THE REPORT OF THE EARL OF DURHAM

HER MAJESTY'S HIGH COMMISSIONER AND GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF BRITISH NORTH AMERICA

(1839)

May it please Your Majesty:

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With respect to the Colony of Newfoundland, I have been able to obtain no information whatever, except from sources open to the public at large. The Assembly of that Island signified their intention of making an appeal to me respecting some differences with the Governor, which had their immediate origin in a dispute with a Judge. Owing, probably, to the uncertain and tardy means of communication between Quebec and that Island, I received no further communication on this or any other subject until after my arrival in England, when I received an Address expressive of regret at my departure.

I know nothing, therefore, of the state of things in Newfoundland, except that there is, and long has been, the ordinary colonial collision between the representative body on one side and the executive on the other; that the representatives have no influence on the composition or the proceedings of the executive government; and that the dispute is now carried on as in Canada, by impeachments of various public officers on one hand, and prorogations on the other. I am inclined to think that the causes of these disorders is to be found in the same constitutional defects as those which I have signalized in the rest of the North American Colonies. If it be true that there exists in this island a state of society which renders it unadvisable that the whole of the local government should be entirely left to the inhabitants, I believe it would be much better to incorporate the Colony with a larger community, than to attempt to continue the present experiment of governing it by a constant collision of constitutional powers.

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With respect to the two smaller Colonies of Prince Edward's Island and Newfoundland, I am of opinion, that not only would most of the reasons which I have given for an union of the others, apply to them, but that their smallness makes it absolutely necessary, as the only means of securing any proper attention to their interests, and investing them with that consideration, the deficiency of which they have so much reason to lament in all the disputes which yearly occur between them and the citizens of the United States, with regard to the encroachments made by the latter on their coasts and fisheries. 1