Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Should Aurora Buy Canadian?

Posted by auroracitizen on February 14, 2009

Interesting letter to the editor in the Feb 12 issue of The Banner. A reader writes they spotted a Mercedes-Benz Smart car which had been leased for Town employee use. Their point was that the vehicle should have been Canadian built.

Although we have never seen the vehicle in question (so we will have to take their word for it) the comment raises a philosophical discussion.

Should Aurora (or Canadians) as a matter of course buy Canadian or should Aurora purchase the best value regardless of country of origin?

There are opposing opinions being discussed in the media, but what do you think. Even if the Feds don’t legislate it as a condition of a rescue package, should Aurora purchase Canadian?

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13 Responses to “Should Aurora Buy Canadian?”

  1. Elizabeth Bishenden said

    I think what you’re really asking is “Does Aurora know what its priorities are about its purchases?” Whether Aurora wants to buy Canadian, support its own tax base, help developing countries, or save money, it should clearly define its priorities.

    Aurora spends a lot of money. Do we take advantage of having a professional purchaser? If it did have a purchaser, the town could then purchase according to its ideals, whatever they may be.

    In my opinion, choosing Canadian is a good idea, second only to choosing an item that is suitable for the job. In Toronto, ultra-low emission vehicles are a good idea because they have many employees who need to move through heavy traffic. In Aurora, where vehicles need to have multiple jobs and we don’t have a lot of heavy traffic, ultra-low emission vehicles might not be such a good idea.

  2. Nigel Kean said

    To Robert the Bruce,
    No, the motion wasn't passed due to the concern that we would be spending more. I wanted the motion to read "If the similiar product in Aurora is at the same price or cheaper" but I did not have the support. I personally will buy at Home Hardware,R&R Books,Shoppers (in Aurora),and will eat at local establishments like King Henry Arms,Greystones, Jonathans and of course the Aurora Legion.I do not expect locals to pay more for their goods but it would be great to try, where you can to shop Aurora.There are many local establishments and retailers that really know how to treat customers.
    As a Scot,from birth,I try to be frugal.

  3. Robert the Bruce said

    Nigel,

    Was your motion passed?

    While I think that buying from local sources is good for the local economy, I would only do that if it was cost effective. As the wards of my tax dollars, I would like the Town to spend my money the most beneficial way possible. If a product is available in Aurora at a better cost (factoring in the distance to another location) then by all means by it from an Aurora vendor. But if I can buy a product from a vendor in Newmarket or Vaughan and it costs less to buy it there than an Aurora vendor, I am driving to Vaughan to buy it. I would make sure the Aurora vendor knew why I was buying it there however, perhaps they could sharpen their pencils.

    By the same token, as a resident with a limited amount of money to spend, I will always factor the cost of local vendors above those that are outside of Aurora. Let’s be honest, the bulk of the retail developments in this town are exactly 180 degrees from where I live. It takes me almost as long to drive to the Walmart development at Wellington/404 as it does to scoot up Bathurst to Upper Canada Mall. There has to be a significant cost benefit to buy from those Aurora vendors to get me to drive over there.

  4. Nigel Kean said

    When I was on council I actually put forward a motion that Aurora should buy local in Aurora where possible. At that time the Town was getting their cars repaired in Newmarket.Staff bought product in other communities when the same product was available in Aurora. The retailers in Aurora are those that pay taxes in Aurora and are keeping the economy in Aurora going. I believe that we as residents should support Aurora business where possible including restuarants,bakeries,book stores, drug stores and all other stores.
    While it may not be Canadian it is part of Aurora and we should support it. That includes the Town purchases.

  5. Evelyn Buck said

    Fair Sir Robert

    No offence taken. No apology needed. I welcome an opportunity to proclaim my heritage.I am proud of it.

    We have lost industries in Aurora since the Free Trade Agreement.It
    follows people did lose jobs. I understand the question is not single dimensional. There are advantages and disadvantages.

    There have been on-going court procedures in the field of soft-wood lumber. Decisions made in Canada’s favour continue to be disregarded by the Americans. .At least, that’s the last I read of that situation.

    We know jobs are shipped overseas for lower labour costs.

    Does the domestic market not matter.If it does, what happens to it when jobs leave the country.

    Is it a mistake to make a connection between what’s happening to the south of us and the loss of jobs? It’s a rhetorical question. I can make up my own mind about the answer.

  6. Robert the Bruce said

    Evelyn,

    I think perhaps you read too my into my statements and you are on the defensive. I never said that you were “working class” and if I did, I did not say that it was a bad thing. My comment regarding your “NDP Heritage” was related to your NDP nomination in the late 80’s (1988 if memory serves) and how your comments on the FTA still reflect the NDP platform of that era.

    We are so many years past NAFTA that to bring up now as to how it has cost Canada jobs is false and misleading. NAFTA was a blueprint for all of the other FTA’s that are in place in the world. I remember arguing with NDP friends back in the day and they predicted doom and gloom the moment it was signed.

    My apologies if you somehow feel slighted about my comment.

    Fuimus

  7. Evelyn Buck said

    Fair Sir Robert
    My slant or bias most definitely reflects my working class background. I make no apology for that and take second place to no-one

    I watch Charlie Rose’s program on PBS most days at 1.30pm.His guests are the brightest and the best in every field.His program provides an hour of well-informed discussion ,uninterrupted by commercials. It’s as good and probably superior to any university lecture on current affairs.
    I freely acknowledge my fascination with the ongoing vibrant drama of American political affairs.The characters are always perfect for their roles. No fiction writer could create the script which is their spontaneous dialogue.

    My understanding of American political. social and economic affairs and how it reflects on our
    own, comes from as sound a source as any available.
    And so, Fair Robert with due respect I will hold to my view of things without casting any aspersions on your own.

  8. Geoffrey Dawe said

    All things being equal, yes we should buy “local” – that’s part of what keeps up employed!

    Now, I know this may be a radical idea, but perhaps we should have the facts behind the Town’s acquisition of a Smart Car before jump all over the decision.

    Then we can make a reasoned assesment as to the rationality of this decision.

  9. Robert the Bruce said

    To Anonymous at February 14, 2009 9:34 PM.

    I do not believe that any vehicle is a “Made in xxxxxxxx” vehicle no matter where it is put together.

    For example, I drive a vehicle that has the brand name of a Japanese company. The car is put together in a plant in Michigan, USA. It contains components made in Taiwan, USA, Canada, Japan, and Mexico. Some of those components are made from sub-components that come from other countries. Is this vehcile “Made in USA”? “Made in Japan”? It is a global car. Most cars made today are from the same type of thing.

    It is short-sighted to say that a car that is assembled in Oshawa at GM is a Made in Canada product.

    To Evelyn,
    Your NDP heritage is showing. Without reading the FTA to be sure, I don’t think that providing a stimulus to a company to create jobs contravenes the FTA. I also disagree with you about the FTA costing Canadians jobs. It cost some Canadians jobs that were not competative, but on the whole it created more jobs in other areas than it lost in manufacturing sector jobs.

    Also, the Canadian Auto Industry had an edge because the Canadian dollar made it cheaper to make the vehicles in Canada. Canadian plants were for a time more productive and they got more bang for their buck. The cost of medical coverage was only a factor because the cost is on the taxed dollars of the employees. In the US the cost had to be absorbed by the car companies because greedy trade unions had to fight for it.
    However, anyone that I ever worked with from the US never compared costs of Canadian healthcare vs. US healthcare in national productivity. It was always the exchange rate of the dollar or the productivity of employees.

    I also would not my breath for Mr. Obama and Healthcare reform. There is a huge majority that prefer they way that they have it now and would fight any sort of universal healthcare.

    Fuimus

  10. Evelyn Buck said

    Bylaw Officers do collect signs from public property. A ladder and tools need to be carried to do the job. The Smart Car is not a smart idea for the function.
    I believe The TTC has invested millions in hybrid street cars only to learn they spend as much time in the repair shop as on the streets providing public transportation. They will not be doing that again.
    The American policy of providing “stimulus” to companies which create jobs for Americans has caused a commotion. It contravenes the North American Free Trade Agreement. Which, by the way, has ben costing Canadians their jobs since it was signed.

    The Canadian Auto Industry has an edge only because of the substantially lower cost of medical coverage here than America.
    If the New President keeps his promise to correct that we will lose that edge as well.

  11. Anonymous said

    I don’t have facts to back it up, but I am pretty sure that if you’re in contravention of a sign bylaw the bylaw officer isn’t going to just remove your sign. I believe they send you a written notice, etc. At least I think I recall hearing that at some point – your sign isn’t simply confiscated.

    And, to respond to Robert the Bruce’s comment… “The vehicle must be Canadian” – MADE in Canada? And, how do we, as consumers really know? If parts are imported from overseas and the car is assembled in Canada, is it MADE in Canada? Are we buying Canadian?

    Reminds me of the juice labels that say ‘contains real fruit juice’, and then when you read the small print, there are a whole bunch of other things listed first, and then ‘real fruit juice’.

  12. Anonymous said

    Perhaps we should debate the real smart car issue. What is the purpose of the car? For By-law officers? What do by-law officers do? Issue tickets, enforce by-laws such as the sign by-law. And what happens when the sign by-law is contravened? By-law officers remove the sign…but oops, it can’t fit into the car. Now staff would have to call a department with a truck, and another staff member to drive the truck. In sum, more staff, more manhours, more vehicles, more emissions..suddenly the car isn’t very smart…is it? Instead of blonde jokes we can now start a new joke…how many Town Staff does it take to remove a sign? Looks like the jokes on Aurora…

  13. Robert the Bruce said

    We walk a double edge sword when you mandate “buying Canadian”. Let’s look at what vehicles are actually made in Canada….

    Ford – mini-vans, large sedans (Crown Vic’s), trucks

    GM – trucks, mid-size sedans

    Chrysler – sports cars, large sedans, min-vans

    Most people would consider these companies Canadian but there are others….

    Toyota – small sedans

    Honda – small sedans, mini-vans

    Susuki – small SUVs

    A year ago I was watching a commentary of the Daytona 500 car race. There was someone complaining that Toyota was allowed to have representation in the series – they were not American. Interestingly, the Camry that was being used was the only car made in the US, the Fords, GMs and Chryslers were all made in Canada or Mexico.

    Perhaps the vehicle was assembled off-shore. Does the importer or dealership not employ Canadians too?

    So if you were to mandate that the vehicle must be Canadian, what about the cost of running the full-size sedan vs. a Smart car. Is that fiscally responsible? I would think that the costs of the Smart car would be less than a V8 Crown Victoria. I think the Smart car is a better solution.

    We are in a global economic crisis, protectionist action like mandating domesticly produced products goes counter to the global economy that we are in.

    Fuimus

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