charitably assumed that the Government were not responsible for the messages; he had no indication to prove they were until he heard the speech of the Hon. Minister of Justice. From that he inferred that the hon. gentleman supported anything and accepted the responsibility in this matter. The Minister of Justice mixed up two things when he tried to show he was blamed for telegraphing to the magistrates; but [he was blamed] for the kind of telegrams, not for allowing the magistrates to know what had been done; not for telling them a treaty had been made, but for exaggerating it and for misleading and stating as facts that which was only a conclusion and deduction. When he had stated, as he had done, that the French gave up all cod rooms, he had stated what was not correct. When he had telegraphed that we further maintained the right to control the bait traffic, that was also incorrect. They had no right whatever to regulate the bait traffic for the French. The statement that they retained that right would, in the first place, convey the sense that we were to have the sole control of that traffic, whereas the French have an equal right, and therefore, both in the letter and the spirit, this statement was grossly misleading and unfounded.

The Minister of Justice asked them to fancy 3,000 men (French) coming out here and landing when they could not land. Later on he said: How can they carry on the lobster fishery? There was no longer any need, they were now not under French sovereignty, but as residents could leave caretakers to take up lobsters and put down their traps. There was nothing in the world to prevent them from doing it. They did not need to come out here because they were not under the necessity of leaving. They might remain here, and he thought it was not a very great stretch of imagination to say that they had the right to catch fish on this island and return to France and get a French bounty.

The British Government ought to have had some member of the Newfoundland Government at their elbow, almost, to watch every word, and he would not do the Minister of Justice the unkindness to suppose he would have allowed to pass the language which did get into the bill. The Minister of Justice or some other member should have been at the elbow of the Secretary of State. In concluding the convention without anyone at his elbow, he had made a great mistake. He recognized the Secretary's ability, his desire to do what was best, but he was not infallible; he could not expect to do this. It was because of that, that he had allowed mistake after mistake to creep into this convention. No man with a rudimentary idea of the position would use such language. The French had the right to fish just as they had under the old treaties; they had not the right to drive [our] men out of the harbor. The Minister had said there would be no more conflicts. That was not true. Our people would believe that the French had no right whatever, and conflict after conflict would arise, and for those the Minister would be personally responsible. Then, as regarded the Bait Act, he had said the Bait Act would be carried out as before. In the despatch he had said that the Bait Act would be carried out over the treaty coast. He admitted that the Bait Act prevented the selling of bait. Well, then, the treaty permitted the selling of bait.

Mr. Watson7.- So much had been said that he would only occupy them for a few minutes. The first was that the Minister of Justice had said that all French newspapers were united in reviling the government of France. Well, he had read most of the press dispatches from France and he found that they, one and all, strongly approved of this treaty. None have attacked the government. Almost every one of them stated that France was gaining more than she relinquished. There was one particular point, that almost without exception they stated that the bait act was modified, and that the French were to attain greater bait privileges than before; that all the French papers were of opinion that there were greater facilities for obtaining bait than ever before. It would seem that there was something in the argument when the leader of the opposition expressed his opinion that the French could obtain bait all over the country. As a matter of fact, a man who arrived two days ago from St. Pierre said that there was great jubilation in St. Pierre because they could obtain bait on any part of the coast of Newfoundland. They had been told that this would allow them to obtain bait on the same understanding as Newfoundlanders, and he stated that there was great jubilation because of this. Now, when they saw the way in which this treaty was going to operate against the people of this colony. Any one who read the whole of the treaty, and he was one of those, would see that England obtained important concessions in both Egypt and Morocco. With regard to Morocco, France guarantees an open door to British products and they would be admitted the same as French goods. The whole of the English press are unanimous in their approval so far as Egypt and Morocco are concerned. It would appear that Newfoundland had been satisfied not by Lyttleton but by Lord Lansdowne …

Right Hon. the Premier - He took it that his friends of the opposition had done with regard to the motion before the chair, therefore he would avail of the opportunity to make a few observations in reply to the his honorable and regarded friend the leader of the opposition …

He first expressed deep regret and very great surprise that his hon. and regarded friend opposite should have permitted himself to bring this important matter, this great momentous question, down to the level of mere party politics. He had expected something better, because the leader of the opposition was capable of dealing with a large question such as this in a different manner. … It was impossible to conceive how the hon. leader of the opposition could be guilty of such erroneous and unfortunate conduct. This today was one of the largest questions ever put before the legislature, and he was sorry his regarded friend of the opposition had not taken the position he ought to have taken on a matter of such national importance. He contrasted Mr. Morine's conduct with that of John Morley and Lord Rosebery in England, who occupied a similar position Mr. Morine had disappointed him, had disappointed his, Mr. M.'s, best friends, and certainly disappointed his constituents He would only ask that a perusal of the leader of the opposition's own paper, the News, where, days before, could be found in its columns in large pica and heavy type, the statement that the Bait Act had been abrogated, the rights of the people sacrificed, and calling the people to arms against the government of the colony and His Majesty's Government as well.

There was also no comparison between the negotiations in the past, and that today laid before the colony, and he asked the House to consider between the convention tried and the convention consummated. In his speech a few days ago he had told but plain, unvarnished facts ... but he found the News bitterly attacked him in its editorial column for making disparaging remarks against a gentleman who once held a similar position as he now held. The word coercion had never passed his lips .... The News had endeavoured to arouse animosity for the purpose of awaking a dormant, hellish feeling, yet we had the hon. and learned leader of the opposition disclaiming any intention of dragging this matter down into the mire of party politics.

Mr. Morine - How can you connect me with this?

Right Hon. the Premier - As the proprietor and owner of the paper, and conversant with all that goes into it; and had never disclaimed such a position when accused by the Minister of Justice.

Mr. Morine - He had never seen this particular statement, and did not know of it.

Right Hon. the Premier was glad to hear this disclaimer …

The Hon. Minister of Justice had been violently assailed for sending, in his official capacity, messages calling the magistrates to convene public meetings and to lay before the public the treaty. Why was this necessary? Because the organ of the hon. leader of the opposition had disseminated falsehoods … What had been done was done to counteract the evil influences that his hon. friend and opponent had endeavoured to impress upon the people of the colony. The whole tenor of the remarks of the leader of the opposition was to dishearten the people of the colony, who surely had been disheartened enough through the long years of oppression by reason of the old treaties. … It was not the act of a patriot to throw doubt or to dishearten the people …

Another point the leader of the opposition had laboured to prove was that His Majesty's Government had treated this colony as he, Mr. M., termed it, “most insultingly,” in that they had ignored the right of the colony in not consulting it in the matter of negotiations with France. There was nothing further from the truth, and the hon. gentleman had evidently lost sight of the fact that before negotiations were entered into His Majesty's Government had applied to the government of this colony and asked if they might do so, and if the colony would be consenting party on certain lines. The very first message flashed across the cable to this colony on January 14th was:-

…“The discussion the discussion of the French fishery question on the basis of arrangement in the matter of Baiting and Bounties having proved of no avail, His Majesty's advisers proposed not to continue it but to put before the Government of France an arrangement, in draft, which will terminate the rights of French fishermen to land and to dry their fish on the shores of Newfoundland, but which will leave a concurrent right of fishery, the regulating and policing of which will be in the manner provided in the North Sea Fishery Convention of 1881, Articles 14-38, and in the Convention of 1887 (also North Sea Fishery). The Imperial Government to compensate the owners of existing French establishments on the Treaty Shore of the Island; and that His Majesty's Government presume that they may state that the Newfoundland Government will approve of this, and will undertake to pass the necessary permanent legislation to provide for the carrying out, policing and regulating, on the lines above suggested.”

Here we had the preliminary, the first act of His Majesty's Government, before negotiations were entered into, asking this colony, “by your leave,” may we do it, and did not attempt to make any overtures until first receiving permission from this Colony, and they presumed if they did certain things we would pass the necessary legislation to carry it on. Could anything be more courteous? Could any act be more strictly complied with than was our charter of liberty? They consulted the government of this colony on every phase of this treaty. They guaranteed to the colony no new privileges to the French. There was no occasion to consult the government of the colony as the Imperial government were transferring nothing. None of our rights were transferred to the French and no one knows this better than the hon. leader of the opposition, and he did not wish to insult the hon. gentleman's intelligence by stating otherwise.

With regard to the Bait Act: Mr. Morine sat as a member of the government at the time he permitted the people of Bay St. George to sell bait to the French and never took any steps to prevent it, and was consequently a party to it; and every other government since had agreed to this, and the reason was they recognized the French right to take bait as well as our own people, and the French could take it themselves if our people did not sell it to them. The French could take their nets and sweep the harbors, to the detriment of our people; and it was this knowledge which led governments in the past, and possibly in the future, to acquiesce in the matter, because the French had the right to catch bait there and take all they wanted. He thought the hon. leader of the opposition's patriotism and imperialism would bring him above all such arguments as were put forward.

[Another point was] that the Imperial Government had done an injustice to the people of this colony, the legislature or the government, in making this convention with France, [and had abrogated] our charter of liberties or the Labouchere despatch of 1857. He would just like to say that despatch read: “Nothing affecting the territorial or maritime rights of the colony shall be taken from or interfered with, without the consent of the community of Newfoundland.” It did not say the legislature, but the community of Newfoundland. Had not that been done? In the first place there was no transfer whatever of our existing rights, and … no cession or exchange of existing rights … but rather the country was securing to itself rights that were never hers before. How did His Majesty’s Government go to work to secure the consent of the community of Newfoundland? It appealed to the executive government of the colony. And was it not right in doing so? … So the community was appealed to through its executive government. How else should it be appealed to? And the executive government acted as the Minister of Justice did: it sent messages containing the text of the treaty throughout the country and received the hearty endorsement of the whole people. It was true that that was after the treaty was concluded, but that did not in any way lessen the value of the endorsation. Did the hon. leader of the opposition lay it down as axiomatic fact that the executive government should lay such matters before the legislature for its sanction? If he did, he knew nothing of constitutional law … [The rest of Bond's speech is missing]

Minister of Public Works8 - He could not bring a legal opinion to bear upon the French Shore Treaty, but had for three summers been trading on the coast and had seen the fishermen driven from the harbors. Three years ago some of his constituents were driven away and lost between fifty to sixty quintals of fish a day. They were doing well there when an English man-o'-war drove them out, although they were sixty miles from the nearest French fishing station. These men had to go to Labrador and lost their summer by reason of having to leave the treaty coast. Therefore, this arrangement he considered must be excellent for our fishermen. The French rights surely end on the 20th of October, and it would be unreasonable to expect that the rights of the citizens of this colony would be interfered with. As for French subjects remaining on the coast after that, they have as much right to do so as American citizens, Italians, Maronites, or any other nationality. This treaty did not allow them to come, nor does it take away one iota of the privileges of our people.

Mr. Howley.- His principle objection to the treaty was the ambiguity of the clause respecting “all persons,” and [he] asked the Premier if the clause was interpreted to mean all French persons.

Right Hon. the Premier.- The French exclusively.

Mr. Howley.- He was glad to know this. His translation of the treaty from French made it for everybody; and if this was so, it was not open to argument. He quoted the French text and stated as he held a diploma of the London University for his knowledge of that language, the literal translation of the clause was “all the world.” In the English text it was different and not open to the interpretation that the French words implied, and all French persons actually in the French text means everybody.

Hon. Minister of Justice drew the attention of Mr. Howley to the fact that the words “all persons” referred only to the words that preceded in that clause of the treaty.

Whereupon the Right Hon. the Premier moved in amendment, seconded by Mr. Emerson,9 the following resolutions:-

Resolved- That this House is of opinion that the Convention entered into on the 8th of April, 1904, between His Majesty's Government and the Republic of France in relation to the rights of French citizens on the Treaty Shore of Newfoundland, is one which is and will be for the material advantage of this Colony;

Resolved,- That this House approves of the said Convention and expresses its reliance upon the declaration of His Majesty's Government as contained in the cable dispatch of the Secretary of State for the Colonies of date the 19th day of April, 1904;

Resolved,- That this House approves of and endorses fully every action of the Government of this Colony in relation to the said Convention and the negotiations and transactions concerning the same.

Upon the House dividing, there appeared for the amendment the Right Hon. the Premier, Hons. Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance and Customs, Minister of Agriculture and Mines, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, the Minister of Public Works, Messrs Clift, Dwyer, Earl, Emerson, Knight, Maddock, Mercer, Oke, Scott, St. John, and Way- 17; and against it:- Messrs. Morine, Watson, Chaplin, Warren, and Howley- 5.

The original motion being then put, was carried in the negative on a like division.

So the amendment was declared to be adopted, and ordered accordingly.

The Right Hon. the Premier laid upon the table a copy of Despatches from the Right Hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies respecting “Agreements between Great Britain and France, April 8, 1904.”10


1. This day’s proceedings were not fully reported in The Evening Telegram, the government’s official mouthpiece, which printed its version of the debate on June 1, 2 and 3, 1904. The Daily News filled only some of the gaps. This reconstruction is therefore incomplete.
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2. Alfred B. Morine (1857-1944). Journalist and lawyer. Leader of the Opposition. William R. Howley (1875-1941). Lawyer. Member for the west coast district of St. George's. Resolutions taken from Journal of the House of Assembly, April 27, 1904. The government side refused to allow discussion in committee of the whole, as Morine had wanted. This move restricted each member to one speech on the motion.
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3. The phrase occurs in ... (not completed).
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4. These summaries of the speeches by Morine and Howley were published in The Daily News, April 28, 1904. The speeches were not reported in The Evening Telegram.
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5. William R. Warren (1879-1927), lawyer. First elected to the Assembly as a Tory in 1903. Prime Minister, 1923-1924. This version of Warren’s speech is taken from The Daily News, May 2, 1904.
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6. Edward P. Morris (1858-1935), lawyer. Minister of Justice, 1902-1907, Prime Minister, 1909-1917. Elevated to the House of Lords in 1918.
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7. Robert Watson (1868-1930), politician and civil servant.
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8. Who was the Minister of Public Works?
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9. Who is Mr. Emerson?
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10. Journal of the House of Assembly, April 27, 1904.
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