Masse in the House on the lack of an Auto Policy

From Hansard

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the debate and points made by the member for Winnipeg North are well noted.

I want to focus on the auto industry in the context of today's debate. I find it ironic that the Liberals have a shopping list of things they want done in the motion, but they could never put that forth in terms of legislation when they actually had the power to do so. It is important to note the distinction that a motion discusses the principles of the House, whereas legislation would carry the day.

One piece of legislation I had been seeking since 2002, and which was promised by the then industry minister Allan Rock, and a previous minister, and then another minister from the Liberals, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, was an auto policy.

It is very important to note that we have a challenging environment in the auto industry. The assembly portion of auto manufacturing has declined in recent years. In fact there was a recent briefing with the department showing that the assembly component is substantially down in terms of the GDP revenue and the surplus that we would normally export to the United States in terms of the industry itself.

One of the most frustrating things in the current context in government is the fact that the member crossed the floor and is now the Minister of International Trade and we still do not have an auto policy. The Minister of Industry has been absolutely missing in action on many files including this one. In fact back in 2004, the then minister of industry who sat with the Liberals, and I plead with the audience to follow this ping-pong ball between the two parties, talked about having one within a couple of weeks but he never tabled it. At a subsequent industry committee meeting he did not table it when he had the chance to.

Why has the government not moved on an auto policy when it now owns the person who actually was supposed to be crafting one to begin with? If the Conservative government does not have one from him, why is it not holding him to account or getting the Minister of Industry to do something? That is important. The Conservatives brag about the minister's involvement in the softwood lumber sellout. They brag about his previous knowledge and his previous work as minister of industry in the Liberal government. They brag about the fact that he has delivered for Canada in that context. Putting that debate aside, why are the Conservatives not demanding the same expectations for our auto industry?

We had hearings today on auto manufacturing. Ironically the minister is once again involved in another issue that is negative to the auto industry, not only just in terms of not delivering on a promise, but now he is pushing a free trade deal with Korea. That is something the industry in Canada is against and something that our auto workers are against. We have had a briefing with the industry ministry on this subject and we know it is being offered up as a sacrificial lamb. That is unacceptable.

If the government wants to have an ounce of credibility, as it asked the minister to cross the floor, he should deliver the goods he was supposed to bring so that people of this country have some job protection.