Unifor calls for Canadian boycott on GM vehicles built in Mexico

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The union representing workers at General Motors’ Oshawa assembly plant on Friday called on Canadians to boycott any of the automaker’s vehicles manufactured in Mexico. 

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said the union has done « everything possible » to avoid a boycott but their efforts have fell on deaf ears at the multinational auto giant.

« We need to remind [GM management] that we are not going to forgive them for walking away from us, » Dias told reporters in downtown Toronto.

« So as GM has choices, Canadian and American consumers have choices. »

Last November, GM announced it would close the sprawling Oshawa plant in December this year, putting some 2,500 employees out of work. The move was part of a global restructuring that also included the closure of four U.S. facilities.

« General Motors is arrogant to the point that they think that they can close our assembly plant in Oshawa, that they can close four plants in the U.S., while ramping up production in Mexico, » Dias said, adding that the boycott is not supposed to be an attack on Mexican workers. 

The ultimate purpose of the boycott is to pressure GM to keep the Oshawa plant open until December 2020. During negotiations of the last collective agreement in 2016, GM management said that there would be no closures in Canada during the duration of the deal, according to Dias.

« There word must mean something, » he said. 

Dias said that polling commissioned by Unifor has suggested widespread public support for a boycott. The campaign will include ads on television, in the media and on billboards in both Canada and the U.S. 

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Ford recalls over 950,000 vehicles over Takata airbag inflator that can explode, hurl shrapnel

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Ford is recalling more than 953,000 vehicles worldwide to replace Takata passenger airbag inflators that can explode and hurl shrapnel.

The move includes 782,000 vehicles in the U.S. and is part of the largest series of recalls in U.S. history. There were no immediate numbers provided for Canadian vehicles.


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Included are the 2010 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, the 2010 and 2011 Ford Ranger, the 2010 to 2012 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, the 2010 and 2011 Mercury Milan, and the 2010 to 2014 Ford Mustang.

Some of the recalls may be limited to specific geographic areas of the U.S.

At least 23 people have been killed worldwide by the inflators.

Ford says it doesn’t know of any injuries in vehicles included in this recall. Dealers will replace the inflators.


READ MORE:
Takata adds 3.3 million faulty airbags to largest automotive recall in U.S. history

WATCH: Coverage of the Takata airbag scandal


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Video captures city sander smashing into vehicles on southeast Calgary street

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The city of Calgary is investigating after a sanding truck smashed into several vehicles early Monday morning.

The incident happened at around 1 a.m. on Legacy Village Way S.E. and was captured on home security video.

Local resident Josh Capps said his daughter heard some noise, so he ran out to the street to see what was the source of the commotion.

WATCH: Some Calgary residents woke up to a surprise Monday morning after a city sanding truck smashed into three vehicles. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.







READ MORE:
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He said he saw that his truck, a friend’s Jeep and a neighbour’s Honda Civic had been severely damaged.

“It was just unbelievable to see so much wreckage caused by one vehicle. I know they are heavy and full of sand and gravel but it was really quite unbelievable to see how many vehicles were involved,” Capps said.

Capps said he and some neighbours checked on the driver to make sure they weren’t injured.

“We had a brief conversation with the driver. Basically, it went ‘hey man are you all right?’ He said ‘yeah, just a bit shaken up.’ ” Capps said.

 

Capps said despite the damage he’s relieved no one was in the vehicles. He said his friends were in the Jeep just minutes before the crash.

“The second vehicle to get struck [was] a white Jeep Patriot that belongs to friends of ours who are staying with us,” Capps said. “They just got home [and] I could see the time stamp on the security footage and it was about six or seven minutes from them getting out of the car to the accident happening.”

“They have a one-year-old baby so it was mostly just a relief that everybody was OK.”


READ MORE:
Calgary man nearly killed in crash at same location he was injured at in 2017

Bill Biensch, manager of road operations with the city, confirmed to Global News on Monday that it was a city sanding truck and the driver was not injured.

He said Calgary police and the city’s fleet department were at the scene and the investigation is ongoing.

Capps said he’s not impressed with the loss of his truck but is happy no one was injured.

“It is a crappy situation, especially this time of year with Christmas and New Year’s [for] that stuff to be taking place,” he said. “But we are definitely counting our blessings.”

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

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Ford F-series trucks are the most often stolen vehicles in Canada, insurers say

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Auto theft is up six per cent across the country, according to a report released Tuesday by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

New Brunswick tops the lists with a 28 per cent increase, followed by Ontario with a 15 per cent increase, Quebec, up seven per cent, and Alberta, up six per cent — the highest per capita increase in Canada.

The IBC, a national association that represents Canada’s private auto insurers, reported the increases in its annual report looking at Canada’s most frequently stolen vehicles.

Ford F-Series pickup trucks and high-end SUVs top the list this year.

« They’re of real value, » said John Tod, national director of the IBC’s Investigative Services.

« They’re very attractive vehicles. I know that those types of vehicles are in high demand elsewhere, basically overseas. »

The IBC report uses data compiled by members across the country from 2016-2017, the most recent information available, but Tod said they’ve also seen the number of auto thefts continue to increase in the first three quarters of 2018.

The Ford F350 pickup truck is Canada’s most frequently stolen vehicle, according to data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. (Ford)

Last week, CBC News reported on a new style of vehicle theft that involves boosting key fob signals from inside homes to open and steal cars in driveways — a technique one auto security expert said may be playing a role in a recent surge of auto thefts in the Toronto area.

Although Tod said most break-ins still involve having the vehicle’s keys in hand, he said the IBC is looking into these electronic thefts.

« The auto manufacturers are very well aware and very actively doing everything they can to change the technology, increase the security mechanisms in it and hopefully reduce the amount of thefts that are occurring, » he said.

Tod said the IBC holds periodic meetings with auto manufacturers, and he’ll be bringing up these electronic thefts at the next one.

The Toronto Police Service’s 11 Division posted this photo on Nov. 26 to warn people about relay thefts. (Toronto Police Service)

What’s being stolen and why

Ford F350 trucks take the top five spots on the IBC’s national list, and they also dominate in Alberta.

In Ontario, Chevrolet trucks and high-end SUVs make up much of the Top 10, and in Atlantic Canada, Nissan Maxima, Chevy Silverado and Jeep Liberty vehicles take the top three spots.

Tod said the reasons thieves target these vehicles varies, but the IBC is seeing many of them shipped overseas.

« There’s a large amount of vehicles that are coming from registered owners or reported stolen from the GTA, southern Ontario area, » Tod said.

« We’re seeing them leaving primarily right now through to the ports in Montreal and through Halifax … we’re seeing them going over to Africa, over to the Middle East and to some extent down to the Caribbean countries as well. »

The trend corresponds with another finding in the report — an increase in unrecovered stolen vehicles, Tod said.

Of course, many break-ins also occur because thieves want to steal the car’s contents or take personal information to use for things like insurance fraud and identity theft, Tod said.

New Year’s Day is the most common time for vehicles to be stolen across the country, mostly because cars are filled with gifts, the report said.

Top Ten Stolen Vehicles in 2017 – Canada

Make Model Body Style Model Year
Ford F350 SD 4WD Pickup 2007
Ford F350 SD 4WD Pickup 2006
Ford F350 SD 4WD Pickup 2005
Ford F350 SD 4WD Pickup 2004
Ford F350 SD 4WD Pickup 2003
Ford F250 SD 4WD Pickup 2006
Ford F350 SD 4WD Pickup 2001
Ford F250 SD 4WD Pickup 2000
Lexus GX460 4DR AWD SUV 2015
Ford F250 SD 4WD Pickup 2001

Top Ten Stolen Vehicles in 2017 – Ontario

Make Model Body Style Model Year
Chevrolet/GMC Tahoe/Yukon 4DR 4WD SUV 2004
Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 2500 4WD Pickup 2006
Chevrolet/GMC Tahoe/Yukon 4DR 4WD SUV 2003
Ford F350 SD 4WD Pickup 2007
Chevrolet/GMC Suburban/Yukon XL 1500 4DR 4WD SUV 2003
Chevrolet/GMC Suburban/Yukon XL 1500 4DR 4WD SUV 2002
Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 4WD Pickup 2003
Chevrolet/GMC Tahoe/Yukon 4DR 4WD SUV 2005
Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 2500 4WD Pickup 2003
Chevrolet/GMC Tahoe/Yukon 4DR 4WD SUV 2002

How to protect yourself

To minimize the chances of becoming a victim, Tod offered these tips:

  • Don’t leave your vehicle unattended and running.
  • Don’t leave your keys or key fobs unattended.
  • Don’t leave valuables visible on the seats.
  • Park in a well-lit area, ideally in a garage.

« It’s only a matter of minutes, or seconds in fact, for somebody to actually, if they have the right means and if they have, even worse, … access to your key fob or your key … it will be gone, and will be gone in a very, very quick period of time, » said Tod.

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TTC spent $26 million to save 30 aging streetcars. But majority of the vehicles are still in the garage in need of more repairs

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Less than one year after the TTC spent $26 million on what it billed as a major maintenance program to extend the life of 30 of its older streetcars, the vehicles remain so unreliable that the agency can only get two or three into service every day, the Star has learned.

The program began in 2015 and was supposed to help keep 30 of the aging streetcars on the road for up to an additional 10 years. But despite exceeding the program’s budget, the TTC fell far short of its target and did work on just 20 cars.

A TTC employee works on the steel floor of an articulated light rail vehicle (ALRV), built in 1987. The TTC spent $26 million in an attempt to extend the life of 30 of its older streetcars, yet the vehicles remain so unreliable the agency can only get two or three into service every day, the Star has learned.
A TTC employee works on the steel floor of an articulated light rail vehicle (ALRV), built in 1987. The TTC spent $26 million in an attempt to extend the life of 30 of its older streetcars, yet the vehicles remain so unreliable the agency can only get two or three into service every day, the Star has learned.  (Bernard Weil / Toronto Star file photo)

The work that was done failed to significantly extend the life of the cars, and as of this month on any given day the majority of the streetcars, which are known as articulated light rail vehicles (ALRV’s), are stuck in a garage in need of further repairs.

Although the ongoing poor reliability of the ALRV’s has been publicly disclosed, the TTC board, which provides civilian and council oversight of the transit agency, was never formally informed that the program had so badly failed to meet its initial objectives.

“That’s really bad,” said Councillor John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre), a TTC board member, when informed of the outcome of the program on Monday.

“I’m surprised that they would have spent so much money and gone ahead with that kind of expenditure without certain assurances that more of (the streetcars) could have been put on the road.”

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Campbell said that “whenever there’s that kind of waste” it “raises a red flag,” and the TTC board should have been told the repair program hadn’t worked out as planned.

“At some point, somebody in the chain of command should have said, we’re wasting our money here,” he said.

Brad Ross, a spokesperson for the TTC, said the agency “did get some additional years out of the ALRV’s based on the work performed — more so than if we did nothing.”

But he stated that at the start of the overhaul program the vehicles had already reached the end of their intended service life and “the program’s intent was to keep them on the road, safely.”

He said that as the repairs progressed the TTC realized more work than anticipated was required, and the agency determined “it was better to work with Bombardier to get new streetcars in service here as quickly as possible and to rely on buses to supplement streetcar routes in the interim than to spend any additional money” fixing the ALRV’s.

The TTC has two types of older, so-called “legacy” streetcars: smaller vehicles called Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (CLRVs) and the larger ALRV’s, which are used on busier streetcar routes and are recognizable by their accordion-style middle sections.

The TTC bought 52 of the 23-metre ALRVs in 1984, and they were supposed to last about 30 years. In May of 2015, as Bombardier fell behind schedule in delivering new vehicles to replace the older fleet, the TTC secured approval to overhaul 30 of the old ALRV’s in order to extend their service life. The repairs began in June 2015, and were supposed to be complete by the end of 2017.

The articulated light rail vehicles (ALRVs) are distingishable by their accordian-style middle sections.
The articulated light rail vehicles (ALRVs) are distingishable by their accordian-style middle sections.  (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star file photo)

The life extension program was supposed to help ensure the cars could last another decade, although they would require additional work over that period as some streetcar components like wheels and trucks need to be revamped every five years.

The TTC trumpeted the return to service on the 501 Queen route of the first of the overhauled cars in an October 2015 press release, which described it as the initial ALRV to “undergo a major life-extension overhaul that will improve reliability and ensure continued, safe operation of the streetcar fleet.”

But an internal TTC tracking document obtained by the Star shows the agency quickly fell behind on the planned repairs. By the final months of 2017, the last year of the program, it had completed work on just 17 of the 30 cars.

By that time, the document shows, the agency had already burned through almost all of the $24.5-million program budget, having spent $22.8 million.

According to Ross, the TTC spokesperson, the agency eventually completed work on 20 cars, at a cost of $26 million, but decided at the end of 2017 not to do more work on the ALRV’s, including the remaining 10 vehicles that had been selected for the overhaul program.

Richard Wong, who was appointed the TTC’s head of streetcar maintenance in April 2017, midway through the repair program, said the overhaul work should never have been described as a life-extension program because the repairs it entailed didn’t include work on the electrical systems that was required to keep the cars operating in the long run.

Instead they focused on work like repainting and repairing corrosion on the streetcar bodies, replacing flooring, and refurbishing pneumatic air systems, propulsion motors and braking systems. Work was also done on the vehicles’ wheels and axles, suspension and structural beams.

Wong said that falls under the kind of more routine “state-of-good-repair” maintenance that keeps vehicles in good condition, but doesn’t extend their service life.

“I don’t know why it was advertised as a life extension,” he said.

“What you’re seeing (now) is that we have very low vehicle availability because they’re always breaking down on the electrical side of things.”

Copies of three of the TTC’s daily streetcar availability reports obtained by the Star and dated between Oct. 31 and Nov. 5 2018 show the agency planned to deploy 10 ALRV’s on each day, but only two or three were available for service each morning. Most of the remainder are listed as unavailable due to “corrective maintenance.” Wong acknowledged the numbers are typical of the current ALRV reliability.

A newly painted articulated light rail vehicle (ALRV) streetcar awaits final repairs. As a result of delays by Bombardier to deliver new streetcars on time, the TTC decided to overhaul 30 streetcars to keep them in service. It eventually completed work on 20 cars, at a cost of $26 million.
A newly painted articulated light rail vehicle (ALRV) streetcar awaits final repairs. As a result of delays by Bombardier to deliver new streetcars on time, the TTC decided to overhaul 30 streetcars to keep them in service. It eventually completed work on 20 cars, at a cost of $26 million.  (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star file photo)

Their unavailability means the TTC has even fewer vehicles to make up for the delays to the delivery of its new streetcar fleet, leading to worse service on the busy streetcar routes on which ALRVs are supposed to be deployed. The TTC has been supplementing some streetcar routes with buses, and now plans to retire all of the ALRV’s by around 2020.

Wong didn’t dispute the idea that the program wasn’t a good use of taxpayer money.

“We could have done a better job of planning this, to be honest,” he said. “Planning some more electrical work would have probably been prudent, but that would have also cost more money as well.”

In order to comply with provincial accessibility legislation, the TTC has to retire all of its old-model streetcars, which aren’t accessible, by 2025. The new low-floor streetcars supplied by Bombardier are accessible.

Under the terms of a 2012 agreement, the company was supposed to have delivered 148 of the cars by the end of last year. Due to well-documented production problems, it only delivered the 106th vehicle last month. Bombardier has met revised delivery targets this year, however, and says it will supply all 204 of the new cars by the end of 2019, as scheduled.

The TTC is suing Bombardier for costs the agency has incurred as a result of the delivery delays. It isn’t clear whether the $26 million spent on the ALRV repairs could be recouped as part of those claims.

Ross said the agency hopes to announce a settlement with the company “in the coming weeks.”

Don Peat, a spokesperson for Mayor John Tory, said the money spent on the ALRV repairs “is another example of the costs the TTC has incurred trying to keep streetcars on the road while we wait for Bombardier to deliver the streetcars we have ordered.

“This is why we need the new TTC streetcars and why the Mayor has pushed for them to be delivered as quickly as possible.”

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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New vehicles coming to Ambulance NB fleet in attempt to cut rural wait times – New Brunswick

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Ambulance New Brunswick is launching a pilot project and adding more a handful of vehicles to its fleet, in an effort to reduce response times in rural communities.

Five rural communities — Minto/Chipman; Grand Bay-Westfield; Saint-Quentin/Kedgwick; the Acadian Peninsula and Blackville — will each have a new Rapid Response Unit (RRU).


READ MORE:
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“We’ll have two or three, multiple calls back-to-back in the areas,” says Crossman.

“Sometimes, the neighbouring ambulance is responding 40 or 50 minutes away.”

Though the pilot project was announced by government in July, the launch comes days after a 13-year-old died as the result of an ATV collision in Haut-Lamèque, which took an ambulance a reported 40 minutes to respond.

READ MORE: N.B. Acadian Society launches petition to cancel ambulance management contract

When the fleet is officially launched in November, the vehicles will look similar to this one

Callum Smith/Global News

The New Brunswick Acadian Society (SANB) launched a petition Tuesday, calling on the province to cancel Medavie’s contract with Ambulance New Brunswick.

“It’s a problem when people kind of ask themselves, in an emergency situation, ‘well, should I call an ambulance or should I drive myself to the hospital,’” asks Eric Dow of SANB.

Eric Dow of the New Brunswick Acadian Society (SANB) says the petition was launched as a result of overall performance over the years

Callum Smith/Global News

Ambulance New Brunswick says based on results in other jurisdictions, the RRUs have proven their success.

“They really have been able to demonstrate the benefit,” says Ambulance New Brunswick vice-president Matthew Crossman. “Specifically in rural communities, where there are long transport times and multiple calls.”


The RRUs differ from ambulances because they will have only one paramedic, rather than two. They also don’t have the ability to transport patients.

The new vehicles will respond, treat patients as needed until an ambulance arrives, and then be free to respond to another call as needed.

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

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Crash between dump truck, 2 vehicles causing traffic headaches in Dartmouth – Halifax

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A multiple-vehicle crash is backing up rush-hour traffic in Dartmouth today.

Halifax Regional Police say the crash happened around 3:50 p.m. along Highway 108 outbound, just before the Dartmouth Crossing exit.

Police say the crash involves a dump truck and two vehicles.

It’s unclear whether there were any injuries.

READ MORE: Two men charged after woman injured in ATV crash in Cape Breton

Northbound traffic merging from Highway 111 and Woodland Avenue onto the 118 is being diverted.

Traffic has been reduced to one lane. Police are asking motorists to avoid the area if possible.

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

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