QUESTION PERIOD: MASSE DEMANDS ACTION FROM INDUSTRY MINISTER CLEMENT ON AUTO INDUSTRY

HANSARD – November 26, 2008

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, earlier today, Magna Auto Parts announced it is closing two more plants, so 850 more people will be fired in the auto industry.

Yesterday the Conference Board forecast 15,000 more auto jobs will be lost in the next year. That is 100,000 more jobs that will disappear across Canada.

Already EI claims have risen by 30% in Windsor and 96% in Oshawa. Workers all across southern Ontario are worried about providing for their families, keeping their homes and securing their retirement.

How many more jobs will have to be lost before the minister gets the message? He has to show leadership and he has to show it right now.

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I was made aware of this decision just before question period. Of course I am saddened by the decision, which affects many lives and families in the Newmarket--Aurora area and indeed throughout the GTA.

Obviously we will be there with all the support programs that one would expect from the Government of Canada.

However, we are here to look after the long term sustainability of an industry as well, which includes the parts industry, about which we are engaged with the auto sector, about which we are engaged with the government of Ontario and having regard to the situation in Washington as well.

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): What is sad, Mr. Speaker, is when we compare what is happened in Canada to what is happening in the United States.

Earlier this year the U.S. government already allocated $25 billion to transform their auto industry to build the new, green fuel efficient vehicles of the future. They are fighting for the jobs of the future while the government is doing nothing. No wonder nobody wants to meet with this minister in Washington.

Will the minister at least come to Windsor tomorrow to meet with the leaders from industry, unions, suppliers and municipalities to explain what the government will do? Will he at least show his face to the workers, the families and the businesses that are on the brink of losing everything?

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC): Mr. Speaker, these kinds of issues affect everybody throughout the country. It affects my riding as much as the hon. Member's riding perhaps, or at least in the same industry.

We have been active. The hon. Member should know that we created an auto innovation fund, which we have agreed in our platform, in our throne speech to continue to improve and augment as well.

We are there for auto innovation. We are there for making sure that the cars of the future are built, in part at least, in Canada
The fact of the matter is we want long term solutions and that is exactly what Barrack Obama is saying and what Dalton McGuinty is saying.