Downtown Edmonton fire prompts lane closure on Jasper Avenue – Edmonton

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Firefighters closed a lane of downtown Edmonton’s Jasper Avenue on Wednesday night after a fire broke out in a commercial space.

A Global News crew was at the scene at Jasper Avenue and 108 Street just before 7:30 p.m. and it appeared the fire broke out at Spa Shoe Repair.

Firefighters were seen throwing a chair through the business’ glass door to gain access to the building. Smoke was visible at neighbouring businesses as well.

View photos from the scene in the gallery below:

One lane of westbound Jasper Avenue was closed between 106 Street and 107 Street as firefighters worked to put out the blaze.

Firefighters could be seen tearing apart the roof in an attempt to get at the blaze.

About eight fire trucks were at the scene as of about 7:30 p.m.

More to come…

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Vancouver’s St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church prepares for two-year closure for restoration – BC

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A downtown Vancouver landmark will be closing its doors for up to two years as it undergoes repairs, restoration, and a seismic upgrade.

St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church is a familiar sight at the corner of Burrard and Nelson, and known for interiors featuring French and Italian-stained glass windows, a vaulted timber roof, and angel reliefs.

Lead Minister Dan Chambers said the church, opened in 1933, is a historical piece of architecture.

“The architects were Twizel and Twizel, and although that sounds like a candy they were well-known and well-regarded architects of their time. And this is sort of the jewel of their Neo-Gothic architecture on the west coast,” said Chambers.

The church said it’s also a popular space with performance choirs and film companies alike.


READ MORE:
More Vancouver schools getting seismic upgrades

Over the next two years — or, as Chambers hopes, eighteen months — it’ll be getting new pews, walls, electrical systems, a new roof, and getting a seismic upgrade.

Chambers said the project is a big undertaking, but a necessary one.

“When we tried to imagine the city losing another worship space and performance space, we felt we had to make this happen.”

While its doors are shut, the church will be holding services at the Century Plaza Hotel. The First Baptist Church and St. Paul’s Anglican Church are also hosting some of St. Andrew’s Wesley’s events during the restoration.


READ MORE:
Future of Edith Cavell students during seismic upgrades remains unclear

The church will hold its last full Sunday service on February 3rd.

The week after, however, worshipers can return after service to the church, where Chambers said they’re invited to a celebration of the space on February 10.

“We’ll have a big potluck lunch. We’ll invite children and adults to write prayers of gratitude on the walls,” said Chambers.

“It’ll be a way of expressing our gratitude and our prayers of thanks for this sacred space that has served the needs of generations.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Street closure designed to speed up Eglinton Crosstown construction postponed

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A lengthy closure of a midtown intersection intended to accelerate work on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT has been postponed due to local opposition, a decision that comes on the heels of questions about whether the massive transit project will be done on time.

Earlier this month Metrolinx, the provincial agency that oversees transit planning in the GTHA, announced Bathurst St. between Eglinton Ave. West and Wembley Rd. would be closed between December and June to allow the construction of Forest Hill station, one of 25 planned stops on the 19-kilometre line.

This April 27, 2018 photo shows the underground cavern where Laird station for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will be built.
This April 27, 2018 photo shows the underground cavern where Laird station for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will be built.  (Randy Risling / Toronto Star)

According to a notice posted to the project website, the seven-month closure would cut the duration of construction on the street by nearly half, eliminate the need to reconfigure the intersection several times over the course of the work, and improve safety conditions at the site.

Councillor Josh Matlow, whose ward is bordered by Eglinton, said he objected to the plan when he learned about it soon after winning re-election in October.

He said neither Metrolinx nor Crosslinx, the private consortium building the $5.8-billion LRT, had consulted the public about the plan, and announced it despite not yet having a construction permit from the city.

“The overwhelming response is of tremendous concern, principally because of the incursion of traffic that will result from this,” he said.

Timeline of the Eglinton Crosstown construction

Matlow said he and his constituents accept the fact that the construction of a major transit line will cause disruption, but he argued residents deserve to provide input about how to mitigate the impacts and suggest alternatives. He said many feel a partial closure of the street would be preferable, even it means it takes longer to complete the work.

In response to Matlow’s objections, Crosslinx has agreed to postpone the closure and hold a public meeting next month.

Crosslinx spokesperson Kristin Jenkins said while the construction group remains on track to meet the September 2021 deadline, accelerating work at Forest Hill would “(give) us some cushion.” The full closure of Bathurst would allow crews to operate in four work zones simultaneously instead of one at a time.

“It helps manage risk in case something unexpected comes up,” Jenkins said. “Plus it’s good for the community. By getting the work done faster, the road would be restored to normal faster.”

According to a source familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the process, prior to the closure being announced city transportation staff told Crosslinx their permit would be approved.

In July Crosslinx, a partnership of Aecon, Dragados Canada, EllisDon, and SNC-Lavalin, cast doubt on whether it would finish the Crosstown on time when it sued Metrolinx for allegedly causing delays and cost overruns.

In a notice of action filed in court, Crosslinx asked for an extension of the 2021 deadline as well as reimbursement from Metrolinx for additional costs the group said it had incurred as a result of the agency’s actions.

The two sides reached a settlement in September under which Metrolinx agreed to pay the consortium $237 million. Both parties agreed to seek ways to speed up construction to ensure the project stayed on schedule, including extending work hours and performing multiple jobs concurrently.

Jamie Robinson, Metrolinx’s chief communications and public affairs officer, said Monday the Crosstown is still on track to be completed by 2021, “and will bring huge benefits to the city.”

“We’re building one of the largest transit projects in North American through highly congested, urbanized neighbourhoods. We know that construction can be disruptive and work very hard with Crosslinx to minimize the impacts on residents,” he said.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at bspurr@thestar.ca or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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GM working to retrain employees affected by Oshawa plant closure

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General Motors of Canada is working with other employers to identify jobs and targeted training programs for GM employees affected by plans to close the Oshawa Assembly plant next year, the truck and auto maker said Friday.

It says several employers have identified about 2,000 jobs that will become open in Durham region in 2019 and 2020 — many of them related to the refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear power plant southeast of Oshawa.

General Motors has also identified 300 openings for auto technicians at GM dealerships in Ontario and 100 jobs that will be open at other GM facilities in Ontario.

In addition, GM estimates about half of the 3,000 unionized and salaried employees are eligible to retire under the company’s defined benefit pension plan — leaving about 1,500 who will want to transition to new occupations.

GM Canada vice-president David Paterson said the company is committed to spend « millions » to ensure its employees get the retraining they require, but the exact amount will depend on what other employers provide.

« What we want to do is to assure employees that their training will be taken care of. We’ll make sure that there’s enough money to do that, » he said in an interview.

OPG wants to hire Oshawa workers, GM says

GM Canada says Durham College will also establish a confidential internet portal in the new year to help auto workers identify job openings and begin plans to take retraining courses offered by a consortium of colleges.

The city of Oshawa and surrounding areas east of Toronto were shocked last month when the highly rated Oshawa Assembly plant was included as one of five North American GM plants identified to close next year.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias has said the union would fight against the Oshawa closure.

« They are not closing our damn plant without one hell of a fight, » Dias said Nov. 26.

Paterson said GM recognizes that the union has voiced « some strong opinions » but thinks it would be good for employees if they have time to plan for their future.

« We have an obligation and duty to work with our union to determine — in addition to our pensions and the income supplements our employees will get — what things we can provide, » Paterson said.

He said two of the prospective employers that came to GM after the closure announcement are Ontario Power Generation and Aecon, a construction company, working on the nuclear plant’s refurbishment.

« They have huge needs in terms of millwrights, boiler makers, electricians and a number of areas where our employees are especially suited to that type of work and have great experience, » Paterson said.

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GM working to retrain employees affected by Oshawa plant closure

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General Motors of Canada is working with other employers to identify jobs and targeted training programs for GM employees affected by plans to close the Oshawa Assembly plant next year, the truck and auto maker said Friday.

It says several employers have identified about 2,000 jobs that will become open in Durham region in 2019 and 2020 — many of them related to the refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear power plant southeast of Oshawa.

General Motors has also identified 300 openings for auto technicians at GM dealerships in Ontario and 100 jobs that will be open at other GM facilities in Ontario.

In addition, GM estimates about half of the 3,000 unionized and salaried employees are eligible to retire under the company’s defined benefit pension plan — leaving about 1,500 who will want to transition to new occupations.

GM Canada vice-president David Paterson said the company is committed to spend « millions » to ensure its employees get the retraining they require @but the exact amount will depend on what other employers provide.

« What we want to do is to assure employees that their training will be taken care of. We’ll make sure that there’s enough money to do that, » he said in an interview.

OPG wants to hire Oshawa workers, GM says

GM Canada says Durham College will also establish a confidential internet portal in the new year to help auto workers identify job openings and begin plans to take retraining courses offered by a consortium of colleges.

The city of Oshawa and surrounding areas east of Toronto were shocked last month when the highly rated Oshawa Assembly plant was included as one of five North American GM plants identified to close next year.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias has said the union would fight against the Oshawa closure.

« They are not closing our damn plant without one hell of a fight, » Dias said Nov. 26.

Paterson said GM recognizes that the union has voiced « some strong opinions » but thinks it would be good for employees if they have time to plan for their future.

« We have an obligation and duty to work with our union to determine — in addition to our pensions and the income supplements our employees will get — what things we can provide, » Paterson said.

He said two of the prospective employers that came to GM after the closure announcement are Ontario Power Generation and Aecon, a construction company, working on the nuclear plant’s refurbishment.

« They have huge needs in terms of millwrights, boiler makers, electricians and a number of areas where our employees are especially suited to that type of work and have great experience, » Paterson said.

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Durham General Motors dealerships fear Oshawa plant closure – Durham

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Some of the General Motors assembly line workers in Oshawa have been there for years. Many of them buy and drive the very cars they make.

But now that the Oshawa plant will close next year, GM dealerships may lose those loyal customers and upend their bottom line.

“If GM pulls out of Oshawa, I doubt you’ll see another person on that shop floor buy another GM vehicle,” said Cory Weir, GM assembly line worker.

Cory Weir works on the GM line and currently drives a 2012 Chevy Impala that was built in Oshawa — a car he could have had a hand in building.

“There’s about a 50 per cent chance that I built part of this car,” said Weir. “If I didn’t, I certainly know the guy who did.”


READ MORE:
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But he probably won’t buy GM again.

“If your neighbor or your cousin said, ‘Hey, I bought this great GM car built here in Oshawa,’ that’s the best marketing tool that there is,” said Weir. “Certainly my family members that have watched me go through this with my family here, they’ll never purchase GM,”

Political Science assistant professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Scott Aquanno believes last weeks GM bombshell has caused loyalty to waiver.

“The idea of buying a GM because you’re supporting your local community and identifying GM as part of the local community, that gets lost in part because of a decision like this,” said Scott Aquanno.

General Motors runs through Scott Westley’s blood too.

“My parents both worked for General Motors for 40 years and their dad’s worked for GM,” said Scott Westley, Gus Brown Buick GMC general manager.


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NDP leader Jagmeet Singh meets with GM employees in Oshawa

Westley worked on the line in the summers while going to university and is now the general manager at Gus Brown Buick GMC, one of 10 GM dealerships in Durham region.

“We’re concerned, we’re trying to remain optimistic. When you hear people say ‘I’m never buying GM again,’ that is upsetting,” said Westley.

As for Weir and his colleagues, they’re preparing for the harsh reality of turning their backs on a company that has turned its back on them.

“It’s definitely going to feel strange next time I purchase a vehicle knowing that I didn’t touch it,” said Weir.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Oshawa Generals ‘steeped in history’: no immediate plan to change name after GM plant closure

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Oshawa Generals team president and governor Rocco Tullio says the five-time Memorial Cup-winning club hasn’t explored the possibility of changing its name now that General Motors plans to leave the city.

The Generals are named after the automaking giant, with GM being their original sponsor when they joined the Ontario Hockey Association in 1937.

After the announcement earlier this week that GM would be shuttering its plant and laying off its 2,500 workers by the end of 2019 there were calls on social media for the team to change its name.

« We’re steeped in history here. We’ve been around for over 80 years. We’ve had the likes of Bobby Orr, » said Tullio.

« …I understand it and trust me when it hits close to home like that, people are angry, right, and they want to lash out and I get it, but as an organization, we haven’t even considered it at this point in time. «

Tullio — whose hometown of Windsor, Ont., saw its GM trim and transmission plants close in 2008 and 2010, respectively — called Monday’s news « disappointing » and said the team, along with the league, is looking into ways to reach out to those affected by the layoffs.

« This isn’t about hockey at this stage of the game, it’s about supporting these families in our community, » he said.

Jordan Sanders, right, has worked at the GM plant for more than five years and supports the idea of a name change. (Fred Thornhill/Canadian Press)

Jordan Sanders, 26, — who works on the GM plant’s assembly line — was at Oshawa’s first home game on Saturday since the news broke with three-week-old daughter, Peyton, two-year-old son, Cohen, and her father, Doug.

Sanders, a single mother who has been on maternity leave since October and has worked at the factory for more than five years, supports the idea that if GM leaves the city the hockey team should change its name.

« They don’t treat any of the workers with any respect, because they just did this almost 10 years ago to the workers there and I wouldn’t want to keep around a name like that in Oshawa, » said Sanders, referencing the 2009 closure of GM’s pickup truck plant.

Sanders’ father Doug, who spent 34 years at GM, helped her get the job at the company after previously working for feeder plants in the area.

Doug Sanders, who was given a buyout and retired from that plant, was less certain about changing the team name.

The former union representative and city councillor — whose son also works at Lear, a General Motors feeder plant in Whitby, Ont., and expects will lose his job — said he couldn’t envision a team in Oshawa not called the Generals.

He noted that the team was « built on the backs » of auto workers who donated money for the construction the Oshawa Civic Auditorium, which opened in 1964.

Few remaining ties

Oshawa had no team between 1953 and 1962 after its former home, Hambly’s Arena, burned down.

Besides the crest on its jersey, the club has few remaining ties to GM in 2018. After the Generals left the Auditorium in 2006, the city opened a new downtown arena, called the General Motors Centre. But those naming rights expired in 2016 and Tullio said the team no longer has a direct affiliation with the American car giant.

I mean, why should you be associated with something that has basically devastated the community?– Andrew Landry

Season-ticket holder Ron Gallant, 67, who worked at GM for nearly 30 years and was also part of the truck plant closure in 2009, said it would be « strange » if the team changed its name, but understood why they might want to move on.

« I mean, why should you be associated with something that has basically devastated the community?, » he said.

Andrew Landry, 39, — who came to the game with his flag-toting, seven-year-old son Callum — hopes the team could embrace a « change of focus » rather than a brand-new name, pointing to the city’s Canadian Forces museum as potential inspiration.

« We’ve got five Memorial Cups under the Generals banner name and I can’t see that changing, » he said.

‘Once a General always a General’

John Gray, a current city councillor and Oshawa’s mayor between 2003 and 2010, said dropping the Generals would be a « knee-jerk reaction. »

« I think that’s petty and vindictive — we are the Generals, whether (General Motors is) here or not, » he said.

Former Oshawa mayor and current city council member John Gray says: ‘We are the Generals, whether (General Motors is) here or not.’ (Fred Thornhill/Canadian Press)

John Snowden’s links to GM span several generations. The 54-year-old worked in a number roles for the company, including in production and as an electrician, dating back to when he was a student in the 1980s. Both his brothers also had jobs with the automaker, as did his grandfather.

The Oshawa native lamented the possible loss of the good-paying jobs in his community, but is holding out hope that GM’s operations in the city can be saved and believes its hockey team should stay true to its past as well.

« I think once a General always a General. I think we should keep it as the Generals. Keep back to our roots of where it used to be. »

« I don’t like changing names, guess I’m a stickler for the old way of things. »

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‘It’s scary, no doubt about it’: How former GM workers coped with their plant closure

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After nearly 30 years at the General Motors plant in Windsor, Ont., having been employed there all of his adult working life, Duncan St. Amour was left with one terrifying question when its closure was announced: What do I do now?

It was 2008 when it was revealed that the transmission plant would be shutting down in two years, with about 1,400 workers, including St. Amour, set to lose their jobs.

« It was like a bomb; I was in shock, » said St. Amour, who had done a series of jobs at the plant, including on the assembly line. « I did not know what I was going to do. »

Today, he can relate to the 2,500 GM workers in Oshawa, Ont., many of whom are likely experiencing those same emotions of fear and panic after learning this week that the car manufacturer would be shuttered that plant next year.

Sleepless nights

The Windsor shutdown was a devastating blow to St. Amour, who, at 48, felt his job prospects were bleak. With a family to support, it led to some sleepless nights.

But he said he brainstormed and came up with a plan to start a business, to « be in control of my fate, my destiny. »

Duncan St. Amour says he can relate to the GM workers in Oshawa. Many are likely experiencing the same emotions of fear and panic he felt after his plant shut down in Windsor, Ont., eight years ago. (Jason Viau/CBC)

St. Amour started a bin rental company that drops off and picks up waste-disposal bins. And while striking out on his own was challenging and difficult, his company has since become a success.

« But I had to go out there and hustle, » he said. « You got to come up with a good, viable plan. This is what it’s all about. »

Tony Sisti, also affected by the GM plant closure in Windsor, was 50 at the time. He said it took him at least a year to figure out his next steps.

‘It’s scary, no doubt about it’

Sisti took a course about opening a small business and learned how to put together a business plan, and that led to him becoming a workplace safety consultant.

« It’s scary, no doubt about it. There’s a lot of workers that I talked to who were afraid, [who said] ‘I don’t know if I can do  it.’ So I just say: Listen man, you’ve got to put your best foot forward. » 

Heather McMillan, the executive director of the Durham Workforce Authority, a labour organization in the region where the Oshawa plant is located, said that once the initial shock of being laid off wears off, there are some great employment opportunities in the area.

McMillan herself is a former autoworker, born and raised in Oshawa, who was laid off around 10 years ago. But she was able to transition to the job she currently holds.

« We do have employers, overall, saying that they’re looking for workers, that they don’t have workers for what they need, » she said. « We can start to see very quickly that these workers could transition into other things within the local community and probably not need to leave the community. »

In the region, she says there are currently some opportunities in transportation and logistics, as the area hosts several food-distribution hubs, including a Loblaws warehouse, and the Port of Oshawa, a national deep-sea port.

At least 1,200 workers lost their jobs when the GM transmission plant in Windsor closed its doors in 2010. (Jerry Mendoza/Associated Press)

Academic upgrading

Layoffs can also represent a chance for academic upgrading, McMillan said, which would broaden the potential for employment in other sectors. She knows of several autoworkers who have gone back to school to take on lower-level jobs in the medical field, for example, or to work as water-treatment technicians.

But taking time to go to college to upgrade skills may not be so simple, said Wayne Lewchuk, with McMaster University’s school of labour studies.

« Even taking a year off, it’s a challenge, » he said. « The mortgage still has to be paid, et cetera. »

The labour market is not kind to people who are leaving jobs mid-career, Lewchuk said, particularly those with the kind of skills held by the majority of workers at the GM plant, who are assemblers working on lines.

« In terms of what they can take [from] those skills and transfer to other sectors — I don’t think there’s a whole lot for a lot them. »

GM’s plant closure announcement does come at a time when Canada’s unemployment rate is hovering around a four-decade low, employer demand is strong, and there’s growth in the manufacturing sector, said Brendon Bernard, an economist with the job search site Indeed Canada.

Auto manufacturing has fewer job postings on average than other areas of the overall manufacturing sector, he said, noting that openings are more plentiful in such fields as machinery manufacturing or fabricated metal production.

« So these industries … offer a sort of next step, potentially, for workers affected by the GM closure, » Bernard said.

« I think that the concern is that the auto sector still pays quite well. So while affected workers might be able to find jobs, chances are they’re not going to be as well paying as what they’re leaving. »

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Trump fights while Trudeau and Ford roll over on GM plant closure

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General Motors’ decision to close its Oshawa plant is treated by the federal and Ontario governments as irreversible — as the inevitable result of global market forces. It is neither.

Rather it is a self-serving decision made by a multinational adept in navigating the areas where politics and economics intersect. In making it, GM has taken advantage of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s fascination with high technology and Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s laissez-faire approach to industrial policy.

True, there is an important economic element behind the automaker’s plan to close eight plants worldwide. Consumers no longer buy many of the cars GM makes, including the Chevrolet Impala sedan manufactured in Oshawa.

Nor are they buying the hybrid Chevy Volt, once touted by GM as the car of the future. The Detroit plant that makes the Volt is one of the eight due to be shuttered.

Rather, consumers are buying gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks — including the Silverado and Sierra models assembled in Oshawa.

So when GM says it wants to focus on developing electric and self-driving autos, it isn’t being entirely straightforward.

What the company really wants to do is shift production from vehicles that people don’t buy — including electric hybrids like the Volt — to those they do buy, such as pickup trucks.

GM would be pleased if, along the way, its engineers happened to develop a revolutionary electric car. But until that day arrives, it will concentrate on the more mundane task of making as much money as possible.

In a nutshell, this is the economics behind GM’s Monday announcement that it will close four plants in the U.S. and three overseas as well as Oshawa.

The politics of the decision has to do with where GM will manufacture those models it still plans to produce.

Its preference is to assemble them in low-wage countries like Mexico. But like all car companies it is willing to be enticed by government subsidies and is susceptible to pressure from government threats.

In strict efficiency terms, it would make sense for GM to shift the production of profitable models to its Oshawa plant. Oshawa’s flexible assembly line can handle both cars and trucks. Oshawa already performs the final assembly stage of two profitable pickup models. GM itself says the Oshawa workforce is one of the most productive in its stable.

But in the real world of politics, GM knows it wouldn’t get away with keeping a Canadian plant open when it was shutting down four U.S. operations. Donald Trump wouldn’t let it happen.

Indeed, the U.S. president has already signalled that he expects GM to backtrack on at least one plant closure in Ohio. If the company can’t make money selling the compact cars manufactured there now, he warned Monday, then “They’d better put something else in.”

What can Trump do? He’s already shown he can use tariffs with devastating effect. I’m sure he’d think of some way to punish GM if it didn’t comply.

But the importance of the Trump threat is that he’s not taken in by arguments of economic inevitability. He knows that when it comes to the auto industry, nothing is written in stone.

By contrast, Canada’s federal and Ontario governments have convinced themselves that nothing can be done. The Trudeau Liberals are so focused on high-tech jobs of the future that they too often — as in this case — forget the needs of the present.

Trudeau, who has spent some time cultivating GM head Mary Barra, appears to have accepted her claim that the Oshawa decision is irreversible.

Ford, for different reasons, has taken the same tack. He blames the planned federal carbon tax in part for GM’s decision, yet insists that nothing can be done to change it.

Both Canadian leaders fail to see what Trump instinctively understands: This is the auto industry we’re talking about; nothing is immutable.

Thomas Walkom is a Toronto-based columnist covering politics. Follow him on Twitter: @tomwalkom

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GM closure of Oshawa assembly plant to be announced today

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Thousands of employees at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont., are bracing for devastating news today as government sources confirm the assembly plant is set to close in 2019. 

It’s not clear how many of the 2,500 employees will lose their jobs as part of a global restructuring move to lower carbon emissions and prepare for a future of electric and autonomous vehicles, sources tell CBC News.

Unifor, the union representing autoworkers in Oshawa, said late Sunday it has not heard « complete details of the overall announcement, » but was told no vehicles are set to be assembled at the facility past December 2019.

« Based on commitments made during 2016 contract negotiations, Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit of that agreement, » the statement read.

The union will hold talks with GM on Monday morning.

The Detroit-based automaker has been quiet on the expected move since news broke Sunday evening. A spokesperson told CBC News: « We have no news or comment tonight and won’t be commenting to others on speculation. »

Oshawa assembly plant

The Oshawa assembly plant, where GM Canada has its headquarters, produces the Chevrolet Impala and the Cadillac XTS cars, the majority of which are shipped south of the border, along with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. 

The Oshawa complex is one of three GM manufacturing facilities in Ontario, along with St. Catharines and Ingersoll. 

GM produces two cars, the Chevrolet Impala and the Cadillac XTS, at the Oshawa plant. (General Motors Canada)

The plant, about 60 kilometres east of Toronto, was headed for closure in June this year amid a slump in sales of passenger cars in North America, and specifically the U.S., for the two cars built in Oshawa.

Last month, GM ramped up its cost-cutting efforts by offering buyouts to thousands of white-collar workers with 12 or more years of service in both Canada and the United States. 

The company has said it needs to be smaller to prepare for possible tougher times.

‘It’s going to affect the province’

The assembly plant has formed the backbone of Oshawa’s economy for more than 100 years. GM bought the plant in 1953 from McLaughlin Buicks, making it one of the biggest in the world. 

Oshawa Mayor John Henry hopes the news of the closure is « just a rumour » because he claims the economic ripple effect will send shockwaves beyond its workers and their families. 

« This isn’t just about building cars, » Henry told CBC News on Monday, noting he had not yet spoken to anyone from GM.

« It’s going to affect the province, it’s going to affect the region. »

Dozens of auto-parts businesses, as well as the companies that supply them, will also be affected. A wide array of local businesses, such as restaurants and retailers in Oshawa, could also feel the effects of the shutdown. 

The Oshawa assembly plant, where GM Canada has its headquarters, produces the Chevrolet Impala and the Cadillac XTS cars, along with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French also decried the looming closure, calling it a « callous decision that must be fought. »

« GM did not build Oshawa. Oshawa built GM, » French said in a statement on Sunday, noting the proposed layoffs would greatly impact workers and their families. 

« Words cannot fully describe the anxiety that my community is feeling at this moment. »

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