Tom Mulcair, the leader of the federal NDP and Official Opposition, says the Canadian government needs to partner with automaker Chrysler and other private businesses as a way to create and save jobs.
Chrysler said in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit it would need government assistance in order to retool its Canadian facilities, including the Windsor Assembly Plant.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak accused Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne of asking for “a ransom.” Marchionne then said the issue had become “a political football.”
Earlier this month, Chrysler said in a media release it will "fund out of its own resources whatever capital requirements the Canadian operations require."
Mulcair said on Thursday government assistance “was the right approach.”
"It's what we would do," Mulcair said.
“Manufacturing has always been the source of good jobs. We’ve lost hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs,” Mulcair told Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette. “You have to work with those large industries because there is so much spin-off, it winds up helping the rest of the economy. We have to believe the government has a role in that.”
Some, including Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis, claim every job in the auto industry supports nine others. Auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers says one auto job supports six others.
“If you don’t play ball, the whole factory is going to wind up in North Carolina. That’s the world we live in,” Mulcair said. “I’ve seen too many cases where lots of jobs have simply been shipped out overnight.”
Recently in southern Ontario, Heinz announced it would close its Leamington plant; Kellogg announced the closure of its London facility; and Caterpillar closed its Electro-Motive plant in London, moving it to Indiana.
“The Americans are pulling hard to draw some of the manufacturing down to states that have fewer rights for workers,” Mulcair said. “Overall, the government has to understand that if we leave everything to the private marketplace, choices will be taken that go against working families in Canada.
“That doesn’t mean government should take over industry, but it can accompany industry and work with it and put [certain] conditions in place.”