Auto Jobs Policy Townhall Meeting Brampton, ON

Brampton, ON

April 23, 2012

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AutoIndustry Brampton town Hall
Auto Jobs Brampton Town Hall
April 23, 2012

Brampton, Ontario
April 23, 2012

Ken Lewenza
CAW National President

"Let me say something right off the bat. Is there something wrong with being a protectionist? In the auto industry, recognizing that every major country in the world is protecting their auto industry. There is nothing wrong with saying that we have to preserve good jobs for Canadians, not for just our CAW membership but for those outside our CAW membership. Those of you in this room know that we do not represent Honda and Toyota workers, they are not organized at this particular time. But they are as vulnerable as we are in the auto industry if we don't have a long term automobile strategy that preserves decent paying jobs in our community that pays taxes. So far the Detroit three have been able to influence the wages and benefits paid to Honda and Toyota workers. But the downward pressure will continue to put pressure on us which puts pressure on non union workers. So this isn't just about the CAW in isolation, it is about community which we talked about today.

In Windsor we talked to about one thousand people, the place was jam packed. Then we moved to St. Catherine's, again jam packed three hundred and twenty people. Oshawa, two hundred and twenty-five people and tonight about one hundred and twenty-five people. So that is a good start, but we have a weakness because my message today is that we need the economic development folks of each community that go out there each and every day to try and solicit business for their community and recognize the importance of the industrial sector. The auto sector, the manufacturing sector they could stand up here today and tell you how tough it is to get out there and talk to employers about investing in Canada and how you need a strategy long term to do that.

So to the business community you ought to be participating here today because it is about jobs it is about opportunities, it's about the tax base. When you talk about municipal leadership, all of the council should be here today because every single municipal leader in this country and every single major city is talking about cuts about how they provide services to their communities. When you lose your industrial base when you lose the auto industry in your particular community downward pressure applies to all of them and somehow you have to make up that revenue or you have to cut services. In most municipalities today that have last their industrial base they are cutting services because there is a correlation between our taxes and the ability to provide those particular services.

When you talk about provincial leadership and federal leadership, community leadership, other citizens who need to take a look at our economy and say what are we doing right and what are we doing wrong. When you take a look at Korea, they build the equivalent of what a two shift operation would do in Canada today, yet they don't manufacture anything in Canada. Do you know how many we sell in Korea? Four hundred. So we sell four hundred that way and they sell one hundred and seventy thousand this way, brothers and sisters that is not fair trade. Because if it is all about capital moving from one country to another to the lowest bidders then ultimately every single community will face the consequences of allowing capital to move without it being regulated without having Fair Trade versus Free Trade. So when people say are you protectionist absolutely not. All I want for manufacturing workers in Canada in the auto sector is to be treated the same way as the Japanese. The Japanese do it right. So when we take a look at our country it is about what kind of community we want. Do I want to talk about the auto industry? of course I do. But I'd prefer to talk about an industrial strategy that preserves all manufacturing jobs in Canada that includes this very important auto industry.

We ought to have a strategy in the retail and service sector. We ought to have a strategy in the transportation sector. We ought to have a strategy in the public sector. We ought to have strategies to protect the interest of Canadian jobs and Canadian workers and the Canadian economy. So brothers and sisters, this is what we need to do. We need to wake-up Canadians from one end of the country to the other. In this community we need to get tens of thousands of signatures signed for when I sit in front of the Premier and ask him to work with the federal government.

I want to make sure that he's got tens of thousands of signatures. Then I want to go to the federal government and I want to say to Prime Minister Harper, I am not here specifically for the auto industry. I am worried about the next generation. I am worried about our kids that won't have the same opportunity as I had. If we could just have a job strategy starting off with the manufacturing sector, starting off with the auto industry. What we are saying is that if Brazil can do it, you can do it. If Japan can do it, you can do it. What are other countries doing to preserve their auto industries and lets make sure we do it. Because there is not a strategy that is consistent that provides support for the auto industry.

This is not about politics, this is not about political parties. It isn't about me making a choice. It is about jobs, it is about opportunity, it's about taxes paid and its about levelling the playing field with those countries that are advancing the causes of the auto industry in the interest of their economy. So together if we take this policy, if we get the job pledges filled up. If we get tens of thousands of signatures, people will listen, because it is not about us. It is about what kind of a country we want for ourselves, future generations and of course existing generations that work today with a dark cloud over their heads. Let's remove that cloud through public policy and let's fight like hell to preserve good Canadian jobs for Canadian workers of all generations. Thank you brothers and sisters."

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