Welcome back to Inside the Village, a one-of-a-kind podcast where all news is local — and no topic is off-limits.
On this week's episode: A timely chat with Doug Ford's chief salesman.
Vic Fedeli, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development, spends most of his time pitching the province to potential investors. He was a key player in the year-long negotiations that led Volkswagen to select St. Thomas, Ont., for the site of its first manufacturing facility outside Europe: an electric-vehicle battery plant that will generate well-paying jobs for decades to come.
The deal didn't come cheap. The federal government has agreed to fork over up to $13-billion in subsidies over the next decade, with the province pitching in $500-million worth of direct incentives.
"It really is the deal that any Ec-Dev Minister would dream of," Fedeli said on the podcast. "This is generational. Your kids' kids' kids' will be working at Volkswagen."
It's also a deal could derail another deal. After the Volkswagen announcement, Stellantis — the parent company of Chrysler, Jeep and Fiat — halted construction on its own EV battery plant in Windsor, demanding the Trudeau government boost its subsidies on that agreement.
In turn, the feds are pushing the province to pony up more cash to help keep Stellantis from bolting.
Fedeli addresses that controversy on the podcast, too — and a whole lot more, from the Ring of Fire to the safety of northern highways to his close bond with Premier Ford, the self-proclaimed "800-pound gorilla."
We also ask Fedeli if he misses his old job as Finance Minster.
"The Premier is the coach of the team," he replied. "A coach moves players around all the time, and as he'll say: 'Oh buddy, you're the best salesman I've ever met.' And we work so well together on sales. I'm right where I belong."
Hosted by Scott Sexsmith and Michael Friscolanti, the Editor-in-Chief of Village Media, Inside the Village is a news and current affairs podcast that provides a weekly window into some of the best local journalism from across our chain of Ontario newsrooms. Produced by Derek Turner, the program also explores bigger-picture issues that impact people across the province.
Every episode is available HERE. If you prefer the audio version, it is available wherever you find your favourite podcasts.
You can reach us at [email protected].