Masse Demands Answers for Auto Workers in Parliament

House of Commons
Automobile Industry
June 5, 2008

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, when it comes to standing up for auto jobs and auto workers, this government is as bad as the last.

First, the Conservatives say there is nothing they can do to help our ailing auto sector. Then they come up with a paltry pilot project that gets the job done at the moment.

It is not acceptable. A pilot project is not an auto strategy that includes trade provisions.

The hybrid truck promised to the workers in Oshawa will now go to communities in the United States and Mexico.

Why is the finance minister not knocking down the executive doors of General Motors and demanding why they broke a Canadian collective agreement? Why is it always left to workers to defend the jobs of our nation?

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, what workers know, the CAW members know and their leadership knows, and what the executives at General Motors and the other companies know is what we know, and the knowledge advantage in Advantage Canada, and that is that the future of the auto sector depends on innovative technology.

How do we get to that future in the auto sector? We get there--

Hon. Bob Rae: Why would Ontario be the last place? Why would it be the last place to invest?

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC): I do not need lectures about the auto sector in Ontario from the member for Toronto Centre, after what he did in Ontario, after what he did to the Ontario economy.

We have a $250 million auto innovation fund, the fund that is in Bill C-50, and I hope the Liberals will support that legislation.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Windsor West has the floor. We will have some order, please.

If members wish to carry on a discussion, I would urge them to do it in the lobby out there.

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that under the old regime and this regime, we have gone from fourth in the world in auto assembly to tenth. It has been a legacy of loss of jobs here.

A one time fund for one plant at one moment is not a winning strategy. What we need is to stop picking winners and losers.

Oil company executives who want to have their tar sands projects fast-tracked are the winners and manufacturing families are the losers left behind by these policies.

Where is the green auto strategy that brings all workers together and produces the vehicles here? Why do we not have that leadership, for crying out loud.

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what the auto innovation fund is for: for innovation and for green technology.

The reason that the auto strategy was successful before, and I am sure the member knows, is because of the innovations: the flexline in the Oshawa car plant; the flexline in the Oakville car plant.

Had we not had these innovative technologies through government assistance in research and development, we would not have the auto sector that we have today, and an auto sector with a future with the auto innovation fund.