Posts Tagged ‘globalization’
At the National Post Chris Selley notes Bombardier’s multiple problems in delivering streetcars to Toronto on time, and wonders why we should protect it.
If the bidding process for these streetcars wasn’t rigged in Bombardier’s favour, you can’t blame people for being suspicious. Skoda’s highly regarded 10T model was conveniently excluded because the TTC insisted on a 100 per cent low-floor model. (The 10T was 50 per cent low-floor; its successor is 100 per cent.) Siemens struggled with the Cancon requirement, and dropped out of the initial, aborted bidding process at the last minute. You certainly can’t say Toronto did everything possible to get the best deal — indeed, then-TTC chairman Adam Giambrone had hoped to aim for 50 per cent Cancon, and board member Glenn De Baeremaeker tried to have whole thing sole-sourced to Bombardier, all based on the premise that Thunder Bay will suffer if we don’t buy domestic, and that that’s the TTC’s business.
It is a maddeningly parochial, small-minded view masquerading as benevolence, and it’s not just confined to transit. Last year, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives warned that CETA, the Canada-Europe free trade deal, would turn all of government procurement on its ear: It would “substantially restrict the vast majority of provincial and municipal government bodies from using public spending as a catalyst for achieving other societal goals.”
Daniel Schwanen, vice-president, research, at the C.D. Howe Institute, agrees it’s a big change — but a positive one, inasmuch as Canadian firms now have reciprocal access to the enormous European procurement market. Indeed, even as Vancouver buys Canada Line trains from South Korea, and Metrolinx buys UP Express trains from Japan, and Edmonton buys LRT units from Germany, the vast majority of Bombardier’s business in Thunder Bay is domestic — in large part because it’s so tough to sell to our most obvious potential foreign customer.
“When we negotiated the NAFTA, the U.S. and Mexico were ready to talk business regarding more open state and provincial and local procurement markets,” says Schwanen. But Canadian provinces weren’t up for it. Schwanen suggests they were more amenable during the European negotiations precisely because their companies found themselves locked out of the U.S. market, and didn’t much like it.
In short, instead of imagining job losses in Thunder Bay, we could be imagining all the jobs freer trade might create there to serve foreign markets.