Mr. Speaker, tonight's adjournment proceedings arise from a question I asked on February 27, 2008, regarding a crisis facing the Canadian auto industry. The question I asked relates to an automotive plant located in the riding of the Minister of Justice, and the response I received from the minister was insufficient.
Edscha is an automotive parts supplier located in the riding of Niagara Falls. The company employs approximately 150 people and it recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. In late 2007, one of the companies to which Edscha supplies auto parts provided notice that it was withdrawing from its contract. This particular company decided it would instead pursue a contract with a Korean supplier.
The loss of this contract is very worrisome for Edscha and its employees. The company will experience a major loss of income with the possibility that many workers may lose their jobs. This particular case is also representative of a larger problem facing the auto industry throughout Canada.
Employees at Edscha as well as other auto workers in Niagara are afraid that this is an example of the growing trend of Canadian jobs being outsourced to cheaper overseas competitors, especially since the Conservative government is on the brink of signing a Canada-Korea free trade agreement. They fear the situation will only get worse.
Over 100 auto employees across the Niagara region have written to the Minister of Justice expressing their concerns over the current negotiations to create a free trade agreement with Korea. Many are concerned that should Canada sign a free trade agreement, it may lead to further job cuts within the Canadian auto industry, especially at Edscha. Many fear that such a free trade agreement would not necessarily ensure fair trade.
The response of the Minister of Justice, an influential member of the Conservative cabinet, has been nothing short of appalling. He has turned his back on his own constituents and has left them feeling frustrated and humiliated by his lack of concern. These constituents have reached out for assistance from their member of Parliament and he has ignored them. He has offered them no reassurance that their jobs would be protected, simply nothing. These employees deserve more. These employees demand more.
The Minister of Justice indicated in his response to my question that he was quite influential in getting the federal government to invest $2 million in Edscha. However, the sum of which the minister speaks was in fact a loan. What is incredible is that this loan was paid back 16 years ago. Can you believe it, Mr. Speaker? Suggesting that he is there for this company and its employees in the current crisis is shameful.
The minister has done nothing to date to assist the workers at Edscha. His claim that a free trade agreement with Korea will also be fair for Canadians cannot be guaranteed, certainly not for Edscha workers.