DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement said his government will be “prudent” in the sale of its shares of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.
Clement, speaking to reporters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Tuesday, said his government will “certainly” sell shares in the two companies, declining to provide a timetable. In November, Canada said it had sold about 30.5 million GM shares it acquired when the company went bankrupt in 2009.
Canada has a 2.3 percent stake in Chrysler, the automaker said yesterday. About 9.3 percent of Detroit-based GM’s shares are owned by Canada.
Clement also rejected a proposal by Canadian Autoworkers President Ken Lewenza to do away with the lower starting wages for auto workers in the United States. Lewenza said last week that Canadian auto production is becoming uncompetitive because the UAW agreed to let U.S. car companies pay new workers $14 an hour, half what veteran production workers make.
“Ken’s got to smell the coffee,” Clement said. “The UAW isn’t going to be phasing out its bargaining structure here in the U.S. just because the CAW says so.”
When GM and Chrysler were going bankrupt in 2009, “workers had to take a hit just like taxpayers took on some risk,” Clement said. “This is a never ending process. You’ve got to continue to be competitive.”
Clement wouldn’t say whether Canada would recover all the money it invested in keeping GM and Chrysler alive.
“We never said we’ll get every single dollar back,” he said. “But we want to maximize the value for the taxpayers.”