Wednesday, September 3, 2008

FORD stands for Financed On Re-election Day


The cynical mind is the best predictor of Harper’s next move


A tale of two cities
Gord Henderson, Windsor Star
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008


The outrageous stonewalling over the $30 million in federal assistance needed to reopen Ford of Canada's Essex Engine Plant speaks volumes about how out of touch with reality this government and its fat cat mandarins have become.

While Windsor sheds jobs and watches its best and brightest, not to mention its most desperate, pack up and move away, the Stephen Harper government is either taking its sweet time -- as in waiting for the next election campaign -- in deciding whether to invest in this no-brainer project or it's allowing brittle ideology to stand in the way of a common-sense decision that would give the Windsor area economy a badly needed boost.

If you believe Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's version of events, Harper has flatly rejected direct aid for the $300-million venture. If that's the case, one can only wonder: Do Harper and his minions have a clue how bad things are here? Do they give a damn? From the perspective of Ottawa, which is swimming in white-collar, tax-subsidized prosperity, it must be hard to fathom that the best of times don't extend to industrial centres like Windsor, which always made their money through honest toil.

How good is life in the capital? The Ottawa Citizen trumpeted last Friday that "Fat City" was back, with the capital region having increased its "core public administration" workforce by 12,800 jobs -- a staggering 20 per cent -- between 1995 and 2006. "If this keeps up, we may not swagger, but we may soon jiggle," boasted the paper as it happily described how the region "has been feasting at the buffet table while the rest of Canada has been on a diet" in terms of hiring civil servants.

Little wonder the Harper government and its senior bureaucrats aren't particularly interested in a massive plant and hundreds of jobs in Windsor. They're too busy padding payrolls in a capital region that just chalked up a record low unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent.

You know our problem? We're just Canadians who need a helping hand out here in the hinterland, and that's not nearly as sexy as dishing out cheques overseas.

A week before Christmas the feds announced a $300-million contribution to an international aid package aimed at building viable institutions for a future Palestinian state. That was welcome news for the Palestinians and perhaps for eventual peace in the Middle East.

But if Canada can find $300 million to pay the salaries of Palestinian policemen and bureaucrats, why on earth is it so difficult to come up with one-tenth of that amount to put hundreds of our own citizens back to work and restore hope in a downtrodden city?

Meanwhile, Ottawa doles out $60 million annually in foreign aid to support projects in the People's Republic of China. That's right. This global superpower and economic titan, the communist China that's eating our collective lunch while growing exponentially, is still on Ottawa's charity list.

They've wiped out industry after industry here with their cheap labour advantage and have piled up such massive surpluses that they can bail out major American banks, and yet Canadian aid dollars are still being funnelled into China.

They devastated our once prosperous Windsor tool and mould industry and are taking dead aim at our automobile market with dirt-cheap vehicles. And we respond by sending them money to build facilities like a grandiose ecology centre in remote Inner Mongolia that almost no one visits. And yet there's no investment money for badly needed Windsor industries? What madness is this?

Former agriculture minister Eugene Whelan, who played a key role in securing the engine plant as a member of the Trudeau cabinet, is appalled that Harper and company can't find $30 million for a new V-8 engine.

"That's chickenfeed. Just a pittance," scoffed Whelan. In essence he's right. The $68 million committed by his government and Queen's Park to win a 1978 bidding war with Ohio would be worth well over $200 million today.

The $30 million is just seed money. It would be returned to Ottawa many times over in payroll and corporate taxes. So what the hell is the problem?

The Harper regime is either thick as a brick in not seeing the need for competitive incentives or incredibly crass in holding those jobs hostage in order to make a good-news election announcement. Too late for that. The damage is done.

What a humiliation for lackluster Essex backbencher Jeff Watson and the other doomed Tory candidates in this area.

ghenderson@thestar.canwest.com


© The Windsor Star 2008

4 comments:

Transcanada said...

McGuinty suggests feds should be treated like children as he pushes for more cash

5 hours ago

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Like a five-year-old who performs well in a kindergarten classroom, Prime Minister Stephen Harper should get "positive reinforcement" for a multimillion-dollar handout to Ontario's troubled auto sector that came just days before an expected election call, Ontario's premier said Wednesday.

Dalton McGuinty, once dubbed the "small man of Confederation" by the federal Conservatives, drew a few laughs after suggesting his wife's method of encouraging good behaviour in unruly pupils could also work on Harper.

"Terri was back in the classroom yesterday and she teaches five-year-olds, my wife," McGuinty said at an event in Mississauga, Ont.

"And she's talking about the importance of positive reinforcement. So I'm going to positively reinforce the behaviour of the federal government today. It's good action."


McGuinty's tongue-in-cheek remark came as Harper doled out up to $80 million in federal loans to help reopen a closed engine plant in Windsor, one of the main hubs of the country's dying automotive sector.

While Harper and Industry Minister Jim Prentice were preparing for the announcement at Ford's mothballed Essex plant, McGuinty and Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan were touting provincial tax cuts to businesses at the Honeywell aerospace facility west of Toronto.

It was an odd juxtaposition, considering how the two sides had sparred over the handling of Ontario's faltering economy - a feud that seems far from over.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has insisted tax cuts - not direct government investments - are the best way to encourage investment and create new jobs.

McGuinty favours "strategic investment," saying he has cut business taxes already and won't jeopardize much-needed revenue to fund the province's social programs.

The two governments traded personal insults and barbs before the war of words died down after polls suggested the bickering was hurting the Tories in vote-rich Ontario.

But the relationship is still showing signs of strain.

McGuinty acknowledged early Wednesday he was unaware of the details of the federal announcement, while Duncan - whose riding includes Windsor - said he wasn't invited to the event, although he was told that an announcement was imminent.

"I'm not going to cast judgment on the timing or so on," said Duncan, who once worked at the Ford plant.

"Just delighted that it's there, delighted that we've been able to partner on this earlier on."

While the funding is "good news" for Windsor, it still doesn't address Ottawa's unfair treatment of his province, McGuinty said.

"Southern Ontario is the only region in the country which does not benefit from a regional economic development fund or program of any kind," he said.

"Historically, the federal government has assumed southern Ontario has been and always will be self-sufficient. And from time to time, history shows that we can all use a bit more effort. We can all come together."

McGuinty has also warned that he'll remind voters about Ontario's plight during the looming federal election.

He argues that Ontario is getting less than other provinces when it comes to employment insurance benefits and health-care dollars and is being shortchanged in infrastructure funding.

Ontario should be getting an extra $3 billion a year from the federal treasury - money that could be used to help kick-start the province's lagging economy, McGuinty said.

About 900 people lost their jobs when the Essex engine plant was shut down last year, some of whom later found work at the Ford (NYSE:F) facility in Oakville, Ont.

Some have questioned the timing of Harper's announcement, given the Conservatives' silence in April about whether they would help the plant reopen by matching Ontario's pledge of $17 million.

Ford had warned it would not expand the $168-million plan to reopen the plant without Ottawa's help.

Both tax cuts and direct government investment are needed to bolster the country's manufacturing sector, said Ian Howcroft of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

"We should never lose focus of the importance of tax cuts, but there's other opportunities and other tools necessary if we're going to ensure the future success of manufacturing," he said.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure happy we dumped our Income Trust investments when we were advised to. You know, back when the Liberals were fooling around with them.


Better yet, we turned that money into sound investments like OIL AND MINERALS.

In the last couple years we have made a fortune. A large fortune.

Remember what Fred Ketchen said -

"Anyone that did not get out of Income Trust's well before this, blew it. The writing was on the wall for a long time. All the people that lost money should look for new financial advisers."

Thanks Fred.

Dr Mike said...

Anonymous

Thanks to Mr Harper`s promise not to tax trusts many people bought into them--he was our chief financial advisor on this one (does that make him a poor advisor??)

Thanks to Mr Harper`s rapid change of heart once the votes were secured & he was in power , all of these people got the shaft.

You arguments do not hold water.

If you can`t believe your prime Minister , who can you believe.

Maybe you have some insight into the contents of the blacked-out pages while you are at it.

Dr Mike Popovich.

Anonymous said...

Right Dr Mike,

And now you are stupid enough to believe that the Libidiots will fix the problem. LOL

In hindsight, you should have listened to a good advisor like I did.

Words like "uncertain" come to mind, way before Harper got in.

I must say, it's nice to be rolling in dough since we made our financial adjustments.

Imagine, OIL for 30 bucks a barrel. Oh ya.

Oh, one other thing, Google "Tuners changing position" and you will read how your hero encouraged, praised, and supported the changes that effected you. But hey, I guess that does not matter right???