THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – A delegation of business, government and labour representatives from Thunder Bay have just returned from Toronto following meetings with senior Provincial and City of Toronto representatives focused on discussing the many mutual benefits associated with Thunder Bay’s long-standing and important transportation relationship with Toronto.
The delegation also outlined the transportation linkages between the two cities and the need to address domestic content requirements.
“Our plant in Thunder Bay is the answer to the needs of the Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx,” said Mayor Bill Mauro. “A different provider would be more expensive and cause significant delay in meeting the near term needs of the TTC and Metrolinx. We must also continue to make the point that a local content requirement would level the playing field with competing jurisdictions.”
“We are not asking for a handout, we are pushing for fair treatment,” explained Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission Chair, Craig Urquhart. “Other countries are pursuing domestic content requirements with vigor; we need to ensure all levels of Government understand and address the unleveled playing field that currently exists.”
The delegation from Thunder Bay included:
- MP Elect Marcus Powlowski
- Mayor Bill Mauro
- Councillor Brian McKinnon
- Community Economic Development Commission Chair, Craig Urquhart
- City Manager Norm Gale
- Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce President Charla Robinson
- Domenic Pasqualino, President, Unifor Local 1075
- Gary Bragnalo, Unifor National Representative
While in Toronto, the group met with Ontario Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney and her staff; Associate Minister of Transportation Kinga Surma, as well as City of Toronto Councillor and TTC Board Member Shelley Carroll.
- While the original TTC cars came from England, all of the subsequent TTC orders for subway cars have been made in Thunder Bay.
- Key world markets (e.g. USA, China, India) are very adept at leveraging public procurement in public transit for local manufacturing gain.
- The “Buy America” provision in the US will see the local content requirement go from 65% this year to 70% next year, which gives a clear advantage to domestic manufacturers.
- The Government of Canada’s Crown Corporation, VIA Rail, recently awarded Siemens – a German company – a $989 million CDN contract for new rail passenger trains as well as a 15-year parts and service agreement. The rail cars are slated to be built in California.