Canada yet to do due diligence on autos: minister

Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:49pm EST
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is closely watching the fate of the U.S. auto rescue package but will not be able to advance an immediate aid plan of its own because of its desire to study company plans in detail, Industry Minister Tony Clement said on Friday.

"We have some due diligence we've got to do here," Clement told a business audience in Brampton, Ontario, near Toronto.

He said getting the restructuring plans from the Canadian subsidiaries of the Detroit Three automakers last Friday was only stage one. The second stage is going into their data centers with auditors to "drill down in great detail" on their long-term plans.

"It will take more than a couple of days. We started 48 hours ago," the minister said.

Unlike in the United States, there is little legislative resistance to a Canadian bailout of the auto industry, even though it goes against the grain of the Conservative government.

However, Ottawa was almost certain to refrain from pouring money into the industry if the United States was going to let the companies go belly up.

"It is difficult to imagine a solution in Canada without a solution in the United States," Clement said.

Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to proactively announce a Canadian package conditional on U.S. aid, which could then put pressure on the United States.   Continued...