Anti-Confederate Replies, 1865
Extracts from Speech by R. J. Parsons (Liberal, District of
St. John's East) in The House of Assembly, February 3, 1865.
The Newfoundlander, February 16, 1865.
... What have we to hope from Canada? Has she anything to bestow
upon us? Confederation may be all well enough for the neighbouring
Provinces, but for us who are isolated from them having interests
entirely different from theirs, what have we to expect. You talk of
benefiting our sons. Has not Canada sons too, and will not they be
the first to occupy vacant places? Talk of our mines. Canada has mines too,
and will she not invest money in them in preference to ours. The fact is,
Canada is a troublesome country. She is always in intestine commotion ....
She is besides very considerably in debt, with no hope of decreasing it ....
Already we find her people drafted and sent forward to protect her frontier.
Already we find them in trouble with the United States, and likely to get into
war with them. Should such a war come, will we not have to share it, if we are
joined with her? ... As to Union being strength, our Union with Canada would
be no Union, and therefore it would have no strength of the bundle of sticks,
because we should be but one stick at the end of the bundle. The Speaker
[Carter] dwelt largely upon the glorious future which he says is before us
under Confederation. I don't believe in that. At all events, we can afford
to wait before joining it, till we see what the other Colonies will do ...
and afterwards act on their experience .... It is but now we are beginning
to appreciate the value of Responsible Government, and are we going to give
it up just as we understand its value? Look at the lesson set before us by
the United States, and let us hesitate before binding ourselves to a similar
Confederation of States.... Under the Confederation the people will have to
pay double the amount of taxation they pay now .... Far better for us will
it be to remain as we are. All we need is good fisheries. It is all fudge
to say that Canada will supply us more cheaply with manufactures. She can
only partially supply herself by an immense protective duty. Her object is
plain enough. She is endeavouring to build up her manufactures, and looks
to her sister Colonies for her markets, but until she is in a position to
compete successfully with Britain, she cannot supply us more advantageously
than we are now supplied. Will Canada take our fish and oil from us? No,
because she can get enough elsewhere....
Extracts from Speech by T. Glen (Liberal, District of Ferryland) in
House of Assembly, February 22, 1865. The Newfoundlander, March 20 1865.
.... The tariff that will be introduced into Newfoundland will be the
Canadian one, in my opinion a most oppressive tariff .... a high protective
tariff, to shut out, if possible, the cheap manufactures of Great Britain,
in order to encourage their own manufactures. We want no protective tariff,
what we require is to purchase our fishery supplies wherever we can procure
them at the cheapest rate, but Canada will not permit us
to do so if she can prevent it. .... Such an attempt I protest against as
injurious to the interests of our fishing population, and of our fisheries.
It is said the Canadian tariff will be reduced ....In my opinion [it] must be
raised higher, to provide for their vast expenditure, they must support a
large militia force, build fortifications ...... Then their inter-colonial
railroad, reconstructing their canals, costing more millions,
besides providing for their future army and navy .... We will have to pay our
proportion of all that vast outlay, but we'll receive no benefit whatever from
it .... The power of taxing Newfoundland for ever, by all methods and systems;
is in my opinion too great a power to give the Canadian Government .... I do
not like the idea of being a party to a protective and hostile tariff against
Great Britain, our best friends and certainly
our only protectors. It does not look well..... Besides, there is the ridicule
of the thing, that of submitting to a tariff at the command of Canada, not only
hostile to Great Britain; but a protective tariff, "with nothing to protect" ...
I object to being a party to the mischiefs and obstructions of an exploded
protective system, Newfoundland having nothing to protect. 0ur annual
expenditure, taking the average of the last eight years, is £113,000 stg.
The General Government of Canada give us £112,000 stg., so that we have less
by £1,000 than the amount required to pay our average expenditure.
What a miserable bargain for Newfoundland .... Now is it fair that we
should receive only £112,000 stg. whilst they would collect from
us, under the Canadian tariff, at a very moderate calculation, £145,000 stg.? ...
It is true, our fisheries have been unsuccessfu7 of late years .... But
it has not been shown by anyone how joining the Confederation wild benefit
our fisheries, or how it will relieve the fishermen from their distressed
condition. In my opinion, joining the
Confederation, on the terms proposed, will add to their distress, by the
great increase of taxation, particularly as they will derive no benefit
whatever from the additional taxes imposed upon theme as 'the revenue
received . . will all be sent off to Canada. .... We must have better
terms, and every reasonable security we ought to have. No promise of
what the General Government intend to do should satisfy us. Everything
should be put in the New Constitution.... If Newfoundland trusts to
promises and fine speeches, we will be looking, in a few years, for
another Daniel 0'Connell, ... We must have better terms, not only as
to money matters, as we receive nothing in comparison to the amount
they will get from us; we should also have the sole control of our
fisheries, without any reference [to] the Canadian Government . We
should allow no taxes to be imposed on us whatever in Newfoundland.
...The tax on imports we cannot avoid .... But we pay "double per head in Newfoundland" to what they do in Canada of import duties. ....
This is not just or fair. To enter
the Confederation on the resolutions agreed to at the Québec conference,
would, in my opinion, be ruinous to Newfoundland....
Extracts from Speech by S. March (Conservative, District of
Bonavista Bay) in House of Assembly, February 22, 1865. The
Newfoundlander, March 20, 1965.
.... They were bound to this country by the strongest of ties. Their
fathers had died to establish its liberty, and he would never consent,
while a drop of British blood ran in his veins, to yield up this country,
which was one day bound to be the most flourishing on the ocean, to a parcel
of Johnny Crapeaus or Dutch Canadians .... Were we to leave the flag ...; be
separated from the glorious Empire of Britain, and placed on a sandy, muddy,
rickety foundation? He indignantly protested against any such spoilation of
our liberties. Hon. gentlemen call this clap-trap. It was no clap-trap - it
was as true as Holy Writ.... [Canada] was now almost insolvent, and wanted to
pounce on Newfoundland, like a hungry cat, and seize her teeming wealth - her
millions of money, which were annually drawn from her waters, and replenish her
own exhausted treasury with it. Was this country to be bartered away for a mess of pottage?...
Extract from Speech by H. T. Moore (Conservative, District of Harbour Grace)
in House of Assembly, February 28, 1865.
The Newfoundlander, April 17, 1865.
.... If Confederation would remove the barriers of ice that sometimes block our
coast, regulate the winds, and give us more prosperous fisheries, then that
would be an advantage. Newfoundland requires free trade, and can we have it
to a greater extent by confederation than we have at present? The Canadian
markets are as free to us now as we can desire .... What the trade of
Newfoundland requires is that we should be as free to go to the markets
of the world as possible, and with as little taxation paid on our imports
as practicable, and try to keep foreign markets open to our exports - to
endeavour to encourage the people to devote more of their attention to
agriculture, which must prove more profitable to the country than Confederation.
The prosperity of the country must depend upon the energies of the people, and
the resources within themselves, and not on the prosperity of resources of
another country. It is patent that the fishermen generally have a reluctance
to betake themselves to agriculture, from the very nature of its pursuits
being so vastly different from the pursuit of the fisheries . But necessity
would show and teach them that it is their best alternative, and from that
and other resources he anticipated more effective and permanent relief for
the present destitution of a portion of our operative population, than from
a union with the other British North American Colonies.
Extracts From Speech by J. Kavanagh (Liberal, District of
St. John's East) in House of Assembly, February 28, 1865.
The Newfoundlander, April 20, 1865.
.... But he would ask permission to turn to another question, and
ask how Ireland has been under her union with England? Had she gained
any benefits by that? How has it fared with that lovely land of the sun,
which might be said for its fertility, to be flowing with milk and honey -
that land whose sons are brave and its daughters virtuous, who sent forth
saints and heroes to instruct man and combat tyrants .... Was Ireland benefited
by the union? On the contrary, she lost everything that was dear to her people ....
[S]he sank far below the level of a petty province, and is now steeped in misery and
want, and her hardy and industrious race deserting her every day, and leaving her
green fields a barren waste. All this must be attributed to her union with England.
With this fact before our eyes, let us, in the name of everything that is good,
retain that great boon which the mother country bestowed on us; and let us look
to a kind Providence for better times. Let the people stand firm together; and
preserve the freedom and independence of their country....