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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bye-bye to buy Canadian

Apparently, a deal may be in the works to exempt Canada from the Buy American provision included in the U.S. stimulus package. Sounds like good news, but this sort of thing cuts both ways. The CBC News Internet site reports that:

“According to Canadian government sources, Ottawa expects that the White House will use its discretionary power to exempt Canada from the clause very soon. In return, Canada would simultaneously announce that its provincial and municipal doors are now wide open to U.S. companies.

“Sources say the announcement could be made when the two countries’ trade negotiators, Don Stephenson, assistant deputy minister, trade policy and negotiations, and Everett Eissenstat, office of the United States trade representative, hold their first formal meeting.”

This could prove to be a case of “be careful what you wish for, it could come true.” Canadian provincial governments such as Ontario and especially municipalities such as Toronto have often gone out of their way to source large procurements from domestic sources.

I’m reminded of the controversy a few years back when the TTC approved plans to give a $499-million untendered subway-car contract to Bombardier. Bombardier planned to build the cars at its Thunder Bay plant and many saw the domestic, in-province angle as the deal winner.

A German-based competitor of Bombardier, Siemens, although it had never been given the opportunity to bid on the proposal, had suggested it could build the cars for $535-million, including items that were not part of the Bombardier base price. While Siemens originally said it would manufacture the trains in China, officials later suggested they would open an Ontario plant. Why open a plant here? Of course, that would have “qualified” them to be a bidder.

Hypocrisy comes in all sizes and shapes—it has ever been thus, and thus it will ever be.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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1 comment — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Largely a meaningless gesture. Many states passed their own buy american provisions for stimulus projects.

    Since very few projects are being funded by purely federal dollars the states will be free to continue imposing restrictions. Window dressing at best.

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