For the first time since the last election I find myself questioning the Liberal government in Canada. The big news this week was 8 plant closures by GM world wide. One of those closures is in Ontario and the local union is being very vocal about the decision. On CBC-1 today there was an open discussion on wether the government should get involved. Almost every caller said yes.
I don’t get it. The business is failing mostly because of a changing market place, declining quality, lack of innovation and a general inability to compete.
The plant in question is a major employer in the area and I feel sorry for the workers that will lose their jobs next summer, but I don’t believe that the government should interfere with the nature order of things. When I was a much younger man, I was a dedicated GM enthusiast. Over the past 20 years however, quality has steadily declined and the models have been uninspiring.
Tesla on the other hand, is the first new North American car company in decades and they have innovated to the point of revolutionizing the auto industry. They fearlessly try new things and although they continuously flirt with bankruptcy, they seem to be hanging in there. Musk was quoted in the book “Musk” saying that the purpose of Tesla was to prove to other car manufacturers that there was a market for electric cars. He continued to say that the long term life of Tesla was not a priority especially if other car companies got the message. He has always welcomed competition and it looks like he may get some soon.
If the Canadian Government wants to save the jobs in Ontario, they should save their money and approach someone like Musk to see if he wants a manufacturing facility in Canada. They could give it away and it would cost less than propping up a failing business. In the past the government has thrown money at companies like Chrysler and Ford so they would keep jobs in Canada only to have them walk away a few years later. Chrysler for example merged with Fiat and said the new company would not honour deals made by the old company.
It seems clear to me that the government should stay out of private industry and let the market decide who wins and loses. If they want to invest, pick someone who is an innovator. Someone who would build something new that Canada could use to compete on a global stage. Maybe Teslsa could open a plant in Ontario and build the “Model 4” or maybe some other young Canadian University graduate (Like Musk) could build a completely new form of autonomous transport for the world’s aging population.