CAW President Blasts Harper Government's Decision to Award $1.25 Billion Defence Contract to U.S. Firm

PORT ELGIN, ON, June 12, 2012 /CNW/ - CAW President Ken Lewenza sent the following letter June 12 to Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding his government's short-sighted decision to award a $1.25 billion Department of National Defence contract to a U.S. firm.

Here is the full text of Lewenza's letter to Harper:

"I am writing to voice my frustration and disbelief at your government's recent decision to award a $1.25 billion Department of National Defence contract to a U.S. firm.  This decision can only be described as short-sighted and damaging for the city of London and the national economy.

The contract for at least 500 tactical armoured patrol vehicles could last for 25 years, securing work and jobs well into the future.  As you may know, London Machinery Inc. also made a bid for the contract - along with a supporting bid by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada, which builds armoured military vehicles in London.  If London Machinery Inc, combined with General Dynamics would have been awarded the contract, it would have secured work for decades.

Instead though, the work went to the Canadian division of the U.S. Company Textron Systems, where the work will largely be done in Louisiana.  While the contract does require Textron to invest in Canada through the use of domestic goods and services, the economic spin-off will be far less than if the contract was awarded to a firm who would build the vehicles in Canada.

London North Centre MP Susan Truppe was quoted in the London Free Press as saying the government "had to do what is right for Canadian taxpayers and the military - we have to keep them safe."  I fail to understand how sending $1.25 billion dollars of public funds to the United States in defence contracts can be classified as "doing what is right for Canadian taxpayers."

Ms. Truppe went on to say that, "It was a fair and open competition and I am disappointed it did not go to a London company because it would have employed more."

Prime Minister, your government has again demonstrated its disregard for Canadian workers and local communities.  Repeatedly, your government triumphs a commitment to 'taxpayers,' which incredibly, precludes Canadian workers.  I do wonder who exactly does your government classify as a taxpayer?

The community of London has been ravaged by closure after closure - Ford St. Thomas Assembly Plant, Sterling Truck, Electro-Motive Diesel, - putting thousands of people into unemployment.  The unemployment rate is now 8.3 and shows little sign of improving.

The federal government must prioritize domestic economic development and cease awarding lucrative public contracts to firms which will send jobs out of the country.  As the Government of Canada, that in fact is your real obligation."

In addition, Lewenza also sent letters to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and London Mayor Joe Fontana, with copies to Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid; London North Centre MP Susan Truppe and London City Councillors.

SOURCE Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

For further information:

CAW Communications, Shannon Devine, cell, 416-302-1699 or John McClyment, cell, 416-315-3202.

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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