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Danielle Smith: Another bailout for GM? No way

The General Motors Canada office in Oshawa, Ont., on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
The General Motors Canada office in Oshawa, Ont., on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin

Anytime regular people are hurt by decisions outside their control, I feel sympathy.

In Alberta, we feel the pain every day. So it is indeed sad that the workers at the Oshawa GM plant were let down by both their federal government and their union leadership with the pending closure of their plant.

READ MORE: General Motors the latest auto giant to ramp up high-tech transformation

It is too bad the federal government is more focused on carbon dioxide emissions reductions and social justice identity politics than in negotiating trade agreements that make Canada an attractive place to invest.

With a renewed USMCA, it is clear now that GM would rather produce its popular North American brands in the U.S. or Mexico than here.

As for expanding their electric vehicle manufacturing – which is why they said they were cutting down this plant – it makes more sense to produce them where people want to buy them — in China.

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In fact, shouldn’t the federal government be celebrating the reduction in upstream and downstream emissions that will come from this closure?

READ MORE: Fallout from news of General Motors Oshawa plant closure announcement

Unifor boss Jerry Diaz is now full of ideas about how GM could shift its strategy to produce more popular cars in Oshawa. Bring back the Camaro! Maybe he should have been spending his time working on that problem rather than launching a broadside a couple of weeks ago declaring Unifor the new Resistance and “Andrew Scheer’s worst nightmare” in the next federal election.

Or perhaps the Unifor leadership should have been more focused on defending jobs in the auto sector rather than trying to kill jobs in our energy sector. Recall that Unifor actively campaigned against the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline, even going so far as to seek intervenor status against it at the National Energy Board hearings.

Listen: Danielle speaks with James Robson, VP of Operations with Canada Action about the Calgary oil and gas rally

So it is true that the hardworking men and women at the Oshawa plant got let down, but it is beyond galling that the union boss thinks one of the solutions is for the federal government to step in with a bailout.

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After all, where does Ottawa get all the spare change it has to dump money into corporate welfare cases like General Motors? From taxpayers in Alberta – in a typical year, we give $20 billion more to Ottawa than we get back in federal transfers.

So let’s have a little hard truth about how most Albertans are feeling about the prospects of a bailout for GM.

I heard from Tim in Drayton Valley who used to employ 400 people in his oilfield service company and now doesn’t even have enough work to employ himself. I heard from Brad in Slave Lake whose trucking company has had to lay off 100 people. The loss of jobs in these communities is just as significant as the job losses in Oshawa, and no one is stepping in to give money to Tim or Brad.

Listen: Danielle Smith speaks with Aaron Wudrick, federal director with Canadian Taxpayers Federation

GM is failing in Oshawa because they are producing cars that consumers no longer want. Our businesses in Alberta are failing because the federal government can’t get its act together to approve pipelines so we can sell a product that the world does want.

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READ MORE: Rachel Notley unveils carbon tax break for oil and gas drilling companies

It is sad 2,300 workers in Oshawa will be losing their jobs with the closure of the GM plant. It is sad that the Ontario economy will lose $5 billion a year with the closure. It is also sad that the federal and provincial governments will lose about $900 million a year in combined taxes.

But it is even sadder that because we can’t get pipelines built, the Alberta economy has lost more than 100,000 jobs, that our economy is losing $30 billion a year, and our governments are deprived of billions in tax revenue. Let’s have a little perspective, please.

Danielle Smith is host of The Danielle Smith Show on Global News Radio 770 Calgary. She can be reached at danielle@770chqr.com.