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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Road to Independence

The following was sent to me just a few minutes ago by one of our readers who was inspired by some of our recent comments on this site related to Quebec separation. It's interesting to say the least and if nothing else it should spark some discussion. Enjoy.

Future Scenario for Newfoundland and Labrador

2009 - Quebec holds referendum and opts to separate from Canada;

2009 - Newfoundland and Labrador no longer borders Canada but instead now borders the independent Country of Quebec;

2009 – 2012 - As an independent Nation Quebec grows its trade relations with parts of Canada and with other nations;

2014 – After just 5 years, as Quebec’s geographically close neighbour, resource rich Newfoundland and Labrador officially becomes one of manufacturing rich Quebec’s biggest trading partners;

2018 – Having been physically removed from the rest of Canada for nearly a decade the relationship between Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada has slid further and further down hill. The domino has begun to topple;

2019 – Because of the feelings of abandonment felt in the province, the NL Separation Party is formed and headed up by a well known, charismatic and trusted local leader;

2020 - Anti-Federal sentiment, which has been brewing in the province for decades, begins to grow as people watch a successful Quebec prosper economically while NL continues to struggle along in Confederation;

2023 – The NL Separation Party begins to grow in popularity and strength capturing its first few seats in the provincial legislature;

2027 – The NL Separation Party becomes the official opposition party in the provincial legislature as it continues to gain strength;

2031 – The NL Separation Party wins a majority of the seats in the province and forms the provincial government;

2038 – Having been in power for two highly successful terms the NL Separation Party has begun to turn around the NL economy and grow the province’s industrial base;

2040 – After winning a third term and with the specter of huge revenues about to be realized from the Upper Churchill, the NL Separation Party decides to put the question of separation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador by holding a referendum on Confederation;

2040 – The province decides to separate from Canada by a margin of 54% to 46%. Newfoundland and Labrador is once again an independent Country;

2041 – As an independent nation, all revenues from the Upper Churchill, Lower Churchill, the oil and gas industry (new mega-finds having been developed over the past decades) and all other resources and industries including fishing (now under NL control) and forestry remain in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Country negotiates its trade with other nations such as the U.S, Canada and Quebec, as an equal partner.

The Beginning.


BNB said...

Interesting Scenario - and even plausible. There are a couple of wild cards not accounted for though. 1. How does Labrador respond to N&L seeking independence. 2. How does Quebec respond concerning Labrador after they seek independence. 3. What of the other Atlantic Provinces who may themselves feel more isolated? - A country of Atlantica Perhaps?? 4. N&L being chummy with Quebec will take some time, perhaps longer than the scenario.

None of this is necessarily my opinion, just playing with this hypothetical case. Which I have to admit is a little fun :)

Patriot said...

Hi BNB, you're right, it is fun to speculate. On your 4 points:

1) Labrador may not be pleased with the scenario and will need to be brought onboard by being treated much better than they are now in the province. With such a small part of the population they will not impede separation but the NL Separation Party will need to bring them into the fold so to speak. (I bet that upsets someone we all know).

2)Quebec may make some attempts to annex parts of Quebec but with the legal battles already having been fought over this and the precedents having been set, they won't win the battle which would be with Canada as it would probably happen long before our independence vote.

3)There is a possibility of some domino effect in the rest of Atlantic Canada however I think NL will opt to go it alone.

4)It isn't a matter of "Getting Chummy with Quebec" but rather simple trade negotiations. This doesn't require us to embrace, only to negotiate.

Fun indeed. I'd like to thank our contributer for this piece. Good discussion topic.

Brian said...

Yes sir, interesting exercise, and why not. Bit like peeing into the wind, but then again why not, long as you have your rubbers on.
I was not aware that Newfoundland and Labrador was ever an independent county.
Just an update on present history. Quite a large chunk of the mainland portion of the province is now called Nunatsiavut, with its own governing powers, to a point. At present there would by an ice cubes chance in hell that Nunatsiavut would go along with any sort of separation. But in your time line it may come to pass that the beneficiaries of Nunatsiavut are so displeased with their plight they would go along with anything.
Then we have the land claims negotiations with the Innu Nation, if precedence stands for anything then there will be another form of self government along the lines, and maybe stronger, than Nunatsiavut.

BNB said...

That's an important consideration for sure. What about the nations within our Nation? I remember when Quebec was on the brink a few years back that the Aboriginal people of the province were steadfast in negotiating their own way, possibly to stay with Canada. Of course we have the people you have mentioned as well as Metis, and Mi'kmaq in Conne River and Gander River and others.

As there are more self-governing aboriginal nations... this would factor into the equation for sure.

What about an independent Newfoundland with a Mi'kmaq Nation (for example) that whiches to remain part of Canada? As Aboriginal Affairs is a federal jurisdiction what happens to the nations within?

Gordon said...

Aboriginal affairs were never discussed in the Terms of Union. In any case, there are ways around the problem. For example, Vatican City, San Marino and Monaco are all successful little states. Having said that, we can help groups like the Mik'maq enjoy the same level of independence we are seeking.

Atikonak said...

Interesting exercise to say the least! The variables are incredible but I think the outcome might be accurate. Some points to consider:

I don't think it's going to be that easy to "bring Labrador into the fold". After spending the last few years in Labrador I was absolutly amazed at the independent spirit and atitudes. Before I moved there I had no Idea how poorly they were treated by the Island govenment. I don't think Labrador will ever leave Canada.

If Quebec does leave the union it will not geographically look as it does today. I don't think a Canadian government would allow the Atlantic region to be completely cut off so there would be some kind of Canadian corridor to the East.

Vive Le Newfoundland libre!

WJM said...

2041 – As an independent nation, all revenues from the Upper Churchill, Lower Churchill, the oil and gas industry (new mega-finds having been developed over the past decades) and all other resources and industries including fishing (now under NL control) and forestry remain in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This already happens as a province of Canada.

WJM said...

Patriot said...
With such a small part of the population

Labrador's share of the province's population is three times the size of the province's share of the national population.

they will not impede separation but the NL Separation Party will need to bring them into the fold so to speak. (I bet that upsets someone we all know).

Dream on! If you think Labrador would willingly go along with your grand plan, you are on drugs.

12:08 PM

Brian said...
At present there would by an ice cubes chance in hell that Nunatsiavut would go along with any sort of separation.

Or Restavut, either!

Gordon said...
Aboriginal affairs were never discussed in the Terms of Union.

Which means that the BNA Act, 1867, provisions, apply. Read Term 3.

Gordon said...

Let's see, this is my third attempt to post a message. Hopefully this one will make it.

OK, it seems that some people are responding to the "Newfoundland and Labrador Separatist Party" as if it exists now. This is not what I have in mind. Indeed, as I see it, there may not even have to be a separatist party for Newfoundland and Labrador to be independent.

What I am looking at is post-Canada, that is, one without Quebec and and a rethink that has Ontario and Western Canada deciding that they are "Canada". Don't just assume there will be a corridor that will keep Eastern Canada part of a Quebec-less Canada, or that a corridor would be enough to keep the nine remaining provinces together. Quebec might very well demand to leave with the very borders it has now.

So, what is to be done....now. I say now because I do not think we have adequately prepared for or even thought about post-Canada. WJM's frequent comments should give us a hint of what may come. I mean, here we will be, weak and vulnerable and without a plan..... and then we cannot agree where to even begin because different regions feel alienated from each other. At best, we could become a Czechoslovakia, but there are worse scenarios.....

But it does not have to be that way, especially if we act NOW to unify this province of ours. It is for this reason that I proposed a "triple E" upper house for Newfoundland and Labrador on this blog; we have to give more power to more regions. In addition, I proposed that we make the lieutenant governor accountable directly to the people. And there is more we can do, especially regarding the First Nations. One of our problems is we remain focused on our version of democracy, which blocks out views from huge areas with few votes. Both the media and politicians are notoriously short-sighted in that regard, but so are the rest of us. We have to see beyond our tiny corner of the world ..... and we also have to think about the future.

The day we may have independence thrust upon is a possibility and not nearly as far fetched as you might imagine. There is no law that Canada as it is now will be around in another 100, 50 or even 25 years. The defeat of the separatists in the 1995 referendum and election of the Liberals in Quebec in 2003 gave us some breathing space to prepare. Let's take advantage of this fortuitous break.

Anonymous said...

You'd starve,

All existing trade agreements continued through that date would be enforced and given (my compusion) priority.

Any resource supplied by N&L also supplied by Canada, Mexico or GATT trading partners would take (by law) priority - meaning, for example, nations would have to buy oil from Canada, Venezuela, and blah blah blah before NFLD.

You'd have to either 1) ratify NAFTA & GATT independently with the consent of existing signatories or 2) sign independent agreements with existing partners (who would still be forced to honor pre-existing agreements and priorities) or 3) find new trading partners altogether.

Pragmatically, if Canada asked the US, EU and UN to refuse recognition, that request, for any number of political, economic and geodynamic reasons, would almost certainly be honored.

Pragmatically, separating from Canada as a whole would limit political capital when defending practices such as the seal hunt - imagine if the EU made abolition an ingredient of recognition.

Absent social identification, it's rather difficult to find any tangible benefit to such ideas - for N&F or Quebec.

Patriot said...

Response to Anon:

One point. Regardless of existing trade agreements with others, including Canada, if you honestly believe any country, including U.S. would not want to purchase Oil, gas, minerals and electrical energy from any stable source to meet its demands, you are misleading yourself.

Anonymous said...

Its not a question of wants - its a question of integrity, legality, and geopolitical interest.

There's also the question of "stability" - which a secessionist newfoundland and or quebec would not be for decades.

I am sure you would agree the greater interest for the US % EU is a stable Venezuela, compared to a profitable, independent Newfoundland (disregarding entirely the inevitable Canadian claim that the oil is, in fact, theirs).

I am sure you would agree it is in the US and EU interest to abide by their own treaties, rather than abrogate those treaties on behalf of Newfoundland or Quebec.

Your point is valid in terms of want - but want does not guide national policy.

Gordon said...

Although there is no doubt the US would prefer Canada to remain as it is, it is still possible it may break up anyway. For the US to keep a business as usual policy with a truncated Canada while pretending the ex-bits don't exist would seem like a strange national policy, especially considering the trade that all ten provinces do a lot of business with the USA. It's not like Quebec or Newfoundland and Labrador are Eritrea.

As an aside, I don't buy the idea that Canada would maintain control over oil reserves off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Surely, Canada's jurisdiction is based on geography. No country, especially the US, would support jurisdiction over ocean that is more than 200 miles away from its territory. The Americans made that quite clear when there was talk Canada might claim the nose and tail of the Grand Banks.

WJM said...

No country, especially the US, would support jurisdiction over ocean that is more than 200 miles away from its territory. The Americans made that quite clear when there was talk Canada might claim the nose and tail of the Grand Banks.

The Americans don't even much like the Nose and Tail being under NAFO administration, complaining that they don't get enough quotas for American fishermen on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland!

Anonymous said...

I am very ambivalent about this idea. As a Newfie expatriat living in Canada, I have come to love that nation, and I believe that it could have almost unlimited potential, maybe even be the best in the world. If that dream is ever realized, then the place for Newfoundland is right where it is now.

BUT and its a very big but, Canadian administration of Newfoundland affairs where they fall under federal jurisdiction has been uniformly poor, and there is no better example than the Atlantic fishery. It could not have been more thoroughly mismanaged and that continues to this very day. The same is true of transportation and other vital issues. That cannot continue. Years of neglect cannot be bought off with a few transient petro-dollars. What happens when all the oil is gone?

It is true that weak and venal leadership at home has contributed greatly to these problems, but nonetheless, Canada has never even tried to keep many of the promises of Confederation. And they must, if we are to be continuing partners.

Now, with oil and gas to fill our coffers, at least temporarily, the idea of returning to nationhood is again moving toward viability. We must not rush to judgment on this idea in either direction, but we should be thinking of it and planning for the possibility all the time. For if Quebec ever really does leave, Canada may die and fall apart very quickly, and Newfoundland and Labrador might have to face tough choices with very little time to prepare. The need for good, smart, forward-thinking leadership in St. John's has never been greater.

Gordon said...


Those two last sentences you wrote sum up my point succinctly. Now, where are those forward-thinking leaders?

Patriot said...

Unfortunately many of those forward thinking leaders are roaming around the province and contributing to blogs like this. Unfortunately they generally don't enter into politics.

Gordon said...

Good point. And are we not being part of the problem by not actually doing anything? I mean, this forum is great, but forums have their limits. It takes people, not the forums themselves, to actually make things happen. It seems that we contributors, on the other hand, do everything but "do".

Any leaders among us?

Patriot said...

Gordon, There may well be leaders among us, unfortunately most people are like myself. We can't afford to walk away from our jobs and have no income while we involve ourselves in election campaigns that we may or may not win. All the while knowing that if we lose, we may not even have a job to go back to.

I for one would love to do something more than just spread the word, but unfortunately I would most likely starve to death if I decided to focus my attention on the political game.

Unfortunately this is the reality we face and it is also the reason most politicians are lawyers, retired school teachers and independent business people. For the most part these people are the only ones independent enough to be able to affod to go that route.

As a result, many of us are relegated to making our words and votes work for us the best way we can.

Anonymous said...

AS newfoundlanders we have to start standing up for our selves, and stop letting canada push us around. I a'm only a young man in my 30's and i been all over canada working. Where as we have enough resources to keep every newfoundlander here and bring every other newfoundlander away home. Canada has done nothing but lie and cheat to us and don't forget stealing they done a great job at that. Lets not forget though they have done so much for us that big thing called EI or is it IE. Don't know i think its all a form of social services and seem thats what the goverment of canada want's everyone in NFLD to be depended on them. I say lets start the seperation movement NOW before its to late and canada has stolen everything from us.