Eli Ridder | Report
Unifor President Jerry Dias, who represents thousands of Canadian autoworkers, wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to join U.S. President Donald Trump in his offensive against General Motors.
As he arrived at the Canadian embassy in Washington, Mr. Dias also urged both countries to hold off on ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, known as USMCA, and force a 40 per cent tariff on GM.
General Motors announced earlier this week that it plans to cut over 14,000 jobs that includes shutting down the Oshawa plant and four additional facilities in the United States for the sake of $6 billion in savings by 2020.
“The ink isn’t even dry and you have General Motors completely violating what it is we are trying to accomplish,” Dias said, according to reports, saying that Ottawa and Washington should put the onus on GM.
I think both Canada and the U.S. should be saying to General Motors, ‘Listen, you are holding up the signing of this deal, this weight is on your shoulders. You’re the one that’s holding all this up.”‘
The Toronto Star’s editorial board on Tuesday questioned whether it was “time for Justin Trudeau to discover his inner Trump”, writing that, like in the U.S., GM owes Canada more than just packing up for Mexico or China.
Trump has been blasting General Motors, pointing out that U.S. taxpayers have helped the auto company through difficult economic times on several occasions.
The U.S. president was elected by a base made up in large part by blue collar workers from states in the Midwest with a promise to bring back manufacturing employment to the dwindling sector.
Unemployment in the U.S. hit record lows during 2018, and sits currently around 3.7 per cent, an 18-year-low, however, the low’s have been attributed to Americans dropping out of the workforce, as Quartz reports.
The USMCA was set to be signed when leaders of world economic powerhouses gather in Argentina’s Buenos Aires on Friday, and despite the tariff threats from Trump, expected to move ahead.
Fight for the future: The Star
The Canadian government gave a $10.8 billion bailout to General Motors and Chrysler, and came up short $3.7 billion on the deal, according to the Toronto Star.
The Star’s Editorial Board acknowledges that General Motors does not have any legal obligation to keep the plant in Oshawa going, and has a right to make its own business decisions.
GM is moving into the future, with plans for electric cars and self-driving vehicles, but the Star notes that the auto industry is “highly political” and pressure from Trudeau’s government could keep the gates open.
“There’s no reason for either Ottawa or Ontario to try and change GM’s mind with government cash,” the Star notes, pointing out that it made some $6 billion so far this year alone, “and it isn’t asking for subsidies.”
The editorial points out that if GM can produce sedans and the profitable light trucks in Oshawa, there is no reason that it could not continue with with the vehicles of the future.
“GM has already recognized that this region has the talent and business environment for that kind of research,” the Star explains, pointing out that GM Canada has hired hundreds for its Markham self-driving tech centre.
The Greater Toronto Area and tri-cities were considered for the Amazon headquarters at one point earlier this year, and Waterloo is considered a Canadian silicon valley.
The Star makes the point that the GTA has the human resources that will be needed for green and autonomous vehicles, everything from general labour to technical engineers.
“Ontario has those people, and Trudeau, Ford & Co. should lean heavily on the company to make sure this province gets a sizable chunk of that action,” the board wrote on Tuesday.
“That will take persistent, determined and sometimes loud advocacy”, with “no guarantees of success”, the Star wrote, saying that surrendering now is a guarantee of failure.
“The workers of Oshawa, and the Canadian taxpayers who supported GM through tough times, deserve better.”
Image of General Motors logo from previous files.