The Ontario government should have been more open about the terms of its $175-million loan to General Motors, Premier Dalton McGuinty admitted Wednesday amid mounting outrage that taxpayer-funded work schemes haven't prevented automakers from slashing thousands of jobs.
McGuinty didn't deny his government provided conflicting versions of its much-touted "investment" with GM - an interest-free, 50-year loan which wasn't disclosed as such until after GM announced the planned closure of a truck plant in Oshawa, Ont., which employs 2,600 people.
"We should have made that information available earlier," McGuinty said.
"Frankly, I think the loan puts us in a better light than, you know, what was categorized as a giveaway. There was a real cost to it. I understand that. I recognize that and I think it's worth that investment. But I think we could have managed that better."
The province invested $235 million with GM's Beacon project in 2005, $60 million of which went to universities for research and development and the balance to GM for its Oshawa operation.
But details of the agreement were scant until Tuesday, when the Liberals went into damage-control mode and started disclosing several key points of the deal.
The details emerged as McGuinty vowed to recoup part of the GM loan if the automaker didn't live up to its end of the bargain, which included minimum job levels at specific plants and maintaining an average of about 16,000 workers in the province over 10 years. More...