NAIAS 2016: Economic development minister calls for more government action in auto industry

Canada’s federal minister responsible for the auto industry is calling for an increased government role to bring in additional automotive investment.

'We need to do more' for Canadian automotive investment, Navdeep Bains says at Detroit auto show

Navdeep Bains, the economic development minister says the federal government wants to make a 'one stop shop' for automakers. (Aadel Haleem / CBC)

Canada's federal minister responsible for the auto industry is calling for an increased government role to bring in additional automotive investment.

Navdeep Bains, the federal economic development minister, was in Detroit Tuesday to visit the North American International Auto Show.

"I think there's a clear understanding that we need to do more," Bains told CBC News. "We need to work collectively."

Bains said he's spoken with industry officials in Ontario, where there are eight automotive assembly plants, including one in Windsor.

"There's a lot of reset that's happening with a lot of these relationships," Bains said. "There's an understanding that the federal government is going to be an important partner going forward in terms of the right investments taking place in Canada."

"So far, the response has been very positive," he said.

As to the low Canadian dollar, Bains said it was more important to develop concrete strategies for developing investment than relying on the fluctuating currency.  

Speaking to reporters at the auto show on Monday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said that competitiveness is the ultimate driver of whether Canada will keep playing a role in the auto industry.

"It's a very simple issue," Marchionne said. "I've said it before and I'll say it now -- the only standard that's going to govern investment in Ontario and Canada on the automotive side is the competitiveness of the environment."     

Bains said he's heard those concerns and wants to create a "one-stop shop" for automakers.

"We've heard them loud and clear," he said. "It's something that I think is doable because Canada is speaking with one voice ... We're sending a very important message, we're going to work in a collaborative fashion."  

Sergio Marchionne speaks with reporters at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

With files from Aadel Haleem


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