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NB tells court it was forced into confederation

old medic

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http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/Brunswick+tells+court+forced+into+Confederation/4617730/story.html

New Brunswick tells court it was forced into Confederation
Shawn Berry
14 April 2011

New Brunswick’s government has told the Supreme Court of Canada it’s been getting a raw deal ever since it was strong-armed into Confederation.

A legal brief filed last month tells a version of the Confederation story that isn’t the one most remember from school.

It is a gritty tale of power brokers in London threatening New Brunswick with the loss of British military protection and the severing of important trade ties to the United States if it didn’t sign on to the union that ended up vesting so much power in Quebec and Ontario.

The province insists the circumstances of Confederation suggest entry into the deal wasn’t free — it was forced.

“Imperial officials meddled in the matter . . . to put pressure on the New Brunswick government, beginning with giving precise instructions to the lieutenant-governor to take non-conciliatory positions on matters like defence and trade relations with the United States of America,” the province says in a 33-page brief.

The document supports the province’s intervention in the high court’s deliberations into whether the federal government is justified in establishing a Canadian securities regulator. New Brunswick is among those arguing the regulation of securities markets should not be taken over by the federal government because it was not agreed to as part of the Constitution Act.

The province argues the federal government shouldn’t be allowed to absorb additional economic powers that weren’t specifically given to it at Confederation.

In a sworn affidavit filed to bolster the province’s case, Donald Savoie, a professor of public administration at the Universite de Moncton, says New Brunswick’s relative economic position has fallen since 1867 and one of the main reasons is the use of federal policies that generally tend to favour large provinces to the detriment of smaller ones.

The term “National Policy,” Savoie says, is seen in New Brunswick and the Maritimes as “code . . . for looking after the economic interests of Central Canada.”

The N.B. government says it was pressed into the federation of the provinces by a “situation outside its control” that led to uneven negotiations and an inability for the province to secure a pact that would ensure the protection of its interests.

What’s worse, the province argues, is London pressured the province after the government of the day highlighted the shortcomings of Confederation and tried to get a better deal.

The province was invited to discussions about uniting the three maritime provinces in April 1864. That summer, the Governor General of Canada — the united provinces of Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec) — asked to join the talks to see if the union might embrace all of British North America.

By that fall, a deal had been drafted among the two Canadas, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The deal wasn’t received well in New Brunswick. And, in 1865, opponents of Confederation won New Brunswick’s election.

They quickly wrote London to signal their concerns about the deal saying “consummation of said scheme would prove politically, commercially and financially disastrous to the best interests and prosperity of this province.”

But London sent a stern warning to New Brunswick that it wanted British North America united. It said as much in an April 1865 letter to the lieutenant-governor.

“(It) will only be right for New Brunswick to bear in mind that, if the views which you have now expressed are to be regarded as sound, New Brunswick, as a separate Province, appears to be able to make no adequate provision for its own defence, and to rest in a very great degree upon the defence which may be provided for it by this country.”

Such a suggestion would have been sure to elicit some concern. It came as the heavily armed United States concluded its Civil War — a conflict that saw would-be Confederate raiders seize ships in New Brunswick waters.

In the summer of 1865, London also advised it didn’t want to hear any talk about the Union of the Maritime Provinces that New Brunswick first discussed unless that deal was part of a larger agreement involving all of the provinces.

Then, in November, New Brunswick, which had been seeking to renew a trade agreement with the United States, was told negotiating separate deals for each province would be a serious hurdle and “the Union of the Provinces would afford the best hope of obtaining such a Treaty.”

The lieutenant-governor’s involvement led to a constitutional crisis amounting to “an affront to the promise of responsible government that London made to its colonies,” the province now says.

Intrigues involving the lieutenant-governor and certain members of the opposition led to the mass resignation of the executive council. That led to the second election fought on Confederation in 1866.

That election came just months after a group of Fenians — Irishmen who were fighting for the cause of the independence of their homeland — set up camp in eastern Maine, creating a threat and concern over New Brunswick’s vulnerability.

While pro-Confederation candidates carried the day, the province notes they won on a “promise to obtain better terms for the province” for Confederation.

That didn’t happen in any significant way, the province says, and today, New Brunswick is still paying the price for a deal that was rammed through, despite clear objections.

In his affidavit, Savoie says federal policies — from the Canada-U.S. Auto Pact back to the decision not to build the Chignecto canal — have had lasting impacts on the economies of New Brunswick and the Maritimes.

He notes the canal across the Isthmus of Chignecto would have helped Saint John.

While Ottawa wouldn’t build it, Savoie notes that the federal government did earmark substantial resources to develop canals in Central Canada and to open the West and later put considerable money to building the St. Lawrence Seaway to open Ontario’s ports from Cornwall to the Great Lakes to international shipping, “undercutting Maritime ports, notably Saint John.”

Among other lasting decisions, he says, the federal government set the foundation to drive manufacturing growth in Central Canada.
 

Dennis Ruhl

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While I certainly agree with New Brunswick's contention that the federal government not be allowed to freely invade provincial jurisdiction with an open pocketbook, I don't understand what they would gain compared to a province like Alberta.  Alberta was purchased from the Hudson's Bay Company and arbitrarily carved out without anyone voting for anything.
 

ModlrMike

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I have to agree as well, but I fail to see how a national securities regulator is a negative. One of the fundamental impediments to prosperity in this country is inter-provincial territoriality in issues that effect all Canadians equally.
 

kratz

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The other side of the debate is when the constitutio was open and ready to be repatriated during negotiations, why did NB not speak up then?? Instead of signing onto that document?
 

PuckChaser

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Their economic position has fallen since 1867? Probably, weren't they big in the fur trade back then? Times change.
 

Pusser

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kratz said:
The other side of the debate is when the constitutio was open and ready to be repatriated during negotiations, why did NB not speak up then?? Instead of signing onto that document?

In fact, Richard Hatfield (then premier of New Brunswick) was one of the most eloquent speakers and strongest negotiators during the repatriation process.  He was well respected by all, so I would argue that NB had a very strong voice and ample opportunity to influence the process.

There is nothing earth-shattering in this article.  All the points are well-known and well-documented.  Yes, NB (and the others) were "forced" into Confederation.  The Imperial government made it clear that the colonies were no longer going to get a free ride and had to start paying for at least part of their own administration.  This is one of the reasons they were given responsible government in the first place.  Confederation simply made economic sense and London steered them that way.  Look what happened to Newfoundland, who tried to go it alone.  It worked for awhile, but eventually failed.

NB's economy has not declined because of Confederation (other than the fact that industrial development has tended to historically favour central Canada).  It has declined because its resource-based economy was based in resources that are no longer in great demand.  The timber trade went down the toilet because the main use of NB timber was for shipbuilding and we stopped building wooden ships.  With that market gone, NB was left to try and compete with BC who can grow bigger trees in one quarter the time.  It isn't hard to figure out how that worked out.

I'm from New Brunswick and  proud of it, but I remember even as a kid, thinking it strange that the new extra tall lamp poles erected on Regent St in Fredericton in the 1970s were Douglas fir from BC...
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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IIRC Newfoundland did not "try to go it alone", it was not invited at all to the conference. I think that merely had to do with jurisdiction: I think at the time Newfoundland did not fall under the care of the colonial office but rather under the Admiralty - which is why they had a Governing Admiral rather than General. But I could be wrong.

Where I am not wrong, however, is that the good New-Brunswick professor should use proper vocab.: The then Province of Canada was not separated between Ontario (west-Canada) and Quebec (east-Canada) before it was "united". It had been split between Upper-Canada (later Ontario - but after confederation only) and Lower-Canada (an expanded territory from the previous Province of Quebec as it had been under the Quebec Act). 
 

Edward Campbell

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
IIRC Newfoundland did not "try to go it alone", it was not invited at all to the conference. I think that merely had to do with jurisdiction: I think at the time Newfoundland did not fall under the care of the colonial office but rather under the Admiralty - which is why they had a Governing Admiral rather than General. But I could be wrong.

Where I am not wrong, however, is that the good New-Brunswick professor should use proper vocab.: The then Province of Canada was not separated between Ontario (west-Canada) and Quebec (east-Canada) before it was "united". It had been split between Upper-Canada (later Ontario - but after confederation only) and Lower-Canada (an expanded territory from the previous Province of Quebec as it had been under the Quebec Act).


The united Province of Canada was established in 1840 when the legislatures of Upper and Lower Canada were abolished (Act of Union (3 & 4 Vict. c. 35)) - you are correct OGBD - and replaced by s single legislature which roamed (I guess that's an apt description) between Kingston, Montreal, Toronto (twice), Quebec City (also twice) and, finally, in 1866 Ottawa). The Province of Canada was divided into two administrative and constitutional regions: Canada West and Canada East, which, despite a measurable disparity in population (Canada West was substantially larger than Canada East) had equal numbers of seats in the legislature - wherever it was sitting.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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Not quite ERC: At the time of the "unification" of the two Canadas, Lower-Canada (Quebec) had a larger population than Upper Canada (Ontario): LC: 670,000; UC: 480,000 (Source: Mel's Canadian Encyclopedia). But there already was an overall English majority when you counted the English population of Lower-Canada, found mostly in Montreal.
 

Edward Campbell

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
Not quite ERC: At the time of the "unification" of the two Canadas, Lower-Canada (Quebec) had a larger population than Upper Canada (Ontario): LC: 670,000; UC: 480,000 (Source: Mel's Canadian Encyclopedia). But there already was an overall English majority when you counted the English population of Lower-Canada, found mostly in Montreal.


Quite right, but the change, which began earlier, was quite marked in the 35 years between the Province of Canada and the Dominion of Canada, and it was, I think clear to Durham et al that the change was coming - there was a lot of "free" land in Canada West.
 

Old Sweat

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And at the time of the First Dominion census in 1871 French was the largest ethnic group at 1.25 million (all figures approximate) compared to 750,000 Irish, 550,000 English, 350,000 Scots and a bunch of "others."
 

Edward Campbell

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Old Sweat said:
And at the time of the First Dominion census in 1871 French was the largest ethnic group at 1.25 million (all figures approximate) compared to 750,000 Irish, 550,000 English, 350,000 Scots and a bunch of "others."


You know, as late as the 1940s we, school children, were still categorized, officially, as English-Canadians, Scots-Canadians, French-Canadians, Indians (casinos not convenience stores) Displaced Persons (a category that covered all post 1945 immigrants from Europe) and other Immigrants - which I guess covered Chinese and what have you.
 

Edward Campbell

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Sigs Pig said:
HA!  I hope you don't mind if I use that in the future E.R., I just love it!

ME


It's not original, but I forget where I heard it - except that (s)he was an Indian (convenience store, not casino).
 

Good2Golf

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So what exactly is it that NB looking for that it didn't (through Premier Hatfield) work into the 1982 repat of the Constitution?  ???
 

Blackadder1916

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
IIRC Newfoundland did not "try to go it alone", it was not invited at all to the conference. I think that merely had to do with jurisdiction: I think at the time Newfoundland did not fall under the care of the colonial office but rather under the Admiralty - which is why they had a Governing Admiral rather than General. But I could be wrong.

. . . . . .

I'll agree with the parts I've highlighted.

At the time of the Charlottetown Conference, Newfoundland had the same status as those other British colonies in eastern North America.  They had a Civil Governor appointed by the Privy Council who reported to the Colonial Office in London and was a self-governing colony with responsible government.  While there had been a period when the Governor of Newfoundland had been a post filled by a naval officer that had ceased  by 1825 when Newfoundland was "officially" granted colonial status.  But since most British colonies (if it was not a chartered company colony) in the 17th and 18th centuries had governors who were either professional soldiers or sailors (depending on the defence needs of the region) this was not unusual.

Newfoundland had not been originally invited to the Charlottetown Conference, but then again, neither was Canada (i.e. Ontario and Quebec)  It had originally been the intent of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to discuss a union of the Maritime provinces.  Canada, once it became aware of the conference, requested attendence.  Newfoundland (being half an hour later) had not been aware of the conference until much later and though it requested attendence that request was denied because the agenda had already been set.  Newfoundland did send two representatives (as observers) to the later Quebec Conference.
 
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