TORONTO - Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says the Ontario government should not give Chrysler hundreds of millions of dollars in what he calls "ransom money."
Hudak says Chrysler still owes the province $800 million from the government bailout it received during the recession in 2009.
He accuses the auto giant of trying to blackmail the federal and Ontario governments for a reported $700 million, part of a $3.6-billion investment in Chrysler's plants in Windsor and Brampton.
Hudak says the government should not hand over the money and should instead cut taxes to make it a level playing field for all companies.
Premier Kathleen Wynne says her Liberal government invested in auto companies in the past and will continue to do so, and calls Hudak "irresponsible" for saying he wouldn't partner with the auto sector to keep jobs in Ontario.
She says his approach would put hundreds of millions of jobs at risk in the province.
The Conservatives say Ontario gives out $3 billion a year in what they call "corporate welfare," and complain it goes almost exclusively to large, foreign companies such as Samsung, which Hudak noted is a direct competitor to BlackBerry.
"I don't blame the corporations for chasing the handouts. I blame the Liberal government for being in the handout business," he said.
"It seems like it's never the small and medium-sized companies that are growing, and it seems like it's never Canadian companies."
The federal Conservative government set aside an additional $500 million in the recent budget for its Automotive Innovation Fund, but did not release details. The fund was launched in 2008 with a commitment of $250 million over five years and renewed last year for another five years.