By on April 19, 2012

“Community” is a nebulous buzzword here in liberal Canuckistan, with the term moving from a synonym for neighborhood, to describing everything from ethnic groups targeted by vote-hungry political parties, to an exercise in social engineering by Ivory Tower types, eager to ram pseudo-progressive initiatives through various legislative and judicial avenues. No wonder the CAW’s new “National Auto Policy”, full of old-school labor/social democrat policies, is being branded with the slogan “It’s About The Community”. Huh?

Among the “community” focused suggestions made by the CAW are

  1. -Devaluing the Canadian dollar
  2. -Government equity stakes in OEMs (ala Volkswagen and German’s Lower Saxony, which holds a 20 percent stake)
  3. -Creating a Canadian OEM for vehicles (one suggestion would be to enter into a Chinese style joint venture agreement)
  4. -Building “green cars” here, along with incentives like a Cash For Clunkers program so motorists trade their used cars in for said vehicles
  5. -Suspending free trade talks with South Korea, Japan, the EU and Thailand until “one way trade” imbalances are addressed. The usual canard of Japan being a “closed market” is brought up just for good measure.

An abridged copy is available here, while the full report, if you can stomach it, is here. Some of the suggestions, like hiring more apprentices for skilled trades, aren’t so bad (Canada has a massive shortage of skilled trades workers and a generation of young people that aren’t prejudiced against taking up a trade as a career). It’s true that our living costs are higher (to the order of nearly 25 percent) and Made in Canada cars are inexplicably more expensive than they are in the United States.

Much of the report seems to concern the standard tropes of the CAW. Government intervention is the only savior, hostile to the free market and free trade and the greedy automakers. The Globe and Mail, Canada’s paper of record, dubbed the CAW’s ideas as “retrograde” and noted that the NDP, once a social democratic party beloved by unions and granola types, is moving towards the center and leaving these sorts of policies behind. The new face of NDP won’t jibe with protectionist, anti-corporate, anti-market philosophies that are anathema to most Canadians, save for the UAW and some fringe elements, despite our country’s reputation as uber-leftists.

We’ll be paying attention to the CAW’s machinations, but don’t be surprised if this gets next to no traction, given the political factors, and the big question on everyone’s mind; when is the Canadian housing bubble going to burst?

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50 Comments on “Canadian Auto Workers Union Calls For “National Auto Policy” With Free-Trade Barriers, Government Intervention...”

  • avatar

    So let’s print more money to devalue the dollar, which will only cause higher interest rates so that no one can afford to buy cars? This sounds like an awesome idea…

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    My understanding is that Canada is basically a resource economy which has a net positive trade balance with the world (which is why its currency is appreciating). Most resource-economy countries, including Australia, Russia, Norway, some South American countries, and, of course, the petro-states of the Middle East have done very well in the last/current recession because commodities generally have been in high demand, especially from China.

    For a resource economy to start erecting trade barriers would not seem like a good idea. For the same reason, “farm states” in the U.S. have always been big supporters of free trade — because they understand that their prosperity depends upon access to big export markets.

    So, these policies, if enacted, would likely benefit the minority at the expense of the majority of Canadians.

    • 0 avatar

      @DC Bruce –
      You are correct, but there are also significant regional differences. Here in the resource rich west, the economy is booming. Densely populated central Canada is largely dependent on manufacturing, and hasn’t recovered as quickly after the last recession.

      • 0 avatar

        Yup, the latest census data backs that up. Ontario, usually the economic powerhouse of Canada, is facing some US rustbelt-style prospects. Oddly enough, Quebec, which had a smaller, but similar, manufacturing base has managed to remain on an even keel. Maybe Quebec did a better job of pursuing “new economy” jobs? I know that pharma and software development are big draws in Montreal. Ontario has continued to pour money into old economy manufacturing jobs, and then had the gaul to act shocked when those jobs left a few years later.

    • 0 avatar

      Wrong, wrong AND wrong. There are 4 Canada’s: English/French (and the rest, but that is another story), plus Ontario and the Rest of Canada (ROC). Ontario is like California, only without a New York to balance things out. We build as many cars as Michigan (more, most years, in fact), but have lost 100,000 auto parts jobs since 2001. Ontario has a huge resource economy (nickel, steel, pulp & paper, etc) but having an energy rich distant cousin (Alberta) and an energy hungry neighbor (U.S.) does not help the 35% of the population that lives in one Province, Ontario.
      Although Canada does have a huge trade surplus with the Excited States, our CURRENT ACCOUNT DEFICIT is huge, and growing bigger. One conspicuous number that stands out is our growing trade deficit with Korea. It’s only a matter of time before Hyundai rivals GM and Ford for sales in Canada and since they contribute NOTHING to the Canadian economy, that is troubling.
      Under the old Auto Pact, Toyota and Honda were coerced into building a few assembly plants here to keep Ontario happy, and with the $C traditionally being 1/3 lower than the U.S dollar, that made it attractive enough anyway. Under NAFTA, Korea Inc., feels no such pressure and is free to sell as many autos as they want here.
      I am no union supporter, but I do see globalization as a crock and NAFTA was working okay until the so-called ‘right to work’ States reinvented indentured slavery.
      If Americans want to work for $10 an hour and live in tar paper shacks that get swept away every Spring in tornado alley, that is up to them. Up here in the hinterland, a couple degrees C colder every year costs money to keep warm in. Canadians little understand this fact, so I’d hardly expect our American cousins to.

  • avatar

    Be it left, or right, or far/loony, left our governments are riddled with graft and greed. Kick backs, out of control expenses,neptosism,empire building, out right thievery, cover the entire political spectrum.

    The CAW “leaders” fall into that “loony” left slot, and are no different,they are just more “in your face”

    FYI… On paper, the CAW and the NDP divorced a while ago. Local 222’s members spoke and voted loud, and clear. “We do not want our union dues to support the NDP”

    However like many other seperated folks, they stil sleep together.

    What they are really good at doing, is making a whole lot of noise.

    The good news…..nobody listens.

    • 0 avatar

      On the bright side, Federally Canada has done a really admirable job of removing big union/corporate donations and support money from the political system. We have been really aggressive about this in the last 8 years or so.

  • avatar

    @Derek……I agree with you, concerning that “housing bubble”. If only I could convince my university educated,adult children. Canadians never learned anything from our southern neighbors. Using your house as an ATM, and carrying 400 to 500K morgages, is like walking on spring ice. The ice/interest rate goes for a $hit, and you are under water.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s unfortunate, but honestly, if there isn’t a serious correction, I will never be able to afford any kind of decent housing for quite a while.

      In my own totally uneducated opinion, I think single family homes in urban Toronto and Vancouver won’t get hit so hard, but the condo market there (especially Toronto) could reach South Florida-like levels, where there are unfinished units sitting there like an eyesore. But hey, that just means I can look at buying something better than a 400 square foot studio.

      • 0 avatar

        Move to Saskatchewan!

      • 0 avatar

        I think condos will get hit hard in areas where they are overbuilt, which is many urban areas in Canada. While single family homes in desirable areas might hold their value a bit better, they are ripe for a correction as well. Over time, I expect Price / Income and Price / Rent to return to their historical levels – regression to the mean is a powerful force.

        When this will happen is anybody’s guess. Carney seems to be (rightfully) worried about excessive consumer debt, and keeps hinting at interest rate increases, which may start to deflate the bubble.

        Hopefully we see a gradual melt followed by stagnant prices for several years while prices slowly return to normal. Worst case is something spooks the herd and everyone bolts for the exits at the same time…

      • 0 avatar

        Had a family member just sell a crappy old single family home under the Vancouver SkyTrain, on a busy road, and next to a fire station and got enough proceeds to join the rest of his fellow retiree Canadians in Costa Rica. Prices are nuts. Every time I drive up to Vancouver, I see nonstop burb construction in Surrey and White Rock (right across the border) with postage stamp lots with a hour-plus commute into the city.

      • 0 avatar

        … and yet entire projects sell out in a matter of weeks. As long as the ‘Canada as Safe Haven’ myth is kept going, the ponzi scheme that has become Toronto and Vancouver housing will continue.
        I have worked in 3 projects where 80% of the units were sold to CREPSO (Chinese Real Estate Professionals of Ontario.) We literally turned (no way to sugar coat this) white folks away at the door……
        How many units are sitting empty, I don’t know; however, the banks insists on 70% sold units before they’ll advance one dime and builders that I am aware of require 15% within 120 days of signing, so the bubble when it bursts will likely only hurt a few ‘new Canadians’ who got too greedy. I’m not going to lose any sleep over that.

    • 0 avatar
      dash riprock

      Mikey….as someone in the financial industry I can tell you it is very rare that a clients financial woes are tied to the size of the mortgage. Most often it is accumulated consumer debt and the biggest culprit are vehicle payments. You are right that banks have pushed home equity lines of credit very hard to the public, and they have proven to be very harmful to a lot of people

      • 0 avatar

        What financial woes? Most Canadians have no idea what a financial woe is. Yet. They’re too comfortable hiding their heads under the security blanket of a 3% mortgage rate, and the unshakable belief that they can’t go wrong with real estate.

        As for blaming vehicles for high debt, I dunno. Most Canadians realize that cars depreciate, and must therefore be paid off. The more insidious purchase IMO is the extravagant kitchen renovation or hot tub that gets put on an interest-only line of credit because it is perceived as an “investment” that will somehow pay for itself in the future.

      • 0 avatar

        … and some banks are willing to make loans on claimed Canadian income, based on nationality. No T4? No problem, put a little more money down and we’ll give you the loan because we know you’re good for it: your people pay their bills on time and we know you never pay taxes.
        [rolls eyes] The countries they come from are basket cases because they don’t respect the rules or the laws, yet they come here and behave the same way. Third World, step aside, Canada is coming.

    • 0 avatar

      I think that the huge mortgages that young people (twentysomethings) are taking/taken out over the past 5 to 7 years and continuing, for mostly old houses (purchased from retirees) will be judged by history as the largest inter-generational transfer (theft?) of wealth of all time (in Canadian history). In Edmonton, 2006-7 was the top. Bidding wars, etc.

      Read Garth Turner’s blog for more info. My generation is getting set to dote on the coming wave of complaining pensioners, with a relative shortage of things like doctors and welders and machinists (but not lawyers), while the formerly third world rises. It’s already happening. Read about the Toronto suburb house that sold for $1.2 million-something ($400k over asking price), to a Chinese university student. Great.

      I remember my dad always saying that us, his kids, will be the first generation to suffer a declining standard of living compared with their parents. I’m starting to feel it already.

  • avatar

    Hmmm…I’m not so sure. Everyone is talking about the Canadian housing bubble these days, but really, to compare the situation here to what went on in the US with all the crazy loose lending and marketing of bizarre mortgage-backed derivatives that no one understood – that is just not happening here, and never has been. There are “bubbles” that result in market corrections, and “bubbles” that bring down major financial institutions and mess up the whole economy.

    There is a reason that the Canadian financial system withstood the global meltdown essentially unscathed, and without requiring any goverment bailouts. It’s called “regulation”…as opposed to letting the free-market capitalists treat the financial system like their own personal playpen, with no limits on their exposure, consequences for the broader economy be damned.

    Not to sound too nationalistic about this, but I’m not sure it is Canada that should be “learning a lesson” from the US on this issue. Yes, household debt is at record highs here and that is not good…and the Canadian government is looking at taking appropriate (…wait for it….) “regulatory steps”. They’ll tighten lending rules some and jack up interest rates a smidge to cool things off. It’ll cost me another thousand or two to service my mortgage, and I’ll lose some paper equity when prices drop a little. But I won’t be under water, because my highly regulated financial institution was never in a legal position to offer me a mortgage I couldn’t handle in the first place.

    I really feel like my country got this one right, even if we all sort of hated the oligopily-like Canadian banking system prior to the meltdown!

    • 0 avatar


      With the taxpayers funded CMHC taking all the risk, the banks seem pretty keen to lend money to folks that may have trouble paying it back when interest rates return to normal. Carney thinks excessive consumer debt is the number one risk to the economy right now.

      It may be different here, but it’s not *that* different…

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        CMHC’s appetite for risk has been muted for a few years now, and very muted for the past 6-9 months. Very much more cautious in stated income applications(in canada the default rates on these are not horrible like the US) and valuations. If you look at CMHC’s quarterly report, you may be surprised to learn that there is a very small non-performing loan portfolio. A lot of CMHC’s insursance is on pproperties with loan to value less than 80%…so there is risk but no where close to what Fannie/freddie took on in the US

    • 0 avatar

      The USA banks unregulated compared to Canada? Really?

      Where is Canada’s Fannie/Freddie/HUD/FHA/VA/Redlining Regs/Fair Housing Regs/Affordable Housing Regs.

      Where are Canada’s no documents, no money down, 105% loan to value mortgages with government backing and encouragement?

      American’s don’t care if the bank’s gamble with their deposits because the FDIC guarantees the money.

      Name just one significant Canadian bank regulation that is more than the USA. The Canadian banks are now buying up all the US Banks, so there is no Canadian prohibition to go overseas either.

      In the 1930’s depression Canada also had no significant bank failures. Back then the USA prohibited branch banking. Canada did not which enabled Canadian banks to spread the risk nationwide. In the USA, if a local factory closed, everyone lost their jobs, which caused the local banks which held only local money to also fail. So people would lose everything. No FDIC then.

      They formed the US Federal Reserve to stabilize the banking system. This was followed a decade later by massive bank failures; the most ever. So it obviously did not work, but they still have it 80 years later. The 1980s had the S&L meltdown; the 1990s Commercial banks crashed; and now the mortgage lenders. Hello ????

      The USA also has credit unions which are like local saving and loan banks. Compared with banks, they are almost unregulated. There has never been a credit union crisis.

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        Individual Canadians are more risk adverse than americans….generally. This helps to explain the limited effect on the economy compared to the us. The Canadian banking system is a lot more concentrated with the “big 6” controlling the majority of the business. They have always operated in a manner that would almost suggest collusion. They have actually gone to the Federal government asking for tighter mortgage regulations that would diminish competition for other mortgage lenders. They however want the governmment to stay the heck away from their credit card/auto loans/personal loans/lines of credit. Apparently Canadians are better off carrying debt n a RBC credit card at 19.9% then a mortgage at 3.09%

      • 0 avatar


        “Where are Canada’s no documents, no money down, 105% loan to value mortgages with government backing and encouragement?”

        That’s exactly my point. We don’t have those types of loans, nor do we have a bunch of securities traders doing nothing but inventing and selling complicated derivatives and insurance instruments based on compilations of those types of loans. The lending standards we have in place have so far prevented that type of house of cards from being erected. I hope it stays that way but I must admit I am a bit spooked by the increasing trend for Canadian financial institutions to go south to play in the big sandbox. I don’t know enough about it to understand how much risk that is exposing the Canadian system to.

      • 0 avatar

        @YellowDuck –
        “”There’s a perception that Canada avoided the subprime mortgage crisis because we’re conservative and we have a good system,” CIBC economist Benjamin Tal says. “But it’s not really the case.””


    • 0 avatar

      @dash riprock:

      No, the CMHC IS gobbling up all kinds of risk. Scotiabank recently filed for something like $16 billion worth of “portfolio insurance”… eating up a sizeable chunk of the CMHC’s maximum allowed $600-something billion, which spurred the debate about raising the CMHC’s cap.

      BTW, you can still get a 30-year, no money down, mortgage. No problem. They’re called “cash-back” mortgages. Fully backed by your friendly CMHC.

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        yes you can get a $0 down mortgage where the bank “gifts” you the 5% minimum down payment. You pay posted rate as opposed to best rate. So, instead of a five year @3.19%, you pay 5.44%. These same banks lobbied the feds to get the zero down mortgage eliminated then quickly promoted the cash back, nice huh.
        My point still stands, CMHC portfolio is pretty good. Scotia, or other lenders will pay for the CMHC insurance to get a better return when they securitize the mortgages, it does not=greater risk.
        ps Garth in the past went around Canada telling us we should take the equity out of our homes and buy stock….your hero has a few warts on him

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Claw

      I would agree with the general thrust of this statement, minus my minor quibble: “free-market” w/r/t American capitalism is a real misnomer. America often engages in crony capitalism, and the “free market” is often not allowed to exist (or dictate the rise or fall of business). Thus we have a lot of legislation sold to laymen as “consumer protection” measures, which actually serves to protect big business at the EXPENSE of the consumer. See: The Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act.

  • avatar
    M.S. Smith

    Hey look another union hit-piece on TTAC.

    Keep this up and maybe we can turn it in to a drinking game.

    • 0 avatar
      dash riprock

      I can see why you may view this as an union hit piece, I guess. But when a union suggests massive changes to a country’s economic policy to directly benefit a single(mostly)industry centered in a small geographic area, then critical thoughts are needed.Especially when it is demanding pain from so many other non CAW Canadians.

      While I beleive the CAW is in better shape than the UAW, this plan does speak to their growing desperation. Once they were able to control their destinies through hardball negotiations with an oligopoly that controlled a healthly portion of the industry, now the consumer is in a stronger place with the choices in the market. The CAW response is to legislate Canadians to buy the vehicles they produce.

      • 0 avatar
        M.S. Smith

        Of course it’s a union hit piece.

        “An abridged copy is available here, while the full report, if you can stomach it, is here.”

        If you can stomach it? Really?

        One major problem with TTAC right now is that it insists on using the same style no matter what the content. Look, ranting is great when you’re talking about car reviews or the death of this or that auto maker. But it starts to make the publication look a bit daft when the same style is applied to news. Which what this post is categorized under.

        It’s not just union news that suffers from this. I’m just getting tired of TTAC for news, period. If this site wants to do news it should do news properly. Though I’d prefer if it just got out of that game entirely and stuck to reviews, columns and editorials.

      • 0 avatar

        “One major problem with TTAC right now is that it insists on using the same style no matter what the content”

        I’d agree.

        One of the post-Farago changes to TTAC that I’ve never been a fan of is the mixing of editorial and news content. Mind you, it’s also par for the course in many other news sources and just about every blog, but the editorializing of content here is troublesome at times (even when I agree with it).

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        point taken M.S.

    • 0 avatar

      There are few who enjoy reading 50 page economic reports of any topic, which was the editorial comment intended.

  • avatar

    Gee, the CAW looks a bit like national socialism, don’t your think? That didn’t seem to work very well in Nazi Germany either, did it?

    Aren’t economies supposed to go up and down to reflect the realities of market conditions and capital transfers? If you force-stailize them (e.g, Soviet Union), then you eventually go broke without anyone knowing until its too late. And then you get the BIG COLLAPSE, from which there is no recovery.

    Maybe somebody in Canada should read some Austrian-school economics once in a while…

    • 0 avatar

      “Gee, the CAW looks a bit like national socialism, don’t your think? That didn’t seem to work very well in Nazi Germany either, did it?”

      It looks like every protest movement, including the likes of those precipitated by notorious tyrants like Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Ghandi.

      “Maybe somebody in Canada should read some Austrian-school economics once in a while…”

      No, they shouldn’t. Really, they really shouldn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        “It looks like every protest movement, including the likes of those precipitated by notorious tyrants like Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Ghandi”.

        Wow just wow…..mahatma ghandi and the CAW. The CAW is trying to get others to pay for their lifestyle, pure and simple. They may try and fancy it up with talk of social justice, but in the end, it is all about their pay and benefits. I think that ghandi and mandela had more alturistic aims….

      • 0 avatar

        I’m actually making the opposite of that point. The above posted was relating a bunch of union guys parading down the street with the Sturmabteilung because both used flags and banners when marching.

        That’s like saying “Hitler was a vegetarian, and Hitler was a Nazi, therefore all vegetarians are Nazis”

        The point was that anyone can march and hold a flag and carry a banner. It doesn’t mean they’re a Nazi, unless you happen to think that, eg, Ghandi was one, too.

      • 0 avatar

        The Nazis wore brown shirts; so do UPS couriers.

        Therefore UPS must be a fascist movement of some kind.

  • avatar

    The CAW is about as relevant here in Canada as the UAW is in the US. Which is to say, not much. Although they do make a lot of noise, as someone pointed out above nobody really listens to them any more – having seen the results of them getting their way for 60 years. If we are to take financial advice from overpayed highschool dropouts, then shame on us.

    Fortunately, we won’t.

    • 0 avatar

      So uaw or caw members are overpaid highschool dropouts huh???? 1st off whats wrond with a person making a fair decent livible wage??? Haveyou ever worked in a auto factory or assembly plant??? probally not, I do, first off you ahve to have diaploma or ged, sencond allot of the people have type college degree or training for thier jobs. I work at one, been there over 12 years, there are no cake jobs, in the summer time temps reach 110-125 degrees, every thing is fast paced the only time you have a chance to sit down is on your breaks of lunches, and I bet you heard all kinds of storys about the easy jobs and workers getting payed to do nothing. Guess what they are all myths. I put exhaust manifolds on, Ihave to put 6 on a minute sometimes 5 depending where production is. I bet you couldnt even do that. However I bet you wouldnt turn down a UAW job, if you do you are probally lazy

  • avatar

    I’ll be the first to admit that I vote for the other end of the political spectrum, but there are ‘rational’ reasons why the left looks so loony in Canada. A lot of it has to do with how the collective bargaining process works. Mediation tends to split things evenly, so its within the ‘best’ interest of all sides to demand the sun moon and stars regardless of rationality. Also, governments at the provincial and federal level are very willing to use back to work legislation, which is a further incentive for unions to demand as much as possible and to cause as much disruption before the game gets shut down and the cycle resets itself.

  • avatar

    Most of Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” products are made in Canada.

    Ditto for Camaro, Impala, Regal, Ford Flex and Edge.

    Canada has 7% of US/Can/Mex population (Wikipedia) but 16% of auto production (Car and Driver, 3/11).

    What’s the complaint?

  • avatar

    Canada is small enough to fail.

    • 0 avatar

      @CJinSD…..Really?… Do you expect $50 a barrel oil?

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe not $50, but don’t rule out $60-$80. A pullback close to the 2009 lows would be entirely normal for a post-bubble period, especially with the current double-head in oil prices and the unshakable popular belief (as demonstrated by your tone) that they have nowhere to go but up.

        And then there’s the precarious housing bubble which Derek correctly identifies… another great source of Canadian hubris. Canada may not fail, but all signs point to a great ego deflation in the not-too-distant future.

  • avatar

    “Canada has a massive shortage of skilled trades workers and a generation of young people that ARE prejudiced against taking up a trade as a career”

    FTFY Derek.

  • avatar

    Excellent commentary from our local newspaper..same city where the CAW is headquartered.

    The CAW has a really hard road ahead if it thinks it can rope the Canadian public into helping them bargain a better contract with the Detroit automakers.

    That’s what the union set out to do this week when its leaders kicked off an eight city economic road show in Windsor after first giving the media a preview of the act up in Toronto.

    After sitting through nearly three hours of their eye-glazing self regard at the Caboto Club Tuesday night, I thought: man, Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne must be one heckuva scary negotiator if the union thinks it needs 34 million of us sitting at the bargaining table with them to even things up.

    That’s what the road show is really about.

    The CAW is out to convince Canadians that auto jobs are so important to everybody else’s livelihoods that we had all better make darn sure they get what they want or the rest of us are all in deep trouble.

    During an hour-long presentation by CAW in-house economist Jim Stanford, the 1,000 of us filling a big room at the Caboto were treated to a long series of graphs, images and tables showing how hugely important the automotive biz is to Canadian prosperity.

    Which is very true, although the statistics used are heavily torqued. For instance, they used to say that every automotive job spun off at least three other jobs making parts.

    Then they decided it was seven jobs. Now it’s up to 10, including the guy who mops the floors at the Hyundai dealership.

    Only minutes later, Stanford started talking out of the other side of his economist’s mouth by trotting out the hoary old claim that labour makes up only four per cent of the price of a vehicle. How, with all those jobs?

    Four per cent of a car’s final retail price may be equated to final assembly.

    But final assembly does not account for most of the labour that goes into building a car.

    If you count all the labour of all the engineers, parts makers and other inputs labour is about 60 per cent of the cost (not price, which is different), independent experts say. People other than the CAW are involved, you know.

    That’s just one example of the kind of sophistry the CAW is indulging in as it tries to build a case that the rest of Canadian society somehow owes them a better living than the one they have now.

    The piteous way they were carrying on Tuesday, you’d think autoworkers toiling for the former Big Three were all working for free in snowdrifts without shoes – not enjoying a well-compensated life after winning the “auto lotto,” as the more honest men and women on the line call it.

    They deserve being paid as much as they can win at the table, but please, can’t they cut the crying and moaning after all taxpayers have done for them, bailing out their bankrupt butts for tens of billions of dollars?

    Yes, they did have the grace to thank us. But that’s over and now it seems the union brain trust (not the rank and file) wants their pre-bankruptcy reality restored at a cost to the rest of us.

    What is that cost? Oh, not much. We just have to drive the value of the Canadian dollar back down to 81 cents U.S. for them, put a stop to free trade, ban imports they don’t like, and semi-nationalize the automakers who employ CAW members by buying shares and subsidizing all future investments.

    They also want the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who toil in the oil and resources industries to cut that out, because it’s ruining their export markets. So could they kindly do something else, please?

    No mention of how governments would replace the $1 billion a week in resource taxes they collect.

    They might also want us to pay to create a car company for them so they can run it the way they want. That last one is funny – almost worth the price of doing it.

    But back to the first “ask”: They want to trash the loonie. That means a 20 per cent reduction in everybody’s wealth.

    The CAW is asking 34 million other Canadians to take a 20 per cent haircut on the value of their pensions, their RSPs and other investments, their homes, their lives. All so the CAW and its shrinking crew of 25,000 assemblers can go back to the good old days when three electricians did every job needing to be done by one, so one could call in sick and another could work full time promoting socialist fantasies like this one.

    And they want us to throw the oil industry – the best thing Canada has going for it right now – under the bus.

    Who knows what the bus will run on, but union president Ken Lewenza says we are “dangerously dependent” on resources (not manufacturing jobs, of course) and need to wean ourselves off them to pay more attention to them.

    They want an entire country to turn itself inside out so a tiny minority of people with enviable jobs can have it even better.

    These requests go beyond outrageous and unthinkable. They show contempt for other workers.

    • 0 avatar

      Nice article. The whole “we need a cheap dollar” thing is just nuts. Guess what? Lots of oil and energy exports means a strong dollar, period.

      I read the whole thing as the long, slow death of the economic plan our brilliant leaders cooked up in the early 1990s: that Canada was to become cheap labor for the Americans. You could have all sorts of manufacturing jobs in Canada if you were willing to admit that your dumb plan failed and things were going to have to change. Instead of being cheap, you’d have to focus more on being good. You’d have to invest lots more in RnD for starters, and capital upgrades, two places Canadian industry is extremely weak. (Actually, on RnD it’s so weak the Cons implemented that stupid plan to have the taxpayer subsidize their RnD by corrupting the mandate of the national research institutions.) If you were the government you’d have to invest more in education, another place where Canada is really weak internationally.

      But no. Balance the budget, admit nothing, everything is fine. Keep that stone rolling down the hill, because downhill goes on forever.

  • avatar

    Left-leaning Canuckistan, eh? Not so much, these days. The Glib and Stale (AKA Toronto’s National Newspaper) has become a leftist rag, but it does not speak for the ruling Conservative government.

    That government has little interest in the CAW’s advice, and even less interest in protectionism. So far it has signed free-trade agreements with 9 nations, and is negotiating with many more.

    But the Canadian dollar’s rise is a huge problem, and it’s a major factor in Ontario’s decline. This affects all business, not just manufacturing.

    To put it in perspective: not so long ago, $1 in US sales was worth $1.50 Canadian. Now it’s worth $1, sometimes less, and there’s not a thing you can do about it. I mean, with the US economy in the toilet, it’s not like you can raise prices.

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