For his new book, TV comedian and longtime environmental activist Greg Malone has dug into a serious subject that still touches nerves in Newfoundland and Labrador: the issue of becoming Canada’s 10th province in 1949.
To write Don't Tell the Newfoundlanders: The True Story of Newfoundland's Confederation with Canada, Malone dug into formerly secret documents and confidential memos that preceded the union. In some cases, he obtained access through freedom of information requests.
What he found was a great deal of opposition in London, in St. John’s and in Ottawa over the issue itself as well as how the question of whether to join Canada was decided (via referendum).
Then-prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King's cabinet was deeply divided, Malone told CBC News. However, a core group led by C.D. Howe, Louis St. Laurent and Mitchell Sharp was keen to get Canadian control of Labrador’s iron ore and hydro power. With the Second World War only recently ended, there was also an eye on Newfoundland's military significance.
Malone explores these background papers in his book, which also uses oral history and his own commentary to build a vivid story of how Confederation came to be.
According to the former CODCO comedian, actor (Rare Birds) and activist for environmental causes, Newfoundlanders need to know their own history to help control their destiny in the future.
"It's up to us to make sure that we have our say and that we are in charge — not a few well-meaning bureaucrats at the top who think they know what's best for everyone, you know," he told CBC’s Kamala Rao.
"I love freedom of information. Anyone who suppresses freedom of information to me is a traitor and is taking away from the people their opportunity [and] the only tools that they have to participate in democracy. And so, the book is all about process. It's all about the violation of the democratic process and the damage that does."