Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has strongly condemned the outsourcing of Canadian jobs to China.

In a speech to the Canadian Club Toronto on Friday, O’Toole said that well-paying unionized jobs have disappeared from Canada because “corporate and financial elites” chose greed over the national interest.

“It may surprise you to hear a Conservative bemoan the decline of private sector union membership but this was an essential part of the balance between what was good for business and what was good for employees. Today, that balance is dangerously disappearing,” he said.

“Too much power is in the hands of corporate and financial elites who have been only too happy to outsource jobs abroad. It’s now expected of a shareholder to ask a CEO: ‘Why are we paying a worker in Oshawa 30 dollars an hour when we could be paying one in China 50 cents an hour?’”

Since being elected leader of the Conservatives, O’Toole has focused on fighting for manufacturing and blue-collar workers. O’Toole has created a “Canada first” economic plan which would focus on working families and manufacturing jobs.

Research has shown that decline in manufacturing jobs had a major impact on blue-collar families. From 2000 to 2015, the number of men aged 21 to 55 employed full-time declined by 5% nationwide, coinciding with declines in manufacturing.

O’Toole says that an economy without manufacturing or natural resources results in low-wage jobs without security, pensions or benefits.

“Do we really want a nation of Uber drivers? A future without the possibility of home ownership? A sense of inevitability? While some benefit, millions are losing hope and resentment is growing.”

Part of retaking manufacturing is taking a strong stance on China, according to O’Toole. China has increasingly taken an aggressive stance against Canada since the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. 

“Thirty years ago, the Western world’s political, financial and business elite made a bet: we would allow China to have unfair access to our market while they protected their own… Once it became a rich and prosperous country, we hoped it would turn into a good actor.” 

“We all know that this has not happened.”

In September, China’s ambassador mocked the idea that Canada will be able to bring manufacturing jobs back from China, comparing it to reversing the tide of the ocean.

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