Original article by Mr. Mezie's is attached.


August 29, 2011

Dear Mr. Menzies,

I am writing in response to your article “Cadillac Jack,” published on National Newswatch and MSN Auto today.  Please know that I am respectfully correcting the record on this issue having been the NDP Automotive Critic from 2002 through 2011 and having worked with Jack Layton on this portfolio from day one.  Your misinformed article leads Canadians to believe that Mr. Layton was opposed to the automotive industry and its workers, and that is completely wrong.

When I was first elected to the NDP Caucus in 2002, our whole party worked to create a platform that would address the environmental issues with autos.  Specifically, after extensive consultations with key environmental groups and the Canadian Auto Workers, the NDP developed Canada’s first green car industrial strategy in 2003, to build a Canadian auto industry that maintained jobs and helped meet our Kyoto commitments.

The message we heard loud and clear from both the CAW and environmentalists was that any green car strategy must also create jobs for Canadian autoworkers. We must put to rest the myth that saving the environment has to be at the expense of jobs. And we must make it clear that the best way to create auto sector jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions is by manufacturing more environmentally friendly motor vehicles.

This initiative was led by Jack Layton and our caucus continues to proudly pursue this policy today.

Secondly, during the automotive and manufacturing crisis beginning in 2008, Mr. Layton stood firmly with our caucus defending the automotive industry and its workers.  We fought to get the struggling automotive companies government assistance and to help workers keep their jobs.  Mr. Layton worked tirelessly throughout the recession to help both sides, and he even called on the Harper government to hold an automotive summit that would bring all major players in the automotive industry, along with the government, where all could work together and come up with solutions to the massive job losses and to address the downturn in production. 

Following the aid to the automotive companies and slow recovery to the economy, we received letters of thank you from all sides for Mr. Layton and our caucus’ persistence on all fronts.

Yes, most Canadians know that Mr. Layton was an avid cyclist and supporter of public transit.  He was specifically because he believed that reducing our carbon footprint whenever possible was what was necessary in places like Toronto, and other big cities, where the infrastructure is there to support such options.  He also understood the reality that many Canadians rely on cars and trucks and do not have access to the best public transit options, if any at all.  That’s why he worked to make the automotive industry greener and supported the manufacturing jobs that went along with this. 

In the end, I think Mr. Layton would have liked to have had, as you stated, “a wind- and solar-powered rickshaw” to carry him through the streets of Toronto on his final journey.  But since we’re not there yet, I know Jack would have been proud to have been in a domestic vehicle, built by North American workers, and supporting automotive jobs.

Brian Masse MP

Vice-Chair House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology

Former NDP Automotive Critic

CC:      All NDP MPs

            Ken Lewenza, President Canadian Auto Workers