November 21, 2008 / 12:13 AM / in 9 years

Canadian, U.S. officials meet on automaker aid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Canadian officials met U.S. lawmakers on Thursday to ensure any congressional bailout of General Motors Corp, Ford Motor and Chrysler LLC keeps the Canadian side of the automotive supply chain in mind.

<p>Canada's Industry Minister Tony Clement speaks to the media about the auto industry with Ontario Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant (L) at his side, at a news conference on rooftop terrace of the Canadian embassy in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, November 20, 2008. Clement spent the day meeting with officials in Washington about the future of the auto industry and possible government bailouts for auto makers. REUTERS/Jim Bourg</p>

The Canadian government has pledged support for the auto sector, but has not detailed any specific action.

Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement and Ontario’s Economic Development Minister, Michael Bryant, said they spent time on Capitol Hill gathering information needed to propose help for the Canadian auto industry.

“The only option we’ve kicked off the table is a no strings attached bailout,” Bryant told reporters.

“I don’t think anything horrible is going to happen between now and December 8 when Congress returns.”

Clement also said he met top executives of the three automakers in Detroit on Wednesday.

U.S. Democratic leaders on Thursday demanded that the automakers submit a detailed business survival plan to Congress in exchange for their support for up to $25 billion in loans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, set a December 2 deadline for the automakers’ proposals and said Congress would meet during the week of December 8 to consider them.

During the week, Clement and Bryant met Missouri Republican Sen. Christopher Bond, U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and senior policy officials of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others.

Clement said the situation in the auto sector has evolved from a request for a simple handout from the government to a full-blown examination of the industry.

“The North American automakers were restructuring before the current economic situation,” he said. “The global financial situation has accelerated their need for a new business model.”

Reporting by Jasmin Melvin; Editing by Andre Grenon

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