October is a good month for pruning


Progressive by nature is a catchy marketing slogan employed by the County of Elgin that, unfortunately, is not readily applicable to all members of St. Thomas council.
That was painfully evident Monday when a motion to allow internet voting during a portion of the advance polling period in the October municipal election was defeated on a 4-4 vote.
Aldermen Cliff Barwick, Tom Johnston, Gord Campbell and Dave Warden presented some of the flimsiest arguments possible to maintain the status quo, i.e. the traditional paper ballot.
Had this been evidence in a court case it would have been dismissed as not germane.
The concern seniors would not vote because they prefer the traditional ballot over computer voting is a smoke screen since the paper ballot would remain as the primary method of casting one’s vote.
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CAW study finds job gains aren’t as great as they seem

Ford Canada St. Thomas Assembly Plant

The economic recovery is leaving workers behind, while others are toiling in “survivor” jobs with low pay and little security, states a report released Monday by the Canadian Auto Workers union.

The study, called the Workers Adjustment Tracking Project, followed a group of laid-off workers in three communities — Kitchener, Toronto and Brampton — for one year and concludes they’re struggling to find work.

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Ontario looks beyond the struggling auto sector

Ford Canada St. Thomas Assembly Plant

Ontario’s auto industry is facing ongoing consolidation with the upcoming closing of a Ford Motor Co. plant in St. Thomas in 2011. Last year, General Motors Corp. closed a light truck plant in Oshawa. Auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. in Richmond Hill, Ont., says Ontario’s auto industry has lost 50,000 jobs since 2006 and has been hurt by long-term structural change as well as cyclical issues related to the economy.

It is also becoming increasingly difficult to compete with lower-cost plants in parts of the U.S. and Mexico that are not unionized, he says. As a result, he expects Canada’s share of total North American auto production — virtually all of which takes place in Ontario — to drop to as low as 12% during the next four to five years from its current perch of 16%.

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First you lose the vehicle, then you put people out of work

Sarnia’s police chief has come out swinging in support of Ontario auto workers.

Phil Nelson said Thursday he’s ticked off that Ford Canada is discontinuing production of the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor and has asked the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to take a stand.

The Crown Vic is a police “workhorse” that’s kept thousands of workers in St. Thomas, Ont. employed for decades, he said.

“The fact that jobs are being lost, that really annoys me. We do crime prevention through social development. Part of that is keeping people working. It’s like a one-two punch. First you lose the vehicle, which has been very good to police services. Now you’re putting people out of work.”
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Good news for recession-battered St. Thomas

Formet Industries, St. Thomas

Magna International (MGa.TO) said on Monday that it has won a contract to make the third generation of frames for General Motors Co’s [GM.UL] full-size light-duty pickups and sport utility vehicles.

Magna said it would not disclose the amount of the contract. It said the new frames would replace GM’s GMT 900, which is the frame for the big Chevy Suburbans, Tahoes, and Silvarados.

The frames will be built at plants owned by Magna’s Cosma unit in St. Thomas, Ontario, and Saltillo, Mexico, which currently make the GMT 900.

St. Thomas/Elgin needs to go green to jump-start economy, says Jack Layton

From the Times-Journal:
An industrial strategy, taking aim at eco-friendly jobs and technology, is what’s needed to help the flagging economy in Elgin-St. Thomas.
So said federal NDP leader Jack Layton who, Friday, met with a dozen local labour leaders, including representatives from Ford’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant, at the CAW Hall, north of Talbotville.
Irene Mathyssen, NDP MP for London-Fanshawe, attended as well.
“The message is unanimous: Manufacturing is in a crisis here and the federal government just doesn’t understand the magnitude of it,” Layton said. “What we need is an industrial strategy that’s going to put this, (the) best manufacturing work force in the world, back to work.”
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The (Proudly Built in St. Thomas) Police Interceptor Is Dead. Long Live The Police Interceptor!

According to Ford, the new Police Interceptor was developed in conjunction with the automaker’s Police Advisory Board and will exceed the Crown Victoria’s abilities in performance, durability and safety. “We have heard the repeated requests from the law enforcement community to continue uninterrupted support of the law enforcement community,” Ford’s Mark Fields said in a statement. “Ford is answering the call with the new Police Interceptor – engineered and built in America.”

We’re assuming Fields doesn’t mean North America. A “Made in USA” label would differentiate the new Police Interceptor from most of its competitors and even the original Crown Victoria, which was most recently built in St. Thomas, Ontario. Chevy is planning to import the new Caprice from Australia — it’s a rebadged Holden Statesman — and the Dodge Charger is made in Brampton, Ontario.
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S. Ontario straw becomes Ford Flex storage bins


Research at the University of Waterloo has led four southern Ontario farmers to send straw from soft, white winter wheat to an auto parts plant in Ohio for plastic production that is ending up as third-row storage bins in the Flex crossover vehicle in Oakville.

In an industry that is quickly developing and manufacturing so-called green interiors, Ford says it is the world’s first automaker to develop and use straw for plastic in a vehicle.

London seeking $150 million offered Ford Canada’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant

Posted by Ian: St. Thomas and Elgin county lose the Ford plant and as a result the economic impact will be compounded via support operations like Lear Seating, trucking companies and CN who relied heavily on the St. Thomas Assembly Plant and yet London wants the entire $150 million offered by the province for its own benefit. It’s bad enough we have to deal with the London-centered school board and St. Joseph’s Health Centre for psychiatric services. However, you can ask the question, why didn’t St. Thomas staff and administration beat London to the punch? Or is that because they have no long-term economic plan in place. Where is the Economic Development Corp. and the Chamber of Commerce in this dark chapter? London is taking concrete steps to diversify its economy (read agri-business and digital media), while in St. Thomas we’re still trying to entice an automaker to locate here. Following is the full story from the London Free Press …

The City of London is going after $150 million the Ontario government is believed to have offered to save Ford of Canada’s St. Thomas assembly plant, Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best said.

The city and region could use the cash to fund a host of ambitious economic development schemes, she said.

“We continue to be impacted in a severe way. If there is money for the plant, then surely there must be money to invest in initiatives we are looking at.”

Ford Motor Co. will close the St. Thomas plant in September 2011, cutting 1,600 jobs when it ends production of the Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Grand Marquis and Crown Victoria.
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