Sunday, December 14, 2008

Canada’s Clement Says Forestry, Mining May Get Aid

(Bloomberg News)

Canada’s Industry Minister Tony Clement said the forestry and mining industries are being considered for assistance in next month’s budget as the Canadian and U.S. governments move closer to helping U.S. automakers.

“We’ve got a number of industries in distress,” Clement said on CTV’s “Question Period” today. “Other industrial sectors, other extraction sectors, are on the table for our budget coming out on Jan. 27.”

Clement said financial help for General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co. remains the top priority. The minister announced Dec. 13 that the Canadian government and the province of Ontario will provide aid for the struggling carmakers if the U.S. government provides its own support.

“I am optimistic” that the U.S. will provide a rescue package, said Clement. “The Bush administration has made it pretty clear that they think a rescue is necessary to save the entire industry.”

Clement said he expects the U.S. will act within days.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is consulting with all Canadian premiers in advance of next month’s budget to determine what help may be needed, Clement said. He cited the forestry, mining and retail industries as among those that are most affected by the economic recession.

Canada’s contribution to an auto bailout will be proportional to Canada’s 20 percent share of North American production, Clement said last week. That would amount to $2.8 billion if the U.S. provides $14 billion.

Canada will demand “a heck of a lot of oversight” over any money provided to the carmakers, he said. “The taxpayers have to know they can get their money out of this, that the money is going to be returned to the treasury,” he said.