Kenneth David ATKINSON

ATKINSON, Kenneth David, B.A., LL.B.

Parliamentary Career

November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
  St. Catharines (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 16 of 17)

May 10, 1989

Mr. Atkinson:

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Hon. Member was simply mistaken, but he indicated that there was a 1 per cent decrease in Established Programs Financing transfers to the provinces. I am sure he will agree that there will be an increase in those fundings this year, but the increase has been decreased. The increase will be down by 1 per cent, but there is a guarantee in the Budget Papers that that increase will not fall below the level of inflation. These EPF programs will be increased, not decreased, as seems to be the customary assertion.

I would also like his comments on the deficit, whether he considers it a problem, and whether he has any solutions to that particular matter. He has attacked every tax increase and expenditure decrease that has been made. I would like to hear his comments on exactly what he would do in regard to the deficit.

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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May 9, 1989

Mr. Ken Atkinson (St. Catharines):

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for tourism. Tourism is of course important to Canada and particularly to the Niagara area. Each year the highest volume of tourists into Canada are from the northern U.S. states. In light of the $5 million cut in tourism advertising for next year, as shown in the Estimates, can the Minister assure this House and the tourism operators that Canada's advertising campaign in these border states will continue?

Subtopic:   TOURISM
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April 7, 1989

Mr. Ken Atkinson (St. Catharines):

Mr. Speaker, within the past few weeks the federal Government and the Government of Ontario reached a final agreement to ensure compensation is given to Ontario grape growers for the removal of surplus vines as well as of those vines which do not yield the varieties of grapes conducive to producing premium wines. This action will allow the grape and wine industry to further develop high quality wines.

Given the extreme competitiveness of today's market, the continued enhancement of premium wines is crucial to the long-term survival of the Canadian wine industry.

It is very important that all Canadians realize that we have in our own backyard, wines which have won awards at many international competitions.

In support of this industry, we as parliamentarians should continue to ensure that Canadian wines are given priority when planning events to be held in conjunction with the House of Commons, as well as events sponsored by the various political Parties and associations.

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December 20, 1988

Mr. Ken Atkinson (St. Catharines):

Mr. Speaker, the Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Canada contains an enhanced Auto Pact. Not only have trade irritants been resolved, the Auto Pact now covers replacement parts and tires, and contains a requirement for auto manufacturers to have a 50 per cent Canadian-U.S. content in the cars they produce in order to have duty-free access to the United States.

Auto producers and auto parts manufacturers in the city of St. Catharines are enthusiastic about these provisions in the pact. General Motors and companies such as Hayes-Dana and Thompson Products realize that these items in the Free Trade Agreement will provide them with access to a much larger market and result in stronger companies and more employment in the city of St. Catharines.

The people of St. Catharines and the Niagara Peninsula are very aware of the benefits that will flow to their

December 20, 1988

area as a result of the Free Trade Agreement, and they made this clear on November 21 of this year.

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December 16, 1988

Mr. Atkinson:

The Auto Pact has not resulted in a loss of sovereignty in Southern Ontario or St. Catharines. Obviously the argument made during the election campaign still holds true. Up to 80 per cent of the tariffs have been reduced over the years, since 1947. Canada has not lost its sovereignty as a result of that. That is a fallacious argument and should not be continued.

The motion we are debating tonight is a procedural one to extend the hours of this House in order that more Members can be heard with regard to the Free Trade Agreement. We have heard other new Members state how saddened they are because of the loss of their rights and the fact that the first debate in which they participate is on a procedural matter rather than something more substantial. I share that view.

I sat in this majestic place on Monday during the election of the Speaker. There was a short Speech from the Throne relating to one issue. When we returned to this Chamber, a motion was placed to the House stating that the Speech from the Throne be taken into consideration "later this day". That was the extent of the motion and I did not think there was anything unusual about it. We came here to do a job and why would we not consider that speech? Much to my surprise, rather than the motion passing without great difficulty, five Members rose, the bells rang for 30 minutes and we had a recorded vote.

This side of the House did not set the tone for this session of Parliament. The tone was set in the very first instance with regard to that motion. Since then we understood what we were going to face in trying to get a debate on the free trade legislation. We have still not succeeded in doing that today.

We are here discussing a procedural matter which began at two o'clock this afternoon. We are still debating whether we will pass this procedural motion to extend the hours of the House in order that more individuals can be heard on the free trade legislation.

December 16, 1988

We have heard a great deal about the free trade legislation in the context of this procedural motion. We will probably hear more about it.

1 have some difficulty understanding why we cannot get right to the free trade debate. Why do we have to go through this particular motion? Members on our side of the House have said the people have decided. The debate on this matter during the election campaign should have been sufficient. We know what we are here for, let us get on with the debate. We have heard indications that the Opposition would like to make some amendments. Certainly, let us hear what the amendments are and let us debate them.

There has been some suggestion that moving the legislation into Committee of the Whole would somehow be usurping the rights of Members of Parliament. It seems to me that the matter of free trade has been debated throughout this entire election campaign. We hear that the legislation should go to a smaller committee and that there should be experts look at it and give evidence. I would submit that experts have looked at this agreement. We have debated it through the election campaign. It was debated in the House prior to the election campaign. I would submit that there is enough information on which to go.

We should get to the Committee of the Whole and have every Member of the House consider the legislation. To me that seems logical. Obviously it is something that is important to everyone. We all have our opinions. We have all done a great deal of research on it. I do not think that expert evidence will add anything to that.

We want to get into a Committee of the Whole discussion. Obviously everyone has an opinion on this particular matter. If we put it to a committee of seven members who would report back, we would still have all these Members of the House wanting to speak on the matter. I have difficulty understanding why we cannot get to that point. The amendment that has been moved seems to be a reasonable one, in line with trying to get us to the point where we can debate the Free Trade Agreement. I would think that we should get to that point and get to it as soon as we can.

The thing that amazed me about the election campaign was that we did not actually discuss what was in this particular agreement, a commercial agreement. My understanding is that a commercial agreement speaks for itself. There is nothing else in that agreement, but all

Extension of Sittings

these extraneous issues came in during the election campaign.

We heard talk about losing social programs and the like. Social programs were not mentioned in the Free Trade Agreement. We found out subsequently that an international trade case has said that any universally available social program cannot be considered a subsidy. Only a leap of logic must be taken to possibly say that any of those universally available social programs could be considered a subsidy. We found out during the election campaign that that cannot be done.

We spoke about the environment during the election campaign. There is nothing in the Free Trade Agreement about the environment. We spoke about sovereignty during the election campaign. There is nothing in the Free Trade Agreement about sovereignty. We spent so much time on matters that are not even mentioned in the Free Trade Agreement that we did not get down to a discussion of the actual agreement.

Now the Opposition decides that it is time to get down to discussing the agreement. Why did we not discuss it during the election campaign? Why did we have to wait until this point in time? We should have discussed it during the election campaign, and a great disservice was done to the Canadian public by not discussing the agreement itself.

As I indicated, my community has benefited from a form of free trade. The Auto Pact has been a great benefit to our community and we have prospered. We would like to share that prosperity with the rest of Canada.

There are other sectors in the community that would also like to share in that prosperity. One that is not so noticeable is the greenhouse and cut flowers industry. It is important to this industry to have a market in the United States, and in fact, it does now, but there is a tariff on flowers. There are even rumours that the Americans would countervail against the cut flower industry. The industry does not say too much, but it is rapidly becoming the second largest industry in our area after the automobile industry. It wants secure access to the American market and it wants it quickly.

As I previously indicated, we should get to the matter of the Free Trade Agreement. We should not be going through all this. We can say more on the Free Trade Agreement during debate on the Bill, and I certainly hope that we can get past this procedural motion and get to the Free Trade Agreement itself.

December 16, 1988

Extension of Sittings

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