NOVEMBER 7, 1968
From Bonavista to Vancouver Island
AN ADDRESS BY
The Lord Taylor of Harlow,
PRESIDENT, MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY OF NEWFOUNDLAND
CHAIRMAN The President,
Edward B. Jolliffe, Q.C.
At the last stroke of midnight, April 1, 1949, Newfoundland became the 10th Province of Canada. It was an historic and decisive moment for the island people and for all of us. Among the exciting developments which followed were the growth and expansion of what is now a flourishing university. Its President and Vice-Chancellor is our distinguished guest today.
Lord Taylor has had a career without parallel among the heads of our great universities. He graduated with distinction from the University of London, engaged in medical research, practised medicine, was Assistant Editor of that famous journal "The Lancet". He served in the Royal Navy, became Director of Home Intelligence and the wartime Social Survey, an M.P. in 1945 and later Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister. He was created a Baron in 1958 and returned to the Government as UnderSecretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonies in 1964 and 1965.
Our guest has always taken an active interest in medical education, hospital administration, urban problems, occupational and industrial health--and what might be termed the impact on man of modern technology and the modern way of life. Since 1937 he has published at least 13 books one of which had the fascinating title "The Suburban Neurosis".
Lord Taylor's name is associated in particular with two very important and far-sighted enterprises. In England--the Harlow New Town Development Corporation. In Canada the Memorial University of Newfoundland, over which he now presides. From our most easterly coast he brings an original and independent view of this vast country. I have pleasure in introducing Lord Taylor of Harlow.
It is a particular honour as a new Canadian, indeed as a "landed immigrant", to be asked to address your famous Club. Yet it is not entirely inappropriate. For I now live and work in the oldest part of the Empire. Tradition has it that the British Empire started either at the King's Beach in the harbour of St. John's or at the little township of Cupids, on Conception Bay, the most northeasterly of the five great bays which dent and produce the Avalon Peninsula. On this peninsula, for four centuries, men and women from South East England and Southern Ireland have lived in tough and surprising isolation from the North American continent. If Vancouver Island, nearly five thousand miles from Cape Bonavista, mirrors strangely the prosperous life of South East England, our Island of Newfoundland mirrors in its way of life that of the ordinary working people of County Cork and County Kerry, Devon and Dorset and Cornwall.
But the time-span is even more remarkable. British Columbia is in and of the twentieth century. Beautiful bustling Vancouver is a northern San Francisco, a great growth centre of industry and commerce, of science and learning. But St. John's is still more like England before the war. Our famous old Water Street is the high street of a country town, where one meets friends in every shop, and there is still time for a gossip, even in the supermarkets.
Yet make no mistake. Newfoundland and St. John's have been moving very fast. Twenty years ago, before Newfoundland became a part of this great nation, St. John's was 60 years behind the times and the island as a whole was still barely into the nineteenth century. In nineteen years, a miracle has taken place. The great Trans-Canada Highway spans the island, new schools and hospitals, new shops and factories have sprung up, and our university enrollment has increased from under 500 to over 5,000. During the lean hard centuries, the people of Newfoundland could do little more than endure. Their native wit, their outport culture, their kindliness, and their capacity to stick it out were all they had. In times of crisis, in each of the two great wars, they rose to supreme levels of courage and sacrifice. Indeed, our University is itself a war memorial to those who died on the battlefields of France and on the High Seas. But something was lacking. Something was needed to release the pent-up energies of these fine people. That missing something, which Britain was unable to give, even to its oldest and most loyal colony, has come from Confederation, from entry into the great union of Canada.
Our older people still think of themselves primarily as Newfoundlanders, in a way not seen in the other provinces, save Quebec. But when I ask the younger generation whether they think of themselves first as Newfoundlanders or Canadians, they consider carefully but always answer the same way--as Canadians. This miracle has been wrought above all in our schools--where Canadian history and geography have replaced British history and geography. Television too has played a major role; and Air Canada, with its fast jet services to Montreal and Ottawa, has made the Cabot Strait of less significance than the English Channel. In terms of time, Upper Canada is now as near as Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
I have long admired the Federal system of government of Canada. It seems to me almost the ideal political system for administering a great land mass, or a great human mass. Within 20 years, it is my belief and hope that Britain will have followed your example. Powerful centralized government is theoretically tidy. But once government starts to concern itself with things other than law and order, with commerce and industry, with education and social welfare, centralization leads to paralysing bureaucracy. The theoretical power of democracy is replaced by the unalterable absolutism of the Civil Service. Better a very human provincial government, than an inviolate but unshakable monolithic power structure. It seems to me that Canada has got the balance right, that she has got the best of both worlds.
Such a system of continental government poses many novel and interesting problems. We are all Keynesians (or post-Keynesians) nowadays. We know that central governments have to walk a delicate fiscal and financial tightrope. At times, when industry is slack and unemployment rising, they must create or stimulate the creation of new money. At other times, when industry is over deployed and manpower short, purchasing power must be checked to avoid inflation and the spiral of prices rising faster than real earnings. As an outsider, it seems to me that Canada has handled these matters as well as any nation and better than most. You have kept your economy turning sufficiently vigorously for hard work to have a real value in terms of money earned. In Britain, we have got ourselves into a situation where the benefits of extra work or extra responsibility are marginal. So, far too many people just opt out of making the extra effort. I beg you to learn from Britain's bitter experience. Do not be too purist in the pursuit of anti-inflationary measures. A balanced budget and a static economy can produce organized poverty as Newfoundland learned to its cost in the years before Confederation.
But because Canada is a continent, the problems posed are unique. It is possible to have a near inflationary situation in the great areas of manufacture and production and a real deflationary situation elsewhere. The ideal to be aimed at is a high, but not dangerously high, level of employment and the highest possible level of production in every part of the continent. This must mean that different areas are treated differently-simply because the diagnosis, the economic disease as it were, is quite different. The right treatment, the right policy, for counteracting and correcting regional economic disparity, has still to be found.
By world standards, Newfoundland and Labrador are underdeveloped, or as we say euphemistically, "developing" countries. Thanks to the generosity and wise self-interest of the Canadian nation as a whole, they have started to catch up. The gap is much narrower than it was. But there is still a grave danger that the gap will widen again. Let me explain.
Newfoundland's great industries are primary producers of iron ore, of other minerals and of paper. These are fine industries for a nation. They are great earners of American dollars. But, because they are capital intensive rather than labour intensive, their contribution to employment and purchasing power of the people of the Province is relatively small. So our level of unemployment is painfully high.
Newfoundland receives generous Federal help. This money creates new fixed capital in the form of schools and hospitals and roads. By putting men who are unemployed to work it creates real additions to the national wealth. But much of what is earned is spent on imports from the mainland. So this part flows back to produce its "multiplier effect" here in Upper Canada. This does no harm as long as you are in no danger of over-inflation. But once you are going all out and more than all out, our needs become your danger.
The long-term answer is to make sure that as much as practical of the "multiplier effect" is made effective in the region which is being assisted federally. This means that Newfoundland, and regions like it, must develop more secondary industry. This is not to compete with Ontario, but simply to avoid the over heating of the Ontario economy, to avoid wasting part of the Federal effort at redressing economic disparity. I would beg of mainland industrial firms to consider most carefully the possibility of locating secondary industry in the less prosperous parts of this nation, to meet by processing or complete production an increasing proportion of local needs. Only thus can true prosperity become nation-wide.
We for our part must make every effort to train our own manpower, in commerce, in engineering and in technology. That is why, at Memorial, we are placing so much emphasis on our new degree programme in engineering. We are following the Waterloo co-operative pattern.
No less important is training in medicine. Newfoundland is the most underdoctored of all the Provinces of Canada. To bring us to something approaching parity, in terms of both quantity and quality, the only answer is create a school of medicine. This we are now doing. And in so doing we intend to exploit our natural advantages. We have a unique arrangement of isolated cottage hospitals. In these we have a unique opportunity to make ourselves a national centre for the training of good general practitioners.
In this great continent, professionalism is the order of the day. By and large this is right, though some say it has gone too far. In Newfoundland, it has only just begun. To break the vicious circle of dependence on the rest of Canada, I am convinced that one of the main points of injection of help ought to be education, particularly post-secondary education.
When Newfoundland and Labrador joined the Confederation, Canada acquired an added dimension, what may be thought of as a short-term liability but a priceless longterm asset. Inevitably, great enterprises take time to bear fruit. The potential of our province, in mineral wealth and hydro-electric power, are only now starting to be realised. But the true wealth of a province or a nation lies in its human resources. And Newfoundlanders are very fine people indeed.
For generations, the most important export of Scotland has been--not whiskey--but trained engineers, business men and doctors, to the lasting benefit of Britain as a whole and many other nations-not least Canada. Newfoundland, too, sends out its people in increasing numbers to work elsewhere in Canada and in the States. Indeed, it is said that there are more Newfoundlanders outside Newfoundland than in the Province itself. Yet our population grows steadily. We like children in Newfoundland-we even like University students. In the past, most who have left have been unskilled. But, for the future, we expect to contribute more than our share of university graduates-engineers, doctors, business men, teachers-to the rest of Canada, while still meeting our own needs. Thus we aim consciously to repay the generosity of the Canadian nation in helping us to pull ourselves into the modern world. If we can contribute to Canada and to society one half of what Scotland has contributed, we shall be out of the red and well into the blue.
We can do two things more. I said a moment ago that Newfoundland gave to Canada an added dimension. The strength of Canada lies in part in its human diversity-in its blending of Gallic and Anglo-Saxon and other ethnic mixes. Newfoundland adds to Canada a particular touch of romance. For it is a Celtic land-a land of music and story, where ghosts still walk and poets still sing. In our newspapers and in our speeches, interest still sometimes triumphs over accuracy. It is part of our mission to make the rest of Canada a little less serious, to make life sparkle just that little bit more. We confidently expect our poets and writers, our musicians and painters to add to the total cultural heritage of Canada far beyond any exact mathematical quota.
Last of all, Newfoundland must exploit its unique geographical position. From Vancouver, even from Regina or Winnipeg, we are more than half way to Europe. We are nearer to Europe, both physically and I think emotionally than any other part of the American continent. In the great Air Canada jets, the Atlantic has shrunk to miniscule proportion. While Britain is seeking new links with continental Europe, it is no less important that Europe and North America remain as closely bonded as ever. For it is in the way of life of these two civilizations that there lies the best hope for the whole world. It is in Europe and North America that practical democracy, science and technology have made virtually all their advances. Others have copied and profited and occasionally improved. But the energy, ingenuity, enterprise and diversity of Euro-American mankind has no parallel in world history.
I see in Newfoundland the opportunity to strengthen these ties. This is one reason why I was happy to accept the invitation to come to preside over Memorial University. It is one reason, perhaps, why I was asked to come. It is one reason why we are establishing a small campus of our own in Britain, in the new industrial town of Harlow, half way between London and Cambridge. Here, our students will gain experience in secondary industry which is denied to them in our island. They will work in the University of London. They will work in our Harlow schools and health centres. And they will come back brimming with new ideas.
As we set out to narrow the gap between Europe and America, and the gap between ourselves and the rest of Canada, we ask you to remember this. Our University intake in the age-group 17-24 is still only half of the Canadian average. Our population explosion came late. So to hold our own and advance a little nearer to you, we have to provide between 7,000 and 9,000 extra university places in ten years. That is, we must more than double our size. To Ontario, this may seem little. To us it is almost overwhelming. We have made good plans. We believe we can make a unique contribution to Canadian education. But unaided the task is beyond our power. Great as are the needs of all Canadian universities, they are greatest in Newfoundland, where the means to meet them are least.
We are setting out hopefully on this task, confident that it will be achieved. Exactly how it will be done, I do not know. But of this I am certain: whatever the nation of Canada sees fit to invest in the higher education of Newfoundland will be repaid not once nor twice but many times over.
Thanks of the meeting were expressed by Mr. Bruce J. Legge.