May 3rd, 2019 - 4:49pm
Auto and Manufacturing, Economic Development, In the House, Labour, Other News
Video of this exchange is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8-UbuqLpjY
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.
Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again tonight to talk about the Canadian auto industry, specifically about the case of General Motors.
We have seen a reduction in investment in the auto industry that is unprecedented in Canadian history, given the fact that massive investments have been made not only in Mexico but also in the United States.
General Motors in Oshawa has been acquiring another product, but unfortunately, the divestment there has taken place at the expense of the workers.
Active talks are going on with the union and the company right now, but the lack of a federal auto policy has seen our investment percentage shrink quite significantly. Despite what the government says about what it has invested, it is much smaller in our auto environment.
What is concerning is that the USMCA, the new NAFTA agreement, which has been agreed to in principle but will likely not be implemented because of several problems, also contains further auto concessions. That is another issue.
The Prime Minister famously said in London, Ontario, that we have to transition out of manufacturing, but record investments are taking place within a matter of miles of Windsor, two miles across the border, where $14 billion is being invested by FIAT Chrysler and General Motors in Detroit, Michigan.
Today is the first day of a new incentive program the government has rolled out with regard to electric and other greener vehicles. Ironically, the Liberal government originally proposed a $300-million incentive program that restricted and eliminated the only electric vehicle in Canada, the Windsor-built Chrysler Pacifica. Ironically, they had to be brought to the table to include this multi-passenger vehicle with an electric motor, because the government excluded it. That was after the Prime Minister visited the plant in Windsor. He promised to come back many times. He promised to support the workers, and then he left them off the incentive program.
Thank goodness that a number of auto workers across Ontario, including not only in the Windsor area but along the 401 all the way to the Brampton assembly area, were signed up to have the Pacifica included in the incentive program.
There are several problems with that program. We are talking about $300 million that is likely primarily going to be for foreign vehicles. The Chrysler Pacifica is on that. The foreign vehicle incentive program the government has laid out unfortunately should have gone to creating a cleaner, greener manufacturing industry in Canada.
Canada has not had a national auto strategy. What is interesting is that the FIAT Chrysler and General Motors investments of billions of dollars in Detroit are for advanced technology vehicles that we could have had here.
My question is with regard to General Motors and the closure in Oshawa. The government did not even follow through with its own auto czar, Ray Tanguay, who two years ago tabled a report for the government. Ironically, the minister received the report in Detroit, not even in Canada. The minister did nothing with the report he paid for. Over the next year and a half, we witnessed plant closings here and plant openings and investments not only in Mexico but in the United States.
It is wrong. We have to reverse it. We can still do it.
Mr. Rémi Massé (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to respond to the comments of the member for Windsor West regarding the auto industry and, more specifically, the situation in Oshawa.
As we and the minister have repeatedly said, General Motors made a mistake when it announced the closure of the Oshawa assembly plant. The minister made our position clear to GM’s CEO, Ms. Barra, at a meeting in Detroit in January.
We want the workers in Oshawa and all Canadians to know that we are committed to ensuring the growth, strength and diversification of Canada’s economy. We remain committed to keeping the Canadian auto industry competitive and innovative.
Canada’s automotive industry is centred in the heart of North America’s largest vehicle producing region, known as the “Great Lakes automotive manufacturing cluster”. Canada’s automotive sector is highly integrated within the North American framework, with free trade between Canada and the U.S. dating back to 1965 and trilateral trade, including Mexico, growing since the introduction of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is a significant driver for our economy and remains one of Canada’s largest manufacturing sectors.
Some members may not be aware of this, but despite producing less than one-fifth of all vehicles in North America, Canada’s assembly plants have won one-third of all J.D. Power quality awards in North America over the last 30 years.
Contrary to what the hon. member thinks, we do have a strategy for the automotive sector.
Our government has taken measures including creating the $2-billion strategic innovation fund to attract large-scale investments. The government also created the Invest in Canada agency and launched the global skills strategy. All of these measures aim to make Canada’s automotive sector more competitive. These changes have brought in more than $6 billion in investments to the automotive sector since 2015.
This plan achieved real results on Monday, when Toyota and the Prime Minister announced that the company will move production of the Lexus NX and the leading-edge Lexus NX hybrid to its Cambridge plant. This plant will manufacture these models for the entire North American market.
Canada remains uniquely positioned to design and build the cars of today and tomorrow. Canada is a natural home for automotive innovation, with strengths to leverage that include a mature automotive cluster, expertise in advanced technologies, a highly skilled workforce and strong R and D capacity. Canada’s competitive advantages align with the future of the global automotive industry, and the automotive sector is well positioned to compete for innovative investments in R and D and vehicle production.
Contrary to what the hon. member may think, our government does have a plan for our country’s automotive industry. It works, and we remain committed to it.
Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of what I think; it is what the facts are. The reality is that Detroit, Michigan, has more investment than all of Canada in the auto industry. The parliamentary secretary cannot even come to the realization that one single city in the United States has outperformed all of Canada.
The reality is that we have not been producing autos just since the 1960s in our area. It was 1904 when we had the first Ford plant, and subsequently there was a sit-down strike to protect auto workers.
We have come forward with propositions to the government. Since that time, there has been a layoff at the Windsor assembly plant. The government has not answered my February 27 letter, in which I called upon the government to work with all the suppliers, the union, the workers and the companies to get that investment from Detroit and get access to the parts, supplies, tool and die equipment, mould makers and all those things. It cannot even answer that question.
Everybody but the government wants to work on it. It is giving up opportunities. Innovation is being left at the table—
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota):
The hon. parliamentary secretary.
Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, our government has committed to building on Canada’s strengths by promoting innovation, investment, growth and trade in the automotive industry to create quality jobs for Canadians—
Mr. Brian Masse: Detroit outperformed everything you did.
Mr. Rémi Massé: Our government has worked hard to maintain free trade in the markets where we currently do business and has opened up new markets to help diversify our trade strategy—
Mr. Brian Masse: I would even include Ford and Toyota with Detroit too. That is another six billion right there.
Mr. Rémi Massé: At the same time, our investments in innovation, through the innovation and skills plan, have helped bolster Canada’s robust automotive cluster by supporting reinvestment in Canadian vehicle assembly plants by global automakers. These initiatives are helping ensure that Canada’s workforce will have the advanced manufacturing skills employers will need in the future economy.
As I said earlier, our plan works, with six billion dollars’ worth of investment—
Mr. Brian Masse: That is not even Detroit. It is sixteen billion without Toyota.
Mr. Rémi Massé: —in the industry over the last three years or four years.