Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Speaker: The Honourable Peter Milliken
Automotive Industry
Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, 60,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Canada this year alone. Yesterday General Motors announced the closing of a transmission plant. Fourteen hundred more workers are going to lose their jobs.

The auto industry needs help. GM closed the transmission plant because the technology is on its way out, yet the plant is not getting a replacement because a new and modern factory is not going to happen. Why? Because the Conservatives have no auto policy and it is cheaper to open a third world factory than it is to retool a Canadian plant.

Does the Minister of Industry even care about the 1,400 people thrown out of their jobs yesterday or their families?

Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Industry, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, we certainly care about the workers in the auto industry. It is very clear that we have an auto strategy which we have been working on, after many years in this country of not having one.

In 2007 the Canadian economy created more than 355,000 jobs. This year we are off to strong start. We have created more than 117,000 jobs.

There will continue to be adjustments in the auto sector. We will continue to work with the industry. We will continue to have a strong assembly industry focused on innovation and working with government to have assembly plants that are cutting edge.

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, those families need jobs. They do not need adjustments.

Let me quote:
I find it breathtaking that the party members think the only thing the economy needs, and...the auto industry needs, is a 2% reduction in the GST and happiness will follow...the auto industry would collapse under a Conservative government.

Who said that? The current Minister of International Trade did, back in 2005, so I have a question for the minister. Who are we supposed to believe? That flip-flopping minister who went over to the Conservatives or the Conservative minister who says nothing is wrong right now?

Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Industry, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, no one has ever suggested that the automotive industry in North America does not face challenging circumstances, particularly as demand softens in the United States.

The point is that on all of the essential elements to be successful at automobile assembly, whether it is North American integration of safety standards and fuel standards or an automotive innovation fund of $250 million that this Minister of Finance put in place in this budget, and on which we are working with industry participants, on all of these indicators, we have an auto policy that is working, and in the long term this industry will be a strong and healthy one.

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