United Airlines plane diverted to Goose Bay leaves passengers stuck on board for 16 hours


Passengers travelling from Newark, N.J. to Hong Kong weren’t expecting to stop off in Goose Bay, N.L. for 16 hours this weekend. (@sonjaydutterson/Twitter)

A United Airlines plane diverted to Goose Bay Airport in Labrador Saturday night resulted in a lengthy stay on the tarmac, according to passengers who were stranded on the aircraft.

After a wait of about 16 hours, a rescue plane touched down around noon local time, and travellers reported they were transported to the alternate plane by bus after 2 p.m. AT. 

The plane took off for Newark Liberty International Airport shortly before 4 p.m.

In a statement to CBC News, the airline says United Flight 179 travelling from Newark, N.J., to Hong Kong was originally diverted to Goose Bay, N.L., due to medical emergency, where medical personnel met the plane and brought the passenger to hospital.

However, a mechanical issue prevented the plane from taking off again. Passengers were not able to leave the aircraft because customs officers were not available overnight, United said.

The airline told CBC News 250 passengers were on board.

Paramedics responded to a medical emergency on the plane that required crew to make an unplanned landing at the Goose Bay airport. (Submitted by Sonjay Dutt)

The airline believes cold weather caused a door on the plane to malfunction, preventing takeoff. Happy Valley-Goose Bay is currently grappling with an extreme cold warning issued by Environment Canada, with temperatures dipping below -30 C.

Communication poor, passenger says

Temperatures on the plane quickly plummeted to « uncomfortable » levels, said passenger Sonjay Dutt, a professional wrestler en route to Hong Kong for a show.

Crew handed out blankets, but according to Dutt, they were able to offer little else to assuage mounting anger from passengers.

« Communication could be better, » Dutt said in a phone call from the plane. Passengers were told at the start of the delay that a rescue flight had already departed to return them to Newark. An update wasn’t announced until about five hours later, he said.

They were also told the airport didn’t have the customs capacity to handle hundreds of passengers, Dutt added.

Dutt also said food and water was running low until about 10 hours into the delay, when officials delivered Tim Hortons to hungry travellers.

Most appreciated the gesture, Dutt said, but reaction to the offering was muted.

« I think people are so fed up, and so at their wits’ end, that even the sight of food didn’t get everyone up and cheering. »

Other passengers on board tweeted out complaints to United, wondering why they had been told a replacement plane was in the air and were not informed of further delays. Dutt said a pilot told passengers to email United’s CEO with complaints about communication practices.

A Twitter account sprang up Sunday morning poking fun at the situation.

In its statement Sunday morning, United said an alternative aircraft had been sent to Goose Bay to fly passengers back to Newark if mechanics are unable to fix the malfunctioning door.

Passengers reported that rescue plane touched down around noon and they waited another two hours to be transported to the alternate plane by bus.

The airline said it had food delivered to the plane and the second aircraft would provide more meals for passengers.

United said it apologizes to its customers and and would do everything possible to assist them during the delay.


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Chinese line up for Canada Goose jackets despite anti-Canadian sentiment – National


Large crowds have flocked to Canada Goose’s new outdoor wear store in downtown Beijing, its first in mainland China, since its opening on Friday, despite sub-freezing temperatures and a chill in bilateral ties.

A long line of shoppers swaddled in thick winter coats were queuing outside the two-storey store on Monday afternoon, with waiting times for a quick peek at Canada Goose’s 9,000 yuan ($1,300) parkas requiring an hour or more.

Canada Goose staff were seen walking up and down the queue asking shoppers which product they were after and then telling them whether or not they had that in stock.

WATCH: Canada Goose’s stock plummets amidst Canada-China dispute

Ties between China and Canada have turned frosty since the arrest of a top Chinese executive in Vancouver at the request of the United States in December and the subsequent arrest of two Canadians on suspicion of endangering state security.

Canada Goose opened its Beijing store about two weeks later than initially planned. It has made no connection between the delay and the heightened tensions between the two governments, saying earlier this month that the postponement was due to construction work.

On Monday, construction workers were still seen on scaffolding in a cordoned-off area on one side of the store.

Canada Goose opens store in Beijing after construction delay

The Toronto-listed parka maker has made no mention of the Beijing store opening on its Chinese social media platforms, although the store in Beijing’s swanky Sanlitun district is now listed on the company’s global website.

“We are proud of our newest store in China and look forward to welcoming our fans,” Canada Goose said in an email to Reuters on Monday.

“It’s been popular for ages but Beijing didn’t have one, only Hong Kong. So everyone’s come to see it,” said Long Hua, 32, lining up outside the store door with a friend.

A buoyant sales outlook for mainland China has been shaken in recent weeks by some caustic posts on Chinese social media calling for the boycott of Canada Goose products following Canada‘s arrest of Huawei Technologies Co’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.

Shares of Canada Goose have fallen about 37 percent in Toronto trading since Meng’s detention and the ensuing strains between the two countries.

Meng, also the daughter of Huawei’s founder, faces U.S. allegations that she misled multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions.

Meng has said she is innocent.

WATCH: Federal government ramping up pressure on the Chinese government to release detained Canadians.

The stakes are high for the maker of high-end goose-down coats, which enjoy significant brand recognition in China’s big cities.

Chinese customers account for more than a third of spending on luxury products worldwide, and are increasingly shopping in their home market rather than on overseas trips.

Earlier this year, Canada Goose opened its first store in Hong Kong.


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PETA threatens to sue Toronto, Astral Media over removal of anti-Canada Goose ads


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is threatening to sue the city of Toronto and Astral Media for removing anti-Canada Goose ads.

The animal rights group said Friday that it will commence legal action against the city and Astral, if they do not repost ads the group paid to put up in September that criticized the Toronto-based luxury jacket maker for using goose down and coyote fur in its jackets.

The ads featured images of the animals with captions saying « I’m a living being, not a piece of fur trim » and « I’m a living being, not jacket filling » and were put up at bus shelters between Canada Goose’s headquarters and the home of the company’s CEO, Dani Reiss.

PETA’s assistant manager of clothing campaigns Christina Sewell told The Canadian Press the ads were meant to run for four weeks, but were up for less than 24 hours in September.

A woman wearing a Canada Goose jacket walks past PETA protesters in front of the New York Stock Exchange during the Canadian company’s IPO in March 2017. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

« Astral let us know they had to pull the ads because they had too many numerous complaints, » she said.

A spokesperson for Bell Media Inc., which owns Astral, confirmed it removed the ads because they were not in line with a part of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards that restricts ads from disparaging organizations or causing public ridicule.

Ads didn’t violate standards, PETA says

PETA claims it is not violating the standards.

« PETA’s position remains that its right to free expression includes the right to place this particular artwork — in its current form — on city property, and that the removal of its artwork violated this right, » the group said in a letter it sent to the city, Bell Media and Astral Media on Thursday.

PETA says it will begin legal action against the city of Toronto and Astral Media, if they do not repost ads the group paid to put up in September. (PETA/Canadian Press)

Asked about the ads, city of Toronto spokesperson Eric Holmes said Astral « is responsible for applying the standards and any decisions related to the approval and removal of advertising content on these assets. »

Sewell, who called the ads « benign, » said PETA doesn’t have a timeline for how soon it will take legal action if the ads aren’t reposted, but is committed to carrying out their threat.

A Canada Goose spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Canada Goose defends use of fur

The company has long been in PETA’s crosshairs.

PETA members, sometimes dressed as coyotes, have protested in front of the apparel company’s stores and have repeatedly billed Canada Goose as a perpetrator of « shameless cruelty. »

« There are so many cruelty-free alternatives out there and things that are made out of plants or synthetic. Fur is hugely detrimental to the environment, » Sewell said, noting that Canada Goose hasn’t gotten in touch with PETA since it unveiled the ads.

« We have been campaigning for several years now and we are very hard pressed to get a direct response from the company. »

Canada Goose previously fought complaints about its use of fur, saying that it is committed to the ethical treatment of animals, that « having fur trim around a jacket hood disrupts airflow which helps protect the face from frostbite » and that it uses goose down because it is « one of the world’s best natural insulators. »

« We do not condone any willful mistreatment, neglect, or acts that maliciously cause animals undue suffering, » the company’s website says. « Our standards for the sourcing and use of fur, down and wool reflect our commitment that materials are sourced from animals that are not subject to willful mistreatment or undue harm. »


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With GM plant closing, Ontario loses its golden goose


Maybe it was a brother. Or a sister. An uncle, a cousin, a friend. Maybe even — like this writer — it was your own dad who once worked within that wonder of industrial wonders, GM’s sprawling auto plant in Oshawa.

Almost a million square metres under a single roof. A facility so vast you could fit 600 hockey rinks inside and still skate circles around General Motors Canada’s crown jewel without getting snow on your face.

And now, unthinkably for multiple generations of middle-class southern Ontarians who knew its power to change lives — to feed, house and bankroll futures, so that the children of autoworkers could spring forth with college-educated hope — GM Oshawa will be mothballed. A manufacturing behemoth whose roots stretch all the way back to the horse-and-buggy era is soon to be dust.

Can we still call ourselves the Golden Horseshoe, now that GM is about to strangle what for decades was the golden goose? For those raised to understand Ontario’s place as the engine of industrial Canada, Oshawa was, decade upon decade upon decade, the spark plug.

“I owe my entire livelihood to GM,” Oshawa native Bronwyn Cawker, a Toronto chef, told the Star. “From my grandpa, who worked managing the stamping plant to support a family of eight, to my father, who apprenticed there as an electrician and worked there for over 30 years to support our brood of eight, every adult I knew as a kid worked at GM in some capacity.

For anyone paying more than passing attention, Oshawa’s pain has been slow-motion agony, as the city, like the rest of the Canadian auto industry, has struggled with the twin forces of globalization and automation — and now, a wholesale shift to retool for the age of autonomous, electric vehicles. Oshawa has withstood and survived a generation of cuts that reduced the plant from its million-vehicles-per-year peak involving a payroll of 40,000 to a workforce now less than a tenth of what it was.

But amid the bailouts, buyouts, outsourcing and downsizing, GM Oshawa was still there. And if shrinking numbers showed the majority of the economic pain had already been felt, nothing quite kills like actual death. And barring what would almost certainly be controversial government intervention, GM now appears determined to mothball the facility, ending an Oshawa legacy of car-making that stretches back 111 years and beyond, back to horse-and-buggy era.

As many online commenters have noted, the symbolic heft of mothballing Oshawa means, among other things, that Col. R. Samuel McLaughlin is spinning in his grave. In 1887, McLaughlin started out as an apprentice in the upholstery department of his father’s company, the McLaughlin Carriage Works, which was doing a thriving business building and exporting horse-drawn buggies throughout the British Empire, and went on to re-engineer the vehicles for the motor age, using Buick engines.

In 1907 his McLaughlin Motor Car Company roared to life in Oshawa and soon thereafter, in partnership with GM, he became president of the newly formed General Motors of Canada. He remained on the board until well into the 1960s, when the already thriving Oshawa plant expanded into a facility that would command global interest with the arrival of the 1965 Auto Pact, the forerunner to our modern-day NAFTA free-trade agreement.

“In the 1970s China sent a large trade mission to Canada and all they wanted to do was go to Oshawa and see the GM Autoplex — they wanted to build what we had and 40 years later we are slowly but surely losing it,” said Dimitry Anastaskis, a history professor with Trent University and the author of three books on Canada’s auto sector.

“I’m not being nativist here, I’m not saying, ‘Oh it would be nice to go back to the 1950s.’ The fact is that manufacturing in Canada is going to continue to shrink, inevitably.

“But the reason the Golden Horseshoe is the Golden Horseshoe is because of the high-paying manufacturing jobs and the idea that we just walk away from that is just silly. I am an advocate for managing that shrinkage in the least painful way possible, while still retaining enough of it so that you are still a player,” Anastaskis told the Star in an interview during the three-way negotiations to update NAFTA.

“The goal needs to be managing that transition to a post-industrial economy where you still have some left — because the alternative is an entirely service-based economy that exacerbates problems around inequality and leads to a precariousness in the workforce that is so destructive and unhealthy for ordinary workers.”

McLaughlin, a noted philanthropist, steered much of his fortune to public works, donating generously to York and Queen’s universities, University of Montreal and Oshawa General Hospital, and, perhaps most memorably, establishing the planetarium in Toronto that bears his name.

East of Toronto McLaughlin’s name echoes still in such donated sites as Camp Samac, a 66-hectare (163-acre) scouting retreat in Oshawa. His former mansion, the 55-room Parkwood Estate, now a National Historic Site, occupies an entire city block in central Oshawa, where it has served as a film and TV backdrop for productions ranging from X-Men and Murdoch Mysteries.

He lived to age 100 before his death in 1972, and once was described by Toronto financier E.P. Taylor as “a man with a voice of brass, a body of iron and a heart of gold.”

McLaughlin and Oshawa, it is worth remembering, had experienced industrial disaster once before. In 1899, the McLaughlin factory in Oshawa was destroyed by fire, leaving its founders destitute and a crew of 600 jobless. But within a month, McLaughlin was able to move the men to a temporary plant in Gananoque, personally walking door-to-door in search of people willing to lend his team a place to sleep. There they were able to produce 3,000 carriages in six months, keeping the firm solvent, while the Oshawa plant was rebuilt with the help of a $50,000 loan from the city.

Years later, McLaughlin reflected upon that struggle, saying, “The Gananoque operation confirmed my belief that the willing, conscientious worker is the backbone of any business.”

Backbone. Brass. Iron. Gold. If there’s another like that today, please let Oshawa know.

Mitch Potter is a reporter and feature writer based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @MPwrites

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