Masse in the House on Free trade with South Korea and the Auto Industry

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise to express concern regarding the negative impact on Canada's important auto industry of a possible free trade agreement between Canada and Korea.

Canada's auto industry already faces some very difficult challenges. It already has lost 10,000 jobs in assembly since 1998 and another 10,000 parts jobs since 2003. The high dollar, a growing flood of offshore imports and structural problems are making matters worse by the month.

Canada already buys $1.7 billion worth of automotive products every year from Korea. In return, we export almost nothing back, with just $11.5 million last year. There are non-trading tariff barriers that are a problem for Canadian manufacturers and deny us access to the market. Korea has promised in the past to remove them, but has yet to do so.

We need to stop this deal. If the government wants to be helpful, what it should do is bring in a national auto policy, one New Democrats have been calling for. It would protect Canadian jobs and assure the future of an auto industry in the technological revolution. It would make sure that we have clean, efficient vehicles on our roads, produced by Canadians and our country.