Newfoundland; Economic, Diplomatic, and Strategic Studies

By R. A. MacKay | Go to book overview

XII
CONFEDERATION RE-OPENED--1886-1895

MACDONALD never despaired of Newfoundland's ultimate acceptance of confederation, and the impending resumption of Anglo-American fishery negotiations in the late eighties led him to revive the project as the most effective means of forming a solid British North American front on the question of fishery relations with the United States. Moreover, Newfoundland's financial position was becoming highly unsatisfactory. Railway construction, which had begun in 1881, and the new drydock at St. John's were proving a serious financial burden and were straining credit. The fisheries industry was experiencing heavy weather, due in part to the competition in the Mediterranean from the subsidized French industry, and a serious unemployment problem had developed, requiring considerable expenditure in direct relief. Conditions within Newfoundland thus appeared to favour renewal of discussions on confederation.

Macdonald was kept informed of the political situation in the Island by A. B. Morine, an astute young lawyer from Nova Scotia, who had migrated to Newfoundland and whose journalistic skill and legal knowledge soon secured for him a prominent place in the public life of his adopted country. An ardent advocate of confederation and an acute political observer, Morine corresponded regularly with Macdonald, and in 1886 informed him that it might be possible to arrange for the despatch of a Newfoundland delegation to Canada in the following summer for a discussion of the terms of union. Morine believed that the time was ripe and that Newfoundland's financial difficulties would sooner or later compel her to plead for admission to the Dominion, and he was convinced that confederation could be hastened by the judicious exertion of Canadian influence in London.

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