Mr. L. T. Stick (Trinity-Conception):
Mr. Speaker, along with others who have spoken I also should like to extend to you my congratulations. We who are new to this house cannot perhaps appreciate you as well as others who have known you longer. Your consideration to new members has endeared you to us, and I should like to convey to you my warm and sincere congratulations, and I wish you to accept them as such.
To the mover and seconder of the address I say, I have not had the honour of knowing you long but in the time I have known you I have learned to appreciate you and, young members that you are, I feel that in this party we have in you young men of promise. I offer you most heartily my congratulations on the way in which you presented your addresses.
I want to speak this afternoon on union; and, if I can, I want to rectify some of the impressions which hon. members have received on Newfoundland's entry into union. We have been received here with much kindness. We have received every consideration, and we appreciate that to the fullest. It has been suggested in this house that the people of Newfoundland voted for confederation because of the social benefits that we would receive. I do not wish to take anything away from the truth of that statement, but it is not the whole truth. I know that the economic side of union should have been surveyed and surveyed thoroughly, but there is more in union than economics. This afternoon I want to emphasize that if I can. I know that we are subject to economics from the cradle to the grave, but it is not the whole of life, and neither is it the full reason why we chose union instead of a policy of isolation. We chose it because we believed that in union there is strength, and that our future lay to the west of us, and that in adopting a policy of isolation we would be adopting a policy of disaster for our country.
As I have said, the economic side of union has been stressed in the press and on the radio, and we would do well, I think, to point out some of the aspects of union so that the whole Canadian people may have a full and complete idea as to why this union took place.
During recent years in Newfoundland we have had several forms of government. We had tried responsible government for many long years and it failed our people. It has
The Address-Mr. Stick
been said that the financial crisis in which we found ourselves was brought about by the depression. It would be truer to say that the depression hastened the crisis. We found ourselves in a position where we could not meet our obligations, and with sorrow we had to give up freedom, democratic freedom as we know it on this side of the water. A royal commission came to our country to investigate our conditions. It recommended a form of government called commission of government. We accepted it, and we accepted it in good faith. Unfortunately we found that progress without freedom is not obtainable. During the time of government by commission our people suffered as they had never suffered before. I have been amongst the people and I have come from the people, and I know what they suffered. I say that I never want to see it again as long as I live. Our people remembered these things. Because we felt that union with the other provinces would give us a measure of security, which we could never get if we had stood alone, we chose union. That was the main reason why we chose union. I was one of those who fought for it from the very beginning. It was not an easy choice for some of us to make. To give up the proud position which we had held for 450-odd years was not easy; but in choosing that side and going out and fighting for union I believed I did so in the best interests of my people, and I believe I did it in the best interests of this dominion. And now that we have union-thank God we have it-it is our job to put it to work. On what we do in this parliament in the near future, how we treat the people of Newfoundland, will very largely depend the happiness of our people.
I have been much encouraged since coming here by the kindly consideration which has been given to Newfoundland and its problems. I am glad to state here that the faith which I had before I came is sustained now, and I shall be glad to go back and tell my people that they have a sympathetic ear in Ottawa, that our just claims will be met, and that in union we shall be able to provide for our people as we have never been able to provide for them before.
I want to bring to the attention of this house the geographical position which Newfoundland holds in relation to the rest of the dominion. During recent days it has been said here that we in Canada did not come in contact with the war at first hand. The hon. member who said that did not live in Newfoundland. We did come in contact with the war at first hand in Newfoundland, and thousands of our people saw ships, laden with iron ore, torpedoed, and sent to the bottom in the twinkling of an eye with a
tremendous loss of life. We know what war means. We have experienced it at first hand. Many hundreds of ships have been torpedoed on our coasts, and the survivors have been landed at St. John's and cared for in our hospitals during the war. I mention these facts because I do not want Canada to make the mistake that the British Admiralty made in the period between the two wars when Great Britain concentrated her defences in Bermuda instead of in Newfoundland. That mistake cost us very dearly, and it very nearly cost us the battle of the Atlantic. If we had lost that battle we would have lost the war.
By this act of union Canada is now secure on her eastern border. If we had chosen otherwise I think that the party sponsoring economic union with the United States would have won. If that had happened, I believe that economic union would have taken place with that country, and this dominion would have been faced with the situation that she was faced with when Alaska was taken over by the United States. That great country to the south is a friendly country, it is true. But we wanted to keep Newfoundland British; we wanted to keep Newfoundland within the British commonwealth of nations; we wanted to link up with you, to make you stronger, so that your voice for peace raised in the future would be a strong and a united voice.
Some people have said that we should have had responsible government and that negotiation should have taken place as between governments. My reply to that is this: Economically speaking, we have gone through serious times before. The world situation in trade and commerce was none too secure, as we have had evidence of late. We believed that the only time, we should come into the union was when we were in a financially strong position. That was the path of honour, and we chose that path'. That is why we came in when we did-and I believe we did the right thing when we did it.
May I draw your attention to another point. At the very time when this great country was negotiating for the coming into being of the Atlantic treaty, my province entered into union with you. The fact is that we joined with you. Soon afterwards the Atlantic pact was signed, and this was followed by the lifting of the Berlin blockade, making the peace of the world more secure than ever before.
Those acts are related. Just at the very time when Canada's voice should have been united and strong, it was made that way by our act of union. And it may well be that, through this small act of ours, we may have played a big part in bringing about that
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The Address-Mr. Stick alliance, which is the strongest force we have in the world today for peace. Big things come from small things. I believe those acts are related. If we have helped Canada in any way to preserve the peace of the world- even if only in a small way-we in Newfoundland will take pride in that fact.
The union of Newfoundland with Canada has been analysed from the standpoint of dollars and cents. Can anyone in this House of Commons analyse what I have said from a dollars-and-cents standpoint? It goes beyond that: it is the union of two peoples bound together by religion, by language, by geographical position and by the type of life we live. Many thousands of our people from Newfoundland have come to this country seeking their bread and butter; and they have made good here.
It has been said that we have unemployment in Newfoundland. It is sad to relate that, unfortunately, at just this time of the year, it is on the increase. But unemployment in Newfoundland is not the fault of union; we have had unemployment there for years. It is a problem which is not easy of solution; but we believe that under union we can solve it. With your sympathetic help and co-operation we believe we can do it.
My country is an old country, with 452 years of history. We are a proud and an hospitable people. Many hon. members have indicated their intention of coming to Newfoundland and viewing our country. May I
give them a bit of advice? I have received advice since coming to Ottawa, and I should like to give some at this time. When you come to visit us remember two things: remember that we are an hospitable and proud people; and when you partake of our hospitality do not forget our pride. And when you come in contact with our pride, please think of our hospitality.
The time at my disposal is almost up, and I do not wish to delay the house unnecessarily. I do wish to say this in all sincerity, however, that as it has been our boast of old that we were Britain's most ancient and loyal colony, and as we are the cornerstone of empire, so do I believe that in the future it will be our proud boast that we are Canada's newest and most loyal province.
On motion of Mr. Pouliot the debate was adjourned.
Topic: ANSWERING OF QUESTIONS ON ORDER PAPER
Subtopic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE