Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to follow up on a question I asked the finance minister in relation to the auto industry and the budget in particular.
The budget, supported by the Liberals, that the Conservatives brought in has a detrimental effect on the auto industry. In fact, it is actually a cut to the auto industry.
The Minister of Finance seems to not even understand his own document. What is happening is that he is actually taking money out of automotive funding right now. Fact number one is that the ecoAuto rebate program that the Conservatives put in place is, ironically, a program that we have been fighting to get out of the budget. I am glad it is out of the budget but we wanted the money from that program reinvested in a good auto strategy.
The ecoAuto project, which was developed by the government and supported by the Liberals, had Canadian money going to Japan and Korea for foreign vehicles that were being made outside this country. They were dancing on the shop floors of Tokyo city when they heard this announcement because it meant jobs for their citizens, not jobs for Canadians. This $116 million boondoggle that was put in place did not have any correlation to reducing or putting vehicle purchase to the objectives of the program. It was an utter failure. The industry condemned it and the auto workers condemned it. We are glad it is gone.
However, why the Minister of Finance would not take that $116 million and reinvest it into auto right now, as we have gone from fourth in the world in assembly and manufacturing to tenth, is beyond me. It is very frustrating to see this opportunity of a real auto strategy lost.
What the Conservatives did lay out in the budget, which is all smoke and mirrors, is a $250 million program for automotive development. However, that is over five years so it is $50 million. What they have done is actually taken more money out of a program and lessened that amount for this new program allocation. What is really important is that they kept a new tax on automotive companies in Canada in place that will cost an estimated $50 million a year.
The Conservatives will keep a tax on automotive companies right now that will bring in the revenue which, later on, they will need to disburse through a program. What we have is a net loss of $116 million that the government should have given back to workers.
It is not just in ridings like mine in Windsor West. It also is in Oshawa, Oakville and a number of different manufacturing communities around this country, and all the services that we actually get as spinoffs and all the other Canadian aggregate that is necessary from steel, and a whole source of other industries that produce automotive.
Automotive investment right now is going through almost a revolution. We are seeing the industry, not sunsetting but changing. There are less jobs in it but, at the same time, it is higher tech and it is actually producing greener, cleaner vehicles. That is why it is important for us right now to have a clear automotive strategy.
We in Windsor have been pushing for the federal government to support a Ford plant so a new Ford engine can be produced in Windsor, Ontario, which is important because those jobs are desperately needed.
I have talked to Canadian citizens in my riding and other parts of this country who have gone to school, got the proper education and did everything necessary but because the government has refused to put in an auto policy similar to its Liberal cousins, we have witnessed the demise of the industry in many respects, and that is not acceptable. Canadians have done their part.
In my constituency, for example, we have a tool and die and mould making industry that is the best in the world but we are losing jobs because the government has not put in the policies. I call on the government to do so.