Good evening your Highness the Queen, Ladies and Gentlemen. I, Frederick Carter, am here to discuss the impacts of federalism on Newfoundland’s economy and government. Newfoundland is home to a multitude of cultures and political perspectives. Colonists and immigrants from Ireland, Britain, France, and America all find their homes in our beautiful colony. As you know, our political parties have been based on British law and politics. We have come to realize that Newfoundland requires a system of government that allows for our minority groups to be represented more equally in political decisions. One way to do this would be to allow individuals to be elected to government without loyalty to a specific political party. These individuals are often referred to as ‘loose fish’. The allowance for loose fish is not readily accepted within the Federal system. As mentioned, Newfoundland has so many different opinions due to our mosaic of cultures and backgrounds that there may be less issues with political deadlock, as long as loose fish are allowed. This is one of the reasons why confederation may not work well for Newfoundland.
Despite our variety of cultures and people from many places across the globe, our population is relatively low. With just over 160,000 residents, our population is much lower than that of Canada East and Canada West. We hope to promote a system that gives equal representation to each colony, despite its population; this is known as double majority. Because confederation does not agree with using double majority, we have reservations about joining this system of government. Newfoundland, as well as the other maritime colonies feels as though they are not being represented adequately in important political groups and decisions. The most political power is held by a small number of politicians. For example, the Great Coalition is made up of two representatives from Canada West and one from Canada East. These three representatives make political decisions that will affect all of Canada. We believe that this group may not be aware of the issues most important to people living in the Maritimes.
The people of Newfoundland would like to be able to make decisions independently that will have direct impacts on our government and economy. For example, we believe that our provincial government should have control of our taxation. We would like the money that we pay in taxes to be used specifically for issues affecting Newfoundland. We are concerned that significantly increased taxes imposed by the federal government would be used in order to pay for the debt in Canada East and Canada West at the expense of Newfoundland. Federal tariffs would be designed to protect mainland industries, and this will restrict our ability to buy and sell goods and services as we wish. Furthermore, we believe that the Federal government should have legislation requiring provinces to be responsible for their own debt – known as provincial debt clauses. As a colony, Newfoundland has worked diligently to maintain minimal debt. We do not want to take on the cost of repaying debt from the large populations of Canada East and Canada West. We do understand that there are some things that a federal government would be better equipped to control. We believe that defense should be run federally so that we can pool our resources and protect ourselves against the Americans and the Fenians. Newfoundland has a low population and is geographically vulnerable to attacks from Britain, France, America and Ireland. We need support from the mainland colonies to protect us from any possible attacks. These are Newfoundland’s thoughts and concerns with respect to joining the Canadian confederation.