Pierre Poilievre wants the Parliamentary Budget Officer to look into the federal government’s commitment to provide up to $13-billion in production subsidies for a Volkswagen electric-vehicle battery plant in St. Thomas, Ont.
Mr. Poilievre outlined his concerns Friday in a letter to Yves Giroux as, in the southwestern Ontario city, details were released around a news conference on the project, which will create up to 3,000 direct jobs and 30,000 indirect jobs in the region. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford were among a raft of politicians attending.
Canada has committed $700-million in upfront capital costs toward the $7-billion cost of the factory while Ontario has added $500-million. Once the factory is producing batteries, Canada is offering production subsidies in the range of $8-billion to $13-billion over a decade to equal the production tax credits Volkswagen would have received if it had set up shop in the United States. There’s a story here on the announcement.
In Friday’s letter to Mr. Giroux released to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Poilievre wrote “While specific details from the Government are sparse at this point, one assumes the Government will be forthcoming with requests by your office.
“In the interests of transparency and sound policy, we believe it would be in the public interest for the PBO to provide analysis on three items related to this arrangement with Volkswagen.”
They are how much taxpayer financial support is being provided by the government for each job, directly and indirectly. Also, Mr. Poilievre suggests a calculation of the expected impact on jobs in other sectors due to fiscal measures needed to provide funds to subsidize the jobs.
Also he asks for an independent analysis of how long it would take for taxpayers to see their subsidy returned through increased government revenue from the economic impact resulting from the construction of the facility.
In announcing the federal commitment the news conference in St. Thomas, Mr. Trudeau acknowledged the presence at the event of Karen Vecchio, the Conservative MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London.
“Karen, I’m glad to see you here and it’s great today that you and I, at least, agree on how much it matters to invest in Canadian workers,” Mr. Trudeau said, directing his remarks to Ms. Vecchio, the opposition critic for women and gender equality and youth.
“I’ll be direct and honest: You have some work to do to convince your leader Pierre Poilievre, who thinks this investment is a waste of money,” he said.
“I know you are here for the right reasons, and know how good this is for St. Thomas.”
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you're reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
ONE THIRD OF PSAC MEMBERS PARTICIPATED IN STRIKE VOTE – Only a third of Public Service Alliance of Canada members participated in their union’s strike vote, which has led to one of the largest job actions in Canadian history, according to details in a recent Federal Labour and Employment Board decision. Story here.
TWITTER REMOVES LABELS ON PUBLIC BROADCASTERS, INCLUDING THE CBC – Twitter has removed its labels for the CBC in Canada, BBC in Britain, NPR in the United States and other media outlets in China, Iran and Russia, as global news organizations evaluate their presence on the social-media platform and its use as a communications tool amid its mercurial moves. Story here.
CANADA PLEDGES SNIPER RIFLES, NON-LETHAL AID TO UKRAINE – Canada is committing another $39-million in weapons and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine. Story here.
UNIVERSITY OF MONTREAL TO KEEP DONATION FROM CHINESE BUSINESSMEN – The University of Montreal says it will keep a large donation pledged in 2016 to its faculty of law by two wealthy Chinese businessmen at the centre of an apparent attempt to influence Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government. Story here.
GOOGLE DENIES `ASTROTURFING’ ALLEGATIONS – Google has denied accusations in a Commons committee that it had engaged in “astroturfing” campaigns to lobby against federal bills by paying individuals and other organizations to oppose them. Story here.
SENATE COMMITTEE FINDS ISLAMOPHOBIA AND VIOLENCE AGAINST MUSLIMS ENTRENCHED – Islamophobia and violence against Muslims is widespread and deeply entrenched in Canadian society, early findings from a Senate committee studying the issue indicate. Story here.
EX-U.S. ENVOY CONCERNED ABOUT PM DEFENCE-SPENDING COMMENTS – A former U.S. envoy to Ottawa says he’s concerned about what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reportedly said about Canadian defence spending. Story here.
QUEBEC LEGISLATORS MAY GET $30,000 RAISE IN SALARY – A committee is recommending that the salaries of elected provincial officials in Quebec be increased by $30,000 per year. Story here from CTV.
TORONTO MP SUING GLOBAL NEWS AND PARENT COMPANY – Toronto MP Han Dong is suing Global News and its parent company, Corus Entertainment, over stories he says portrayed him as a “traitor” and a knowing participant in Chinese interference in Canada. Story here.
BAINS JOINS ROGERS – Former federal industry minister Navdeep Bains is joining Rogers Communications Inc. as the company unveils a new executive team. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, April. 21, accessible here.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD – Defence Minister Anita Anand was at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany for a meeting of the Ukraine Defence Group of countries supporting Ukraine’s defence against the continuing Russian invasion. Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, in Miyazaki, Japan, met with the Italian minister of agriculture and attended a welcome reception for the G7 Agriculture Ministers’ meeting scheduled to run through Sunday. Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, in Edmonton, made an infrastructure announcement. Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu, in Millbrook, N.S., with provincial Health Minister Michelle Thompson and 13 Mi’kmaq First Nation Chiefs in Nova Scotia signed a memorandum of understanding to advance Mi’kmaw health and wellness. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, in Miramichi, N.B., with provincial Regional Development Corporation Minister Réjean Savoie, make an announcement with Miramichi Mayor Adam London.
PREMIERS AND POLICE MEET – Representatives of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police met virtually with Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders to talk about crime. The chiefs explained the need for the meeting here and the premiers agreed to the talks here.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in St. Thomas, Ont., held private meetings, and made an announcement with Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Volkswagen’s plan to build an electric vehicle battery plant in the region. In London, Ont., Mr. Trudeau participated in a town hall with postsecondary students.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Toronto, attended Eid celebrations at the Islamic Society of Markham-Markham Masjid, delivered remarks at the 2023 Ontario Public Service Employees Union/Syndicat des Employés de la Fonction Publique de l’Ontario convention, and attended the Muslim Association of Canada Eid celebrations.
No schedules provided for other party leaders.
On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Investigative reporter Grant Robertson explains the recent developments around Hockey Canada that have included the federal government restoring funding to the organization after removing it following the revelation that it settled a lawsuit accusing eight members of the 2018 world juniors hockey team of sexual assault. The Decibel is here.
OPINION – 24 SUSSEX DRIVE
J.D.M Stewart (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how 24 Sussex Drive deserves better: “This lack of leadership has left these historic grounds, with a lineage to virtually every prime minister since 1951, in their current state. Blame will not get 24 Sussex Dr. resuscitated, however. Courage, some political capital, and common sense will. As for the enormous costs, that is a red herring that brings to mind Oscar Wilde, who once said that “a cynic is a person who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.” Ironically, it was the Prime Minister’s father who was the last PM to take the residence seriously. After visiting 10 Downing St. in 1972, Pierre Trudeau remarked: “Why should [Sussex] be a shabby place? It shouldn’t be – it’s the showplace of Canada and to leaders abroad.”
Catherine Ford (The Calgary Herald) on the idea of putting ex-prime ministers in charge of deciding the fate of 24 Sussex Drive: “Thinking about the succession of weak-kneed politicians who have lived there, it seems to me that the most obvious choice for what to do with the decrepit mansion would be a committee of former prime ministers, none of whom have anything to lose or gain by weighing in. The only “modern” prime minister not alive is John Turner. That leaves at least six, which seems an appropriate number around a table.”
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Ottawa’s $13-billion (and counting) ribbon-cutting won’t reverse Canada’s economic decline: “We have had more than seven years of the Liberal economic program of higher taxes, increasing regulation and aggressive subsidies. And in those seven years of ever-growing government intervention, Canadian living standards have stagnated (a trend well under way before the pandemic). Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation and population growth, has almost flatlined, growing by a scant 0.4 per cent a year on average. The immediate future is even worse, with real GDP per capita likely to stagnate or even decline. One might think that such a record would give the Liberals pause. That would, however, require the government to recant its economic dogma. Instead, the Trudeau government is intent on more spending, more debt, more regulation and more meddling in the economy. A cheque for $13-billion (and counting) will pay for a heck of a ribbon-cutting ceremony. What it won’t buy is a reversal of Canada’s economic decline.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how the federal public servants’ strike is backing Ottawa into a corner: “So although the union is unlikely to be able to call upon much sympathy from the public – as one PSAC member candidly put it to the Ottawa Citizen, “people hate us” – neither does it have much reason to fear the government. The longer a strike wears on, the more it is likely that the public will turn its fury on the party in power. In theory, the government could pass legislation at some point ordering the whole thing into arbitration and forcing its employees to go back to work, as it did in 2021 to end a strike at the Port of Montreal. But a number of factors suggest the Liberals would think twice before reaching for such a lever in the current dispute.”
Tony Keller (The Globe and Mail) on how working from home gave Canadians a big pay raise – and why nobody wants to give it up: “Done wrong, remote work could make things worse for both employers and employees. It could make management less effective, and remove creativity, knowledge transfer and teamwork from companies. But done right, it just might be a remarkable efficiency tool – delivering more output in less time, with less overhead. Economists have long searched for the big productivity payoff from the internet. Maybe this is it.”
Shannon Proudfoot (The Globe and Mail) on how the Trudeau government is falling short of commitments to be `open by default’: “At this point, the Liberals’ open-by-default declarations register as cruel farce. They didn’t start the practice of iron-fisted information control in government, but they sure haven’t ended it. And they’re the ones who made that a central feature of who they would be. There are big-picture obfuscations that deserve correspondingly large derision, like refusing to say how much public money they spent wooing Volkswagen to make car batteries in Canada (a lot, as it turns out) or the government’s obstinance on Beijing poking its fingers into Canadian life.”
Michael Wernick (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on thinking of managers: Non-union civil servants need raises, too: “During the current labour dispute Canadians will hear from the public-service unions and from the employer’s negotiator, the Treasury Board. There are only two ways the story can end. One is a negotiated settlement ratified by the union membership. The other is back-to-work legislation that imposes terms or sends issues off to binding arbitration. There is a strong incentive for both sides to find a landing zone for an agreement, but it may take time and test the patience of the broader public. Hidden in plain sight are thousands of supervisors, managers and executives across the country. They too are public servants. They too were affected by the surge in inflation. They too have families and households that depend on them. They too need raises.”