Barra meets with Canada’s Justin Trudeau

on Jun26

The meeting wasn’t on the prime minister’s public itinerary, but his office did tweet about it while it was underway early Thursday. Photo credit: Justin Trudeau tweet

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with General Motors CEO Mary Barra in Markham, Ont., on Thursday to discuss job creation, but neither the government nor automaker released many details about the discussions.

General Motors Canada CEO Stephen Carlisle and Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development were also in attendance.

The meeting wasn’t on the prime minister’s public itinerary, but his office did tweet about it while it was underway early Thursday.

“Started the day in Markham meeting with @GM’s CEO @mtbarra, to talk about creating more jobs in Canada & empowering women in business,” read a post on the prime minister official Twitter page.

Trudeau has made it clear that gender equity is a major plank of his government’s policies — his first 31-member cabinet included 15 women — and Barra is the first female CEO of a major global automaker.

GM interests

Officials from Trudeau’s office didn’t add much detail about the meeting in a statement issued to Automotive News Canada late Thursday evening.

“This morning in Markham, the Prime Minister met with Chairman and CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, to talk about creating more jobs in Canada and empowering women in business,” the prime minister’s press secretary Eleanore Catenaro wrote. “As the prime minister said at the beginning of their meeting, General Motors is making great investments in Canada, and there are exciting opportunities for traditional manufacturing as well as new innovative technologies in Markham.”

The automaker is in the process of hiring 1,000 software engineers over the next five years in Ontario. Most of them will work on technology used in autonomous and connected cars. GM has a technical center in Markham, where 700 people will eventually be employed.

“GM and Mary Barra have enjoyed a positive ongoing dialogue with the prime minister and [Ontario] premier on a range of topics, including GM’s focus on innovation and advanced mobility R&D, GM’s new electric vehicles, and ongoing issues of automotive industry competitiveness and trade,” GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright said in an email to Automotive News Canada. “[Thursday’s] meeting was a positive continuation of that dialogue during Mary Barra’s visit to see the new and fast expanding GM Canada Technical Centre in Markham, Ont.”

Issues to discuss

It’s no secret that GM and the Canadian government talk a lot. According to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying Canada’s online database, officials from or representatives of General Motors Canada have met to lobby the government on a variety issues 148 times since the Oct. 19, 2015 election that sent the Liberals to a majority government. That’s more meetings than any other automaker currently assembling vehicles in Canada. Ford Canada follows closely with 124 meetings.

“As the Prime Minister has done many times when meeting with business leaders, he highlighted that Canada has a lot to offer in terms of our skilled, hard-working, creative, and diverse workforce,” Catenaro wrote. “Canada is open for business, and our economic agenda remains focused on growing Canada’s middle class and creating an economy that works for everyone.”



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