Giving up self-government
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.
The mother country appoints a Commission of Government. As a result, there will be no legislature and no elections.
The Commission sees reform as a way to alleviate poverty: stimulate economic conditions and restructure government. Families will be relocated from destitute fishing villages to a makeshift farming community called Markland. An age-old tradition of church influencing state is challenged, but not without a fight from the local elite.
. Newfoundland was the first dominion to voluntarily give up responsible government.
. The Commission blamed the island's poverty on "unprofitable" traditional fishery methods: family businesses salting and drying cod for overseas markets.
. The Commission replaced salt cod businesses with fresh fish processing plants for American export, a practice continued by Premier Joey Smallwood's Liberals after Confederation.
. The term outport is often used to refer to Newfoundland and Labrador's small isolated fishing villages.
Program: Tuesday Night
Broadcast Date: March 14, 1972
Reporter: Rex Murphy
Event date: Feb, 16, 1934
Last updated: February 2, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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