Friday, October 03, 2008

Rust Belt City Diaspora: Ontario

Is the economy better north of the border? The story of Rust Belt woes defies any difference in political geography:

"I've worked at three different plants and they've all closed," says Curtis Tellier.

"Once we voted for free trade, that was it. It was all over. "

He says he's not going to bother to vote this time.

That manufacturers are in crisis is not in dispute. Welland's John Deere plant is set to relocate production to Mexico and Wisconsin next year, at a cost of 800 jobs. A local auto parts plant plans to lay off an additional 200 workers before Christmas.

St. Catharines has lost fruit and juice-processing factories. The General Motors plant there is being kept afloat, in part, by federal subsidies. In Oshawa, a GM decision to shut its truck plant next year will cost more than 2,000 jobs.

The rule is that former centers of manufacturing are still struggling. There aren't many success stories to celebrate. Have all these places made the same mistakes?

That's doubtful. More likely, there is something these shrinking cities have in common that makes economic transformation exceedingly difficult. However, I wish we knew more about the differences among the Rust Belt City Diaspora.

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