"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


There is a popular Newfoundland nationalist myth — yes, another one — that you hear quite often on the airwaves of the Ministry of Truth, as often as not from the hosts, who should know better, as from the callers, who, well, they should know better, too. It goes something like this:

"We have to kick and fight and scream for everything we got, not like Alberta and them other provinces who always had control over their resources and we don't control our resources and oh I loves Danny Williams."

Or something to that effect.

Wrong on both counts.

Newfoundland and Labrador has unfettered control over its resources, to the same degree as any other province... except where that control is actually superior. There will be more on this, later.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, for many years, did not.

And no, that's not what you have been told. But not everything you "know" is true.

This is Term 37 of the Terms of Union:
37. All lands, mines, minerals, and royalties belonging to Newfoundland at the date of Union, and all sums then due or payable for such lands, mines, minerals, or royalties, shall belong to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, subject to any trusts existing in respect thereof, and to any interest other than that of the Province in the same.
Pretty clear. But a more subtle, and often overlooked operation of the Terms of Union makes it even more so. This is the important Term 3:
3. The Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1940, shall apply to the Province of Newfoundland in the same way, and to the like extent as they apply to the provinces heretofore comprised in Canada, as if the Province of Newfoundland had been one of the provinces originally united except in so far as varied by these Terms...
Which makes s. 92 of the British North America Act applicable to the new province:
92. In each Province the Legislature may exclusively make Laws in relation to Matters coming within the Classes of Subject next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say,—
5. The Management and Sale of the Public Lands belonging to the Province and of the Timber and Wood thereon.
So, the provincial government has full jurisdiction over mines, minerals, public lands, and forests, just the same as all the other provinces.

Things could have been different. The draft Terms of Union of 1869, for example, provided quite differently:
5. In consideration of the transfer to the General Government by Newfoundland of the now ungranted and unoccupied 1ands, mines, and minerals of the Colony, it is agreed that the sum of $150,000 shall each year be paid to Newfoundland by semi-annual payments...

6. It shall be optional, however, for Newfoundland, before entering the Union, to reserve to itself all the lands and rights conveyed -to the General Government by the last preceding clause, and in that case Canada shall be relieved of the payment of the aforesaid sum of $150,000 per annum.
Similarly, the 1895 proposal provided that:
7. The Dominion will pay $150,000 annually for the Crown lands of the Colony [of Newfoundland].
But we didn't get either of these very disadvantageous 19th-century terms. Term 3 harkens back to the roots of Confederation and the unfettered jurisdiction over provincial lands and resources guaranteed to the original four provinces on their original lands.

Compare this to the Manitoba Act, 1870:
30. All ungranted or waste lands in the Province shall be, from and after the date of the said transfer, vested in the Crown, and administered by the Government of Canada for the purposes of the Dominion, subject to, and except and so far as the same may be affected by, the conditions and stipulations contained in the agreement for the surrender of Rupert’s Land by the Hudson’s Bay Company to Her Majesty.
Similar provisions fettered Manitoba's control over northern territories added to the province in 1881 and 1912.

The Alberta and Saskatchewan Acts of 1905 contained identical language for each of the two new provinces:
21. All Crown lands, mines and minerals and royalties incident thereto, and the interest of the Crown in the waters within the province under The North-west Irrigation Act, 1898, shall continue to be vested in the Crown and administered by the Government of Canada for the purposes of Canada, subject to the provisions of any Act of the Parliament of Canada with respect to road allowances and roads or trails in force immediately before the coming into force of this Act, which shall apply to the said province with the substitution therein of the said province for the North-west Territories.
It was not until 1930 that the fetters started to come off the Prairie provinces' control over their own lands and natural resources; 25 years after Saskatchewan and Alberta were created as provinces of Canada, 60 years in the case of Manitoba. The resulting Natural Resource Agreements were still the subject of contention in the 1950s and 1960s.

One thing is true: Newfoundland and Labrador does not have the same arrangement regarding resources that Alberta and the other western provinces did when they came into Confederation.


From the moment Newfoundland and Labrador joined Confederation in 1949, the province has always had the full and unfettered jurisdiction over provincial resources that Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba did not have for many decades after they became provinces of Canada. Until the 1930s, those three provinces could only ever have dreamed of having something so simple, clear, and powerful as Term 37.

The Prairies had to kick and fight and scream for everything they got in respect of terrestrial resource jurisdiction.

Newfoundland and Labrador never had to.


At 11:56 AM, March 24, 2007 , Blogger Pedestrian said...

So are people confusing control of the resources with former government claws backs that may have in some capacity nullified control and bred that perception?

I think the main kernel of garlic we have against combating these characters is one simple truth of history "Perception trumps reality". The facts could be plain as day, but so long as the perception exists that the opposite is happing that will be canon fact.

You find out what causes this perception and you find a counter perception that brings things better in line with reality. Then you rid yourself of these clowns.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home