H.W. Hoyles Pro-Confederate Speech, 1865
Extracts from Speech by Premier H.W. Hoyles (Conservative, District of Burin) Assembly Debate, February14, 1865. The Newfoundlander, March 16, 1865.

... He recollected that, seven or eight years ago, when the question was first mooted by the Governor General, he did not view it very favourably. It appeared to him .... to involve an increase in expenditure for a general government and local governments and legislatures, without as he then apprehended, any corresponding advantage. But when it came before him as a .practical question ... he came to view it in its relation not merely to the present circumstances of this colony, but also in regard to the future, he found that he had made a very great mistake in regarding it as a question of which the decision was to be influenced entirely by pecuniary considerations. On the contrary, it involved numerous important considerations of a social, political, moral and commercial character requiring the closest attention. And although, in some respects, in having relation to the future, the question must be regarded as somewhat of a speculative character ....he had arrived at the conclusion that the proposed Confederation should by all means be entered into .... A consideration that powerfully influenced his mind .... was the contrast that might fairly be instituted between what Newfoundland now was and what she might be under Confederation. At present we were an insignificant fishing settlement .... with no resources at present available beyond our fisheries and those insufficient for the support of our people .... we could have no prospect of becoming anything but a small colony of little influence or power in any respect, and of no note, importance, or consideration, which, should the protection of Great Britain be withdrawn, must fall a prey to the first power that might chose to take possession of the island ..... On the other hand, what might we be under confederation? We were invited to join a Confederation which, in half a century, would be second to no power on the face of the earth, with a population at present numbering four millions, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific ... with a country abounding with resources such as could not fail, in the hands of an energetic people, to place us in the first rank amongst the nations of the earth .... When he contrasted this with Newfoundland out of the confederation, with its 130,000 inhabitants subsisting by the fisheries on its coast, and the limited mineral resources which the island was known to possess, he considered it was a duty we owed to ourselves and to posterity to accept the invitation extended to us .... But it should not be overlooked that the question for our consideration was not whether we should go into the confederation or remain as we are at present - but whether, the confederation being formed, as it undoubtedly would be, by the other provinces, we were prepared to take the consequences of remaining out of it. .... Now supposing confederation carried out; and that the other provinces went into it and made the suggested provision for the defence of the confederated provinces, and that we remained out, in what light would we be regarded by the government and people of England? They would take no interest in us, ... and [we] would be regarded as a people whose interests were of very little concern, and who, having thrown away the advantages offered to them could be worked upon only as wilful and wayward children. And what, then, could we expect, but that we should be handed over to some subordinate at the Colonial Office, to receive very little of that attention which we now experience. We might find, in time, the ships of war ... sent elsewhere, and the troops ... withdrawn; and attention given to those who were more careful to comply with the wishes of the British Government. .... It had been stated that Great Britain would never abandon Newfoundland on account of her geographical position. This seemed a whim, a childish delusion. If Newfoundland was of so much importance why was it not made a naval station, in preference to pestilence striken Bermuda, and Halifax; which had always been naval stations? .... If we were considered of so much importance to Great Britain; why was there so little expended on our fortifications? .... If we declined to enter into the confederation we would not be longer regarded by the other Colonies as a sister colony, but as one which had ... refused all association with them. We should have no claim on their sympathy or support, should we be threatened with another French convention, and their markets would be closed to our produce by prohibitory duties .... As to the question - what were the materia advantages of confederation; it seemed to him that there were many. With regard to our public men, it opened up a field worthy of their ambition. Let the hon. member for Ferryland, Mr.. Glen, consider the enlarged sphere of advancement which confederation opened up to him' if sent up as a member to the House of Commons, where talent must take the lead whether it came from Newfoundland or Vancouver .... At the same time he might have an opportunity of benefiting his Newfoundland constituents and the island generally, by promotion of extensive public works, while at present he was laudably endeavouring to promote the interests of the fishermen by urging the construction of a breakwater at Toad's Cove.... [Confederation] must benefit young men in all professions. They had before them an enlarged field for their exertion and proportionally larger prizes to stimulate these exertions in the professions of law and medicine .... Then as to the commercial advantages of confederation. Look at our herring fishery, for instance, at present languishing. Was it nothing to have such a market as Canada which in a few years would take all we could produce? .... And if when Canada was carrying out large public works we were united with her, was it to be assumed that none of these would be constructed here? And would not those carried out elsewhere afford employment for many of our citizens and labourers? .... And would not this relieve the fisheries from the pressure of a surplus? .... It had been objected, that in going into the union we were giving up our independence - our right to independent legislation. Every savage entering society gave up a portion of his independence , but did he lose by the change? True, if we wept; into confederation, we would give up a portion of our present control of our affairs. But he did think that we would be well quit of it. What was the history of the colony since we had a local legislature? It was not one on which we could look with satisfaction ... If the strife of the parties should have a narrower scope and have less bitterness ... would it not be a great benefit to the community? On the other hand, if we gave up some power ... would we not have an equivalent in the share we should receive in the general government? ... He considered that nothing for or against union; could be drawn from contrasting the tariff of the two countries, and for this plain reason, that the Canada tariff, being framed for Canada alone, was wholly inapplicable ... to the very different commercial interests of the lower provinces, and the first thing that the united Legislature would have to attend to would be to frame such a tariff ... as would suit the general interest.... [Our tariff] has been rising for years past ... and is yet insufficient. How long will it be before, of our own accord, and from sheer necessity; we lay on our people duties beyond what our most excited alarmists fear from the union? .... Those of our merchants whose capital was employed in the manufacture or importation of British goods, would, for a time, suffer by the change [of confederation] but the people at large would benefit .... Lastly ... what did those who opposed confederation ... propose as the means whereby they would, in the absence of Confederation, raise the country from its present depression? ..Look at our present position. Struggle as we may, even with a fair revenue, we cannot keep from going into debt every year for our current expenditure.... It was answered : "Oh, let us have good fisheries, and we are all right" But in the first place, who is to command these good fisheries, and secondly, suppose we had them, what does the history of the colony show? That when we had good fisheries we never laid by for a rainy day, or paid off a shilling of debt; but, on the contrary, got deeper into debt every year whether the fisheries were bad or good. The best that could happen to us was an alternation of good and bad fisheries. And what would be the result of this, judging from experience? As time rolled on, our debt increasing year by year, while our resources were diminishing, and a third of our population for a third of the year were in a starving condition. The end of all this it was not difficult to discover - certain, inevitable national bankruptcy; and if so, where was the hope, in our present isolated state, for the future of Newfoundland? Go into confederation, and these evils are, to a great extent mitigated .... He did see nothing before the country, if this proposal was rejected ....


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