DriveNorth: Changing the Face of the Canadian Auto Industry?


logoOn August 19th in Ottawa, several Canadian car experts gathered together to participate in a conference called DriveNorth, presented by the CARTA initiative. Their mission? Figuring out how best to facilitate a Canadian car production industry. Wait a minute, not just assembly, but production?

Regarding the impetus for this conference, event organizer Scott Paterson had this to say, amongst other things:

“We desperately need our own sector and we need to develop it immediately, before China and India arrive here with their offerings.

“While other G8 countries create cars, Canada assembles cars, mainly America’s cars. And that must change, for nationalistic reasons, and for economic reasons.” Nationalistic reasons? Please, is Paterson not familiar with Einstein´s famous quote? And what were those economic reasons again? There are plenty of industries that Canada should be moving towards, but a decrepit automotive one is not on the list of suitable candidates. How about battery technology? Or solar cells?

Paterson continued, “Recent events in the global auto sector revealed that not having our own auto sector completely exposes us to foreign boardrooms.

“When America demanded 10 billion dollars to keep their factories open here, we did what every child would do in the school yard, we handed over the lunch money.” Well, if our federal government really was as conservative as their name implied, they would not have handed over the lunch money.

Just who is attending this conference? Keynote speeches will be given by former industry minister Allan Rock and former Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada head Thomas Brzustowski. Also attending will be several officials from various governmental and university organizations, including Automotive Partnership Canada, Transport Canada and Windsor University—as well as some startup Canadian electric car companies.

Can such a conference live up to its promise? With a promise like that, hopefully not.

[The Observer]