Ford Motor Co. is mum on a Canadian Auto Workers union proposal designed to help the struggling auto maker crack the growing small-car segment.

The confidential proposal, obtained by Ward's, outlines how Ford might twin its assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ont., Canada. The other half of the site would be owned and run by a contract assembler, such as Magna International.

The rejuvenated operation not only would benefit Ford's product pipeline, it would breathe new lift into the tired southern Ontario plant that is home to the aging Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis large sedans, says Buzz Hargrove, CAW president.

“Canada can be, if they have the right tools in place, the cheapest place in North America to build an entry-level vehicle,” he says in an interview.

The CAW's proposal suggests a company with full-vehicle assembly capability, such as Magna, might be convinced, with government support, to build a greenfield plant on vacant land adjacent to the St. Thomas facility.

Magna declined comment, adding: “We certainly applaud Mr. Hargrove and the CAW for their efforts to create and preserve Canadian jobs.”