Kevin Carmichael, Financial Post
November 20th, 2020

Let’s agree that Canada should try to become a player in the electric-vehicle business. Carbon neutral means ditching internal-combustion and diesel engines, and as the economies that make machines that move people around tend to be the world-beaters, let’s go for it.

Here’s another idea: How about trying to do it without showering hundreds of millions of dollars of scarce public resources on legacy automakers? It’s probably too late, since the Big Three are well on their way to getting a new round of gifts worth more than $1 billion from the governments of Canada and Ontario, but maybe we dam the flow there because there are better ways to maximize public investment.

“I’m not sure that money is intended to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles,” said Ralph Torrie, president of Torrie Smith Associates Inc., an environment and energy consultant based in Coburg, Ont. “Those handouts are more about trying to get a piece of the action for the Canadian manufacturing workers. The benefits from those plants accrue to the people who get the jobs working at them.”

The case for public intervention in this case is sound. Northern parts of the country are rich in the minerals needed to make batteries, and there is a decent amount of manufacturing capacity and talent congregated around urban centres in Ontario and Quebec. That means supply chains could be short. And, thanks to Donald Trump, we are party to a new North American managed trade agreement that Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, credits with a string of big investments in Ontario by the Big Three automakers.

Read the full article here.