Windsor's mayor has expressed disappointment over how Ottawa has handled negotiations surrounding the under-construction electric vehicle battery plant.
Mayor Drew Dilkens is not shy about the talk on Parliament Hill about the EV plant, particularly concerning the impasse in May that resulted in work on the complex being stopped.
"At the end of the day, listen, we're seeing built a $5-billion investment in our community," said Dilkens. "It just drives me crazy to see the continued attack on this investment. It drives me crazy to see what happened in May and the mismanagement by our federal government with that particular issue."
He told WindsorNewsToday.ca that the ordeal did not have to happen, and it made Canada look bad abroad.
"It sends the wrong signal to this company, and to other companies looking at investing in Canada, that we just don't have our act together," said Dilkens. "If you go back to May and the foul-up by the federal government in dealing with that issue, certainly sent a bad signal."
The issue began with a Toronto Star story, published May 12, that indicated LG Energy and Stellantis may pull the plug on the Windsor EV battery facility, blaming the federal government for reneging on promises made to the companies. Work on most of the Windsor site was stopped, and it did not resume until early July when a deal was agreed upon.
When asked if the automaker and LG Energy should agree to the federal opposition's request to make the contracts public, Dilkens said the City has been upfront with its obligations to make the development happen.
The mayor also sounded off on a reported plan to bring hundreds of foreign workers to work at the plant once it opens. Dilkens said the idea was always to put Windsor-Essex workers first, and any foreign workers brought in would have specific skills.
"I think the fear is that there are Canadians who can do the work that Koreans will be coming in to do," said Dilkens. "The reality is, we have a lot of smart Canadians, but they don't have the proprietary expertise needed to do the installation of the equipment that is being brought in."
When completed, the plant will employ 2,500 local workers, plus 600 for research and development.
-with files from Adelle Loiselle and Maureen Revait