Harper touts landmark deal as opponents call for more details on compensation

Stephen Harper hit the hustings Tuesday morning touting a landmark trade deal, and new money to pay for any ill effects the agreement will have on the domestic auto sector.

OTTAWA — Stephen Harper hit the hustings Tuesday morning touting a landmark trade deal, and new money to pay for any ill effects the agreement will have on the domestic auto sector.

The Conservative leader announced a $1-billion package to help the auto industry cope with the repercussions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, following a $4.3-billion package for dairy farmers.

The $1 billion Harper pledged would be spread in equal $100 million annual payments for 10 years, and is contingent on the Conservatives getting re-elected on Oct. 19. The dairy farmer pledge is for that funding to be spread over 15 years.

Under the program announced Tuesday, grants would be offered to companies that make firm commitments to build new auto assembly plants.

“The programs we have here are not compensation programs,” Harper said. “They are incentive programs to attract this kind of investment into the sector and keep this kind of investment in the sector.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the money is being used to “buy off favoured sectors” and “simply punish taxpayers” with unneeded spending.

The signing of the 12-country Pacific Rim pact dominated talk on the election trail Tuesday, as Harper’s opponents raised questions about the deal, while auto workers protested outside Harper’s event in Whitby, Ont.

Statistics Canada showed the country’s trade deficit grew to $2.5 billion in August as exports posted their biggest decline since 2012 due to a sharp drop in oil prices.

However, exports of motor vehicles and parts rose 3.1 per cent to $7.8 billion due to a 4.5 per cent increase in exports of passenger cars and light trucks.

The International Monetary Fund cut its growth outlook for the Canadian economy on Tuesday to just 1.0 per cent for the year, due to the drop in oil prices and reduced investment in the energy sector.

The forecast is down from the IMF’s expectation in July for Canadian growth of 1.5 per cent. The organization also lowered its Canadian outlook for 2016 to 1.7 per cent from 2.1 per cent.

Harper said the deal would be a much needed boost to the Canadian economy, and ultimately help the auto sector in the long-term by opening up international demand for locally-made products.

Speaking in Surrey, B.C., NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called on Harper to release the full text of the agreement before Canadians go to the polls on Oct. 19 so they can see how many jobs are at risk because of the trade deal. He called the deal a “Trojan Horse” to the Canadian dairy sector that would erode government protections on market access by foreign producers.

He said the money the Conservatives are promising to give to the auto sector was an admission that there will be job losses as a result of the trade deal.

“The best form of evidence is an admission,” Mulcair said. “So what Stephen Harper is doing there is that he’s admitting that he’s going to be killing off tens of thousands of jobs in the auto sector. He’s just admitted it by talking about that sort of compensation.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he wanted more information on the compensation packages designed to ease the transition for the auto sector to the deal’s new tariff structure.

He also said Harper hadn’t properly explained to Canadians how they would benefit from the trade deal.

“We have a prime minister that is happy to sign trade deals, but hasn’t done a very good job on talking to Canadians about the kinds of benefits that come from trade,” he said in Montreal.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

WATCH: Songwriters discuss what makes a great country tune, creative process

Alberta Country Music Awards Songwriters Showcase was held in Red Deer Saturday

RCMP investigating fatal fire in Wetaskiwin

Wetaskiwin RCMP and the Major Crimes unit are investigating after human remains… Continue reading

The Mustard Seed to launch new wellness centre in Red Deer

A new service is coming to Red Deer to help the city’s… Continue reading

Penhold firefighters handle ‘difficult’ blaze

Penhold firefighters battled a “difficult” blaze Friday afternoon. Fire crews were called… Continue reading

Clearwater County firefighter recruitment campaign deemed a success

A firefighter recruitment campaign is being considered a success by Clearwater County.… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: The basics you need for your body type

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 1 A Jump Rope Competition will be held at the Abbey… Continue reading

Weersink and Kings shutout top-ranked NAIT Ooks

Queens hockey also knock off Olds College Broncos

Calgary Hitmen roll over Rebels 5-2

Hitmen 5 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels looked like a team… Continue reading

RDC Queens sweep weekend series with Lethbridge

The RDC Queens picked up a pair of crucial wins on the… Continue reading

Photos: Strong turnout for 38th annual Oilmen’s Bonspiel

The 38th annual Red Deer Oilmen’s Bonspiel is well underway at the… Continue reading

St. John’s, N.L., lifts state of emergency eight days after massive storm

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The City of St. John’s has lifted a… Continue reading

Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay announces Tory leadership bid

STELLARTON, N.S. — Former federal cabinet minister Peter MacKay says he will… Continue reading

Most Read