GM boss will not appear before Canada legislators on plant shut down

General Motors

General Motors CEO Mary Barra will not come before Canadian legislators to discuss concerns about the automaker’s future in the country, but lower-ranking executives will appear, a lawmaker stated on Thursday.

GM stated in November it would shut down its Oshawa, Ontario, assembly plant by year-end, part of a global restructuring affecting four other plants in the United States, as it slashes expenses and invests in electric and self-driving vehicles.

Last month, the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology accepted Vice Chairman Brian Masse’s request for Barra to “explain GM’s future and continued commitment to the Canadian automotive and manufacturing industry.”

Barra’s “complex schedule wouldn’t permit her to be there in a reasonable period of time,” stated GM spokesman David Paterson. He added that two “subject matter experts” – GM Canada President Travis Hester and Vice President of North American Manufacturing Gerald Johnson – would probably appear before the committee in March.

Masse, a member of the opposition New Democrats, stated it was frustrating that Barra would not participate because she is the “principal strategist” behind the automaker’s restructuring and could explain why Oshawa did not warrant investment.

“We need to understand the future jobs and commitment of General Motors because we need to better understand how we fit in their global operations,” Masse stated.

Canada’s auto union, which accounts for 2,600 assembly line employees in Oshawa and 1,800 employees at plants supplying the operation, has waged a high-profile campaign meant to convince GM to keep the plant open until September 2020, when the present collective agreement ends.

GM Canada has stated repeatedly it will not modify its business decision.

An Ontario Labour Relations Board hearing on Thursday evaluated an application by GM to stop “unlawful strike activity.” A decision was expected shortly.

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