After Tennessee and Alabama Refuse, Canada Agrees to Help US Automakers

ambassador_bridge.thumbnail.jpgTurns out I mistook which signature Michigan bridge would serve as a symbol for the loan the US automakers will get to hold them over until a saner Administration takes over: that bridge is not the Mackinaw bridge, connecting the two peninsulas of Michigan, but the Ambassador bridge, connecting Detroit to Canada.

The Canadians, you see, are coming to Detroit’s rescue.

 U.S. and Canadian governments say they will ride to the rescue of the beleaguered Detroit auto makers, hoping to head off a catastrophic collapse of Chrysler LLC or General Motors Corp. that would cascade throughout the North American economy.

Ottawa and Ontario will provide an estimated $3.4-billion to the Canadian units of the Detroit Three, while U.S. President George W. Bush will throw a $14-billion (U.S.) lifeline to their parent companies.


[Canadian Industry Minister Tony] Clement would not provide a specific figure, but he said the amount of money in the Canadian bailout represents this country’s one-fifth share of the Detroit Three’s North American vehicle production and on Canada maintaining that percentage.

“Clearly, this amount of money is meant to be, as the U.S. is finding out, a way to keep the doors open for the domestic auto sector while they continue their long-term planning,” he said.

The move is not all that surprising. Ontario probably has more Big 2.5 workers than either Indiana or Ohio, and it has assembly plants that are at risk of being closed down, as well as a chunk of suppliers hoping to get paid.

Still, I wonder if it embarrasses Senators Corker and Shelby and McConnell that the Canucks care more about the American auto industry than the plantation caucus does? 

Though I guess it’s not surprising. For all his shortcomings, Prime Minister Stephen Harper probably realizes–as members of the plantation caucus apparently don’t–that it’s a stupid idea for politicians to actively pursue the impoverishment of a country’s workers.

In any case, skdadl, Petrocelli, the rest of you lovely Canucks? Thanks for the help! I’ll have to buy you all a bridge loan beer when we have that meet-up in Toronto, I guess.

80 replies
  1. Alison says:

    Over at HuffPo, there’s a blog post about how the Big 3 wouldn’t be in trouble if they were Canadian. Well, 20% of the workers and output are in Canada.

    Last month, there were 66,000 unemployment claims in Ontario. The rest of Canada? Only 5000.

    There are only 12,700,000 people in Ontario. If the US had the same rate of claims, you’d have seen about 2 million last month alone.

    So it’s urgent. Almost all of Ontario’s manufacturing is autos or auto parts.

    If the Big 3 go, the province has almost nothing else happening. Like Flint.

    I think it’s time to buy the plants out and lease them at $1 per year to Bombardier to make mass transit vehicles, but nobody’s listening to me.

    • marymccurnin says:

      You are a person after my own heart. Exactly what needs to be done.
      But would Americans give up their mobile living rooms to share a seat
      on a train with strangers? Imagine the feeling of community that would
      inspire. Cars have helped destroy the planet and our tribal stability. That
      and the teevee.

      • sunshine says:

        Ahh, Americans are social creatures. Give me a quick comfortable relaxing ride and I will give up those airline flights in a jiffy.

  2. radiofreewill says:

    Sanity is slowly but surely turning the tide for the Auto Industry.

    The Toxic Tumors of Bush’s Ideology are Steadily Shrinking as they get Irradiated with More Common Sense.

    They’ve pretty much, imvho, been isolated to the “Build Other People’s Cars to Spite the Union North” Plantation Caucus and the “There’s No Problem Your Money or Assets Can’t Cure” Bankers.

    Under Bush, of course, these Pernicious Toxins were allowed to Go Un-Checked, with a projected Pathology of Imminent Total Body Parasitic Collapse.

    Now, after Long and Patient re-hab efforts, We appear to be, finally, about five-and-a-half weeks away from a Wellness-Restoring Gooper-ectomy.

    May Common Sense Prevail!

      • radiofreewill says:

        manys, surely I’m not German because I ‘over-use’ capitalization; I’m talking about the triumph of social tolerance over social control here?

        However, you are having a relaxing impact on me, all the same – thanks!

  3. sunshine says:

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you Canadians. Our next vacation will be in Canada. Very recently I have become aware of how much I like the northern seasons as opposed to the hotter dryer south.

  4. eCAHNomics says:

    I thought Harper shut down the Canadian parliament until January, though I admit to not being current on that item. How does that influence the bridge loan?

    Now, to make it really embarrassing, MEXICO out to throw in a small amount, say a couple hundred thousand dollars, since the industry is pretty integrated across NAFTA.

    I must say that I did not think of the Canadian alternative, which makes perfect sense in retrospect. I had been really depressed about the consequences for the economy.

    However, this does not dint the U.S. anti-union movement. The industry will need much more help over the next year or more, Shelby, Corkhead, and McConnell will use that to claim they were the only ones who were right. They will continue to fight unions, and with spineless U.S. Ds, Card Check looks doubtful.

    Sorry to be unable to savor the moment, which is really really important good news.

  5. sunshine says:

    I found this on wiki in Warren Buffett’s bio.

    In his letter to shareholders in March, 2005, Warren Buffett predicted that in another ten years’ time the net ownership of the U.S. by outsiders would amount to $11 trillion. “Americans … would chafe at the idea of perpetually paying tribute to their creditors and owners abroad. A country that is now aspiring to an ‘ownership society’ will not find happiness in – and I’ll use hyperbole here for emphasis – a ’sharecropping society’.”
    Author Ann Pettifor has adopted the image in her writings and has stated: “He is right. And so the thing we must fear most now, is not just the collapse of banks and investment funds, or of the international financial architecture, but of a ’sharecropper society, angry at its downfall.”[54][55][56]

    • sunshine says:

      I keep thinking of that post by Ian that when you no longer have products to sell, you sell futures, when you no longer have futures to sell all there is left to sell is land.

      Through the 700 bil bail out Bush has control of that. Who has money to purchase land other than the rich?

      So I wonder if the Chinese cars and banks coming to USA next yr and so many foreign auto co’s was a payment from Bush to his foreign creditors?

  6. Quebecois says:

    Still, I wonder if it embarrasses Senators Corker and Shelby and McConnell that the Canucks care more about the American auto industry than the plantation caucus does?

    Embarrassed, nah, they just don’t care. Typical repugs.

    For all his shortcomings, Prime Minister Stephen Harper probably realizes–as members of the plantation caucus apparently don’t–that it’s a stupid idea for politicians to actively pursue the impoverishment of a country’s workers.

    It probably has more to do with Ignatief coming in. One theocon abdicating to a neocon… Canada’s screwed.

  7. Kassandra says:

    Well, this is the best news I’ve heard in about a month! I love it! When US politicians go crazy, at least the world isn’t so dam dumb.

  8. bell says:

    glad canada is showing some sense, which is surprising ( federally) given that the minority conservative bimbos in power have a talent for mimicking everything their idols bush and company to the south, like to do – screw things up.. – interesting cover story in todays globe and mail- a canuck national paper on how high risk mortgages crept north.. this is an example where the boneheads were successful in screwing things up..…..y/National

    • Ian Welsh says:

      Harper won everything except the cities in Southern Ontario. If the auto industry goes down on his watch, he won’t win a single seat in Southern Ontario next time, and he knows it.

      • bell says:

        they must absorb something other then the canwest global, or quebecor world for news.. reading the toronto star will give a bit more objectivity..a bright spot in a sea of right wing bs for news outlets..

    • Petrocelli says:

      Nu-uh … radiowaves from teh toobz will melt our Igloos … if you want in on the fun. you’re gonna have
      to come here !

  9. Prairie Sunshine says:

    Still, I wonder if it embarrasses Senators Corker and Shelby and McConnell that the Canucks care more about the American auto industry than the plantation caucus does?

    Of course not. But your appellation “plantation caucus” sure suits ‘em. They sure are looking like Chuck Connors in Roots more and more every day. Oh and don’t forget Shelby-Lite = Sessions.

  10. HarpoSnarx says:

    “Still, I wonder if it embarrasses Senators Corker and Shelby and McConnell that the Canucks care more about the American auto industry than the plantation caucus does?”

    Is this a trick question?

    Anyway thanks Canada. BTW would you be interested in merging with what’s left of the U.S. after Red State Goopers and krackers destroy our Union and I don’t mean the UAW.

  11. cinnamonape says:

    I have an idea…rather than requiring the UAW and other unions to roll back their wages and benefits to the levels of the Japanese and Korean firms that got sweetheart deals in Appalachia…how about requiring the union-busting states nationwide to stop undercutting the unions?

    Make those firms pay their own employees at or near a Union scale? After all, it’s anti-competitive policies like these that have forced the Big 2 1/2 into crisis. It would be similar to firms off-shoring to evade paying decent wages. If Corker, Vitter, Shelby and McConnell really cared about their own workers, and giving DECENT jobs to millions of Americans… they’d do this the other way ’round. They’d tell Suburu, Honda, Toyota, Kia, etc….”if you want to do business here, you have to have wages and benefits equivalent to what our workers have.”

  12. Petrocelli says:

    Actually, the various Canadian parties, both federal and provincial, originally proposed a bailout of $6-8 Billion but it has since been whittled down …

    I would like to hear one talking head say that Universal Health Care, as we have up here, would help American manufacturing and all other jobs … in my dreams, right ?

  13. sunshine says:

    It seems like the auto co’s and the UAW are finaly acting like partners with Gettelfinger being the spokesperson for them during the non passage of the auto loan bill. If the auto co’s had of realized your customers have to be able to afford your products to purchase them and helped the union’s grow those factories in the south would have been American co’s rather them foreign. Maybe this will be a turning point and the auto’s exc’s will have learnt a lesson in life. With a world wide recession who will have top priority for the manufacturing industry, US or foreign?

  14. pogge says:

    Did someone mention beer? I could swear someone mentioned beer.

    Yes, parliament is suspended (technically it’s “prorogued”) until Jan. 26th. And it was Harper’s refusal to offer any kind of serious stimulus combined with an economic statement that did offer pokes in the eye to his enemies that started the uproar which led to Harper asking our Governor General to prorogue parliament so we could all, um, cool down. Meanwhile our Finance Minister has moved budget day up to Jan. 27th and is supposedly going to offer serious stimulus.

    Harper got the message that Canadians understand the idea of government spending to prime the pump during an economic downturn. And there are too many votes in Ontario for him to simply ignore the auto industry so he’s doing something even if it appears he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into it.

    I’m not sure if the fact that parliament is on an unscheduled holiday will complicate the matter of actually getting the money moving. But I wonder if they could work around that by having the Ontario government cut the cheques, er, checks. The provincial government continues to function. At least as well as it ever did.

    Incidentally I don’t see skdadl around at the moment but as I recall, she’s not that fond of beer. I’ll have hers. *ducks*

    • sunshine says:

      How long was the Candians working on this aid for US auto co’s. It sure was a pleasant surprise to me. Did Bush, GM, F, or the UAW know?

      • Petrocelli says:

        The first time I heard about it was last week … that all Governments in Canada had agreed to a $6-8 Billion Bailout …

      • pogge says:

        As Petrocelli wrote, the first I heard of it was about a week ago when it was reported that the auto manufacturers had requested six to eight billion. I’d thought it was strictly between the companies and the federal and Ontario governments. I think, for example, that Quebec and BC are much more concerned about softwood lumber which was seriously hurting before the current financial crisis even began to heat up.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Also, the Union is allowed to ask the workers at the Jap plants whether they want to organize and the workers always say, “Thanks but no thanks !”

    • dakine01 says:

      Doesn’t mean anything; so does Kentucky with Toyota, GM, and Ford plants plus suppliers to all of the above and others.

  15. Petrocelli says:

    I believe that in Canada, during a layoff, employees of the Big3 get all or nearly their salary.

    Is that the case in America ?

  16. skdadl says:

    Yes, Alison @ 2 has the numbers: Ontario (which has a Liberal provincial government) is in some trouble, and Harper knows that he can only hate us so far. When even Harper and Tony Clement and Dubya know that the plantation caucus are shooting selves in feet, you know that you are looking at a very odd group of people in that caucus.

    eCAHNomics @ 10, it’s true that Parliament is prorogued, but Steve likes it better that way. He gets to rampage all on his own. He is about to appoint 18 senators, just like that.

    I’ll have to read more to see whether this deal needs ratification both federally, when Parliament comes back, and at Queen’s Park (provincial parliament in Toronto), but it’s not going to have any trouble, I shouldn’t think.

    It’s true: we are such nice guys. Now, could you send us someone groovy as a new ambassador?

      • skdadl says:

        Well, for a long time, I thought John Edwards would be nice. I actually still don’t see the problem with Edwards, but there seems to be one. We can has Elizabeth?

        • emptywheel says:

          Hold on. Elizabeth is likely going to be a crucial help to Daschle to get us healthcare so you guys don’t have to keep giving us money.

          How about Oprah Winfrey?

          • Petrocelli says:


            Seriously though, I don’t need more competition up here, even the fruit ‘n’ nut self- help variety …

          • skdadl says:

            We do quite well with former TV personalities in figurehead roles — the current and former GGs, eg. So, sure, Oprah if she’s thinking she wants to slow the pace a little.

            I’d really most like Joe the Biden, but I understand that he is otherwise occupied. That is the problem: everyone I want you are already keeping busy.

  17. reader says:

    There’s been talk of Canadian aid since the talk started in the states, probably driven by requests in both places from the CEOs. It’s never been ruled out here in Canada, but there was a lot of cover language about having to wait and see what the US did which did make sense.

    Canada can’t prop up the whole US industry of course and there is a serious exposure for any Canadian funds going to support a US-based industry. Once Bush made a move, the Canadians stepped right up to offer their share. There are strings attached mostly to protect the Canadian investment in Canadian jobs I hope. However, US automakers have not been force to honour prior Canadian financed agreements which causes anger here.

    As you can see from the Ontario job losses figures it’s getting quite bleak here. I’m hoping will have borne a larger portion of the cuts so far. Still, it’s scary.

    Our major part supplier is already making major cuts and there is talk that the January shutdowns will send some suppliers into bankruptcy here.

    How long before the foreign automakers have to step in to support suppliers so the automakers can keep operating, I wonder?

    I expect Obama is planning to make healthcare a key part of his economic restructuring. Removing healthcare costs in the U.S. would amount to a major stimulus all on its own which could not be denied. Some of the figures I have seen suggest it would have a huge financial impact, right away. It may be the biggest thing he could do early on. It may become necessary.

    • Petrocelli says:

      That’s my take … Universal Health Care should be sold as a major economic boon to America on the whole, despite what the Private Insurance companies say.

      I think this will define Obama’s administration and America’s future.

    • Petrocelli says:

      With you also on the Big 3 going back on their word after previous Gov’t handouts without retribution.

      We’ve already had several big Parts suppliers go under over the past 2-3 years.

  18. reader says:

    yeah, skdadl, i sure am glad to see the back of that buffoon Amb. Wilkins (Bush crony) from the exalted south.

  19. reader says:

    US exploitation of NAFTA dispute resolution processes over what the US said were unfair Canadian subsidies to softwood had already all but killed the softwood industry. It if hadn’t have been weakened by years of legal wrangling, we might have been able to save it.

    The trail on that mess goes all the way to the WH including the probable use of Canadian fines to support the Bush political machine. SPIT.

    Talk about protectionism.

  20. TheraP says:


    O/T, but I’m posting a link to a short blog you might want to read. Info that was on the web is disappearing (related to the Ill gov, Fitz’s criminal complaint, and a Sun Times reporter) disappearing from the Chicago Sun Times website. This, to me, seems like it’s up your alley, so maybe you want to have a look-see and a think:


  21. bell says:

    one big difference between canada and the usa as it relates to the auto industry is that ontario is the business and auto heartland of canada. michigan is not the same in the usa… there is a lot more at stake politically for canuck politicians then it appears their is for there counterparts in the usa.. i wouldn’t credit canucks with too much especially the bozos who want to be just like their ‘conservative’ brethren to the south..

  22. Petrocelli says:

    *smacks forehead*can’t see the forest for the trees sometimes …

    Marcy, here’s the obvious reason for the huge dip in Prius sales – New Prius to debut Jan. 12th – along with increased wait times, Toyota stopped building old Priuses to retool and make the new model …

  23. bluebutterfly says:

    GM invested in China and had record car sales in 2005.

    Now, in 2008, sales have gone down. GM, like so many other companies decided to invest in China instead of America. When GM’s Chinese sales started tanking, the big three started looking for American tax payer money for a bailout.…..-in-china/…..of-th.html

    Now, the people who ‘Killed the Electric Car’, have lost the electric car, bus, truck, etc. market to China. The Zap Co…in Santa Rosa CA.

    • bmaz says:

      It is not one or the other; GM has a global reach. This is a false picture you are painting here, the global operations, those outside the US, are still relatively profitable. The electric car they killed, the EV-1 should have been killed, it was never ready for production in the first place. GM is still in fine shape for electric tech; in fact, very good shape.

  24. skdadl says:

    Sorry to be depressing on a Saturday night, but there are three more dead Canadians in Afghanistan and four more dead British Marines, three of whom died in what seems to have been a suicide bombing by a thirteen-year-old child.

    I think that brings the total of Canadian dead up to 103, and the British to 132. Given the difference in the sizes of national contingents, I hope it’s registering somewhere (I’d prefer Ottawa as the first place) that Canada is taking disproportionate losses, the highest of all, I believe.

    But that’s not even really the point. The point is that we all need smart diplomacy on Afghanistan/Pakistan yesterday, and we are just not getting it. And we all know why that has been true so far. Dick Cheney and his quiet little seances with Musharraf.

    The hell of these last eight years. It has been unspeakable. Please make that clear to your Mr Obama.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Amen skdadl … wasted lives and treasure and Harper’s Fundy pals use their deaths for political capital.

      Iggy had better turf Harper or he will steal The Weakest Liberal Leader crown from Dion.

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