Lewenza Slams Claims Free Trade a Benefit to Canada's Auto Industry

November 18, 2010, 8:45 AM EST


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Claims by International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan that Canada's auto industry has benefitted from two decades of free trade are "indefensible," CAW President Ken Lewenza says.

Lewenza said wrong headed comments about free trade benefitting Canada's auto industry were an attempt by Van Loan to defend the Harper government's decision to pursue a free trade agreement with the European Union

In a five-page November 10 letter, Lewenza takes Van Loan to task about comments made in newspapers October 28 and 29 about the issue.

Lewenza said it is offensive to hear a senior economic minister claim the auto industry has done well after the past years of unprecedented restructuring and turmoil in which workers throughout the industry experienced "incredible pain, dislocation, and fear."

"Your comments are disrespectful of the suffering that has been experienced in tens of thousands of Canadian households, as autoworkers grappled with job loss, plant closure, lost pensions and benefits, and seemingly permanent insecurity," Lewenza said.

In 1994 when the NAFTA came into force Canadian automotive employment in the assembly and parts sectors was 128,742, according to Statistics Canada. In 2009, after 15 years of NAFTA, automotive employment had dropped to 96,810, a decline of about one in every four Canadian auto jobs.

Lewenza urged the Harper government to fundamentally reconsider its faith that more free trade agreements will improve our trade performance and economic well-being.

"Your claim that Canada's auto industry has benefitted during the past two decades of free trade is indefensible. Our industry, and the men and women who do the work in it, are still suffering from immense uncertainty and hardship."

To read the complete letter from Lewenza to Van Loan visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/9633.htm

 

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