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Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Regional Sections > Canada > Atlantic Provinces > St. John's

View Poll Results: Should Newfoundland and Labrador be an independent country?
Yes it CAN; Yes it SHOULD. 6 27.27%
Yes it CAN; No it SHOULDN'T. 8 36.36%
No it CAN'T; No it SHOULDN'T. 8 36.36%
Voters: 22. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2014, 5:28 PM
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Question Republic of Newfoundland

When we joined Canada in 1949, we were at the tail end of remarkable period in our history. WWI, in spite of its terrible losses, had enriched us tremendously. We earned, on average, about 1/3 of what an average Canadian at that time earned, but we had (relatively speaking) basically no taxes compared to them.

We were linked by the railway and countless ferries. The Grand Banks and offshore were blocked with fish, and the fishery represented 80% of our GDP. We joined a federation where it was less than 1% of GDP, and was treated accordingly.

Canada's own internal documents show they wanted us only for three reasons: access to the Atlantic, as our coast and the American coast sandwiched Canada in and gave it only limited Atlantic access off Nova Scotia. They wanted us for hydroelectric potential in Labrador to fuel central Canada, and we know how that worked out for us. And they wanted us as a matter of pride, to prevent the Americans from getting us and repeating, in their words, the "Alaskan mistake".

Can you imagine how shitty Alaska would be right now if Canada had gotten it instead of the U.S.

But I'm betraying my views...

Watching Scotland's referendum, one of the things that stood out of me was the general sense that... the debate used to be about IF Scotland could survive independent. In this vote, it was about whether it SHOULD. Everyone had already agreed it could.

Fortunately, our vast natural resources present us with similar capabilities. We can be independent, but should we? That's what I'm curious to gauge here.

So, choose an option and, if you like, explain why.
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  #2  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2014, 6:16 PM
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Nobody can deny that we have tremendous natural resource wealth and are benefitting economically like we never have before. That said, I don't think we should be independent.

If we were, we would be incredibly small. We only have 500K people and, outside of St. John's, our biggest employer is another Canadian province. Take away the freedom of movement between Alberta and Newfoundland by introducing borders and taxes and everything outside the overpass disappears. It wouldn't make sense for people to stay here and we would probably see increased outmigration to Canada.

On an economic front, we lose the stability of Canada. Nobody can deny that when the rest of the world hit a downturn in 08, we just kept on trucking. But as a province, when the price of oil didn't hit the level needed we saw big cuts in the public sector, most of which were poorly managed cuts. We have one industry in this province which makes or breaks us: oil. That's a great industry, but if we're on our own we're going to be a lot more susceptible to shocks and depression in the markets. It wouldn't take much to bring a small country of less than 500K down a few notches. Iceland was riding high until 2008, but one recession and they barely survived.

Politically, nobody can deny that Newfoundland was home to one of the most corrupt governments out there before we gave up independence. Corruption was a big reason for the lack of progress economically. Internal squabbling and pocket-lining took up far more time than governing, and the non-corrupt Premiers/Prime Ministers spent most of their time bailing us out with their own personal money.

Given our current state, we could make it on our own but there are more positives to staying in Canada. What we have is working, why change?
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  #3  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2014, 6:20 PM
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Thanks for posting, Trevor.

I assume we have differing opinions, but I can see the totals and no one voted no twice so there's not... factual disagreement... for me. It's just a personal preference disagreement.

RE: corruption. We were insane. Always. In our referendum to join Canada, Labrador had a 120% voter turnout, voting Yes to joining Canada. That's in the actual results, and others were apparently even worse before the results we adjusted.

Even fully independent, no thought of foreign rule or joining any other country, our government once prevented Harbour Grace from voting for Prime Minister just because it was mostly Catholic.

We were truly banana republic in government. BUT... it was ours. And the damaging effects were, in my opinion, not as bad as those since confederation.
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Old Posted Oct 12, 2014, 6:40 PM
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We could survive independently but we likely wouldn't be as well of as we are being part of Canada.
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  #5  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2014, 6:43 PM
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I agree.

Not sure WHY (i.e. we actually bring in more per capita, but it's wasted/goes to the upper classes), or we simply can't pay for everything we have now ourselves.

But... not the main issue for me, so.
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  #6  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 2:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
I agree.

Not sure WHY (i.e. we actually bring in more per capita, but it's wasted/goes to the upper classes), or we simply can't pay for everything we have now ourselves.

But... not the main issue for me, so.
So you want Newfoundland and Labrador to be an independent country even though that means a lower standard of living for you and others?
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  #7  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 3:19 AM
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Even if, yes. I would accept it, but I don't believe it will be the case.

We have a wealth of natural resources and all of the necessary relationships with international corporations to see them developed. That can happen with or without being part of a larger federation.

And as for running the government... if we collected the same amount of taxes from residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, but the entirety went to St. John's instead of much of it going to Ottawa, our coffers would be full.

There are a wealth of taxes that the federal government collects which we don't have jurisdiction over anymore, such as customs duties - which, alone, used to be almost enough to run the entire country:

Quote:
There have been periodic tensions between the two levels of government over questions of jurisdiction - the question of who owned the resources on the continental shelf is a prime example. The collapse of the cod fishery in the 1990s convinced many Newfoundlanders that the provincial government should have had jurisdiction over offshore resources. As divisive as some of these issues proved to be, the principal flaw in the confederation terms has been the financial arrangements. Before Confederation, the Newfoundland government had depended on customs duties as the principal source of revenue. After 1949 this became a federal tax area, as did income taxes. Yet three of the most expensive fields of responsibility - health care, social services and education - were left to the province. The problem was exacerbated by the new province’s relatively small tax base - that is, its limited ability to generate enough government income.

When negotiating the Terms of Union, both sides recognized this dilemma, and attempted to rectify the situation in two ways. There would be a special transitional grant to the new province for the first eight years, while it made its taxable capacity similar to that in the Maritime Provinces. This grant would then be subject to review by a Royal Commission, under the clause known as Term 29. Second, the Province of Newfoundland would receive transfer payments from the federal government according to the formula that applied across the country. The large portion of the province’s revenue that came in the form of transfers from Ottawa was a source of embarrassment and even with the federal money the province’s expenditures often outstripped its revenues.
http://www.heritage.nf.ca/law/prov_gov.html

I believe we'd be financially better off independent, both better than we are now, and better in the future than we would have been if we continue the political status quo.
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  #8  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 5:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoscStudent View Post
So you want Newfoundland and Labrador to be an independent country even though that means a lower standard of living for you and others?
LOL, he can or can not, there is no should.
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Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 1:10 PM
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So you want Newfoundland and Labrador to be an independent country even though that means a lower standard of living for you and others?
Depends on what you consider a standard of living.

It's entirely possible, that we would of maintained a higher proportion of our population.

Factor in the lack of social assistance for much of our rural population very low cost of living, and we might of hit a more mid level state of urbanization.

Newfoundlanders I think ironically are too focused on hourly wages and not near enough on cost of livings etc.

Demographic instability I think has been the true plight of newfoundland.

Imagine if the humber valley and lab city grew to the size of St johns.

How much stronger of pocket book would most people have.
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Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 1:14 PM
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Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
And as for running the government... if we collected the same amount of taxes from residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, but the entirety went to St. John's instead of much of it going to Ottawa, our coffers would be full.
I honestly don't think you have any idea how much money this province wastes, due to genuine ignorance.
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Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 1:28 PM
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I don't disagree we might have been better of by not joining Canada but I have trouble seeing how we'd be better off now.

We'd lose a lot of money that flows to this province from the federal government. We'd lose a lot of federal jobs, and I can't imagine the Newfoundland and Labrador government would need them all. Our debt would increase because we'd need to take on a percentage of Canada's debt. And then there are a ton of more issues when it comes to currency and defence.

IMO people are quick to blame the federal government for all our problems.
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  #12  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 2:15 PM
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Yeah, we definitely should accept a portion of Canada's debt - but I expect it should be quite low (relatively speaking) given our limited size and time within the federation.

The only thing we can't reasonably do on our own is provide an easy way for people to leave. We'd certainly lose access to Fort Mac, for example. But that's one of the great downsides of the federation - we go from being our own focus, to a backwater that can be neglected and ignored, and the people can just move to places that really matter.

I think, in the long run, having to develop and provide employment opportunities here will be a benefit, as would, of course, a more stable population.

The fisheries are the key. With us in charge of them, there's no limit to what we can responsibly do to bring back our country. Even when the fisheries were starting to struggle in the 70s and 80s, we were still booming. It wasn't until the moratorium that the arse came out of her:

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Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 2:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stryker View Post
I honestly don't think you have any idea how much money this province wastes, due to genuine ignorance.
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Originally Posted by PoscStudent View Post
I don't disagree we might have been better of by not joining Canada but I have trouble seeing how we'd be better off now.

We'd lose a lot of money that flows to this province from the federal government. We'd lose a lot of federal jobs, and I can't imagine the Newfoundland and Labrador government would need them all. Our debt would increase because we'd need to take on a percentage of Canada's debt. And then there are a ton of more issues when it comes to currency and defence.

IMO people are quick to blame the federal government for all our problems.
Both of these posts have a ton of truth to them.

There was an internal review done a few years, not on the public radar obviously, that identified certain areas within government that seemed to have expenses out of line with everything else. One particular department, just for its central Newfoundland division (so Grand Falls, Gander, Clarenville) was wasting over $100K/year on phone lines it didn't use. Offices reorganize every so often and nobody was ever tasked with disconnecting old phone lines, so the phone company keeps charging for them. That's just one aspect of one department in one region.

There are also a lot of costs that we'd have to be on the hook for that we don't worry about now. I'm thinking of things like the coast guard, federal fisheries regulations and enforcement, environment/meterology, subsidized ferry service to Nova Scotia, border services, national parks, etc... There are so many things which we have in Newfoundland now that we didn't have before, which we now would be responsible for funding ourselves or contracting out to get from other nations, like Canada or the US.

We are a huge area with a disproportionately tiny population which is sparsely scattered across an area roughly equivalent to California, just with 76 times fewer people.
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Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 2:37 PM
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Definitely true - but government waste is a universal problem. I'm sure a great deal of our federal tax dollars are not well spent either.

The whole world has changed since the 1940s, with rising expenditures and revenues. Countries such as Iceland still manage, and quite well - excluding, of course, the repercussions of the recent financial collapse. But, even then, as an independent country, they had the agility to react in a way perfectly suited to their needs, and recovered very well.

I don't buy into the "we can't afford it" argument. People seem to think about it almost as though we'd still be on the hook for Canada's 35 million. We'd only be responsible for our own 520,000. And we have a tremendous amount of resource wealth to do it with. It's a bit of a mystery how we were ever a have-not province. The value of what was going out of Newfoundland and Labrador has always been tremendous.

Remember The Independent's extensive study on the value of everything Newfoundland paid into the federation, and what it got in return. That was conducted, I believe, in the early 2000s - and, then, we'd pretty much broken even. And they counted everything - every federal tax dollar out, every road, ferry, and transfer payment.

We've always done enough to support ourselves. The financial structure of federations is always designed in such a way that it appears the heartland supports the rest. Until relatively recently, many in Scotland, too, grew up hearing that England supported, that they needed England. Now, at least, everyone recognizes as fact that they contribute far more than their share and the inverse is probably more accurate.

We're too small to have much importance for Canada as a whole - but we certainly wouldn't be destitute without them. Our resource wealth is such that we should reasonably be among the world's wealthiest countries.

http://ntv.ca/nalcor-ceo-predicts-n-...aces-in-world/

Quote:
Nalcor CEO Ed Martin predicts Newfoundland and Labrador will become one of the wealthiest places in the world. He told the NOIA conference on Wednesday that the Crown corporation will return billions of dollars in revenue to the province by 2041 as it becomes the gateway to the Arctic.
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Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 5:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
Definitely true - but government waste is a universal problem. I'm sure a great deal of our federal tax dollars are not well spent either.


I don't buy into the "we can't afford it" argument. People seem to think about it almost as though we'd still be on the hook for Canada's 35 million.
I don't think you understand the scale I'm talking about.

The Telephone line examples is really ironic.

Because who on earth would be installing the telephone lines, if we weren't a part of Canada.

You can't higher 1/60th of a telecommunications company.

Newfoundland benefits insanely from a high degree of cost sharing with the mainland.


Just simple basic consulting that eastern health does all the time is shared with other health boards across the country.


Honestly I don't think most people understand how complex our civilization is.

Granted if we have 3 metros of 200k(lab city, st johns, humbervalley-central.)

Maybe we could of developed something a bit lower tier, but just as effective.
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Old Posted Oct 13, 2014, 6:40 PM
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Iceland provides a higher standard of living than Newfoundland while maintaining its independence. It does so while collecting fewer tax dollars from most of its residents than does Canada, and it provides everything from free healthcare to free university for its 325,000 residents.

Quote:
Iceland is a modern welfare state like its Scandinavian neighbours and cousins. Everyone reaps the benefits of free health care, free education (from preschool to the university level), guaranteed pension and high standards of living. Children can also expect all necessary levels of care and protection. Icelanders pay income taxes from 37,34% to 46,24% depending on their salary level. Taxes are high in Iceland but so are earnings. The benefits include a comprehensive welfare system and a standard of living among the best in the world today.
Canadian comparison: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/08...hing-combined/

We're not reinventing the wheel. A market of 525,000 people is significant enough for investment. And we'd still be free to share resources with any country we wish, on our own terms.

Defense, for example. We'd probably never bother to build up an army of our own, but we can sign agreements with the United States. We might even get a base or two re-opened. I'm sure the Americans would love to get their hands on Goose Bay, for example - it's far more strategic for them than it is for Canada, and isn't likely to be as neglected.

Coast guard we'd probably want our own, but we could sign agreements with Canada for mutually beneficial activities - shared training, shared intelligence, etc. Iceland does that - it has a small little coast guard but enough for its purposes, and very affordable.

All of these things have a cost, but we're already paying a good chunk toward them through federal taxes. And having these things based locally on our own terms will inevitably create jobs and opportunities.
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  #17  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2014, 5:12 PM
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Well, b'ys, so far our referendum has us at:

31.25% YES
68.75% NO

We're not goin' anywhere.
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  #18  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2014, 9:07 PM
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Oh no, it's dropping. If there were no No/No votes, and just Yes/Yes or Yes/No votes, I could die a happy man.
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Old Posted Oct 15, 2014, 5:47 AM
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It's possible, but it might be a better option in the future.

I think there are a few things that will happen before independence gains widespread support. Speaking as somebody with no economic background and vague knowledge of the politics at play here:

A) As time goes on, we will become more urbanized and overall population statistics will climb. With this and more large projects on the horizon, our case for independence is stronger in the future.
B) I think people are cautious about our new wealth, and wouldn't be ready to gamble our reliance on Canada. I see independence, if any, happening as a result of a larger breakup of Canada - likely the result of Quebec splitting during a period of economic growth. And even that's pretty unlikely.

So I don't think the movement will be able to gain much traction for a while, and I'm pretty comfortable being Canadian.
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