Federal NDP leader announces party’s auto strategy

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to a crowd at the Unifor Local 444 Hall in Windsor on Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Allanah Wills)

Members of the New Democratic Party are sharing their strategy for the automotive industry in Canada.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Windsor Saturday afternoon at the Unifor Local 444 hall to announce the party’s vision for the auto industry. He was joined by three Windsor-Essex NDP Members of Parliament, Cheryl Hardcastle of Windsor-Tecumseh, Brian Masse of Windsor West, and Tracey Ramsey of Essex.

Singh took several jabs at the Liberal government and its handling of Canada’s automotive industry before calling for a national auto policy that “puts forward a view and vision for Canada.”

“The reality is that this Liberal government has failed to consider a broad way and a strong way of developing a policy that will actually bring strong manufacturing back to Windsor and across Canada,” Signh said. “They failed Windsor.”

A large chunk of the party’s strategy focuses on overhauling the electric vehicle incentive program which Masse called “a mess.” Because of its manufacturer’s suggested retail price, the federal government initially did not include the Pacifica Hybrid, the only Canadian-built vehicle that could be considered, on the list of electric vehicles eligible for a rebate.

“We don’t need to restrict Canadians in terms of putting these electric vehicles, like the Pacifica…on the road today,” said Masse. “Stop the $100 million cap of the $300 million program so if people want to buy these Pacificas, get them on the road now, increase production, especially with the third shift at risk right now. We can get those vehicles sold and those manufacturers working right away. Don’t cap it and stop it just for political identity and ideology.”

Masse said the party’s auto strategy will look at ways to ensure the incentive can focus mainly on domestically made vehicles rather than foreign made.

“It encourages people to buy vehicles from countries like the United States that have a tariff on our actual country right now and other places like China that actually have human rights and other issues…We’re saying they should be domestically made and make sure that actually includes Windsor and other autos made in Canada. Let’s focus on procurement with Canadian money on Canadian made vehicles, ” Masse said to the crowd of nearly 50 people.

He also said they will urge the minister to raise the incentive from $5,000 to $10,000 for the Pacifica because he said, as a multi-passenger vehicle, it helps limit the numbers of cars on the road and is more environmentally friendly.

“Reward the cars that get more cars off the road, environmentally proven by the way that they have their capabilities. We shouldn’t be subsidising vehicles that are basically golf carts,” said Masse.

The party also said they hope to create a project that will allow not-for-profits to become eligible for vehicle write-offs in the same way businesses are.

John D’Agnolo, president of Unifor Local 200, backed the NDP’s strategy and thanked them for showing support following the news of the elimination of the third shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant.

“We have a party here that has an auto strategy in place. This is what we need,” said D’Agnolo. “There’s no reason why this party isn’t in the forefront, they’re going to bring jobs back to Canada. It’s a shame that we’re here today dealing with this, it’s a shame we don’t have the jobs like we had once.”