Canadian Manufacturing

Q&A with Don Walker: Magna CEO heads CAPC and the drive for auto investment

While there’s been some good work to ensure auto investment grows, the government must do more to ensure the industry thrives.

Excerpt of article originally published in Plant

As the CEO of the world’s third largest automotive parts manufacturer and the leader of more than 20,000 employees, Magna International’s Don Walker has got a pretty good handle on the state of the global automotive industry.

He has confidence in Canada’s auto industry, but feels it must shift into a higher gear to address growing global competition, especially from Mexico. Walker also heads the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council (CAPC), an industry association that’s calling on the federal government to implement a national automotive investment agency to ensure the sector thrives.

What’s your take on the Canadian automotive industry’s long-term prospects?
“The current value of the Canadian dollar gives us a more level playing field to be more competitive and attract new investments. The auto industry, for the most part, is driven by the number of plants assemblers are building. More assemblers typically translates to more parts business.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the upcoming UAW and Unifor negotiations – that’s always a difficult situation for everybody. But we have a great pool of skilled workers, our education system is strong, and for the most part, business infrastructure is good.

I am worried about energy costs in Ontario, but the overall outlook for the health of the industry is better now than it was when the loonie was at par with the US greenback.”

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