Building made-in-Canada electric vehicle chargers
I’m pleased to be here with you today in Shawinigan. I’m here, of course, with our local MP, and also our tireless minister, François-Philippe Champagne. Very pleased.
We may be a little late, but that’s because he obviously wants to see everyone, as do I. It’s great to be here! I’d like to thank Louis Tremblay for welcoming us here at FLO, a facility that manufactures charging stations for electric vehicles. It’s really exciting to see how we’re building a whole ecosystem, a whole value supply chain across the country to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles, for the technologies of tomorrow. But I’d also like to acknowledge the welcome from Michel Angers, the mayor of Shawinigan, and it’s something to be proud of that you can have workers here who are building a competitive industry, not just at the national level but internationally as well, because the demand for electric vehicles, the demand for the technologies of tomorrow is growing and there is a lot of competition around the world to create good jobs for workers.
But we really do have some great advantages here in Canada. FLO has been here in Shawinigan for many years. They are now involved in charging stations across North America, and you have doubled in the last year, the last 16 months, this is really a strength and source of pride for Canada but also here for Quebec and for the region. I’ve been travelling across the country for two or three days now talking about what we’re building for the future. We realize that right now there’s quite a bit of uncertainty in the world, a lot of challenges facing families, starting with inflation and interest rates. We’ve had challenges with supply chains around the world for gas, for groceries, food. We’re going through a challenging time, but at the same time, we’re going through a time of transformation, and these times of transformation are often extremely stressful for people. Where will our jobs come from in the years ahead? Where will our prosperity come from? How can we succeed as a family, as a community, as a country and as an economy in the future, with climate change, war again in Europe, the pandemic? We understand that people are worried.
That’s why, as a government, we are there to help people right now, with investments, whether it’s for dental care, whether it’s rent assistance for those with the lowest incomes, whether it’s help for more child care spaces and $10 daycares across the country that will finally start to catch up to where we’ve been in Quebec for a long time. We are helping families, but it’s not just about being there in the short term. We need to build a medium- and long-term future that is reassuring and that reflects the ambitions that Canadians have for themselves, for their future.
That’s why, on Monday, I was in Saskatchewan talking about critical minerals that we’re developing here in Canada, natural resources that are being drawn on in a responsible, environmentally conscious way, in partnership with Indigenous communities, to be able to produce and provide for the whole world, but especially for our friends and our allies, high-quality resources extracted the right way to recognize that clients, individuals, companies around the world want to know that what they’re buying is at a reliable cost but also done the right way. And Canada is well positioned to do that. So, in terms of natural resources, we’re going to have good jobs across the country, in mines, in processing plants, in production plants, related to what Canada can offer as a reliable supplier of essential resources. But we’re not interested in simply exporting the raw materials, we have to process them, we have to add value.
That’s why I was very glad to be in Windsor yesterday to talk about one of our plants that is producing electric batteries for electric cars in Canada. We know that this is not only happening in southern Ontario, it’s happening in Quebec too. We’re seeing a proliferation and expansion of investments from all over the world, from Europe, the United States, here in Quebec and across Canada, to take our raw materials, which are reliable and drawn on here the right way, in order to process them into batteries, into the technology of the future, things that will be needed for solar panels, wind turbines, in our future health systems as well. Then I also saw the Stellantis plant, yesterday, in Windsor, where they are assembling electric vehicles. Once again, the electric vehicles are being made in Canada.
I’ve been several times to Lion Électrique in Saint-Jérôme, which is doing great work on this. And a lot is also being done in Ontario, with supply chains from all over Quebec, all over the country. These are good jobs, not just for now but for decades to come. When I was in Sorel a few months ago, to talk about the investments being made by Rio Tinto, when we look at what is being done in Bécancour, when we look at the investments that are coming here in Shawinigan, we see that these are good jobs, not just for now, but jobs in industries that will continue to grow for decades, for generations to come, and that’s what’s exciting.
When I’m traveling internationally at various summits talking to various leaders about how Canada can be a solution around clean energy, around energy needs in a net zero world, around natural resources, critical minerals, rare earth elements, but around batteries and electric vehicles and high tech solutions, people are excited and a little bit envious of how Canada is able to offer the full package from the raw materials drawn on responsibly and environmentally consciously to the finished product made with some of the cleanest steel and aluminum and products in the world.
We have known for a long time that here in Quebec we produce the cleanest aluminum in the world. And more and more, we’re doing even more in other areas. The cleanest steel in the world that we’re developing, other minerals that are the cleanest in the world that we’re developing. And then it takes workers across the country to deliver them. So, we’re very excited about what we’re building here.
But of all the advantages we have as a country, from our resources to our free-trade agreements with two-thirds of the world’s economy, we’re the only G7 country that has free-trade agreements with the other six G7 countries. We have advantages, but the greatest advantage that we have, and I have seen it today, is Quebec workers, Canadian workers, the people that are there to deliver, ambitiously and reliably. We are the best-educated workers in the world, we are innovative workers who are there to participate and innovate in various ways with our diversity, with our job and population growth. We’re building a more prosperous future for everyone.
And that’s not just happening in the big centres, it’s happening in the regions, it’s happening here in Shawinigan, it’s happening across the country. So yes, I know that people are building and going through challenging times right now, but this will pass because we will continue to be there for each other. That’s what Canadians do as a government. We want to be there to help people who need it in the months ahead, when there are challenging times. But in the years to come, people can be optimistic that this shift toward greater environmental responsibility that we started seven years ago at the federal level, but where Quebec has been a leader in Canada for a lot longer. Whether it’s opening up to diversity that is a source of innovation and opportunities, whether it’s being open to free trade and against protectionism, Canada is extremely well positioned for the challenges we will be facing around the world in the coming years, and that’s why I remain optimistic and so grateful for all the work our team is doing in government, but also our partners, at various levels of government and in industry, what they’re doing to attract opportunities for all of us. So I’m very pleased to be here in Shawinigan today.