By these numbers alone, it’s clear that Canada cannot aim to simply duplicate such programs. But although we cannot match the U.S. dollar for dollar, we can and should focus our limited resources on specific areas where we know we can contribute an indispensable component in newly forming supply chains. Though we will never be Goliath, surely we can be David.
Therefore, third and finally, we must find and loudly trumpet where we punch above our weight.
Case in point. Last week’s announcement that Volkswagen will construct its first North American “gigafactory” in St. Thomas, Ont., for battery cell manufacturing is a major victory. This is not an anomaly but a road map.
A recent Clean Energy Canada report highlighted that Canada, with the right approach, can become an electric vehicle battery powerhouse — with $48 billion flowing into our economy annually.
Why? Because all the indispensable ingredients are right here in the True North, Strong and Free. A domestic supply of necessary critical minerals. A highly educated workforce. Political stability. Free trade agreements. Low carbon electricity in our manufacturing heartland. It’s a golden opportunity, and irrespective of Biden’s vast carrot patch south of the border, businesses like VW have taken notice.
To fully exploit these opportunities, we must be prepared to spend not millions, but billions. Not on broad subsidies, but on laser-targeted incentives. And let’s be clear: this kind of bold and committed action, the kind our reality demands, is exactly what government is for.
In the biblical tale of David and Goliath, diminutive David understood that he had one advantage, not size or strength, but his sling. If Canada intends to avoid being trampled by our competitors, we must pick up our rocks, aim high and start slinging.
This article first appeared in the Toronto Star on March 20, 2023.