Canada, U.S. Working Closely On Auto Restructuring

Canadian ambassador to the U.S. said Canada wants to be ‘on the same track’ as the Obama administration when the decision is made on General Motors’ and Chrysler’s future.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The Canadian ambassador to the United States says his country is working closely with the U.S. government, automakers and unions as General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC race to restructure.

Speaking Wednesday in a video conference sponsored in part by Michigan State University's Canadian Studies Center, Michael Wilson said Canada wants to be "on the same track" as the administration of President Barack Obama when the decision is made on the companies' future.

The federal government's auto task force rejected both companies' restructuring plans on March 30 and gave Chrysler until the end of April to make further cuts and take on a partner or face liquidation. If GM doesn't meet its deadline, it will be forced to restructure under bankruptcy protection.

The Canadian government decided in December that it wanted to share proportionately in any deal worked out for the automotive sector, Wilson said. He was speaking from the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., to about 50 people gathered on the East Lansing campus.

"We have been working very, very closely with people in the Treasury Department, in the White House to make sure that this is a viable package, a package that provides the right amount of support for this sector, and something that will get ... a very important industry back on its feet, contributing the way it has for many, many years now," he said.

The auto industry directly employs more than 150,000 Canadians plus another 340,000 Canadians indirectly, mostly in the province of Ontario. The Canadian government has offered up to $3.2 billion ($4 billion Canadian) in interim loans to help keep GM and Chrysler afloat.

Chrysler Canada has taken $618 million ($750 million Canadian) so far, but GM has not taken any money.

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