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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.


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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.


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