Canada should keep GM stake, union boss says image

Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, said the Ottawa federal government should keep its stake in General Motors and also buy shares in Canadian companies to protect jobs and support the local industry.

Lewenza thinks Canada should follow Germany’s example, where the federal state of Lower Saxony holds a 12.7 in Europe’s largest automaker Volkswagen. The Canadian government owns a 9 percent stake of GM. It sold about 35 million shares last November and still owned 140 million shares on March 31, according to official figures.

The boss of the country’s largest private sector union thinks additional state ownership could also include stakes in Canadian banks. “We need every tool in the tool box today to preserve key industries. If you have partial ownership through shares through some kind of ownership, doesn’t that give you more influence?” said Lewenza in an interview for Bloomberg.

Canadian manufacturers have faced increasing competition from China and a currency that has gained 53 percent against the U.S. dollar over the past 10 years, making their products more expensive for export. Lewenza thinks the Bank of Canada should print money in order to weaken the currency.

“The Canadian dollar is super-inflated only because of our natural resources,” Lewenza said, calling the commodities “a negative to our manufacturing.”