Mr. Speaker, I wish to do something that I do not do very often. I should like to pay tribute to the Minister of Industry for his initiatives not only in relation to bringing forth the government motion but also the name change that took place unanimously in the house of assembly in Newfoundland while the hon. gentleman was the premier of the province.
He has certainly been the leader in bringing these two great names together, recognizing that there is one province and that Labrador is an equal part of that province. This is perhaps a fact that has been overlooked by a lot of people for many years. I thank the hon. minister for this initiative. This has to be a proud day for the people of the Labrador section of the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Why was this not done long ago? In the historic days of colonization Canada was just a dominion and Newfoundland a little colony under the direct rule of Britain for many years. Newfoundland eventually joined this great Dominion of Canada and became part of this great country.
Labrador always seemed to be looked upon as an entity unto itself and not part of the great province of Newfoundland and now Newfoundland and Labrador. There seemed to be a geographic separation over the years as well as a psychological separation.
The people of Newfoundland looked upon Labrador as a place to go to rape the resources and take advantage of it. The area would then be left for the people of Labrador to try to survive and eke out a living from the resources without any assistance from either the province of Newfoundland or from Canada. However these hardy people survived.
Over the years the recognition began to hit home. The resources that were geographically in Labrador were not for the sake of Newfoundland or for outsiders but primarily for the benefit of the people of Labrador. The sharing concept between both parts, the island and the mainland, has grown to the point whereby officially recognizing that we are one province, Newfoundland and Labrador, we will not hear any more about the issue of divide and conquer.
Labrador has brought so much into Confederation. We hear what the province of Newfoundland brought in. However much of that is actually part of the Labrador section. Now we can truthfully say the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador brought so much into Confederation.
This is quite different from the way we are viewed by many people who do not know the great strengths and resources of our province. At the most northerly tip of Labrador the scenery and fishing resources are incredible. I am sure that anyone who has flown, I will not say walked, over Torngat Mountains has had the pleasure of seeing how immense and beautiful they are. The wilderness in Labrador is the last great wilderness in Canada where hunting, fishing and hiking are indescribable. One has to be there to be able to appreciate it.
There has been great mineral wealth discovered at Labrador west in the mines that have kept the towns of Labrador City and Wabush going for many years. The ore from that area has benefited Quebec and Ontario perhaps to a much larger extent than we would like to see, with all due respect to our friends in those provinces.
There are the great discoveries in Voisey's Bay which one of these days will be primarily developed for the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Undoubtedly there will be benefits for our sister provinces as there should be. Newfoundland has never said no to that. It has never said it would not share its great resources.
There are the northern cod stocks based off the coast of Labrador which swim down the northeast coast to Cape St. Mary during the summer. Over the years they provided a livelihood for the people in Newfoundland and Labrador. They also provided a livelihood for many other Canadian provinces and foreign nations that came in, raped our stocks, took quotas given to them to sell other products, and we were left the losers. It is to the point where the stocks have been practically wiped out. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are the losers. They received absolutely nothing in return.
The best example of how we are treated is before us right now. There is a 20% tariff placed on the great northern shrimp stocks that we catch off the coast of Labrador and send to the European market. Our fishermen face a 20% tariff on our peeled and cooked shrimp going to the European market because one company in one country in the EU is trying to make sure the tariff is imposed to protect its own market opportunities.
It does not make any sense whatsoever. It is not an issue between Canada and the European Union at all. It is an issue between a company in Denmark and Canada. It is something that should be resolved overnight, instead of having to wait for the next round of World Trade Organization discussions.
I have often said it is only Newfoundland and Labrador and it is only fish. However the great fishing stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador have kept many a country afloat since the discovery of Newfoundland in 1497. The economies of Britain, Spain and Portugal were all boosted tremendously by the economic benefits from the processing of the fish stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador.
We have oil and forest resources. We are an island and a mainland section with a population of a little over half a million people. We have more resources per capita than any province in Canada and any country in the world. Yet we have the highest unemployment in Canada. We have sat back over the years and watched others benefit from our resources and we have not benefited at all.
I was in Taiwan earlier this summer. It is a country that is smaller than Newfoundland with the population of Canada. It has less than 4% unemployment and practically no resources.
What is wrong? It is the leadership in our province. It must recognize the strengths we have and be willing to work with us. I am delighted to support this initiative to make sure that Newfoundland and Labrador are recognized equally as one province, not only in our own eyes but in the eyes of this great country and the world.