No More “Made-in-China” Policies: NDP Demands Canadian Government Use Canadian Steel in Construction of New International Bridge

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          

June 1, 2012

No More “Made-in-China” Policies: NDP Demands Canadian Government Use Canadian Steel in Construction of New International Bridge

 WINDSOR, ON – NDP Canada-US Border Critic, Brian Masse,  today called on federal Transportation Minister Denis Lebel, to stop the Harper Government‘s use of “Made-in-China” products here in Canada. 

 This call comes in the wake of a Detroit News article today that allegedly claims the Canadian Government’s choice to use Chinese steel is the only hindrance left between the State of Michigan finally passing the needed legislation to proceed with the new bridge between Detroit and Windsor.  The US federal government has a policy that requires only domestically produced materials, when available, be used in federal construction projects.

 “Why are we continuing to use made in China products that are cheaper, instead of putting our own workers back to work here in Canada?” questioned Masse.

 His letter to the Minister asks, “If the only thing holding up the US side on this project remains the issues surrounding using Chinese steel, why are we not negotiating the use of Canadian steel with the stakeholders?  We need to advocate and negotiate for the use of Canadian steel in this project.  It would have a net benefit by putting our out of work steelworkers back on the job, and also creating value-added jobs for the US steelworkers.” 

 Steel production is processed on both sides of the Canada-US border providing work for both Canadians and Americans.

 NDP Deputy Leader and MP for Hamilton Centre, David Christopherson agreed with Masse saying, “This option to go with cheap Chinese steel is completely unacceptable.  We have hundreds of steel workers in Hamilton without work and we have the capacity to put them back to work on this proposed bridge; instead we’re outsourcing this to China,” he said.  “For a government claiming to work for ‘jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity,’ they certainly are not living up to those claims here.”

 Masse’s letter is attached.


 For further information:           Melanie Namespetra 613-996-1541


June 1, 2012

 Honourable Denis Lebel

Minister of Transport

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON     K1A 0A6


Dear Minister Lebel,

 I am writing today to express my concerns and opposition to your government using Chinese steel to build the new international bridge between Windsor and Detroit.   Specifically, I understand that this choice was made because it will ultimately be cheaper for the stakeholders involved than using our domestic companies and workers.  I disagree with the choice to use a “made-in-China” bridge and instead see great value from using local steel companies here in Canada.

 As you are aware, and as is stated in the article below from the Detroit News, the US federal government ensures that any federal projects are done using only domestically produced materials, when available, in their federal construction projects. This bridge is no exception and the choice by your government to use a Chinese steel company is currently the only hindrance to the successful approval of this project.

 Moreover, I understand that many of our Canadian steelworkers in Hamilton are not working right now because there is not enough demand for our steel.  Why, for a government that claims to be about “jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” would it not be a priority to put our Canadian workers and companies back to work first before choosing a cheaper, foreign alternative?

 Moreover, and as you may know, steel work if done by a company like US Steel, is shared work with the United States branches of those companies and could allow for quick final approval of the US side of the Windsor-Detroit bridge by the Obama Administration.  You would not only be creating employment for those Canadian steelworkers who are out of work to-date, but would also be creating value-added jobs for the US Steelworks and for our domestic companies.  

 Therefore, I am respectfully calling upon you to choose a Canadian company to build this bridge and put our workers back to work first and foremost.  Please start advocating for Canadians first and stop selling our country and jobs to the highest bidder.  This bridge should not be about “cheap” but about what is best for our country and citizens. Canadians do not want to see another “made-in-China” project overtake the work that they need and deserve.

 I do thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter.  I look forward to your positive response soon.

 Yours truly,

 (original signed by)

Brian Masse MP

Windsor West

 CC:       Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Attach. (1)

Snyder closes in on new bridge; deal bypasses state Legislature

Deal with Canada, U.S. would bypass Legislature; use of Chinese steel an issue

From The Detroit News:

Mackinac Island— After months of under-the-radar negotiations, just one obstacle remains to getting a new bridge across the Detroit River — the determination of the Canadians to use cheaper Chinese steel to build the span.

Top officials of the Snyder administration, on the island for the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual policy conference, told me a deal is nearly complete to construct the long anticipated bridge without direct approval of the state Legislature, and they expect to complete the details within a few weeks.

Resolving the Chinese steel issue, they say, is the final piece.

"This is going to get done, and quickly," said one of Gov. Rick Snyder's top lieutenants. "We're talking weeks, not months."

Canada is bankrolling Michigan's $550 million share of the $1.5 billion project and wants to keep costs as low as possible. Buying steel from China will trim tens of millions from the final tab.

But because the deal involves the U.S. government, there are requirements that only domestically produced materials, when available, be used in federal construction projects.

"It's a philosophical difference, but one we're confident we can move beyond," the Snyder staffer said.

Building the new Detroit River crossing — dubbed the New International Trade Crossing — is the major piece of the Snyder agenda that remains undone. Speculation about how the governor will get a bridge built was one of the hotter topics on Mackinac Island this week.

The governor originally sought approval of state lawmakers for a new crossing. But an all-out campaign by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun thwarted that effort.

Under this new approach, Canada, Michigan and the federal government will use something called an interlocal agreement to put the elements in place. Such an agreement allows government agencies to share their budgets to reach a common goal.

In this case, the goal is building a bridge. Michigan doesn't have the $550 million needed to connect the span to I-75, so Canada is fronting the money, which it will recover by claiming the state's share of bridge tolls. The $950 million required to erect the bridge will be put up by private investors, who will also be repaid with toll revenue. A binational authority will manage the project.

Although the U.S. government is not providing any money, Snyder hopes to use the construction of the bridge to leverage $2 billion in federal transportation funds to fix Michigan roads and bridges. That triggers the federal rules regarding the origin of construction materials.

"This is a sensitive issue for the Canadians," the Snyder staffer said. "They don't want to be seen paying more for a bridge because of U.S. dictates."

The last stage of the talks is focused on that issue. Sources say the rest of the agreement is written up and awaiting signatures.

Ground could break on the I-75 connector as soon as the pact is inked. The bridge is south of the Ambassador Bridge, in the Del Ray community of southwest Detroit.

Michigan's business leaders are pressing for a new crossing, believing it will increase trade and provide opportunities to create economic development around the logistics industry. Automakers are particularly eager for a second span that will reduce backups and cut shipping time between their plants in the United States and Canada.

The project is expected to create 10,000 jobs, more than enough to fully employ all of the jobless construction workers in Michigan and Ontario.

Moroun has successfully blocked legislative approval of the bridge, fearing the competition will put the financial footing of his Ambassador Bridge at risk. The billionaire is funding a ballot proposal for the fall election that would block a new bridge without voter approval. That's one reason why Snyder wants to get the deal done quickly, and ground broken on the project.

"This bridge is going to get built," a Snyder administration source said. "We are confident we can work past the remaining issues."