It’s now official – Canada will be adding about C$4 billion to the American auto sector bailout package, and it sounds like it bails out two of the “big three” manufacturers in Ontario. And that’s all well and good, right?
Well, not so fast. The Liberal finance advisor, John McCallum, says that we really haven’t been given any details about this bailout. What are the conditions attached? It’s worth twenty percent of the American bailout package – does it mean that we’re being guaranteed twenty percent of the production and industry jobs? What kind of restructuring targets does it mandate? If these companies fail to live up to the yet-unnamed conditions, does that mean that the government recalls the money and still lets those jobs vanish? We simply don’t know.
I think it’s also telling that this government has had little-to-no coordination with the Americans on this particular deal. When Industry Minister Tony Clement went to Washington DC, shortly after his appointment to the position, word was that he couldn’t get meetings with any of the big players in town. That doesn’t exactly bode well for the nature of our bailout, the future of the Canadian portion of the auto sector (especially when we’re facing a Democratic congress that is likely to be fairly protectionist), or to know any of the attached terms or conditions.
I seem to recall there being all kinds of talk about “open,” “transparent” and “accountable” government. Funny how this is one more incident that seems to make that promise all for naught.