Thank you very much, and thank you, Jim, for your kind introduction.
You know, I think everybody is well aware of the great things that Jim Flaherty has done for Canada as Minister of Finance.
When he talks about the relatively outstanding performance of the Canadian economy, a lot of that is due to him.
And I know that everybody in this room also knows how hard Jim has worked for the people of Oshawa-Whitby, and they also understand how valuable his understanding of the auto sector has been as we’ve dealt with the events of the last few years, and I know we all want to thank him for the great work he’s done on behalf of Canada, and on behalf of Oshawa-Whitby.
Colin, I’d also like to thank you for emceeing this event.
There are a few things that you should all know about my friend and colleague, Dr. Carrie.
Since he was first elected in 2004, Colin has been a strong voice for the automotive industry.
One of the first things he did was to establish the Conservative Automotive Caucus.
He has also been deeply involved in our government’s development of our own automotive action plan, and these days he’s also Parliamentary Secretary for Health.
So he’s one very busy Member of Parliament, and also a tremendous representative for Oshawa, so please, once again, give your thanks to Colin Carrie.
Greetings to all of my other caucus colleagues who have attended as well, to John, to Rick and to Corneliu.
Greetings, of course, to Premier McGuinty, whose government has been deeply and vitally involved in what we are celebrating here today.
And greetings as well to all local officials, to the mayor, to the regional chair, great to have all of you here, and of course, our best wishes to our hosts at General Motors Canada, to President Kevin Williams, and through you, Kevin, our thanks for the hospitality shown today by everyone here at General Motors.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, let me start by saying what a pleasure it is to join General Motors and its guests as the company announces a research and development investment worth almost a billion dollars here in Oshawa.
On such an auspicious day, I can’t help reflecting, as Jim just did, on recalling how different things are now than they were just three years ago.
That was when our government, with the government of Ontario, joined with the United States in supporting the financial restructuring of General Motors.
It was a difficult decision, but under the circumstances, it was the right one.
Indeed, it was the only one.
We believed then that an eventual rebound in the automobile industry was inevitable, and therefore we could not afford a situation in which this industry would have been relocated to the United States.
Auto assembly and the related parts industry constitute the engine of the Southern Ontario manufacturing economy, with spinoff effects throughout this country.
The major investment by our governments, therefore, prevented long-term devastation in many communities.
Of course, the restructuring was not only a matter of government action.
In the company’s return to solvency, employees also played a vital role, one that entailed that we understand great sacrifice.
Still, this is a good story.
Hardworking people, the company and government work together to solve an enormous problem. And now here we are today looking forward with hope.
As you recall, part of the solution was that GM would increase research and development in Canada. Today’s announcement honours that promise, and it demonstrates the company’s long-term commitment to value added manufacturing in our country.
Our Government’s top priority continues to be creating good, well-paying jobs for Canadians. GM’s robust recovery from the worldwide recession, of which these new investments are a powerful symbol, is therefore good news.
The company has already invested in three of its Ontario plants, including here in Oshawa, to allow production of the new full-sized Cadillac STS and the redesigned Chevrolet Impala.
But the satisfaction I take from today’s announcement comes from its exciting future implications.
By increasing research and development here in Oshawa, GM is, to paraphrase an old Buick ad, ensuring that when better cars are built, Canadians will build them.
And over the years, GM’s massive knowledge investment will permeate Canadian centres of learning and industry.
The ripple effects will be felt far and wide.
Research and development, finding better, more efficient ways: that is how we win in a competitive world.
And winning creates its own momentum.
It is the key to jobs and growth.
Innovation, building that winning momentum, is also part of our government’s jobs and growth strategy that we are undertaking in close cooperation with Canadian colleges, universities, and industry.
For example, three years ago, our Government launched the Knowledge Infrastructure Program to help build our capacity to meet Canadian industries’ and Canadian workers’ 21st century needs.
Some of that investment came here to Oshawa, to the skills training centre at Durham College, and to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) to expand its Automotive Centre of Excellence.
We also support Canada’s auto makers with research and development initiatives, such as the Automotive Innovation Fund, Automotive Partnership Canada, and Auto 21.
Projects such as these, plus many others from coast to coast to coast, drive innovation and give Canadians the skills they need, and for businesses, the skills they demand to succeed in a tough global economy.
Now, one more thing: for more than a hundred years, General Motors has helped millions of men and women across multiple generations to buy their homes, feed their families, and give their children hope for a better tomorrow. Our government is also in the business of better tomorrows.
Through our budget, Economic Action Plan 2012, we want to ensure that future generations of children, of our children and grandchildren will have the good Canadian life we have and more.
Therefore everything we do, our reforms to immigration, to Employment Insurance, trade agreements, resource development, public finance, and certainly our investments in science and technology, are guided by this conviction that we must act today so that Canadians will have good choices tomorrow.
The auto industry is a vital national asset. Friends, working together, governments, companies, and employees, our actions have positioned it for long-term success.
So Kevin, it is a pleasure to join you here and all of your people here for this very significant announcement, and I congratulate every one of you.
Thank you very much.