Harper's Economic Plan A 'Desperate Act,' CAW President Says

    TORONTO, Oct. 7 /CNW/ - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's announcement
today of additional financial support for the auto and aerospace industries is
a "desperate act" that will make little difference to Canada's battered
manufacturing sector, according to Ken Lewenza, President of the Canadian Auto
Workers union.
    "Mr. Harper is more concerned with his party's crisis in the opinion
polls, than the economic crisis in Canada's manufacturing communities,"
Lewenza said. "This new program, announced just a week before the election,
will not significantly relieve the catastrophe of job loss being experienced
across our manufacturing belt."
    Harper has pledged to expand support for the federal Automotive
Innovation Fund by $50 million per year, and for the Strategic Aerospace and
Defense Initiative by $50 million per year, for four years in both cases. He
also pledged to unilaterally eliminate tariffs on imports of machinery and
equipment used by manufacturers.
    "For two and-a-half-years, Mr. Harper's government said it was wrong to
pick winners. Then, just days before calling the election, he made a giant
U-turn and offered financial support for auto investments in Windsor and St.
Catharines. Now, seven days before the vote, and with his party plunging in
the polls, he suddenly finds more money for the industry."
    "This financial support is important, necessary, and appreciated. But
this is no way to build an industry for the long-term," Lewenza said. We need
a consistent, long-run vision for supporting crucial industries - not just
short-term, political initiatives."
    Canada's auto industry has lost almost 30,000 jobs since peaking in 2002.
Almost 20,000 of those jobs have disappeared since Stephen Harper's government
was elected in January 2006. Under Mr. Harper's government, Canada's
once-mighty automotive trade surplus has crumbled into an auto trade deficit
that will exceed $10 billion this year.
    According to Jim Stanford, CAW Economist, the announced tariff reductions
will have no meaningful impact on investment decisions. "Canada imports almost
$100 billion per year in machinery, computers, and electrical and electronic
equipment. Tariff savings of $345 million will make no visible difference to
that cost. Indeed, a one-cent change in the value of the Canadian dollar will
have more impact than this tariff," Stanford said.

    The CAW represents 250,000 members in Canada - about one-quarter of them
working in the auto and aerospace sectors.

For further information:

For further information: CAW Communications, Shannon Devine, (cell)
(416) 302-1699 or Angelo DiCaro, (cell) (416) 606-6311

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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