Buy-Canadian policy needed, union says

February 11, 2009

Recently the Harper government waxed eloquent about its purchase of new trucks for Canada's army. It said that not only would the army benefit from the $274 million deal with Navistar, but the purchase would strengthen our economy. That would be true if the 1,300 trucks were to be built at Navistar's plant in Chatham instead of its operation in Texas. Some 500 Navistar workers in Chatham recently received layoff notices.

Now, the defense department is poised to spend $3.1 billion of Canadian taxpayers' money on new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft. Defense Minister Peter MacKay is pushing the foreign-built Alenia C-27 J Spartan.

Canadian firms Bombardier and Viking Air have the capabilities to build aircraft that not only meet but exceed the Canadian Forces search and rescue requirements. At a time when hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers have lost their jobs, and with concern growing over U.S. protectionism, the public expects governments at all levels to act in the best interest of citizens.

We must demand that our municipal, provincial and federal governments adopt a "Buy Canadian" policy requiring a minimum of 60 per cent Canadian content for all public purchases. The province of Quebec and the U.S. Buy American Act require this level of public domestic procurement.

A debate on this critical issue is both timely and necessary. Roland Kiehne, President, CAW Local 112 (Bombardier), Toronto

Click Here to see the response form the Prime Minister's Office.

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