LILLEY: Trudeau, Ford fight for Canadian auto industry as Biden pushes ‘buy American’

Article content

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford were focused on the same issue Wednesday, despite being quite a distance apart.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Trudeau was in Washington, D.C. and Ford was in faraway Guelph, but both were talking about the future of Canada’s auto industry.

Trudeau was warning American leaders in Congress about the dangers of protectionist measures while Ford was talking about his government’s plan to build the auto industry of the future – electric vehicles.

Despite the best efforts of both men, U.S. President Joe Biden was in Detroit test-driving an electric Hummer and promoting his plan to boost American auto production with tax breaks.

Under a banner that read, “Made in America,” Biden pushed his tax breaks for buying electric vehicles that are made in America, with 50% American parts and an American made battery.

“We’re going to make sure the jobs of the future end up here in Michigan, not half-way around the world,” Biden said, adding that his law will help consumers “to buy American-made, union-made, clean vehicles.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

To obtain the full subsidy, the vehicle also has to be made in a unionized factory. Biden has courted the union movement heavily and was surrounded by members and executives from the United Auto Workers at his announcement.

While Prime Minister Trudeau spent time making Canada’s case to congressional leaders — including House Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer — his message is likely to fall on deaf ears. Not because these politicians or others dislike Canada, but because Trudeau’s message is up against Biden’s domestic agenda.

To Biden, who ran heavily on Buy American and other protectionist strategies, this is about rewarding those union members and others in his base who helped him win the White House and whom he needs to win in the mid-terms next year. Biden is also portraying his actions, including his investment on autos and the tax breaks, as the United States taking on China in a global super power race.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

With the President stating he expects the Build Back Better Act to pass next week, attempts to change the bill will be coming late.

There was the possibility of a win-win for Canada, and Mexico, but it may be too late. That would be to convince the Americans to offer their credits for autos on North American made cars, protecting the continental industry as intended by CUSMA, the renegotiated NAFTA. In turn, Canada and Mexico could offer matching credits.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Mexico doesn’t appear interested in this issue and Trudeau appears late to the game. After being on guard over protectionist measures throughout the Trump administration, Trudeau’s team has largely been absent from Washington until recently and this eleventh-hour push may be too little, too late.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“We are a little bit concerned about the zero-emission vehicle mandates, or rebates,” Trudeau said at an event at the Wilson Center.

His tone was not where it needed to be and when he pushed for Canada being involved in electric vehicle production, it was as a supplier of the minerals, not of parts like batteries. Trudeau has been supportive of Ontario’s auto industry moving to electric, including getting a battery plant located here, but the tactics of bringing a Team Canada approach to Washington is happening months after it should have.

Ontario hasn’t had a proper strategy for growing the auto industry in years and now as the Ford government brings one forward, American actions put the entire industry at risk.

Trudeau will meet one-on-one with Biden on Thursday, but changing the President’s mind will be a Herculean task.

blilley@postmedia.com

    Advertisement

    Story continues below

    Comments

    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Share:

    Share on facebook
    Facebook
    Share on twitter
    Twitter
    Share on pinterest
    Pinterest
    Share on linkedin
    LinkedIn
    On Key

    Related Posts

    On AIR

    Russtrat world

    Who are you, Monsieur Zemmour?

    MOSCOW, 03 Dec 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute. The Ruptly video agency, part of the RT television company, reported that a protest rally was held in Paris