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Harper announces auto sector plan

PM uses Whitby stop to tout party's plan to grow the industry


Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a campaign stop in Whitby on Tuesday, Oct. 6 to announce his party’s plan to put an extra $1 billion into the Automotive Innovation fund. He says the new money will now also be eligible for infrastructure, land and building projects.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his way back to Durham Region Tuesday, telling a crowd of the party faithful in Whitby that if his party is reelected, there will be more money coming for the automotive sector.

The news comes in the way of an enhanced Automotive Innovation fund, which would see an extra $1 billion over the next decade.

The campaign convoy stopped at Global Emissions in Whitby for the morning announcement which was attended by numerous Conservative supporters. Incumbent MPs seeking reelection on Oct. 19 Colin Carrie (Oshawa) and Pat Perkins (Whitby) were also in attendance to introduce their party leader.

The proposed enhancement will take effect in 2017/18, when the current innovation fund commitment expires. The goal of the fund is to assist automotive manufacturers in research and development to make them more competitive.

Along with the monetary enhancement, Harper also announced his party’s plan to add additional caveats to the program, which will expand eligible expenses under the fund to include infrastructure, land and buildings and will also offer non-repayable grants for greenfield investments.

The addition of support for “brick and mortar” assembly plants could not only attract new car makers to Canada, but assist in repurposing an existing facility to ensure a long-term presence, Harper said.

“This industry’s rebound is one of the great economic success stories of the last decade,” he said.

The announcement comes the day after the federal government concluded discussions on the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) a trade deal with other Pacific Rim countries which critics have been saying could be devastating to the auto industry, a sector that accounts for 10 per cent of Canada’s economic output.

Harper defended his government’s record, claiming their “steadfast support” has been a matter of public record, and labeled the auto sector a “crucial pillar of our economy.”

The TPP would expand the market for Canadian businesses and open the door to potentially 800 million new customers, Harper claimed.

Harper also labelled promises by the Liberals and NDP as “reckless,” claiming his party’s plan for the economy and manufacturing sector will help ensure jobs for Canadians.