Blanc-Sablon mayor wants to join Newfoundland and Labrador

Stephen Roberts
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It might be time to re-draw the Quebec-Labrador border, says Armand Joncas.

The community of Blanc-Sablon

The Blanc-Sablon mayor believes the Quebec Lower North Shore would be better served as a part of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The Lower North Shore is forgotten by the rest of the province,” he says.

According to Joncas, both geographically and culturally the region’s interests lie with Newfoundland and Labrador.

The mayor cites a number of issues including the incompletion of route 138 from Kagaska to Old Fort. This secludes the Lower North Shore from the rest of the province and, therefore, residents rely, primarily, on their connection to NL for a number of services.

Approximately 80 per cent of the population in Blanc-Sablon is English speaking and a large number originally settled along the shore from NL. These are fishing villages where the people share more in common with their neighbours across the border than with the rest of Quebec, he says.

In September, the combined councils of the Lower North Shore (known as MRC La Côte-Nord-du-Golfe-St-Laurent) will discuss the matter and decide how to move from there.

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Blanc Sablon, Old Fort Quebec

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Recent comments

  • Gordon
    August 20, 2014 - 07:57

    Makes sence

    • Jack
      August 20, 2014 - 11:37

      Gordon, while it makes sense for Basse Cote Nord communities from Havre St. Pierre to Blanc Sablon to break away from Quebec and join Newfoundland and Labrador, it could face numerous legal challenges, including the legally binding British Privy Council "Labrador Shuffle" ruling of 1927 which set boundaries Labrador Peninsula boundaries between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. A fair and equitable solution is for the Quebec Government to adhere to their promise of building a road linking Vieux Fort (known as Old Fort in English) to Kegashka or Natashquan within 10 years, meaning by 2016, increase ferry connection frequencies to all Lower North Shore area communities, and implement policies that help this area as opposed to hurting them like they do now. In the case of a road linking Vieux Fort to the rest of Quebec, little progress has been made so far as Highway 138 main section was expanded to Kegashka so far, meaning they have another 300-400 kilometres to go. If Quebec Government stops lying to the Coasters, meaning Lower North Shore/Basse Cote Nord area residents, and start keeping their promises, these residents will be more than willing to be part of Quebec.

    • Jack
      August 20, 2014 - 11:49

      Since Coasters, referring to Quebec Lower North Shore/Basse Cote Nord area residents, are not treated well in the hands of the Quebec Government in terms of road infrastructure as they are way behind schedule in building a road linking Vieux Fort to Kegashka or Natashquan, economic policies that adversely effect them, and Anglophone children having to travel long distances from Blanc Sablon to Riviere St. Paul/St. Paul's River to achieve their English education, I don't blame them for wanting to break away from Quebec to join Newfoundland and Labrador. However, granting Municipalite de Blanc Sablon's wish in breaking away from Quebec will be challenging as they will have to renegotiate terms of the Labrador Shuffle, each village will have to form their own town council as Newfoundland and Labrador doesn't use Regional or County Municipal Government system like Quebec, social and medical infrastructure issues will have to be addressed as most of Quebec's Lower North Shore area hospitals and government offices are based in Lourdes de Blanc Sablon, just to name a few. In theory, Blanc Sablon's separation from Quebec would work, but it will cause more problems in the long run.

  • Daisy Oliver
    August 20, 2014 - 07:46

    What a great idea! It should have always been a part of Newfoundland and Labrador. It just makes since in every aspect. I grew up in St. Augustine, qc and I consider my self a Newfoundlander

    • Jack
      August 20, 2014 - 19:52

      While the Basse Cote Nord/Lower North Shore region breaking away from Quebec and joining Newfoundland and Labrador sounds good in theory, it will cause for problems in the long run. For starters, unlike Quebec where multiple villages, towns, and cities are part of regional or county municipalities, cities and towns in Newfoundland and Labrador operate independently. If the entire Basse Cote Nord/Lower North Shore from Havre St. Pierre to Blanc Sablon join Newfoundland and Labrador, every single settlement in that area will have to form town halls, councils, and administrations, adding more bureaucratic headaches for the Newfoundland and Labrador Government. The next major problem with joining Newfoundland and Labrador are hundreds of government job losses as there won't be a need for a hospital or other former Quebec Government postings in Lourdes de Blanc Sablon. This is due to a fact that most government services along the Labrador Straits area are based out of Forteau and L'Anse au Loop. The result is the Lower North Shore area's unemployment rate will increase significantly. A final problem with the area breaking away from Quebec is that both the Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec Governments would have to renegotiate terms of the 1927 Labrador Shuffle which set Labrador Peninsula area provincial boundaries between the two provinces. In short, while breaking away from Quebec to join Newfoundland and Labrador sounds good in theory, it will cause more problems for the Lower North Shore region including hundreds of job losses and aggravate the already high unemployment rate, complicated municipal bureaucracy as settlements will have to go their separate ways instead of being part of regional or county municipalities, and legal hurdles relating to the Labrador Shuffle.

    • Jack
      August 20, 2014 - 20:20

      I believe the reason why Armand Joncas is thinking about getting Municipalite de Blanc Sablon and other Basse Cote Nord regional municipalities to separate from Quebec to join Newfoundland and Labrador is to try to get attention from the Quebec Government for how they are poorly treating Coaster people. For example, while the Quebec Government made a promise to complete Highway 138 to link Vieux Fort (also known as Old Fort) to the rest of the province as part of their ambitious program called Plan Nord within 10 years, meaning by 2016, the highway was only extended to Kegaska so far. Quebec's Ministere des Transports du Quebec or Transports Quebec as well as Pakatan should take most of the blame for it. Little or no work is being done to link Vieux Fort to St. Augustine,Pakua Shipi, or La Tabatiere, and Harrington Harbour. Furthermore, the Quebec Government implemented policies that done more harm to the Lower North Shore/Basse Cote Nord area including cuts to government services like Health Care and Education, and cuts to air transportation connecting the area to the rest of Quebec. Education cuts are so bad that Blanc Sablon area's Anglophone children have to travel 60 kilometres to Riviere St. Paul for English school. Perhaps threatening separation is Armand Joncas' way to try to get attention for the Quebec Lower North Shore area people. Furthermore, since the Joncas family has considerable influence through the Quebec Lower North Shore region, especially the Blanc Sablon and Bonne Esperance areas, their influence could help them get the attention they need from the Couillard Government.

  • Jack
    August 19, 2014 - 20:17

    While the Quebec Government must shoulder most of the blame for constantly lying to Lower North Shore/Basse Cote Nord area residents in promising to extend Highway 138 from Natashquan and Kegashka to Vieux Fort as well as implement economic policies that are hurting them, breaking away from Quebec will be a major constitutional challenge and may even violate the Labrador Shuffle ruling of 1927. For those not familiar with the Labrador Shuffle, the British Privy Council ruled in 1927 that a line drawn due north from the eastern boundary of the bay or harbour of the Anse au Sablon as far as the fifty-second degree of north latitude, and from thence westward ... until it reaches the Romaine River, and then northward along the left or east bank of that river and its head waters to the source and from thence due northward to the crest of the watershed or height of land there, and from thence westward and northward along the crest of the watershed of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean until it reaches Cape Chidley. All territory outside that boundary belong to Quebec, and inside it belongs to Newfoundland and Labrador. Maybe if the Quebec Government treated Coasters better, including delivering on their promise to complete a road linking Vieux Fort to the rest of Quebec, and stop implementing economic policies that hurt them, talks about joining Newfoundland and Labrador would not happen in the first place.

    • Peter Kuitenbrouwer
      August 20, 2014 - 10:21

      I am working on a story on this topic and would love to talk to anyone who wants to reach out to me.