University and Unifor thrilled with Windsor visit from prime minister

Justin Trudeau visited Windsor Tuesday, making three stops in the city: the University of Windsor, Windsor Assembly Plant and Willistead Manor for a party fundraiser.

Trudeau didn’t make any government announcements during his stops, but did reiterate his government’s support for the auto industry.

“Our greatest advantage is all of you,” Trudeau told a large gathering of auto workers inside the minivan plant. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t recognized across the industry and around the world that this is a place and you are people worth investing in.”

Trudeau was led on a tour of the sprawling Stellantis factory, stopping along the way to learn more about the achievements of the plant, both in terms of quality and the role the employees play in helping the broader community.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tours the Windsor Assembly Plant during his visit to Windsor, Ont. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Michelle Maluske/CTV News Windsor)The production line was idle for Trudeau’s tour and on numerous occasions he veered off the path his handlers had setup to greet Stellantis employees, shake their hands and take pictures.

Trudeau reassured the workers he understood the value of Windsor Assembly.

“If you want to make it right, make it in Windsor,” Trudeau said. “The workers at Windsor are that competitive edge.”

Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy stepped up to the microphone during the media scrum to thank Trudeau for being in the city.

“Thank you for continuing to believe in us. Cause like you said earlier, if you want it built right, you’re going to build it right here in Windsor,” said Cassidy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tours the Windsor Assembly Plant during his visit to Windsor, Ont. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Michelle Maluske/CTV News Windsor)

Trudeau’s visit was also the first visit to Windsor for Lana Payne, the new National President of Uniform.

“I think it’s really significant that he’s doing this right now. Having a tour to talk about the transformation in the auto sector and how important this is for Canada,” said Payne. “We’re on the cusp of something really huge.”

Payne said she didn’t get a chance to speak directly to Trudeau Tuesday but told CTV News she had a half hour conversation with the prime minister after she was elected national president.

“Our goal as a union obviously is to make sure that we’re getting every nickel of investment we can get here, from employers and the government and to really build a robust auto sector with good paying union jobs, I might add, for generations to come,” said Payne.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ont., on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Michelle Maluske/CTV News Windsor)Earlier in the day Trudeau toured the CHARGE Lab at the University of Windsor. It stands for “Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy.”

“We are one of the best labs when it comes to electric propulsion in North America,” said Dr. Narayan Kar, electrical and computer engineering professor at the University of Windsor. “There must be something good that we are doing that got the prime ministers attention.”

Kar led Trudeau on a quick tour of their lab, highlighting the different research areas students are working on.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ont., on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Michelle Maluske/CTV News Windsor)

“We are doing a significant amount of electric vehicle related research here,” Kar said. “We have the graduate training and (are) graduating a large number of students who could be a good contributor to the industry that we are going to have.”

At each stop in the tour of the lab, Trudeau asked questions of each student participating in the event.

“Windsor is the automotive city of the country and University of Windsor is the automotive university of the country,” Kar proudly told CTV News.

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