Masse renews demand for Ford plant help

PUBLICATION: The Windsor Star
DATE: 2008.01.30

Masse renews demand for Ford plant help

Accusing the Conservative government of offering subsidies to oil and aerospace companies while ignoring Ontario's ailing auto industry, MP Brian Masse (NDP -- Windsor West) renewed his demands Tuesday for $30 million in federal funding to help reopen Ford's Essex Engine Plant.

Masse said "there's money for aerospace companies in Quebec and there are billion-dollar subsidies to oil companies in Alberta but nothing for the most important industrial sector of our economy in Ontario."

Masse raised the issue during question period in the House of Commons Tuesday.

But Industry Minister Jim Prentice declined to address the issue specifically, saying only that the government is committed to a strong auto industry through infrastructure improvements, new fuel consumption standards and a smooth-flowing Windsor-Detroit border.

The Essex plant closed in November but rumours persist it's in line to build a small volume, five-litre V-8 engine.

Earlier this month, the provincial government agreed to provide $30 million in funding, providing it was matched by the federal government, to help convince Ford to place a new product in the plant.

Two weeks ago, Prentice met with Ford officials to discuss the funding. But on Tuesday, a spokesman for Prentice said there was nothing to announce.

It's considered unlikely that Ford will make any announcements about either products or plants until the conclusion of collective bargaining with the CAW in September.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said recently it was against government policy to provide funding to specific companies even though such funding has been granted in recent months to Quebec-based Pratt and Whitney, an aerospace company, among others.