CBC Digital Archives

Commission evaluating Confederation

Joey Smallwood said it was the narrowest of escapes. Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949 by a referendum result of 52 to 48 per cent. Smallwood, a small but tough man with horn-rimmed glasses, fought stellar orator and anti-Confederate Peter Cashin. Many benefits came with joining Canada; a university, better highways. But average income still hovers near the poverty line. Today, a commission investigates whether Canada broke its 1949 funding promise.

media clip
Harbour Breton is a centuries-old fishing community on Newfoundland's south shore. Residents who live there are mixed on whether Confederation was good for Canada. One man says the province is much better off: "Look at medicare and unemployment." But others believe joining Canada ruined the traditional salt cod industry. A year-long royal commission will investigate this and the province's future within Canada.

One woman hopes the commission can "go back to the Government to rectify what went wrong in 1949."
Royal commission hearings started the day after this CBC News report in Harbour Breton.

The final commission report is due June 30, 2003. When a preliminary commission report was released on Nov. 3, 2002, talk of Newfoundland separation erupted. The commission has a mandate to study the terms of Confederation, fishery management and equalization payments.

In an amendment to the Constitution on Dec. 6, 2001, the province's official name was changed to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The 1992 film Secret Nation, starring Mary Walsh and Cathy Jones, is a fictional account of Newfoundland joining Confederation. The drama depicts a Newfoundland history graduate student returning home to research a Confederation conspiracy theory. Some anti-Confederates believed the 1948 deciding referendum was rigged. The student researches public records to determine whether there is any truth to the rumours.

On July 2, 1992, the provincial government announced a moratorium on cod fishing.  The moratorium put 30,000 Newfoundlanders out of work.
Medium: Television
Program: Sunday Report
Broadcast Date: Sept. 29, 2002
Guest(s): Tom Cahill, Eugene Ridgely, Vic Young
Host: Alison Smith
Reporter: Lynda Calvert
Duration: 2:52

Last updated: February 28, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Celebrating Canada Day

On July 1, 1867, Canada took its first steps towards official nationhood. It has grown and dev...

1939-1945: A Soldier's War

From 1939 to 1945 Canadian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel lived and died in lands f...

Pelts, Pups and Protest: The Atlantic Seal Hu...

Those beseeching eyes were impossible to avoid. In the 1970s images of fuzzy white seal pups w...

The Berger Pipeline Inquiry

It was going to be the biggest private construction project in history. But before a pipeline ...

The Italian Campaign

A full year before the D-Day landings in Normandy, there were the Allied invasions of Sicily a...

Canada's Constitutional Debate: What Makes a ...

In its first hundred years, geography was Canada's most obvious tie that binds. On almost all ...