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By the end of World War II it was obvious to Newfoundlanders, Canadians, British and Americans that the Commission Government had to be replaced, and the debate over the nature of the replacement began in earnest. Newfoundlanders had enjoyed the prosperity of the war years and wanted it to continue. How this could be done in an economy that would not be supported by the war effort was the question in everyones mind. The Dominions Office in Britain believed that confederation with Canada was inevitable and that the two sides should begin negotiations as soon as possible. Britain was in a weakened financial position after the war and could not continue its support for the Newfoundland economy as it has done previous to 1939. The British also believed that Newfoundland could not economically stand on its own after the war, and would have to enter into some sort of union. The British did not support any closer ties between Newfoundland and the United States, and felt that the Canadian option was the best. On May 5, 1943, the British government created a Goodwill Mission, composed of three British Parliamentarians, whose purpose was to travel throughout Newfoundland, interview its inhabitants and make proposals as to its future. The Goodwill Mission found a colony that was united only in its opposition to the Commission Government but divided over the nature of any new arrangements. Newfoundlanders wanted continued prosperity, but could not agree on the means to achieve this. By the end of the war the British government believed that a plebiscite had to be held on the issue, although the British opinion remained unchanged; confederation with Canada was the best option for both sides.
The Canadian government was at the same time becoming increasingly interested in the possibility of entering into a union with Newfoundland. Prime Minister Mackenzie King approved, but hesitated to push the matter until the war was over. The members of the Department of External Affairs began to examine the issue in connection with its other work on post-hostilities planning, and came to the conclusion that Newfoundlands strategic importance could continue after World War II. Canadas international influence has increased during the war and would continue to do so in the ensuing years. To the members of the Department of External Affairs, confederation with Newfoundland was important to our position in the post war period. The Canadian government was also concerned about Newfoundlands economic situation and believed, as Britain did, that the colony would not be able to support itself financially when the war was over.
On December 11, 1945, Prime Minister Atlee of Great Britain announced that a National Convention would be elected in Newfoundland. Its purpose was to examine the various options on the future of the government of Newfoundland and to present those options to the people of Newfoundland in a plebiscite. The future of Newfoundland was now for Newfoundlanders to decide. The people appeared to be even more divided on the issue than they had been during the war. The options presented to them were a return to responsible government, the continuation of the Commission Government, a commercial union with the United States, or confederation with Canada. The National Convention was elected in June 1946. Its composition reflected the diversity of views expressed by Newfoundlanders. The largest component of the National Convention was a group of men united in their desire for a return to responsible government. The next group was unsure as to the direction Newfoundland should take, and the smallest group, headed by Joey Smallwood, believed in confederation with Canada.