An Albertan saved country’s car industry; a Quebecer killed our energy industry

trudeauParliament
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau works up his courage and returns to Parliament

Let’s hop into the wayback machine and take a look at how we handled the Great Automobile Crisis of 2008.

Anybody remember how Canada and the United States handled that one?

Bueller? Bueller?

No?

Let me refresh everyone’s memories.

In 2008 the world was consumed by the epic crash of credit markets. The crash had wide ranging effects on everyone’s lives.

First, automobile sales fell by about 15 per cent in the first 10 months of 2008 and then by a whopping 32 per cent in October.

Why?

Well, the lack of available credit for car buyers.

That was the stone that started a rock slide.

Second, the credit crunch also meant manufacturers could not get loans from banks to carry on. They were caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.

The net result was that the Big Three – General Motors, Chrysler and Ford – were on the verge of bankruptcy.

Now, companies go bankrupt all the time, but in this case governments on both sides of the border saw things a little differently.

In this case, hundreds of thousands of jobs were on the line. Between Canada and the United States automobile manufacturers employed more than one million men and women.

Those men and women vote. They are concentrated in two provinces and a handful of states.

Politicians don’t like angry voters. Politicians like to keep their well-paying jobs.

As a consequence, politicians on both sides of the border acted – quickly.

Washington ponied up close to $90 billion and Ottawa coughed up another $4 billion. Ontario threw in $1.3 billion.

The money doled out came in the form of loans and outright stock purchases.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – a Westerner – was leading the country back then. He could have let the automobile industry die right then and there.

After all, Canadians would still be able to buy cars from Japan, Korea and Europe. But that wasn’t his thinking.

“This is a regrettable but necessary step to protect the Canadian economy,” Harper said. “The government will not allow the Canadian automotive sector — which is inextricably linked with U.S. automakers — to fail.”

Here was an Albertan who loved his country. And even though bailing out automobile manufacturers would not benefit the West in any way, shape or form, he chose to act.

Working in concert with President George Bush, Harper worked out a deal that saved the day and the jobs of hundreds of thousands workers in Canada.

Hey, that’s what Canadians do. We stick up for each other. One of us goes down and we’re here to help.

Well, that is how it used to be.

Now, we have a prime minister from Quebec who hates Alberta, who hates our energy industry, who doesn’t know what it means to be a Canadian.

Canada’s energy industry which contributes 10 per cent of our GDP and 23 per cent of Alberta’s GDP is being assailed on all sides. The raging OPEC feud is driving prices down. The raging pandemic is killing demand.

What does Trudeau do?

He tosses us a bone.

Where are the bridging loans companies need to weather the storm?

Demand will return once this infernal pandemic is over. People will need our oil for decades to come.

The industry is on the brink of collapse and if it does, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be gone.

Of course, those jobs are in the West, so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Ok. We get it. We know how this game is played.

Westerners have long memories. We won’t forget this.


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