If there was one brutal lesson that we learned during the NAFTA talks with Donald Trump, and that we were reminded of again this week, it was that Canada should never take access to the U.S. market as a given, regardless of what our hard-won agreements may say.
It’s something Flavio Volpe knows intuitively. As the head of the Auto Parts Manufacturers of Canada, he worked tirelessly for the past three years to keep the Canada-U.S. border open to the integrated auto trade, arguing that cross-border supply chains are the path to prosperity for Canadians and Americans alike.
But now, he’s boasting about driving the “largest ever peacetime mobilization of Canada’s industrial capacity” — the burgeoning ability of Canadian firms to produce essential goods within our own borders. There’s no going back — for him or for Canada writ large.
Twigged to the need to rev up Canada’s domestic response in early March when he watched export controls mount in Europe and China, Volpe turned to the sector that he knows so well, and started asking about its ability to switch production to medical supplies.
Now he’s become a manufacturing hero of sorts, sourcing locally, using email and Twitter to mobilize his extensive manufacturing network, getting people to think about how to produce what Canada needs — in Canada, using Canadian firms.