Smoke covers Beauceville as used tires catch fire outside Royal Mat plant

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A fire in a used tire yard erupted in Beauceville Saturday night.

Fire departments from Beauceville and surrounding municipalities are still working to extinguish the fire Sunday morning. The fire is now under control, but is expected to continue burning into the afternoon.

Urgence-Environnement and a mobile lab are at the scene to test the air quality as plumes of black smoke cover the city 90 km south of Quebec City.

The fire started around 10:40 p.m. outside the Royal Mat tire recycling plant Saturday but its cause is unknown at this time.

The municipality recommends turning off ventilation systems to prevent potentially toxic fumes from entering their homes.

No evacuations have been ordered at this time.

This is the third fire since 2015 at the plant. The fires used to be much more common a decade ago, said Beauceville city manager Félix Nunez.

« At that time, we counted four or five each year or more, » he said. « Today we have an average of two per year. »

He said that each winter, a large number of tires pile up at the plant. He says he wants to work with RecycQuébec, which supplies the old tires to Royal Mat, to come up with a better plan for tire storage.

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This Anthurium Plant Will Make Your Holiday Table Feel Totally Fresh | Healthyish

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A rose is a rose is a rose—but there’s nothing like an anthurium. The waxy, otherworldly flower feels straight out of a Georgia O’Keefe painting, and it’s become a botanical barometer for measuring a restaurant’s downtown It factor. We’ve been spotting anthurium at NYC hotspots like Dimes, Primo’s, and Flora Bar for months, all thanks to florist Marisa Competello of Metaflora.

« My arrangements can be a little kooky and atypical—I go through phases where I’m really into using feathers or painting in my arrangements and anthurium definitely lend themselves to that, » Competello says. « They’re just kind of provocative and cool, as well as a little weird and phallic, and they’re available at the flower market year-round.”

It’s obvious that florists like Competello favor anthurium, but they’re striking enough to elevate any homemade arrangement too. Here, she walks us through the perks of using the so-called “flamingo flower.”

Go for monochrome

Anthurium come in a range of colors like white, red, green, and deep purply black. It can be tempting to use them all, but Competello prefers to hone in one color, clustering the monochromatic blooms together to make a sculptural arrangement. “I often use anthurium as an accent or a pop of color against a neutral background like palms, » she says. « They’re like an exclamation point. » This technique creates impact with just a few flowers, which is ideal as anthurium can be pricy. Try pointing all the flowers in the same direction for a smooth line and a striking shape.

Don’t kill your darlings

Cut flowers quickly fade from their prime, but anthurium are an excellent choice for arrangements because they’re relatively hardy. « Anthurium will last over a week, sometimes more, and when they expire the stamen will stay the same and look alive, which is also interesting, » says Competello. « It’s always helpful to change the water every couple of days, but other than that these are pretty low-maintenance and will last.”

Get a little weird

Sometimes the best arrangements aren’t afraid to get a little irreverent. Competello creates metallic palms with silver or gold spray paint, and tucks in plumes of feathers to channel tropical ’80s vibes. Keep things streamlined by picking one pop of color—a group of red anthurium, a spray of purple feathers—and keeping the background monochrome.

Go beyond bouquets

Floral arrangement are the perfect holiday party centerpiece but fade almost as fast as those bottles of Beaujolais. Anthurium are also a surprisingly rugged houseplant, just as long as you remember to water them regularly. Want a totally no-maintenance look that lasts? Pick up one of the bouquets from Metaflora’s new collaboration with West Elm—featuring imitation palm leaves, feathers, dried flowers, and yes, anthurium. Just don’t try to smell them. These ones are plastic, and therefore immortal.

All products featured on Healthyish are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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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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WSIB to review old claims filed by Kitchener-Waterloo rubber plant workers

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The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) says it intends to conduct a review of the more than 300 claims that have been filed since 2002 by people who worked at rubber plants in the Kitchener-Waterloo area which were not previously allowed.

Since 2002, the WSIB says it has received claims from people who worked in the rubber industry for several different companies. Those claims included people with various types of cancer.

READ MORE: Retired GE plant workers skeptical about review of occupational illness claims

“I am very deeply concerned by recent reports about the very serious health issues facing people who worked in the rubber industry in our community,” WSIB Chair Elizabeth Witmer said in a release.

“I have asked for a review to ensure we are applying the latest science and evidence to make decisions about these claims.”

The WSIB says claims made by both both cancer and non-cancer related claimants will be looked at.

READ MORE: WSIB reverses decision on 30 occupational disease claims against General Electric Peterborough

It will focus the reviews on claims where there is a newer or better understanding of the relationship between chemical exposure and some forms of cancer.

 

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

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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:
GM closure top of mind for new Durham regional chair John Henry

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.


WATCH:
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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With GM plant closing, Ontario loses its golden goose

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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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