MASSE REQUESTS IMMEDIATE AUTO AID FROM GOVERNMENT OF CANADA: Work with the US Government Now to Help Aid the Big 3

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 12, 2008

MASSE REQUESTS IMMEDIATE AUTO AID FROM GOVERNMENT OF CANADA: Work with the US Government Now to Help Aid the Big 3

WINDSOR, ON—In the wake of the United States Senate’s decision to not aid the domestic automotive industry today, NDP Automotive Critic Brian Masse M.P. (Windsor West) wrote Prime Minister Stephen Harper demanding immediate action on the automotive file by the Government of Canada in this deteriorating global economic crisis.

In his letter Masse stated, “…I am urgently requesting that your government begin an aggressive campaign to work with the United States Government to develop both a North American plan to regain market share for domestic automotive production, and to begin negotiations on reciprocal trading requirements and agreements with other nations.” Masse reiterated the importance of the automotive industry to Canada and to the hundreds of thousands of workers that will be affected by the decisions made by our respective US and Canadian leaders in the coming days.

“Canadian communities in the last five years have lost approximately 350,000 manufacturing jobs and Windsor alone has lost over 35% of our automotive jobs. Do we have to lose the entire automotive and manufacturing industries in this country before the government will act? By that time it will be too late.” declared Masse.

“Canadian auto workers and their families and thousands of other Canadians will be directly affected by the loss of the Big 3 in North America. Our government has been given the opportunity to act and did not, and as a result we are in this regrettable position today. Let’s hope our Prime Minister sees the urgency in this request and acts on behalf of Windsorites and thousands of other affected Canadians to protect the industry, workers and their families,” said Masse.

Masse’s letter to the Prime Minister is attached, as well as his previous letter of November 25, 2008, to Industry Minister Tony Clement and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty requesting immediate action on the automotive file.

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For more information contact: Brian Masse (519) 255-1631

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December 12, 2008

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

In the wake of the decision by the United States Senate to not aid the Big Three automotive companies, and in the response by US President George Bush that he will use existing assistance from the TARP funds to help the automotive industries survive, I am writing you to urgently request that the Government of Canada immediately begin working with your US counterparts to help this struggling industry in this global economic crisis.

Specifically, I am urgently requesting that your government begin an aggressive campaign to work with the United States Government to develop both a North American plan to regain market share for domestic automotive production, and to begin negotiations on reciprocal trading requirements and agreements with other nations.

Following my letter to Minister Clement and Minister Flaherty of November 25, 2008 (attached), I am again calling on your government to stop delaying any aid in the wake of this devastating news, and instead, act now to make the necessary commitment to our domestic automotive and manufacturing industry today. To date, I have not received a response from either Minister and since that time you have prorogued the House of Commons, ultimately, delaying any opportunity for the much-needed hearings on the automotive industry to move forward in Parliament.

I should not have to reiterate to you that the automotive and manufacturing industries employ approximately 2.1 million Canadians with these workers contributing $20 billion in income taxes every year. These industries directly account for two-thirds of Canada’s total exports and directly account for 17% of our total economic activity. The taxes collected from these workers directly support millions of other Canadian workers in service industries such as retail and hospitality, and help via their $20 billion in income taxes to pay for such vital social services as health care and education. Moreover, these industries are the lifeblood for many communities, such as mine, from coast to coast to coast.

It is evident today that the lack of action taken by the Government of Canada, and your failure to produce a viable economic stimulus package for this industry when presented with the opportunity, have ultimately exacerbated the financial plight that the automotive sector. It is time to correct this situation.

The decision to act should not be taken lightly. We have seen that the ultimate demise of the automotive industry in the United States will further deteriorate our economic stability in Canada and will put hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work almost immediately.

Please act now on behalf of the automotive and manufacturing workers in this country who are desperately depending on the leadership of the Government of Canada to ensure that their families and livelihoods are protected in these critical economic times.

Thank you in advance for your immediate consideration to my request. Thousands of Canadians are counting on your government to take the necessary steps to protect this important Canadian industry. I look forward to your prompt response.

Yours truly,

Brian Masse MP
Windsor West
NDP Industry and Automotive Critic

CC: Minister of Industry, Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Finance, Honourable Jim Flaherty
Joe Comartin M.P. (Windsor Tecumseh)
Mayor Eddie Francis, City of Windsor

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November 25, 2008

Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Industry
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Honourable Jim Flaherty
Minister of Finance
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Clement and Minister Flaherty,

I am writing today regarding the critical situation facing the auto industry in this country.
As you are well aware, the industry leaders are presenting their plan of action to the United States Congress on December 2, 2008, to secure the necessary funding to alleviate the financing challenges that arose due to the unprecedented credit crisis gripping the world capital markets. This has established a time line and process south of the border, but in this country we have an unclear situation that has arisen as a result.

The North American domestic auto industry is completely integrated between Canada and United States. Government action in one country needs to be coordinated with the other to ensure equity and parity so that the companies are able to maintain their commitments to their facilities and workforces in each jurisdiction.

Accordingly, there needs to be immediate hearings in the House of Commons on potential proposals from the industry and policy options from the government in response. Additionally, disclosure of considered alternatives by the government needs to enumerated and outlined so that a comprehensive understanding and an increased clarity is provided to not only the industry and unions but also the public.

Communities in this country, during the period between 2002 and 2008, have lost approximately 350,000 manufacturing jobs. In places such as Windsor, Ontario, which is the automotive centre of Canada, 35 percent of all manufacturing jobs have been lost during the same time period. For the first time in 18 years, Canada has become a net importer of automotive products down from a record surplus of $ 15 billion in 1999. At the same time Canada has fallen from being the fourth largest auto assembler in the world to the tenth.

Furthermore, the declining share of the domestic automakers in the North American market is a result of the unbalanced and unfair trade relationships with other countries. An egregious example of this is the situation with South Korea which sold 130,000 vehicles in Canada while only 400 Canadian made vehicles were sold in that country in 2005. The tariff and non-tariff barriers in overseas auto markets have created a vast distortion in the North American market with the dumping of foreign produced vehicles.

Canada needs a commitment to a national auto policy that encourages innovation and investment in the leading edge of design and engineering of the greener technologies of today and tomorrow. Keeping auto jobs and capital intensive facilities in Canada is central to being able to do this. Such a comprehensive policy is what most other countries have done or are doing. It is time to re-establish the governmental initiative that made this sector central to the manufacturing industry in this country.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Brian Masse, M. P.
Windsor West