Tit-for-tat ‘Buy Canadian’ policy against US sought

February 11th, 2009 - 12:37 pm ICT by IANS  

The union leaders, who took their case to the nation’s parliament in Ottawa Tuesday, said they would pressurise the government to announce the protectionist policy along with the proposed $40 billion stimulus package for the Canadian economy.

Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lawenza said the union leaders “insist that Canada needs comprehensive rules to ensure governments buy Canadian-made products and services, rules that will support Canadian manufacturing jobs, generate payroll and local spending and ultimately generate tax dollars that come back to the public purse”.

He said Canada will not be violating the North American Free Trade Agreement (with the US and Mexico) if it went ahead with the protectionist policy to spur the economy.

“These arguments are completely false, raised as a smokescreen by those clinging to the rapidly failing ideology of endless free trade and de-regulation - the very ideas that got us in the mess today,” he was quoted as saying in an agency report.

The Canadian labour leader said the government should quickly legislate a “Buy Canadian” policy “to keep our tax dollars at home. At this time, we simply can’t afford not to”.

He also urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take up these issues with Obama when he visits Canada Feb 19.

Meanwhile, the struggling Canadian auto industry suffered another blow Tuesday, with General Motors (GM) announcing to cut 20,000 more jobs in North America by May.

Hundreds of auto employees in GM’s Canadian plants will get the pink slips as part of the fresh round of retrenchment by it, reports here said.

Canadian plants account for about 20 percent operations of the big three Detroit automakers.

The Canadian government has already announced a $4 billon package to save the sinking auto sector which is one of the biggest employers in the country.

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