Industry needs a meal, not crumbs from Canada’s next government

industry-needs-a-meal-not-crumbs-from-canadas-next-government_60b910043c34c
industry-needs-a-meal-not-crumbs-from-canadas-next-government_60b910043c34c

Whoever forms the next federal government needs to end the piecemeal process of trying to save this country’s shrinking auto manufacturing industry. 

It’s time to cook up something more nourishing than the recent fast-food junk that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s party served up before the election campaign started

Trudeau reminds me of myself on a Thursday night, when I’m left to feed my kids as my wife works late. 

I inevitably email my wife: “What should I feed them?” 

She inevitably responds: “Dinner.” 

And I inevitably feed one kid cereal, another a sandwich and a third chicken nuggets. Not exactly sustenance. But hey, my kids eat. They don’t die. And, technically, I did my job. 

Technically, Trudeau was doing his. But Canada’s auto industry is still dying of malnutrition. 

If nothing changes by year end, about 2,600 workers at GM’s Oshawa Assembly plant will lose their jobs. An additional 1,500 will be axed at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ minivan plant in Windsor, Ont., and 270 at supplier Nemak in Windsor will see their jobs disappear by mid-2020. Ford in July also announced about 200 jobs cuts in Oakville. 

That’s 4,415 auto jobs gone in less than a year. 

Yet, Liberals remain proud of how they’re taking care of workers by offering sprinklings of incentives here and there, including a $5-million “investment” to turn Windsor into “an automobility cluster,” creating 155 jobs. Only 4,260 left to save, then? 

Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary to the minister of infrastructure and communities, called it “a concrete demonstration of our government’s commitment to autoworkers.” 

If that’s commitment, I would hate to be on the receiving end of a wedding proposal from a Liberal MP. My guess is the ring won’t cost anywhere near the traditional two months’ salary. 

The $5-million “automobility cluster” is nothing more than pre-writ catnip designed to win over voters in Windsor, a New Democratic Party stronghold filled with angry autoworkers. 

“We have been here for autoworkers,” Mendicino said. 

His shining example of support? Allowing the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid to qualify for a $5,000 federal rebate. 

One problem: The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid starts at $52,571, before taxes and freight. 

“Find me a married couple with two kids who can afford a $50,000 minivan,” auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers told Yahoo Finance Canada in April. 

Unifor Local 200 President John D’Agnolo, who represents the Nemak workers, said Canada can’t compete with lower wages in Mexico or incentives to build plants in the United States. 

The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., for example, has received more than US $800 million in federal, state and local incentives in the past 10 years, according to The Tennessean newspaper, which called the plant “the most subsidized [factory] among U.S. automakers.” 

“We can’t compete,” D’Agnolo said. “The governments are well-aware of that.” 

The United States-MexicoCanada Agreement is “a lot better” than NAFTA, he said. “It’s going to take a long time to get approved. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time. 

“The red carpet going south will continue,” D’Agnolo said. “Our governments need to step up to the plate, but they’ve been silent.” 

And the industry is starving.

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