Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne worries new initiatives such as a provincial pension plan and cap-and-trade system to limit emissions could make Ontario uncompetitive.
He said he delivered that blunt message directly to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on Friday, as they sat next to each other during lunch at the Toronto Global Forum.
“You have to be very careful,” Marchionne said during an address to conference attendees, acknowledging there are reasons to adopt certain programs from a social policy perspective, but argued political decisions have costs too.
“Once you are outside the box, the exposure is so large, it gets multiplied by thousands,” he said, referencing the impact of additional costs on every vehicle made in Chrysler’s case.
When asked how Ontario stacks up, Marchionne responded: “This is not what I would call the cheapest jurisdiction.”
He later told reporters that initiatives like introducing a cap-and-trade system or new pension plan simply add costs to running an operation.
“They cost money,” he said, adding though he was hopeful that a company like Chrysler would be exempt from the new Ontario pension plan because it already has a company pension.
“I think sense will prevail,” he said.
Marchionne added that while cap-and-trade details have not been shared yet, he said the Premier was responsive and “willing to accept feedback from industry.”
He characterized the conversation as “cordial,” saying it was “a lot more cordial” than a Chrysler request for government investment in 2014, a reference to then-Tory leader Tim Hudak who had blasted the company’s request.
Chrysler eventually withdrew its request for government aid of up to $700 million for Windsor and Brampton assembly plants, saying it had become a political football.
Marchionne also told reporters the company was just days away from filing a prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the IPO of Ferrari.
He said the listing would be in New York, with a possible secondary listing in Milan.
He also confirmed that he would be in Detroit on Tuesday for the ceremonial handshake with UAW president Dennis Williams as contract talks begin.
He declined to discuss any specifics related to bargaining but reiterated his concern about the two-tier wage scale, a comment he has made previously.
“It is something that cannot continue,” he said, comparing it to two types of citizens.