Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hargrove does not speak for all Canadian auto workers

J, I totally agree with you that Mr. Hargrove is out of touch. Here's a recent article in The Toronto Star - Auto industry is death-bound: CAW

First of all, let's not confuse "unionized workers" with all auto workers in Canada. There are plenty of non-unionized auto manufacturing operations going on in Canada. For example, Honda of Canada Manufacturing has just brought online a new manufacturing facility in Alliston, ON alongside it's main plant, which has continued to win awards for quality in producing Honda's Odyssey, Ridgeline, and other trucks, as well as Honda's Civic, Canada's best selling car for nine straight years and counting.

Secondly, it is shortsighted to suggest that limiting access of foreign-built cars will help. Japanese, German, Swedish and other car companies are increasingly building manufacturing facilities right here in North America (Toyota and Honda both have strong manufacturing presence in Ontario, just as an example). Any legislation that attempts to stem the flow of foreign manufactured vehicles could be met with plants springing up within our borders. Then what? Impose higher tarrifs on North American manufactured BUT FOREIGN-DESIGNED cars? The notion is absurd. This is a free country.

Thirdly, Canadians who work in non-domestic or otherwise non-unionized manufacturing facilities are just as proud to be contributing to their families, their communities, and the Canadian GDP as anyone else. They also enjoy knowing that their families, friends, neighbours and fellow Canadians can buy quality vehicles, built right here in Canada, that are worth the money. I don't believe Mr. Hargrove has addressed these workers, but the stereotype is that a "Canadian auto worker" only works for the domestic "Big 3". There are thousands of Canadians in the auto manufacturing sector who do NOT work for the Big 3 - fortunately for them, Mr. Hargrove does NOT represent them.

Fourthly, imposing border limiting legislation in response to the suggestion that not doing so would spell the end of the domestic manufacturers suggests that their ability to compete would not come from building better cars (which they are free to start doing anytime they like), but from whining to big government to unlevel the playing field. Were such legislation imposed, the domestics would basically be saying to Canadians "hey, now that we've reduced supply of foreign built cars, you have less choice, and we won't have to increase quality or service to make you buy our cars." What kind of message is that? Not one any Canadian should want to hear.

Here's a message to the CAW and the Big 3 - the Canadian consumer is too intelligent and works to hard to be suckered into buying inferior product. You want to sell cars in Canada? Build quality. When I was a kid, a "Honda" was a lawn mower. They decided to develop a reputation for quality and reliability – if they were building junk, people wouldn't buy. Clearly, they were determined to figure it out and get it right. It's not impossible. Go and do likewise, and stop whining to the government.

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