Monday, July 11, 2011
When I spoke to Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli last week about Siemens' complaint over the province's Canadian content requirement, he was unequivocal: The 25 per cent rule will apply to any and all companies bidding on Ottawa's LRT project, and it will not change. Period.
So I was a bit surprised to see this article in the Ottawa Business Journal today. This afternoon I went back to Chiarelli for an explanation, and here's what he told me:
"I wish to confirm that what I communicated to you and what I reported is what our position is. What I did say to the Ottawa Business Journal was that we'd received input of concern from Siemens in particular and one or two others, and I also indicated that our rule was 25 per cent Canadian content for the rolling stock, and that didn't change. I think where there might be some divergence in interpretation is that when somebody like Siemens...wants to make a representation to us we receive it, we receive their concern...They deserve the courtesy to be listened to...But we have a fixed rule which is a fair rule, as I've pointed out 25 per cent content compared to 60 per cent in the US and higher percentages in other jurisdictions. So we're going to protect Ontario jobs. [That rule] absolutely will not change."
Although the OBJ article appeared this morning, Chiarelli says he gave the interview before he spoke with me. The "divergence of interpretation" seems extreme. I can only tell you what the minister's saying today.