MASSE RESPONDS TO SPEECH FROM THE THRONE: Auto and Manufacturing Concerns Must be in the Forefront of Debate

HANSARD – House of Commons – November 25, 2008

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your re-appointment.

I listened to the discussion by the member for Essex with regard to the auto industry and it is a very trying time right now. Having worked in the Pillette Road plant as well as plant 3 where they make minivans to this day, I can say a lot of people are anxious about their jobs. Men and women who actually have good skilled trades are really concerned.

One of the things we have not discussed, though, is trade agreements. With market share disappearing for the traditional three because of imports coming into Canada as we have the most open automotive market in the world, we have not seen from the government any leadership on trade issues.

One thing we saw in the Speech from the Throne is more discussion again about trade with Asian countries. That is my specific question to the member for Essex. What countries is the government looking at expanding in terms of Asia? Is it back to South Korea? We know, for example, there are hundreds of thousands of vehicles that are shipped into Canada from South Korea and we do not ship any automobiles there, just farm equipment, which is probably going to dissipate as well because we lost our only farming equipment manufacturer in Welland recently.

We are going to see a greater imbalance there, as well as potential trade coming in from China. Will it have open access to our markets here without us having reciprocal access there? It is important to note that because as we look at the troubles in the industry we know that we have to regain market share and that needs to be a better balance.

I would ask the member for Essex to describe what is meant in the Speech from the Throne in terms of more free trade with regard to Asia. What are the countries and why can it not be fair trade? Why would the government not move to fair trade instead of free trade? That is a better balance.

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Madam Speaker, congratulations on your appointment to the chair.

I was curious about the infrastructure comments that the member made, particularly for my region, the Windsor-Detroit corridor. A massive infrastructure project there is in the initial stages of getting going.

There has been a site selection for a new border crossing. It is very important for our economy despite the troubles that we have right now. We do need to have a new bridge replacement and a new plaza. The city as well is pushing for a solution for the roadway system up to the actual new border crossing. It is a little bit controversial because the Ontario Liberal government will not move ahead with a proposal to make it a greener project and although it is an insignificant difference it just seems to be stuck on not doing it.

Given the importance of the corridor and the fact that 40% of Canada's trade goes along the corridor and adding another bridge is very essential, not only just to Ontario and Quebec but the rest of the country with our GDP so tightly wound around basically a private American operator that owns the current bridge, why did his party take the position of objecting to the project going ahead.

In fact, a former cabinet minister was one of their candidates in our region and does not want the project to go forward. Why would the Liberals not want to support that when it is going to create a lot of jobs, will green and improve the corridor efficiency and provide a great opportunity to actually have economic development during this time?