Cars run in the family.
My father, and my grandfather before him, ran a Toyota dealership in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the carpet on the showroom floor, where I spent many hours at my dad’s feet, playing with toy cars as I watched him sell the latest Corolla.
After immigrating to Canada, my father and brother would launch a business selling Cobra 427s, the car of Ford v Ferrari fame. There I watched them experience the joys and perils of running a small business while going toe to toe against global automotive giants, just like Carroll Shelby himself.
I married into a family from St. Catharines, Ont., where routine errands mean driving along Ontario Street, past the dilapidated buildings and rubble of a former GM plant.
To me, cars have always been about more than simply getting from A to B. They are a way to make a decent living, build communities and drive the economy.
When Canada’s auto sector collapsed in the ‘90s and 2000s, it decimated small towns across Southwestern Ontario. You likely know the story: from 2001 to 2013 alone, the industry lost 53,000 jobs nationally. More than 80 per cent of those were in Ontario. While automotive assembly and parts manufacturing represented one in five full-time jobs in Windsor in 2001, by 2013 the ratio had fallen to one in eight.
But those dark days may be coming to an end. There is an emerging optimism in the sector as automation and electrification replace the combustion-engine era. From the mining sector in Quebec and northern Ontario to a high-tech manufacturing sector emerging in those rust belt towns, it has the potential to make an enormous impact on Canada’s economy. Innovation has always been part of the automotive industry, but now, pardon the pun, it’s on power drive.
The key word, though, is “potential.” In the past year, Canadian mining and auto manufacturing have seen promises of major investment from global players like LG, Stellantis and GM. Federal and provincial governments are forking over billions to bring these global players to Canada or keep them here, spur consumer demand and build the charging infrastructure EV drivers will need on Canada’s highways.
That’s where our new weekly newsletter comes in. We’re excited to launch Shift, The Logic‘s guide to automotive tech.
Tesla may have an attractive brand, but what will its investments in Canadian R&D and mining mean for the broader economy? How can Canada become more than a branch-plant economy? Will consumer demand for EVs hold up in the face of supply-chain strains?
Our reporter Anita Balakrishnan will tackle questions like these every Thursday morning. Automotive tech is Anita’s beat. Nobody in Canada better knows the intricacies of this complex subject. Shift will include a roundup of the week’s automotive tech news and the reads on the sector, so you’ll never miss what’s happening in this rapidly changing environment.
History has shown that Canada needs a strong automotive sector to support middle class families. In this moment, with the future of the industry being decided, The Logic will be your guide on the ride.
The Logic has been nominated for five SABEW Canada Best In Business Awards, the most prestigious business journalism prize in the country. That’s the second-most nominations of any newsroom in Canada.
For a newsroom that’s not even four years old, competing against institutions with far more journalists and greater resources, it’s a feat of which I’m very proud. Every day, our team is breaking new ground, and that is getting noticed around the world.
For the fourth consecutive year, The Logic Briefing picked up a nomination for best newsletter.
And Claire Brownell, along with a fantastic supporting cast of reporters, researchers and editors, received deserved accolades for our Uncharitable investigative series.
None of this happens by accident and it truly is a team effort. Of course, support for this kind of work starts with you, our readers. Thank you for recognizing great, independent journalism.