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With Canadian debt levels a serious concern in the early ‘90s, one expert emerged with a plan to balance the books.

It was simple: sell Newfoundland. All of it.

“The price? We could ask $500-billion. This price is the same as the debt of Canada Inc.,” wrote planning consultant Tom Slomke in a 1994 issue of the Globe and Mail that reporter James McLeod recently posted to Twitter.

That price worked out to $8.70 per square foot at the time, Slomke calculated.

Not bad compared to recent Toronto condo prices; new condos in the city sold for an average of $647 per square foot last quarter, according to Urbanation’s Q2-2017 market report.

In his hot take, Slomke makes the age-old argument that government should function like big business to justify the proposed sale.

“When corporations get into serious financial difficulties, they do what must be done: sell off an asset. A country should be no less disciplined,” the article reads.

Turns out the idea of the feds selling east coast real estate wasn’t a new idea, even then.

In 1931, there was a plot to sell Labrador for $110 million, but the Great Depression dashed that.

Slomke’s “modest proposal” faced its own challenges. “I tried this idea out on some experts (the guys in my neighbourhood bar, one of whom knows somebody who was in Hong Kong once and another who actually visited Newfoundland). They didn’t like the idea,” he wrote.

“I don’t think they grasped the concept. It was too radical. They felt that Newfoundland wasn’t worth much,” he added.

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