Ontario mayors, auto dealers call for federal help
Published Friday, November 21, 2008 7:49PM EST
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 9:35PM EDT
A group of Ontario mayors as well as the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association added their names to a growing list of those pressuring Ottawa to move quickly to help the auto industry or risk a nationwide crisis.
Twenty-two mayors, including those from Oshawa and Windsor, where the auto sector is a major employer, met Friday to discuss the auto crisis and pledged to fight to save the industry.
The mayors made it clear they thought the collapse of the auto industry would devastate local economies.
"We're talking about the impact on our communities, the impact on the front lines -- the mom and pop that run the coffee shop, the doughnut shop, the mother and father that own the restaurant that services that local community," Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis told The Canadian Press.
"That results in really significant, significant challenges for communities, regardless of your size and regardless of your location."
Analysts have said every auto job supports seven spinoff jobs.
Rather than wait for the U.S. to make a decision on whether or not to bailout the auto industry, the mayors called for an immediate "made in Canada solution" to the crisis.
Liberal leadership hopeful Bob Rae also urged the Conservatives to take action.
In a Friday speech Rae said Ottawa should pressure Washington and the industry in return must promise to become competitive and sustainable.
Additionally, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association is asking for assistance for the beleangured industry.
CADA President and CEO Richard Gauthier, representing the country's 3,500 car dealers, spoke to reporters on Parliament Hill Friday and said an aggressive federal policy is desperately needed.
"The Canadian public and policymakers need to understand that the auto industry is really the engine of the entire country's economy and not just a single province," Gauthier said.
"As the largest contributor to Canada's manufacturing Gross Domestic Product and responsible for one in seven jobs nationwide, the auto industry is crucial for our economic structure."
He said the current automotive manufacturing downturn will have a ripple effect in every community across Canada.
"The cold reality facing decision makers today is that if Canadian-based manufacturers are not provided a bridge across the current economic crisis, then Canada's 3,500 small business dealers, located in every community in the country, will bear the brunt of the downturn," he said.
"...As economic cornerstones of almost every community in Canada, the pain of auto dealers will be felt on main streets and other small businesses from coast to coast."
CADA wants Ottawa to consider measures to increase liquidity in the automotive sector.
In the U.S., the Detroit Three -- Ford, Chrysler and General Motors -- are currently seeking $25 billion from Congress to prevent their collapse.
On Thursday, Industry Minister Tony Clement and Ontario Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant were in Washington meeting with top-level officials to discuss the best deal with the crisis.
Francis said the mayors are looking towards the federal and provincial levels of government to continue to be active in the auto bailout discussions south of the border.
"We want to see a co-ordinated effort where our federal and provincial government are in the game... so as to avoid a one-sided deal which could mean a loss of Canadian jobs and investment," Francis told CTV's Canada AM Friday.
In Stratford, Ont., a community of 32,000, there are as many as 4,000 jobs that are directly and indirectly related to the auto industry.
Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson says the impact from a loss of auto jobs would have a "dismal impact" on the community.
In the past, Mathieson said the government has just handed over money to the auto industry without forcing companies to make products in demand.
"Now's the opportunity for the federal and provincial government to set the agenda for the auto workers, to work with the car companies to lay out how we're going to go forward," he told CTV's Canada AM on Friday.
"This opportunity, if missed, the social impact costs of people being unemployed in significant numbers are going to spiral the economy of Ontario further down."