George Roland HENDERSON

HENDERSON, George Roland

Personal Data

Egmont (Prince Edward Island)
Birth Date
November 10, 1935
businessman, electrical engineer, farmer, shellfish technician

Parliamentary Career

February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Egmont (Prince Edward Island)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (March 4, 1980 - September 30, 1981)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence (March 1, 1982 - September 30, 1982)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
  Egmont (Prince Edward Island)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 111)

July 8, 1988

In (a) 1984, (A) 1985, (c) 1986, (d) 1987 did the Government (t) allocate

funds, (ii) award research contracts, (Hi) make any other grants or contributions to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

and, if so, through which departments and, in each case, in what amounts?

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July 5, 1988

Mr. George Henderson (Egmont):

Mr. Speaker, the condition of two harbours in Meaford, Ontario, located on Georgian Bay, was recently brought to my attention.

Last August the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Mr. Siddon) announced a plan to build a new harbour. This project was to be fully completed within the next two years. This year a drastic drop in water levels rendered the existing harbour

July 5, 1988

unusable. In fact, the Coast Guard had to relocate its vessel to Owen Sound.

Despite numerous requests the federal Government refused to dredge the harbour which was last dredged 26 years ago.

In a letter dated April 22, 1988, the Minister said: It is anticipated that the present water levels will increase by one foot by the beginning of May. This will help reduce the quantity of dredging required to have the harbour at least partially operational for the summer of 1988." The water level has not changed and finally, after a loud protest, the Minister came up with $50,000 for emergency dredging but local citizens would have to match it.

I believe that providing and maintaining safe harbours is a responsibility which deserves proper funding from the federal treasury. To make matters worse, departmental officials have advised local citizens that they will also be responsible for any dredging in the new harbour.

I call on the Government to allocate the necessary funds to ensure that Canadians in Meaford and across this country will have safe harbours.

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July 5, 1988

Mr. George Henderson (Egmont):

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have a few moments today, I guess 10 minutes is all I have, to speak on Bill C-130, an Act respecting free trade between Canada and the United States.

At the outset, I do not think there are too many people in the House who do not believe in improved trading relations, from wherever they may come. However, it is one thing to talk about improving our trade relations with any country and quite another to talk about jeopardizing the sovereignty of our country.

When he was campaigning for the leadership in 1983, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) said, "This country could not survive with a policy of unfettered free trade. I am all in favour of eliminating unfair protectionism where it exists. This is a separate country, we'd be swamped. We have in many ways a branch plant economy, in many ways in certain important sectors. All that would happen with that kind of a concept would be the boys cranking up their plants throughout the United States in bad times and shutting their entire branch plants in Canada. It is bad enough as it is".

During that leadership campaign in June of 1983 he went on to say the following with regard to free trade, "It affects Canadian sovereignty and we will have none of it, not during leadership campaigns or any other time".

I do not think anyone could have said it better. What the Prime Minister was saying at that time was absolutely correct. It was absolutely correct in June of 1983, and it is probably even more correct in July of 1988.

In the Province of Prince Edward Island, from which I come, our most important industry is, naturally, agriculture. Our second most important industry is fisheries, and our third most important industry is tourism.

With regard to fisheries, we were told that with this Mulroney-Reagan free trade agreement we would have guaranteed and unfettered access to American markets.

Nowhere in this free trade agreement do I find that we have any protection whatsoever for our access to the United States markets as far as American remedy law is concerned, neither the laws which exist in the United States today nor the omnibus trade Bills which are before the United States Congress and the U.S. Senate at the present time.

Therefore, not only are we subjected to laws which are presently in effect in the United States, we will be further subjected to their laws in the future. There is nothing in that agreement which gives us protection from them. This agreement does not give us any more access than we have had in the past number of years. We will always be subject to American trade law.

The dispute settlement mechanism is, in my opinion, a farce. If an American manufacturer or supplier says that his product sales are being affected by subsidized goods coming in from Canada, the dispute settlement panel can only judge whether or not American trade laws have applied correctly. That is all we have, same as in the past. There is no provision whatsoever to lower the risks of such manoeuvring by American business.

On Prince Edward Island there are about 28,000 people employed, directly or indirectly, in agriculture and the fishery, that is, those involved in the processing of agricultural and fisheries products as well as the primary producers involved in the harvesting of these resources. That is about 50 per cent of our total employment force in the Province of P.E.I.

Harrison McCain is a very important business person in Atlantic Canada. Not only is McCain Foods established in Atlantic Canada but in almost every country in the world including Australia. An article in Business Watch, written by Peter Newman, quotes McCain as follows:

"We're free traders by nature," he told me. "If the government were to just come out and say, 'Hey, McCain, do you favor lowering tariffs in every case that's practical' I'd of course say 'Yes.'"

The key here is "that's practical". The article continues:

But, McCain continued, "in the case of this particular deal, I'd have to say, 'Don't dupe us in the food industry.' The problem is that we have to buy our mozzarella cheese for the pizzas we make in Canada through marketing boards. That means it costs 39 per cent more than it would in the United States. At the moment, the Americans are not allowed to ship their cheese into Canada, but with free trade, they'll be selling their pizzas here duty-free. How do we buy cheese in Canada at 39 per cent more and still be competitive? We can't be. And we have exactly the same problem with our frozen dinners because of chicken marketing boards, and so on."

That is what Harrison McCain is saying. The article continues:

"What I'd really like to hear," came McCain's parting shot, "is somebody standing up in Vancouver, or Halifax, or Toronto right now and declaring: 'Free trade is such a great deal, I'm going to start building a factory tomorrow. I'll double my capacity! I'll build a whole new industry! My God, just let me at it!' Why aren't we hearing that? I wonder ..."

A lot of Canadians are wondering that. We hear a lot from the business world in Toronto and Montreal saying what a great thing free trade is. However, I do not hear them saying

July 5, 1988

that they are going to expand tomorrow. It is not going to happen.

Returning to the fishery, a GATT ruling was imposed on fish processed in British Columbia. A fisherman by the name of Bruce Burrows wrote me an interesting letter which I want to read into the record. He said:

Before I leave to go fishing this summer I have to do a little spleen-venting about yet another example of our federal government's stupidity and spinelessness. I am referring to Brian Mulroney's decision not to contest the recent GATT ruling on exports of west coast fish.

Just to refresh your memory, this was a ruling by an international trade board, resulting from American complaints, that Canadian regulations calling for some of our fish to be processed here prior to export are contrary to the GATT Treaty.

I'll deal with the economic effects later, but the first thing that angers me about this ruling is that it's a clear violation of Canadian sovereignty. These are our fish, our natural resources. We should have the absolute and final say on how they are disposed of. If we want to rule that every salmon exported from British Columbia must have a cherry stuck in its mouth and be called a sea pig, that is our right. Our Conservative government, whose normal negotiating position in matters of American wants is either kneeling or supine with legs spread, evidently disagrees.

I think that is a good indication of the negotiations the Government has had in the past. This is not from a processor, but from a fisherman in the Province of British Columbia. He concluded:

We have, I think, only three possible courses of action-order a spine transplant for Mulroney and his cohorts, buy them all knee-pads for their next round of negotiating, or vote the mendacious sychophants out of office at the earliest opportunity.

I certainly would agree with that. The free trade agreement with which we are faced right now is certainly the most important agreement into which this country has ever entered. I believe that the people of this country must have an opportunity to express their views on it before it is passed and signed. I challenge the Prime Minister and the Government to dissolve the House immediately, to go to the electorate, and to let the people decide whether free trade is good or bad for this country. I, for one, welcome that opportunity. I would not mind coming back and supporting free trade if the people supported it. However, I can say that people from a province like mine have nothing to gain and everything to lose with free trade.

If free trade and access to the American market is such a good thing, why are the farmers, the fishermen and the forest industry in the State of Maine not making a lot of money? We know that they are far worse off than we are. They are far worse off in the hills of Kentucky than we are in this country.

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June 10, 1988

Mr. George Henderson (Egmont):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of Members of the House, and particularly to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Wise), the urgent need of Prince Edward Island potato farmers for financial assistance.

Due to the drought last summer, most potatoes did not reach full size. These potatoes are in storage and there is no market for them. I wish to point out that my riding, the western part of Prince Edward Island, was especially hard hit, and potato producers in this area have suffered the greatest losses.

This is a crisis situation. How discouraging it is for these farmers to plant their 1988 crop when they still have not received one penny for their 1987 crop. These farmers are in dire financial straits.

The P.E.I. Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Tim Carroll, has written to the Minister on behalf of potato producers adversely affected, most of whom reside in the western part of Prince Edward Island. He wrote to request financial assistance under those federal programs designed to aid farmers who suffer losses specifically from drought. I urge the Minister to act on this request immediately and provide this much needed financial assistance to the P.E.I. potato industry.

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June 9, 1988

Mr. George Henderson (Egmont):

Mr. Speaker, under the Atlantic Groundfish Management Plan for 1988, fishermen with vessels under 45 feet in Zone 4T received a separate quota. For instance, these fishermen were allowed to catch up to 3,450 metric tonnes of codfish between April 22 and July 31. This allocation has now been caught and today is only June 9. Fishermen now want an additional quota to hold them over for the next two months.

Prince Edward Island fishermen, especially those from western P.E.I., are very worried because they did not catch their fair share of the 3,450 metric tonnes quota due to poor weather conditions. These fishermen have made a sensible request for an extra cod quota and they are willing to accept daily trip limits and mandatory gutting at sea. I would urge the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Mr. Siddon) and his officials to approve this request as soon as possible.

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