Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to continue debate on auto policy in the House of Commons. The member for Essex and I raised the issue in the House, and I am eager to hear the parliamentary secretary's response with regard to the second largest manufacturing capacity in Canada. It used to be the largest, but has shrunk over the last number of decades because of trade agreements and policies that have not addressed what Liberal and Conservative governments have called for, because supports for the industry have not been delivered. What I am talking about is an auto policy.
The auto manufacturing sector in North America is certainly part of the industrial development of Canada. In fact, out of Windsor we see a legacy from the past that has led to the production of vehicles of the future. It is not only the technology that has changed, but also the people. There have also been a number of different work-related changes in ingenuity, workplace safety and benefits, and in employment that have affected all sectors of the Canadian economy.
To this day, even in my own office, my one staffer Melanie and her children Toby and Lucie, are part of an extended auto family who see the benefits of their heritage coming from the auto sector in the Windsor area. Its footprint carries all the way up Highway 401 and Highway 417 into this region.
What we asked about were the issues related to the Trump tariffs and the NAFTA negotiations, and how in the past our lack of preparedness has cost us. Prior to the original NAFTA, we had the Auto Pact, which was a trading agreement between the Canadian and U.S. governments. In fact, it was a favoured agreement that Canada did very well under. However, when we signed onto the original Free Trade Agreement with the United States, the Liberals did not backstop the program and it was lost through a trade challenge at the WTO.
Ironically, at that time this country did not even have the guts or wherewithal to take this to the final chapter of negotiations. We backed down and folded like a cheap tent and lost our Auto Pact trade agreement, which cost us. We went from number two and number three in the world in auto assembly to number eight and number nine. Subsequent governments have not followed through with a national auto strategy, despite several reports calling for targeted measures to make sure we do not slide any further.
I would like to hear a specific response to my question. The largest support for auto manufacturing by way of a loan went to Volkswagen in the United States, through EDC. How can we make loans to auto companies in the United States when we have not provided the same supports here in Canada?