Confederation
1864-1949



The Labrador Boundary


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Volume XII








28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillon.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Mr. Macmillan.

The Lord Chancellor.

Mr. Macmillan.

28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Mr. Macmillan.

28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.




p. 338

all hands, the Colony of Newfoundland had no interest whatever in the Peninsula of Labrador ; it had no territorial jurisdiction and no rights of any kind whatsoever. That is conceded.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : That is the year before the Act.

Mr. MACMILLAN: That is the year before the Act of 1809. I choose that advisedly. We start, if I may so put it, with a clean sheet in 1809 ; at that moment when the Act of 1809 vas passed Newfoundland had nothing on the Continent. The Act of 1809 gave Newfoundland something, and when one turns—

Viscount HALDANE : Did Quebec run up to Cape Chidley in those days ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : That is our submission. It is not necessary for my case to say so, but that is my submission. The start of the matter, therefore, in logical order, is to be found in Section 14 of the Newfoundland Act of 1809, which is in the red Appendix at page 195.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: You say that the Act of 1809 gave Newfoundland an interest on the Continent; it is quite true that at that moment Newfoundland had no interest, but it had had an interest, and the Act expressly re–annexes it.

Mr. MACMILLAN: I am sure your Lordship will not anticipate what I have to say. I wish to keep the matter in perfect logical order. What one starts with in 1809 is that at the moment of that enactment Newfoundland was not on the Continent at all ; then one looks at the Act to see what introduces Newfoundland at that stage to the Continent, and that is done in Section 14 ; that does this : it annexes to the Government of Newfoundland certain rights and interests, and it does so, as my Lord is good enough to remind me, by a historical reference; that is how it set about it, and it thus defines what is to be given to Newfoundland. Newfoundland is to have “ such parts of the Coast of Labrador, from the River St. John to Hudson's Streights and the said Island of Anticosti and all other smaller islands so annexed to the Government of Newfoundland by the said Proclamation of the seventh day of October One thousand seven hundred and sixty three.” My Lords will note, first of all, that the annexation is there stated to have been effected by the Proclamation and not by the Commission.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Was not that an inaccurate recital ? In fact, the first recital in the very section says the Proclamation declared “ that he had put the Coast of Labrador.”

Mr. MACMILLAN : I was drawing attention to that, my Lord, not in order to make a point upon it favourable to myself, but rather to dicate that at that time the Commission and the Proclamation were

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regarded really as associated acts, and that, I think, probably the more important public document seems to have predominated in the minds of those who were drawing this Act ; but it is true that before this the Commission of 1763 had confided to the Governor of Newfoundland whatever it had confided to him before the Proclamation was made ; therefore, in one sense it is not accurate to say it was annexed to the Government of Newfoundland by the Proclamation, but the Statute has so chosen to say it.

Viscount FINLAY : What is the most convenient reference to that Statute ; it is more than once set out ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : The one that I am now reading, which is page 195 of the red volume. It is Section 14 of the Act of 1809, and I was trying, if I could, to keep the thing in precise logical order. One starts in 1809 with no rights on the part of Labrador on the Continent, and then an Act comes along which confers rights, but it does so by, so to speak, a revival of a state of matters which had existed before ; it does not start de novo. This matter has a history behind it, and, in defining what it is to be annexed to the Government of Newfoundland, it does so by referring you to other documents for their contents.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : That is the root of the existing title of Newfoundland.

Mr. MACMILLAN : That is really the way to start it, and we start from there, and then, of course, one brings in all the other documents, to which this document refers you for the content of this document.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : It does not very much matter, does it, that the Statute says “ annexed by the Proclamation,” because when you go back to the Proclamation you find what is referred to is that which was comprised in the Commission to Governor Graves ?

Mr. MACMILLAN: I, personally, do not make very much of it, but I think I am entitled to say this : that the Commission and the Proclamation together seem to have been regarded by the authors of this Legislation as the important document.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : Yes, taken together.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I should not like to put it any higher than that, my Lord. Now, my Lords, that title which I have just read to your Lordships, is described in our Case as “ a title by reference,” that is to say, it is a title which is not itself explanatory or exhaustive, it requires you to refer to certain other documents in order to find out what was the content of the Section. My Lords, I might at this stage clear the ground further by saying this, that when one turns
2 Z 2

p. 340

back to the series of transactions which you find embodied in the documents of 1763, 1774, 1809, and 1825, I humbly submit that the subject matter which was being dealt with in all those documents, statutes, or proclamations, was the same subject matter. I think again I find myself in agreement with Sir John Simon there. Something is being bandied about between Newfoundland and Canada ; what exactly it is that is being bandied about is the question ; but that something was in transaction between those two Governments is undoubted ; and the series of transactions which took place I think one must regard as transactions referable to the same subject matter. I do not think it was a different subject matter, it was the same subject matter. Then, my Lords, if that be the subject matter, one is referred therefore back by this Statute to the Proclamation of the 7th day of October, 1763, to see what, by that Proclamation (and I read Proclamation in its wide sense as including the Commission to which it refers) was annexed to the Government of Newfoundland then, and one turns back, therefore, to the Proclamation, which you will find in the same volume on page 154.

(Adjourned till to–morrow at 10.30 a.m.)

[1927lab]




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