PRESS RELEASE |
Showing his support for Bombardier Transport employees in La Pocatière, Bernard Généreux, MP, rose in question period to condemn Justin Trudeau’s government for its unwillingness to defend Canadian workers.
The employees demonstrated after La Presse revealed on November 27, 2018, that VIA Rail was about to award a $1-billion contract for new trains to Siemens, which would build them in California rather than Quebec.
Here is the question Généreux asked in the House of Commons on December 6, 2018:
“Mr. Speaker, an hour ago, in my home town of La Pocatière, the best employees in the world, employees of Bombardier Transportation, held a peaceful protest to show that they have the ability, expertise, passion and determination needed to build VIA Rail’s future fleet.
“However, the transport minister is already washing his hands of this by hiding behind free trade. Meanwhile the deal that the Prime Minister just signed with Donald Trump still allows the United States to require that Amtrak trains be built in the U.S. with 70% American content.
“Why did the Liberals give up so easily and not ask for anything for Canada’s regions?”
In his answer, the Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, said that VIA Rail is an independent Crown corporation and that Canada must “respect international rules, under which we have free trade agreements with Europe and others, through the WTO. We cannot give Canadian companies special privileges.”
Généreux remains unsatisfied with this answer. “I asked him about our unequal treatment by the United States, and the Minister responded by discussing the European Union, as if California is part of Europe! For an astronaut, the Minister of Transport doesn’t seem to know much about geography,” said the MP. “The sad reality is that the United States will still not be able to buy our trains, but we will be forced to buy theirs!”
énéreux instead believes that the federal government should insist that foreign governments’ protectionist measures be lifted before signing any new free trade agreement. In addition to train procurement, where the “Buy American” provision continues to apply to Amtrak and various public transit organizations in the United States, tariffs still apply to Canadian softwood lumber and steel and aluminum products, two industries that are particularly important for Quebec.
The MP also pointed out that, “According to statements by our ambassador in Washington, David MacNaughton, to CBC Television on November 7, the Prime Minister apparently told the American administration that he would not take part in the signing ceremony for the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) if the Trump administration did not remove its tariffs. Three weeks later, in Buenos Aires, Justin Trudeau had already given in. Workers in La Pocatière will long remember the photograph of him smiling next to Donald Trump on November 30!” said a disappointed Généreux.