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 2 of 17)

May 14, 1993

Mr. Atkinson:

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend and he is correct. This recession has been harder on Ontario than previous ones and harder on a community such as mine that depends very much on the automobile industry.

As I mentioned in my speech, the provincial government has realized that what we say in opposition and what happens when we get in government are two entirely different things. There are a few things that concern me and certainly we have to work together to try to solve this matter.

The provincial government has been putting money into job training. It is having difficulty in getting that off the ground. I hope that we can do that through co-operation. The equity capital, the equity financing, certainly the provincial government could help out in that manner.

The one thing that concerns me is the labour legislation that has been passed and the effect it may have. I know, being on the transport committee, of one particular area, which is the creation of short line railroads which seem to do well when they are created.

There are two examples currently in Canada where businesses have taken over from CN or CP these short line railroads. They seem to be able to run them very well with the same wages by the way or maybe even better than what the individuals received from the large railroads. However, they are flexible. A person who does maintenance on the track can also be driving the train the next day or whatever. They are very flexible in how they do their work.

The Ontario legislation allows successor rights for the unions. This is one of the big things because the unions do not allow the flexibility that is needed by these short line railroads. This is going to be an impediment to forming these short line railroads and it is something I do not think the provincial government looked at in putting that legislation into effect.

It is just one example where you have to look ahead, see what is going to happen to these small businesses and think before you put in these particular measures.

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May 14, 1993

Mr. Ken Atkinson (St. Catharines):

Madam Speaker, the government's response to the transport committee's report on the St. Lawrence Seaway stated again that the reform of the Western Grain Transportation Act was being pursued.

Grain markets have shifted to the far east to a certain extent, but it is my opinion that the WGTA creates a certain directional bias in favour of the west coast in the transportation of grain. Reform of the WGTA should help solve this problem, but it appears it will take a number of years to occur. In the meantime ship owners and the seaway are suffering. Their very existence is at stake.

I would again call on the government to provide interim relief to the ship owners and the seaway until the reform of the WGTA is completed. If this is not done there will be no infrastructure or ships to move grain in

May 14, 1993

Oral Questions

an easterly direction when the directional bias is eliminated and the seaway is required.

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March 30, 1993

Mr. Ken Atkinson (St. Catharines):

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

One way my community and other communities are trying to stimulate economic activity is by helping local people start their own businesses through entrepreneurship programs and training programs. However when these individuals go to banks and traditional institutions they are told that they do not fit within the traditional lending formula. The Small Businesses Loans Act will help, as will other measures.

I would ask the minister if he will consider this difficulty in his upcoming budget and take some steps to help communities such as mine establish community equity funds or venture capital funds which can be used to help finance existing businesses or new businesses that are innovative and can help our local economy?

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March 22, 1993

Mr. Ken Atkinson (St. Catharines):

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the last response with a great deal of interest because of the position I have in my community. We have a lot of automobile parts producers. They are most interested in the NAFTA and are in full support of what it does. As my friend from Cambridge pointed out, tariff barriers coming down on automobile parts going into Mexico will be a great benefit to my part of the countiy.

In addition, in the NAFTA North American content for automobiles is raised to 62.5 per cent. For someone from an area such as mine in which there are the big three auto producers, specifically General Motors, this is important. They have been asking for that increased content and now that is going to be done in the NAFTA.

The current FTA only provides for 50 per cent content. This is an advantage to our area and something that we look forward to. The labour unions were mentioned. This is something that they had lobbied for. They are now not saying anything about because it because they have this part of the renegotiation and they have this increased North American content that is going to help the automobile parts producers in my area. In that way, for my particular area, NAFTA will be a benefit.

I listened to my friend and his response to the question that was asked by the member for Cambridge and I say that it is something quite important to our part of the country which has been hard hit.

I would be interested in my friend's response as to whether we going to build the tariff barriers back up around our country. We know that nearly 30 per cent of our country's gross domestic product comes from selling products to other countries.

What are we going to do if we tear up the FTA and NAFTA? Are we going to build up tariff barriers around this country of 27 million people whose wealth and standard of living depends on trading with the rest of the

world. They are not going to say: "Oh, that is great. We are just going to be happy about that."

Another thing perhaps my friend could comment on is the fact that the auto pact is now part of the FTA. Ripping up the FTA could endanger the Auto Pact. Under the Auto Pact we are a net beneficiary. We consume 9 per cent of the cars in North America and we produce 17 per cent of the cars that are consumed in North America. The Auto Pact is very important to us and anything that would endanger that would cause us and this entire country a great deal of difficulty.

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March 19, 1993

Mr. Ken Atkinson (St. Catharines):

Madam Speaker, one way that my community is trying to regain economic activity and diversify its economy is by helping local people prepare to start their own businesses.

The Brock University Centre for Entrepreneurship, Niagara College and the innovative New Enterprise Store are teaching potential entrepreneurs the techniques necessary to establish their own businesses. The Niagara Enterprise Agency is also being established to help identify potential entrepreneurs in the plants that are closing and provide them with the training necessary to commence their own businesses.

Training programs are also in place to help train people for the opportunities that will be created by these new businesses.

However, local entrepreneurs are all too often running into the same problem. This is an inability to obtain the necessary capital to put their ideas into effect. Many of these new businesses do not have the assets which they can mortgage in order to obtain the needed financing. Government programs like the Small Businesses Loans Act, the Small Business Financing Program and the Federal Business Development Bank make financing available, but we must do more.

Many businesses do not fit within established formulas used by the-

Subtopic:   THE ECONOMY
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