Mr. Stan Darling (Parry Sound-Muskoka):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words. I would like to thank most sincerely my colleague from Bonavista-Trinity-Conception.
I have had the privilege of sitting on the Standing Committee for National Defence and Veterans Affairs with the hon. member and certainly he has added greatly to it. He has had more experience than I as far as defence is concerned.
I do not know him too well but I have talked to him briefly. He said he enlisted as a young sailor some few years ago from a small fishing village in Newfoundland and retired as a Rear Admiral while still a young man and then entered the House of Commons. It was certainly great to be with him.
I have served 21 years as the member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka. I entered the House of Commons at an advanced age compared to most. I remember the people at the time saying that if I got elected at that age I would probably only last one term and be a sort of caretaker member of Parliament.
In fact I agreed with them and said that is probably what I would do. I have been carrying on as a caretaker member of Parliament for six elections, successfully I might say. At my tender age I have come to the conclusion that it is probably time for retirement before the voters retire me. They say it is a good idea to leave while people still want you. There have been a few that
June 16, 1993
have been asking me to run again. There are many younger ones who could run.
In fact even two or three elections ago there were a great many interested in the job and some of them would be asking after my health and would even come up and take my pulse just to check on it. But I have been able to carry on, putting in a good day's work as my hon. colleague mentioned.
However, there does come a time and this is of course going out over the air. I have told my riding association and gave them some months' notice to look around. I told them to find somebody but I want the riding to remain in the Progressive Conservative fold. That is the important part but I am quite sure a very satisfactory replacement will be found with a spirited nominating convention.
Of course I will look back with a great deal of regret at leaving. This has been a wonderful place. All members make friends. I guess people in the ridings wonder and they will say: "What are you doing fraternizing with the Liberals or the NDP? You are there to defeat them and do this and do that". I tell them it comes as a shock but there are a lot of very nice people on the opposition side. I guess I am one who has a great rapport with members of the other side. I enjoy talking to them, I enjoy being with them. I do not enjoy some of the things they say when they are standing at their seat but that is to be expected. I guess I am not too controversial a member of Parliament. I came here to look after the wants and needs of my constituents which are many.
Being members of the government over the last few years puts us on the hot seat all of the time. We are blamed for everything. We are told that Canada is the most terrible country in the world and the recession was dreamed up by the Prime Minister himself. Yet we as members of Parliament when we travel beyond our borders are looked at with awe and with the greatest respect. We are told we are from Canada, the most magnificent country in the world. I have said to more than one person: "I wish to hell you would come back to Canada and tell the Canadians that because they do not seem to believe it".
I had the great privilege about a year ago to visit Rio de Janeiro at the UNCED conference, the great environmental conference attended I think by 180 countries and the heads of state from 20 of the greatest countries. Those people, when they saw the maple leaf, brightened up and wanted to talk to us and tell us just what they had heard about Canada.
I am certainly very unhappy that 1.5 million are unemployed. A good many in my riding, which is a rural riding, are unemployed. It is not a great industrial area, but it certainly is a beautiful place. People love to live in Parry Sound-Muskoka. There are probably higher paying jobs in other areas but they want to live where they were brought up. The economy there certainly is improving.
I happen to be in a tourist area and the tourist industry has been hard hit due to the recession. Of course last year was a disaster because along with the recession we also had terrible weather. Every weekend it was raining and cold so it was really a disaster.
I heard my colleagues this evening commenting on the economy, berating the government for the free trade agreement and the recently approved NAFTA. I wonder what they are thinking about. It is all very well to say that there are a great many jobs lost. The figure quoted here a couple times by the hon. member for Kamloops is that
400,000 manufacturing jobs were lost over a period of time. There was no mention of the many thousands of new jobs that have been created. There was no mention of the fact that there are more people working now. After all, there were all these students and young people coming into the work force over the last two or three years and nobody seems to consider that.
We are a country of 27 million people. Are we going to manufacture just for our own citizens and forget about trading? We are a trading nation and if we are going to trade then we certainly have to open our own borders and purchase goods from our neighbours.
If the free trade agreement is so terrible and has caused so many jobs to be lost how is it that Canada and the United States are the two greatest trading partners in the world?
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President Reagan was asked what the greatest trading partner of the United States was. I guess he is not the greatest economist and so he said: "I guess it is Japan". His neighbour, Canada, certainly beat Japan by a great deal. Our trade now is $200 billion a year in two-way trade, and Canada has a surplus. We are selling more than we are buying. Is that such a bad deal?
Jobs have been lost, and possibly that is true, but new jobs have also been created. Many industries have started up here. Many industries have enlarged their capacities because of the free trade agreement.
Why is it that several other countries are just drooling at the mouth at the idea of the Canada-U.S. trade agreement, hoping they can get the same deal? Israel is one country that has some trade breaks, but they are not nearly as good as Canada's.
These are the things that the Canadian people should be thinking about. The NAFTA, which is supposed to be a disaster according to the opposition and the media, will provide us with a market of about 300 million people. It will be the greatest market in the world. There is a lot of worry and criticism about Mexico's 85 million people, not taking into consideration at all that those people will be purchasing goods. At the present time Mexico and Canada have very insignificant two-way trade. It is $2.5 billion but the worst part is that of that $2.5 billion Canada only has $600 million, and most of those goods trade back and forth without any tariffs at all.
I am quite sure the NAFTA will prove to be successful. The Prime Minister has been berated for the things that he has done. He has had the guts to do things that other governments were afraid to tackle. With regard to the GST, the opposition and the public at large consider it to be a new tax but it is a replacement for the manufacturers' sales tax of 13.5 per cent. As an example, Canadian Tire, which is a huge chain across the country, now says that 90 per cent or more of the goods sold in its stores are cheaper than when the manufacturers' sales tax was in effect. That is the fact. However that does not seem to sink in.
The other thing is that the GST is broadly based. It could have been more broadly based but we did not want to include food. The GST at 7 per cent is berated by the public but they do not seem to have any criticism of the 8
per cent Ontario provincial sales tax. I am wondering if that is really fair. When one is in government one has to take the good with the bad.
All the time we hear our colleagues across the House talking about the free trade agreement and the NAFTA agreement, and the various items in it. They are scaring the Canadian people that water is going to be transported or diverted to the United States. That is absolutely incorrect. Water will be sold to the United States but it will be sold in bottles. It will be sold in bottles of mineral water, beer and wine. Surely no Canadian is going to say that that is the incorrect thing to do. We have to educate the public. I am telling the people in my riding, and we have lots of water there, water is not going to be diverted.
I want to pay tribute to all the people in my riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka who have supported me over the past 21 years. I have endeavoured to work on their behalf. Certainly I have not satisfied them all from the letters I get. A great many of them come in and say I am doing a good job, but they were not singing the praises of the Prime Minister.
Speaking of the Prime Minister, even though he is low in the polls, he is going to have a very important place in history because he has been able to have a government that would bring in these things that have not helped his popularity. But they are in the best interest of Canada and he has taken that stand. Certainly I say more power to him for that.
At this time I would like to pay a special tribute to my staff. The success of a member of Parliament and his or her continuing re-election depends on the staff. They are the ones who take the telephone calls and have to get all the information that is necessary. I have an outstanding staff.
I want to pay a special tribute to my constituency secretary in Burk's Falls, Mrs. Ina Trolove, who often works six and seven days a week. She is the most knowledgeable person one could ever lay eyes on. She can handle anything and she is about three months younger than I am. What do you think of that? Then of course I have an excellent staff in Ottawa, my chief secretary, Mary Culinin, Melanie Byck and an outstanding research assistant, Phillip McNeil.
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It has been a privilege to serve the great riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka. I came to this place at an age when a lot of people retire and I have been able to have a career of 21 years. It is the most exciting career I could possibly think of. I know all of us are proud of the fact that we are able to sit in the House of Commons despite the low repute we are held in by the people across the country. The message should be getting across that politics is an honourable profession. There should be more people looking into the possibility of serving their country.
As I look back on my career and my stay in the House and am asked what I have done, if anything, besides vote with the party, stand up and be here as often as I am told,
I think back over the last 13 years when I have been deeply involved in the question of acid rain and the environment. I worked hard on these and I feel that I have contributed something.
I know I was involved in it when it was the best kept secret in the United States and not too prominent here. But we kept going down and meeting with the members of the U.S. Congress. I remember one of the prominent members of the House of Representatives saying: "Mr. Darling, do not give us this talk about acid rain. You are coming down here trying to scare us and sell us your hydro power from Ontario and Quebec". This was a tough thing to overcome. It is one thing I can take some pride in.
I will certainly miss this House when the next Parliament sits, but I guess it is time to just relax and take it easy. I will be celebrating my 82nd birthday a month from today, July 16.
Once more, I want to thank all the people in my riding who supported me and tell them how much I have enjoyed representing the great riding of Parry Sound- Muskoka.
Topic: ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic: MOTION TO ADJOURN