Economic Union Party

Economic Union Party

The Economic Union Party (EUP, formally the Party for Economic Union with the United States) was a political party formed in the Dominion of Newfoundland on March 20 1948 at the beginning of the first referendum campaign on the future of the country. It was led by St. John's businessman Chesley Crosbie and "co-founded" by Geoff Stirling, publisher of "The Sunday Herald" [] . The party was formed when younger anti-Confederation delegates to the Newfoundland National Convention quit the Responsible Government League (RGL), which they believed was doomed to lose the referendum to Joey Smallwood's Confederate Association because it had failed to present a positive alternative to Confederation, and because it was disorganized.

Crosbie and his followers believed that the best way to make responsible government viable was through free trade and a customs union with the United States. They also believed that the promise of economic union would give Newfoundlanders a positive reason to reject Confederation with Canada [] . With no economic union option on the ballot, the party called for a vote for the responsible government option with the expectation that an independent Newfoundland government would be able to open negotiations with the United States [] . The party's support was concentrated on the Avalon Peninsula. Its economic ideas, though popular with the St. John's business community, failed to generate interest in the general population. []

The division of the Anti-Confederation forces into two parties caused problems for the campaign and resulted in tensions between the EUP and the RGL and a split in resources [] . Conversely, the Confederate Association was well-funded and organized across the island.

The responsible government forces won the most votes in the first referendum, held on June 3 1948 but with only 44.6% support compared to 41.1% support for Confederation and 14.3% support for continuing the Commission of Government, the results were considered inconclusive, and a second referendum was scheduled for July 22 with only Confederation and Responsible Government on the ballot.

The Economic Union Party decided to unite its efforts with the Responsible Government League for the second referendum, but morale was poor and the campaign was disorganized in the face of Smallwood's well-run machine []

With the EUP working in league with the RGL, Smallwood and his supporters attacked the EUP and responsible government accusing it of being republican, disloyal and anti-British while Confederation was put forward as "pro-British" and promoted as "British Union". [] . The second referendum resulted in 52.3% support for Confederation and only 47.7% for responsible government.

The EUP disbanded following the referendum defeat.


Karl McNeil Earle, "Cousins of a Kind: The Newfoundland and Labrador Relationship with the United States" "American Review of Canadian Studies," Vol. 28, 1998

ee also

*P.W. Crummey

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