Addressing more fiction about Confederation

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A supporter of the 1949 conspiracy theory, asked by Randy Simms on “Open Line” recently to give one fact supporting the truthfulness of the theory, replied that “Canada and Britain appointed the delegates who negotiated the terms of union and Newfoundlanders had no say in it.”

Among the partial facts, fiction and fancy that make up the essence of the theory, this would fall somewhere between fiction and fancy.

The people of Newfoundland elected the members of the National Convention and these members elected the delegates to negotiate terms of union for Newfoundlanders to consider. The terms negotiated by the delegation were brought back and publicly debated for seven months before the final referendum. Newfoundlanders knew well the issues and what they were voting for by referendum day.

So, who actually decided on Newfoundland’s union with Canada?

Was it England, Canada, or both? Neither; it was the little man in the fishing boat, on the farm, or working in the factories, the stores, on the waterfront, etc., who seized control of his country’s destiny by exercising his choice for his future, with the marking of a simple “X” on a ballot paper. That simple “X” ended 450 years of servitude to a system beyond his control.

If Newfoundlanders had voted by districts based on those represented in the National Convention, the outcome would have been a landslide Confederate victory of 29 to 9. Among the 47 per cent voting againsts Confederation were 12 to 15 per cent pro-Confederates who voted responsible government as a step towards Confederation. Had they voted directly for Confederation, the margin of victory would have been higher.

The next step towards Confederation was to sign the terms of union. The Newfoundland Commission of Government appointed a (second) delegation to finalize union.

Gordon Winter, a strong anti-Confederate, and Joe Smallwood, pro-Confederate leader, served on this second delegation to Ottawa. Afterwards, Winter said that Smallwood “...fought tenaciously and continually for every advantage and benefit that could be obtained.”

These second set of negotiations improved upon the first. As the original terms of union, the majority of Newfoundlanders were satisfied enough with them to choose Confederation. Democracy had been served.


Jack Fitzgerald

St. John’s

Organizations: National Convention, Newfoundland Commission of Government

Geographic location: Canada, Newfoundland, Britain England Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • my two cents worth
    January 31, 2013 - 09:57

    from what i read about this matter is: the US was willing to adopt us but only if Britian and Canada was in agreement. Canada was willing to take us but only if the price was "right". Britian was broke and wanted us gone and Canada was their first choice. there was no benefit to either Canada or Britian for us to become independent. the little man, joey, was a person who could sell ice cubes to eskimos and he did that for many years.

  • Mack Hall
    January 29, 2013 - 20:22

    "Little man?" "Little man" is patronizing. One does not like to hear that the affairs of great nations were decided by little men.

  • doubt it
    January 29, 2013 - 16:35

    show us your history degree jack!

  • Jay
    January 29, 2013 - 10:36

    Jack, I have to give you credit. This is a great strategy to drum up sales for your book "1949". Somebody should hire you as a marketing consultant

  • NF for NF
    January 29, 2013 - 09:01

    Me thinks thou does protest too much Jack. Your attack on Malone's conclusions seem to be nothing more than someone in denial. Truth can be such a spurious thing when you already have an argument at hand. You conveniently ignore the fact that the National Convention turned down the motion for Confederation to be on the ballad. Surely democracy was not served when Confederation was put on the ballad despite the elected convention's refusal to accept the motion. Democracy served? Or the fact there should never had been a National Convention in the first place. There should have been nothing on the table except the return of Responsible Government period! Any decision to be made in regards to Newfoundland's future should have been initiated and decided by our elected Government and her people in a straight referendum. There was nothing democratic in the National Convention's foundation nor its mandate nor in the manner in which Confederation was place on the ballad. On top of that you ignore all that has been written, documented and argued from the National Convention floor to attack an alternate view point on this turbulent time in our history unjustly. To make blanket statements that Canada was our saviour and has thrown off the shackles of servitude suggests a blindness to the facts, a serious lack of knowledge of our proud independent history and your own experiences since Confederation. It is too bad that you get to stand on the pulpit wringing your hands at the 'True Believer's' and 'conspiracy theorists'. There must be an awful lot of us for you to attack us at every chance you get. I wonder why that is? I prefer the term 'enlightened' as each new document peels away another layer of fog of the true record of what happened.

  • Grassy Knoll
    January 29, 2013 - 07:44

    But the fiction is more interesting especially when it's dressed up as a conspiracy.