Canadian Government Should Buy Military Trucks Built in Canada, CAW Insists

January 14, 2009, 10:55 AM EST


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The Canadian government must revisit plans to buy 1,300 military trucks from Navistar International in the United States, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.

Lewenza, in a letter to Defence Minister Peter MacKay, said numerous truck manufacturers in Canada, including Navistar in Chatham, Paccar in Quebec and Freightliner in St. Thomas are under threat of closure.

"If we are going to try and stimulate the economy in Canada and specifically, where manufacturing is at an all time low and job loss is unprecedented, your government must recognize how critical it is to ensure that Canadian tax dollars are spent to put Canadians to work," Lewenza said.

"It seems the federal government has lost sight that in 2003 they invested in the Chatham facility, by agreeing to provide over $30 million of assistance to Navistar to maintain these important jobs in the community and Ontario," Lewenza said.

"The workers in these facilities absolutely deserve the support of their government as we go through these very difficult and challenging times in our country."

The Canadian government has awarded a $254 million contract to Navistar to build the medium duty trucks for the Canadian Forces at its plant in Texas.

The CAW and other unions have launched a Buy Canadian campaign calling on governments to buy goods and services from Canadian suppliers wherever possible. In Quebec, the government recently established a 60 per cent Canadian content policy for purchases of public transit vehicles.

The CAW represents workers at Navistar in Chatham, Paccar in Quebec and Freightliner in St. Thomas, Ontario

For more information contact Bob Chernecki, assistant to the CAW President, cell, 416-543-7084 or John McClyment, CAW Communications, 416-495-3766.

Addendum to release>>

January 13, 2009                                                                               

The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay,

Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

National Defence Headquarters

Major-General George R. Pearkes Building

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0K2

Dear Minister,

It is with great disappointment that we see your release of January 9, concerning the Canadian government purchasing 1300 military trucks from Navistar International. Canadians would agree that our military should have the best equipment to deal with their requirements but it is clearly unacceptable to use Canadian tax dollars to have these vehicles built in the United States. There are numerous truck manufacturers in Canada today including Navistar in Chatham, Paccar in Quebec and Freightliner in St. Thomas, who are under threat of closure. Both the Navistar and Paccar plants have been severely impacted by the economic downturn and have hundreds of Canadians on layoff.

If we are going to try and stimulate the economy in Canada and specifically, where manufacturing is at an all time low and job loss is unprecedented, your government must recognize how critical it is to ensure that Canadian tax dollars are spent to put Canadians to work. It seems the Federal government has lost sight that in 2003 they invested in the Chatham facility, by agreeing to provide over $30 million of assistance to Navistar to maintain these important jobs in the community and Ontario. The same holds true in Quebec, where the provincial government has been working closely to ensure that the Paccar facility remains viable.

On behalf of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, representing over 250,000 members, I urge your government to revisit this decision and provide the necessary leadership to invest in Canada, by having these vehicles built in Canada.

The workers in these facilities absolutely deserve the support of their government as we go through these very difficult and challenging times in our country. I would request a meeting at your earliest convenience. I look forward to an early and positive response.

Yours truly,

Ken Lewenza

National President

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