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Not too late for GM to change its mind and save Oshawa plant, union head says





“I am committed to having General Motors change their mind,” Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, told a union rally Friday just days after GM rejected Unifor’s proposals to keep its plant in Oshawa, Ont., operational past 2019.

Unifor brought in thousands of members from across Ontario by bus for the rally on Windsor’s riverfront as part of its campaign to reverse GM’s decision. 

Dias said the rally was timed to coincide with a GM investor meeting.

“One thing I’m sure GM never told their investors is that in Canada, sales dropped 30 per cent in December 2018,” said Dias, comparing numbers to December 2017. 

“How can you support a company that isn’t supporting their Number One market?” Dias asked the crowd, to roars of agreement.

In a statement, GM said the company had analyzed the union’s proposals but rejected them because “they all would involve substantial incremental costs and a further deterioration of GM’s competitive position.”

The company announced it will close the Oshawa plant, along with four other U.S. plants, in November. The plant opened in 1918. 

Unifor national president Jerry Dias says by rejecting the union’s offer, GM has picked a fight with all of Canada. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

More than 2,500 employees in Oshawa will lose their jobs, but Unifor members said the trickle-down could affect 25,000 people.

Jackie Sovol, an employee at the Oshawa plant, said General Motors was “lying,” pointing to community businesses that would likely close their doors when the plant shuts down.

“General Motors doesn’t care about our community, they don’t care about Canada,” said Sovol, adding that with only two years seniority she wasn’t going to get more than “a box of tissues when I no longer have a job to support my family.”

According to automotive consultant Dennis DesRosiers, Unifor’s efforts won’t change GM’s decision, because keeping the plant open wouldn’t make the company competitive.

“At the root of General Motors’ problems, it’s they’re losing market share,” said DesRosiers.

Oshawa plant manager Greg Moffat called Unifor’s efforts a “fight against corporate greed.”

“Shame on you, General Motors,” said Moffat. “We’re going no where. Nobody’s exempt from corporate greed.”

DesRosiers said it’s unfortunate that thousands will lose their jobs, but the future of the auto industry lies in electric and autonomous vehicles — areas where GM said it will focus.

DesRosiers points to GM’s new research centre in Markham, Ont., where the company hired 500 people last year and plans to hire up to 1,000 technical engineers.

But the Oshawa plant wouldn’t be used to produce those electric vehicles, he said, because there isn’t enough demand to justify an electric vehicle plant.

Dias says the rally is part of a campaign to get GM to change its mind. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

“It’s too early for the plant, but it’s not too early to go after the intellectual jobs tied to developing electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing programs,” said DesRosiers.

“There’s thousands and thousands of those jobs, that’s what [Dias] should be going and pounding on the desk of GM, Detroit, about.”

At the rally, Dias said Unifor was “disgusted,” especially with GM CEO Mary Barra. 

“The message here today has to be if you want to sell here, you better build here,” said Dias, calling on Canadian politicians to show leadership. 

“We are demanding a meeting, we are demanding that the prime minister, the premier of Ontario and myself sit in a meeting organized by the prime minister and the premier, that we meet with CEO Barra and they tell them how disgusted they are with their decision,” said Dias.

Several Windsor politicians attended the rally, including NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens was not present. 

Dias said it isn’t too late for GM to change its mind, but time was running out.

“The window is closing for you to change your decision,” said Dias. “I’m suggesting you better listen carefully. You haven’t seen anything yet.”


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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa





With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV





A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence





Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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