Jaguar didn't bite despite discussions with City of Windsor

After serious talks, there is nothing more Windsor could have done to convince Jaguar to open a new assembly plant in the city, says Mayor Drew Dilkens.

After serious talks, there was nothing more Windsor could have done to convince Jaguar to open a new assembly plant in the city, Mayor Drew Dilkens said. 

The car maker looked at the area around the Windsor airport and discussed numbers with the city, said Dilkens.

The mayor had a debrief phone call with Jaguar executives to ask what Windsor could have done differently to make the investment happen. 

"The answer was, 'Nothing. You did everything you could do and everything that would be expected of a municipality to attract this type of investment,'" said Dilkens. "So it wasn't Windsor, it wasn't Essex, it wasn't our region, but there were other factors that were at play beyond our control that put us at a competitive disadvantage." 

Windsor is competing with low cost production areas such as Mexico and Eastern European countries like Romania, that have seen a lot of investment lately. 

"When you factor all of the things that an automotive manufacturer would look at in terms of cost drivers, there are reasons that this province and to some extent the county isn't competitive," said Dilkens. "I think being on the other end of the debrief phone call and listening to some of those things, it really highlighted the fact that we have to really get a plan and have a strategy, an automotive strategy." 

Dilkens said both provincial and federal governments stepped up to the plate and made commitments to be at the table for the conversation. 

Unifor weighs in 

Jerry Dias, Unifor president, agrees the decision for Jaguar to bypass Canada shows the country needs an auto policy. 

"We need to get in the game. We need to have an auto strategy and clearly nobody is listening," said Dias. 

He said the last 12 big auto investments have gone to Mexico. The problem is that other countries are offering companies large sums of money to invest there, while Canada offers loans instead, said Dias. 

"We're never going to be able to put our young skilled people to work if we can't attract the investment in the first place," said Dias. "We're just offering nickles and dimes and other countries are offering significantly more." 

Dias said the union did not get involved in negotiations. 

"We were aware the conversations were going on, but we have not been a part of any discussions with Jaguar," said Diaz. "Jaguar would've set up a non-union facility here in Canada, so certainly nobody can be pointing the fingers and saying the big, bad union is what scared them away, because we weren't involved with the discussions at all."