Newfoundland and Confederation: Smallwood on Term 29
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.
Ten years since joining Confederation, Newfoundland has received no payment.
One journalist challenges Smallwood: Does Newfoundland really need "special" treatment? The premier argues Newfoundland services lag behind Nova Scotia's by 25 years. He is resolute, "As long as water runs wet and grass grows green ... Term 29 should last."
• He grew up very poor in St. John's, Nfld. Smallwood was a pig farmer and worked as a newspaper and radio journalist before he was premier from 1949 to 1971.
• Following recommendations from provincial economic developer Alfred Valdmanis, Smallwood overwhelmingly favoured new industry. He offered industrial entrepreneurs government grants.
• Many of Smallwood's start-ups were unsuited to the province and failed, including Superior Rubber Company, Adler Chocolate Factory and Newfoundland Tanneries. Rawhide tanning, for example, required dry weather conditions uncharacteristic to Newfoundland's maritime climate.
• In reaction to failed ventures, the provincial government promoted the fishery as a viable alternative. The Feds expanded fishing zones from 16 to 322 kilometres in 1977. Unemployment was offset with social benefits.
Program: Cross Section
Broadcast Date: April 9, 1959
Guest(s): Joey Smallwood
Moderator: Charles Lynch
Panellist: Arthur Blakeley, Mark Harrison, Robert Duffy
Last updated: December 12, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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