- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 20 Nov 1952, p. 92-103
- Jones, Hon. J. Walter, Speaker
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- The origins of the name "Prince Edward Island." The renaming of the Island of St. John in 1799 to "Prince Edward Island"—named after the father of Queen Victoria and "Parva Sub Ingenti" was pictured as three saplings growing under a large tree, symbolic of the three counties of Prince Edward Island under the great British Empire. When P.E.I. became part of Canada in 1873, the symbolism was taken as of the three counties of Prince Edward Island under Canada. The address describes the general advantages and disadvantages of being small under a great power. The initial difficulties heaped on Prince Edward Island in the eighteenth century. The issue of land ownership. Some advantages of being a small size. A government close to the people and the ease with which public opinion influences every part of the administration. Concentrations of effort impossible of accomplishment in any large area, with examples. The "continuous communications" promised, together with a loan of $800,000 to buy off the landlords as the two main points in the Confederation Agreement with P.E.I. A detailed discussion of both points with a view to determining whether P.E.I.'s small size had anything to do with the way the province was treated. The possibility that a Toronto audience might wonder why we got mixed up in Confederation. Who wanted it and who didn't, and why. Some remarks quoted from the Report of the Rowell-Sirois Commission on Dominion-Provincial-Relations dated 1937. The supreme tragedy of Confederation when the Maritimers lost their shipping. The need for better ferries and more shipping today. What policies should be. What happens when a small entity is a part of a great entity, with illustrations. Where to go from here. The hope that someday the provinces will have equality of service. Some statistics to illustrate the variation between the provinces. The lack of choice for the people of P.E.I. now. The hope that sometime their case will be recognized and that they may be able to provide themselves with goods and services similar to others.
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- 20 Nov 1952
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- "PARVA SUB INGENTI" (Small Under The Great)
An Address by HON. J. WALTER JONES Premier of Prince Edward Island
Thursday, November 20th, 1952
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. John W. Griffin.
MR. GRIFFIN: Members and Guests of the Empire Club of Canada: Our speaker today is the Queen's first Minister in the small province that lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I would like to suggest the thought that, in the field of government, Prince Edward Island enjoys a great advantage over the large provinces by reason of its very smallness. It was Aristotle who said that the maximum population of a Democracy should be 10,000 because only in a small state could the officials of government maintain the desirable degree of contact and intimacy with the people. The rather delightful story is told of the visitors to Charlottetown who went to the Legislative Buildings in that city. On entering through the main door they saw a man standing inside and began to ask him some questions about the building and the province itself. Seeing that they were very interested he took them on a tour of the offices and the Assembly Chamber. Wishing to express their appreciation to their kindly guide one of the visitors offered him a tip. He declined, saying "There's no need for that--I'm the Prime Minister". I've no doubt that the same story could be told with its setting in Fredericton or St. John's, but one can't imagine it happening in Toronto or Quebec.
Gentlemen, when a title was being considered for Mr. Jones' address I suggested to him "Size is no Criterion". He refused this and I know now that he was right. After all, who wants to argue with Aristotle? Size is a criterion--and the advantage lies with the small.
Following an education at Prince of Wales College and six of North America's great universities, J. Walter Jones spent some years with the Department of Agriculture of the United States and served for a year as Commissioner of Conservation at Ottawa. He first became Premier of his native province in 1943 and has held that position longer than any of his predecessors. A noted breeder of Holstein cattle, Mr. Jones is in Toronto to attend the Royal Winter Fair and it is to this that we owe the privilege of having him with us today.
I don't know what he is going to tell us, but I don't think it is going to be what Mr. Kennedy suggested, which was that he was going to talk about the wonders of Ontario.
HON. J. WALTER JONES: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: I did not know whether the speech would be on the air, or whether I could talk right ahead, or I would have to read a manuscript. When I saw a book in our Library which set out the speeches given at the Empire Club, I concluded that I would have to write the speech out and have it in manuscript form.
When King George III proclaimed a seal for "The Island of St. John in America" in the year 1769, he decreed a motto taken from Virgil's Georgics, Verse 19, namely, "Parva Sub Ingenti". The Island of St. John became in 1799 "Prince Edward Island"--named after the father of Queen Victoria and "Parva Sub Ingenti" was pictured as three saplings growing under a large tree, and was symbolic of the three counties of Prince Edward Island under the great British Empire. Later, when Prince Edward Island became part of Canada in 1873, the symbolism was taken as of the three counties of Prince Edward Island under Canada.
Today I should like to describe to you the general advantages and disadvantages of being small under a great, power.
Your Chairman has said it was an advantage to be small. I think I will perhaps tell you something which; may make you conclude it is not an advantage to be small.
Most small entities are succored because they are small, but from the first, difficulties were heaped on Prince Edward Island.
When Major Samuel Holland, who fought with Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham, was appointed Surveyer-General in 1764, (shortly after the Treaty of Paris), he was given all the "land lying north of the Potomac River as far inland as His Majesty's dominions extend" to survey. He landed the same year on Prince Edward Island and conducted the first survey in America. I don't suppose he came there because we are the most important part of North America, but it seems in those days there were certain individuals who thought the Crown owed them something, and they had their eye on Prince Edward Island which they could divide and have a nice little chunk of land there. The Province was surveyed into lots of approximately 20,000 acres each. The sixty-seven lots were drawn for in a lottery in London in 1767 and, with the exceptions of small reservations for county towns and certain fishing rights, were given to persons who had real or imaginary claims on the Crown. There were terms and conditions, but, in 90% of the cases, the landlords did not carry them out. The quit rents were never paid to the Crown. Tenants of land had to pay what was demanded by the land owners, sometimes forty times the yearly value. Mostly, land owners refused to sell to the tenants, so that when Prince Edward Island became a separate colony in 1769, the colony was in a chaotic condition-riots were frequent and the militia had to be brought in to keep the peace. For one hundred years, it was a fight against the absentee landlords in Britain. Legislation to effect sales was passed by the little colony and disallowed by the big nation who was their sponsor.
"Parva Sub Ingenti" was not a good condition when viewed from the standpoint of land ownership. They suffered because they were too small and they continued to suffer until 1873 when the Land Question was an important factor in bringing Prince Edward Island into Confederation.
I should not like to leave the impression that to be small in a federation of large states is always a bad condition. The small size makes for a government close to the people and public opinion easily influences every part of the administration. The goodness or the badness of politicians, clergy, civil servants, teachers--can be easily transmitted. Government "of the people--by the people" gets a better chance than in a larger area.
On Prince Edward Island there are concentrations of effort impossible of accomplishment in any large area. At the Royal Winter Fair--before our people got into the hog-growing game--I have seen Ontario running off for a number of years with all the prizes. We got into it, and of the ten first prizes in hogs, nine of them went to Prince Edward Island this year. It was just about as good last year and the year before, and we did not come in before that because you had a type of hog which we said was not right.
There are concentrations of effort impossible of accomplishment in any large area. It was the first province to clear up tuberculosis in cattle, in 1922. There are more certified seed potatoes than in all the rest of Canada. The province is kept free of Bacterial Ring Rot Disease and a province-wide campaign to clear out Ragweed is underway. Family Allowances were inaugurated on Prince Edward Island and Diesel Railway Engines on a complete scale were first tried out. Because it is small, it is able to do many things a larger place could not attempt. For example, the majority of people in every province--if given a chance to express themselves--prefer Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time and, in a province like Prince Edward Island where the population is homogenous, the Standard Time is the law. Prohibition of liquor persisted longer on Prince Edward Island than in any other place, and even yet, the voice of the people permits not too much freedom in liquor sales. The people rule because they can readily express their ideas through the ballot.
Because Prince Edward Island is small, the Federal Government cannot give it too much without appearing to discriminate against other small areas. BUT Confederation gave rights, privileges and obligations to all provinces regardless of size. Consequently, Prince Edward Island must receive the consideration due to her status as one of the contracting provinces.
When Canada promised British Columbia rail communications with Central Canada, it was carried out as soon as possible (and the population of British Columbia those days was smaller than that of Prince Edward Island). British Columbia got the railway immediately. When Canada promised Prince Edward Island "continuous communications" in 1873, it could not claim it was carried out until 1917--a delay of forty-four years.
The "continuous communications" promised, together with a loan of $800,000 to buy off the landlords were the two main points in the Confederation Agreement with Prince Edward Island. I should like to discuss both points with a view to determining whether our small size had anything to do with the way we were treated.
On entry into Canada, Prince Edward Island was given $45,000 a year in lieu of crown lands and a loan of $800,000 to buy off the landlords. Prince Edward Island owned no crown lands. Interest at 5 % on the loan of $800,000 was deducted annually from the grant of $45,000. Only about $40,000 a year was collected from the sale of lands so that up until 1890, only the interest on the borrowed money was collected. After 1900, the condition was this-the land had been sold to pay the interest and nothing is now left-neither land nor subsidy. Prince Edward Island got no advantage by buying out the land but lost a lot of money-yet it still pays interest on the money advanced. Other provinces were given at first a minimum of $375,000 which was later increased, in lieu of public lands, but in 1930 the public lands were given to them and they still draw the subsidy. If Prince Edward Island was bigger, it might be able to effect the cancellation of the Land Purchase Loan of $782,402.33 and be repaid $45,000 a year since 1930, when the Crown Lands were returned to the other provinces. These amounts are certainly due Prince Edward Island and only adequate pressure remains to be applied. Here "Parva Sub Ingenti" appears to be a disadvantage.
We probably bought out 60% of those lands from current revenue before we borrowed anything from the Dominion, and we lost that too. We had thousands of Empire Loyalists come there and settle, and when they found they could not get free of the landlords, they left for other Provinces. We had other disadvantages. I don't want to complain too much.
Two representations were made to induce the Maritime Provinces to enter Confederation
(a) A railroad to Central Canada was to be built;
(b) The Maritime Provinces were to share in the internal commerce of Canada.
The railroad was built but the commerce with Canada has not developed.
At the time of Confederation, the Maritimes were the fourth largest trading area in the world and they owned more than one-seventh as much shipping as Great Britain. Today, the trading has largely disappeared, giving way to the building up of industries in Central Canada. The Maritimers are only one-tenth of Canada's voting power"Parva Sub Ingenti".
But, if the Maritimes suffer under Confederation, the situation is intensified in the case of Prince Edward Island. It was forty-five years before an adequate ferry was built and already the service is quite inefficient in handling automobiles and trucks. Apparently the lack of representation or lack of weight in the Government is responsible for the costly and outdated methods used in transportation of the Northumberland Strait.
The great error in vogue today is that there are no automobile-carrying boats apart from the great and costly ice-breaking carferry boat for automobiles and trucks. It is also a great loss to the public when scheduled fast trips on an automobile and truck ferry boat is denied them. If trucks cannot carry agricultural products to nearby markets in the neighbouring provinces and the United States, how can agriculture and fisheries survive on Prince Edward Island? How can trucks operate economically when there are no scheduled trips other than where railway passenger cars cross twice daily.
Much is being said and done about Labrador development. Millions go to subsidies on shipping down the St. Lawrence to Labrador and another million and a half to subsidize shipping around Newfoundland. Is it because Prince Edward Island is "Parva Sub Ingenti" that the only ship subsidy on Prince Edward Island, other than a ferry subsidy, is paid by the Province itself? Prince Edward Island is nearer than St. John's, Newfoundland, to some Newfoundland outports and nearer than Quebec City to places like Seven Islands on the North Shore and all points East to Labrador-we are only about 400 miles from Seven Islands, and we produce in quantity most of the food products they require there. Hundreds of millions go to deepen the St. Lawrence to transport the ore by a safe route, but who has urged an alternative quicker and safe route by a Chignecto Canal and the Bay of Fundy? I think a ship leaving Seven Islands would be down to New York before a similar ship could reach the International Rapids up the St. Lawrence. Policies of a big nation are not decided by small areas who are weakly represented.
In the case of Prince Edward Island, it must be said that it is located off one end of the country and outside the main stream of commercial activity. To succeed in playing a part in the Nations' affairs, communications must be constantly and efficiently maintained. There are ways of providing compensations such as special freight rates and subsidies. So extra subsidies have been paid but the standards of wages and prices of products are still much lower than in any other province. This is not because Prince Edward Island is "Prava Sub Ingenti" but because of its geographical position. It was recognized by the Fathers of Confederation that Prince Edward Island could not participate effectively in the Federation because of its isolation so that the bargain of continuous communication, winter and summer, was made.
The history of communications across Northumberland Strait since 1873 is that there was continuous agitation to have the terms carried out. In 1887 the Premier of Prince Edward Island refused to attend a Conference of Provincial Governments because, he said, the communications question concerned only Prince Edward Island and the Federal Government.
Premier Sullivan--and by the way he was Premier longer than I--appealed to the Imperial Government in London, and Sir Charles Tupper was sent over to oppose him. The general result was that Lord Granville suggested that Prince Edward Island get treatment similar to that accorded British Columbia-also a small amount was added to the Prince Edward Island subsidy and a new steel steamer "The Stanley" was built in 1887 to navigate the Strait. Later, in 1899, a second steamer named "The Minto" was built.
A tunnel was also mooted and some surveys made but the idea was dropped when the cost, $40,000,000, was announced. In 1908 Sir Robert Borden, seeking office, said "I believe the Prince Edward Island tunnel would be built out of one year of Liberal Stealings", and, after he came into power, announced a carferry in 1913, which was in operation in 1918 and which finally got the Prince Edward Island Railway widened by 1930. Later, two more excellent ferry boats have been provided and within the last few years the terminals at Tormentine and Borden have been satisfactorily improved.
The growing automobile and truck traffic is not being fostered. There are only two scheduled trips daily over an 8-mile distance. Until recently, freight carried in trucks paid a scheduled rate which hampered participation in mainland commerce. A vice-president of the rail-way wrote, "every automobile we carry is in competition with our own rail route"--so that the Railroad has now assumed the place that Canada should occupy in carrying out the terms of Confederation and apparently, has no intention of putting on practical scheduled and automobile ferryboats. That will only be accomplished when some politician--who needs our votes--will commit his Party to build automobile ferries, or better still, make the ferry a Publc Utility administered free of charge as a Federal Compensation for the Prince Edward Island geographic location.
A Toronto audience might wonder why we got mixed up in Confederation. Certainly, the Maritimes did not want Confederation; but Ontario wanted it badly because Confederation was necessary for her existence. Those who remember history know there was a Union government at that time, and there were 50 from Upper Canada and 50 from Lower Canada, and you people were very insistent that you had as much representation as Lower Canada. Later when your population got bigger than Lower Canada, you were just as insistent to have larger representation, and you could not get it. It was Ontario that approached the Imperial Government because she was clamouring for a readjustment of representation in the Union Government of Canada. Sir E. P. Tache, Premier of Canada, admitted that Confederation with the Maritimes was necessary to preserve British institutions and stated that "if the opportunity were allowed to pass by unimproved, Canada would be forced into the American Union by violence, or would be placed on an inclined plane which would carry it there insensibly." The above does not agree with the popular notion that the Maritimes were permitted to join Canada and that they have proved a heavy burden ever since.
"In the middle of the last century the Maritimes were one of the World's greatest commercial powers, holding fourth place in registered tonnage of shipping. They had begun by building ships to carry their own produce and this still provided the backbone of the business. In addition, however, the vessels of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were engaged in the trade from Europe to the United States--to South America--the East Indies and Australia. They carried coal from England to the East, guano from the Chincha Islands to England and France, petroleum from the Gulf Ports to Europe and South America and wool from Australia to England.
Prince Edward Island was neatly integrated in this Maritime economy. It people had retired largely from the sea and taken up farming. It had already become a highly developed and a specialized agricultural community. In 1867, it had approximately the same population, number of farms occupied, acreage and grain production as at present. Its considerable agricultural surpluses went mainly to supply the exporting industries of the neighbouring colonies."
I did not write the last two paragraphs. They are taken from the Report of the Rowell-Sirois Commission on Dominion-Provincial-Relations dated 1937.
Again, I quote--"There is no sufficient reason why the Maritime Provinces should not be doing now the shipping business they were doing in 1850. Indeed, the principal difficulty seems to be that most of this money contributed by the Maritime Provinces seems to have been turned against them for the purpose of creating channels of transportation designed to side-track them North and South (meaning navigation on the St. Lawrence River and bringing trade in through the U.S. Ports). The time has come for a careful audit of the trusts created by Confederation."--Dean MacKay at McGill University.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, whose birthday was this date, said (vide Hansard 1912, p. 5859)--"Prince Edward Island has not profited by Confederation. For some years past it has been largely losing its population, by reason of its connection with Canada and going backward instead of forward. Its trade has been diverted from its natural channel, or a channel of trade which had been createdand in the process of many years the trade of the Island has suffered."
Although Prince Edward Island was and is primarily agricultural, as many as 550 vessels were built in one year. A nineteen-year-old Prince Edward Island boy skippered a home-built-ship across the Atlantic.
The supreme tragedy of Confederation is that the Maritimers lost their shipping. Apparently it was looked upon as a purely local consideration of no national significance and permitted to die.
Today, the need is for better ferries and more shipping. Policies should not be to subsidize bigger lines and routes and harbours and neglect the smaller, less inflluential places,--especially when there is a solemn contract to insure no neglect.
Sometimes Islanders wish they were not so "Parva Sub Ingenti".
What happens when a small entity is a part of a great entity? I will give some illustrations.
1. There is a Federal Grant for physical fitness. In the case of Prince Edward Island the share allotted is so small, it is not worth the cost of Collection. Consequently we take nothing. 2. When the last war broke out, it was decided that only airfields would be built on Prince Edward Island--other war plants must locate on the mainland; so that recruits and skilled workmen and their families were removed and after the war many did not return and there were no war assets or war plants to dispose of cheaply, and I think the recruiting of Prince Edward Island and the people engaged in war work were the largest of any Province. 3. When the car ferry was sunk in 1941 no new ferry boat was provided until 1947. The whole economy of the Province was dependent on an old ferry boat built in 1917. The war was blamed for the delay. "Parva Sub Ingenti." 4. A railroad strike developed and was permitted to stop the ferry although it was specifically agreed by the Railroad that "The Vessels' Discipline Act" would take precedence over Labour Agreements in an emergency. The big government did not heed the cries of the little government and it might happen again. Too small again!
There is a fundamental weakness in the Confederation Agreement and it is this: The assumption is made that financial arrangements be determined by growth of population, rather than by the assumption of new responsibilities.
Well where do we go from here? It is too late now to talk of Maritime Union--the Confederation Pact killed that movement. We sit and hope that some day it will be agreed that the provinces will have equality of services. There is quite a variation at present.
It has been stated that the average earnings of male wage earners in the smallest province is about one-half that of British Columbia and Ontario. At the same time there is only one wage earner for every 101/z people while for Canada as a whole there is one for every 5 people. That is, with half as much yearly earnings, twice as many people are dependent on them. The low wages are bad but the lack of wage earners in relation to population makes it more unequal.
No more loyal people exist than the people of Prince Edward Island and I am sure they have now no choice but to play along in the present political set-up. "Parva Sub Ingenti" does not get us much now, but we hope that sometime our case will be recognized and we may be able to provide ourselves with goods and services similar to others. Then we shall rapidly increase in population, our properties become more valuable, and, our trade by sea and air in and around the food-deficient areas surrounding the Gulf of St. Lawrence, will cause consumers to refer to Prince Edward Island as "The Bread Basket of the Gulf", just as it is now known to tourists as "The Garden of the Gulf."
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Col. N. D. Hogg.