Ontario Premier Doug Ford teased delegates attending the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario conference in Toronto recently that there are huge new electric car battery plants in Ontario’s near future.
Partway through a prepared speech, Ford joked that his script had disappeared off the teleprompter and he would be going “off-script.” He soon began talking about the recovery of the auto sector under his government. Ford, GM and Stellantis are all now committed long-term to the province, and “We’re going to be the number one manufacturer of electric cars anywhere,” he said.
The reason he was relating this to the construction sector, he said, stemmed from a call he was on with Ford “negotiating deals.”
“I mentioned batteries about 30 times on the call,” he said.
Then he was speaking to a CEO a week later and said, referring to battery plants, “We have the natural resources. We have the cobalt, we have the lithium, we have the nickel. We have everything here. And you should be building it here.”
A month later he got another call from a firm he can’t disclose.
“And this is where the trades come into play. They said, ‘We want to open up in Ontario, a seven-million-square-foot building.’ Everyone drives by the Amazon buildings and you see about a million square feet. Seven million square feet, and just think of the jobs that’s going to create in the construction trade. ‘And by the way, we need it right away.’
“Word travels quickly around the auto sector, I get another phone call. Another company. ‘We need a three-million-square-foot building to make batteries.’
“Since then folks we have 10 other massive companies wanting to open up here in Ontario. The reason being, we created the conditions, all of us, created the conditions of the greatest workforce anywhere in the world. I put our people up against anyone in North America.”
Ford then compared businesses in the U.S. and Ontario and added, “But guess where it starts? It starts with bricks and mortar, and without folks like yourself and those people out there in the freezing cold, in the summer, none of these businesses would exist.”
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