Is Canada’s subsidy of Volkswagen EV battery plant ‘corporate welfare’ or a once-in-a-lifetime investment? – by David Olive (Toronto Star – April 27, 2023)

Our auto sector has been in decline, writes David Olive. The commitment to St. Thomas plant could be a chance for Canada to reboot its automaking leadership

It’s fair to say that the outpouring of corporate subsidies by Canadian governments is without precedent in recent times. We should talk about that. Is it a wise use of public money? The latest flashpoint for criticism of that largesse is the recently announced $7 billion electric vehicle (EV) battery plant, subsidized by governments, that Volkswagen AG plans to build in St. Thomas, Ont.

In the past few years, Ottawa, Ontario, and Quebec have been using public funds to kick-start the development and commercialization of advanced technologies in everything from clean-energy steelmaking in Ontario to “green cement” in Edmonton.

Ottawa is also subsidizing a network of small pharma companies to restore Canada’s leadership in vaccine research and manufacturing. Ottawa and Ontario have jointly funded the transition to EV assembly at each of the five multinationals that make cars in Ontario.

And earlier this month, the feds unveiled a $470 million joint venture with L.M. Ericsson to bulk up the Swedish firm’s R&D operations in Ottawa and Montreal.

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