Super wood could replace steel: New process could make wood as strong as titanium alloys but lighter and cheaper

 

Engineers at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) have found a way to make wood more than 10 times times stronger and tougher than before, creating a natural substance that is stronger than many titanium alloys.

“This new way to treat wood makes it 12 times stronger than natural wood and 10 times tougher,” said Liangbing Hu of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and the leader of the team that did the research, to be published on February 8, 2018 in the journal Nature. “This could be a competitor to steel or even titanium alloys, it is so strong and durable. It’s also comparable to carbon fiber, but much less expensive.” Hu is an associate professor of materials science and engineering and a member of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute.

“It is both strong and tough, which is a combination not usually found in nature,” said Teng Li, the co-leader of the team and Samuel P. Langley Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at UMD’s Clark School. His team measured the dense wood’s mechanical properties. “It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter. It takes 10 times more energy to fracture than natural wood. It can even be bent and molded at the beginning of the process.”

The team also tested the new wood material and natural wood by shooting bullet-like projectiles at it. The projectile blew straight through the natural wood. The fully treated wood stopped the projectile partway through.

“Soft woods like pine or balsa, which grow fast and are more environmentally friendly, could replace slower-growing but denser woods like teak in furniture or buildings,” Hu said.

“The paper provides a highly promising route to the design of lightweight, high performance structural materials, with tremendous potential for a broad range of applications where high strength, large toughness and superior ballistic resistance are desired, ” said Huajian Gao, a professor at Brown University who was not involved in the study. “It is particularly exciting to note that the method is versatile for various species of wood and fairly easy to implement.”

“This kind of wood could be used in cars, airplanes, buildings — any application where steel is used,” Hu said.

“The two-step process reported in this paper achieves exceptionally high strength, much beyond what [is] reported in the literature,” said Zhigang Suo, a professor of mechanics and materials at Harvard University, also not involved with the study. “Given the abundance of wood, as well as other cellulose-rich plants, this paper inspires imagination.”

“The most outstanding observation, in my view, is the existence of a limiting concentration of lignin, the glue between wood cells, to maximize the mechanical performance of the densified wood. Too little or too much removal lower the strength compared to a maximum value achieved at intermediate or partial lignin removal. This reveals the subtle balance between hydrogen bonding and the adhesion imparted by such polyphenolic compound. Moreover, of outstanding interest, is the fact that that wood densification leads to both, increased strength and toughness, two properties that usually offset each other,” said Orlando J. Rojas, a professor at Aalto University in Finland.

Hu’s research has explored the capacities of wood’s natural nanotechnology. They previously made a range of emerging technologies out of nanocellulose related materials: (1) super clear paper for replacing plastic; (2) photonic paper for improving solar cell efficiency by 30%; (3) a battery and a supercapacitor out of wood; (4) a battery from a leaf; (5) transparent wood for energy efficient buildings; (6) solar water desalination for drinking and specifically filtering out toxic dyes. These wood-based emerging technologies are being commercialized through a UMD spinoff company, Inventwood LLC.


Using virtual reality to train industrial workforce

Houston – Honeywell announced a cloud-based simulation tool that uses a combination of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to train plant personnel on critical industrial work activities. With as much as 50 percent of industrial plant personnel due to retire within the next five years, the Honeywell Connected Plant Skills Insight Immersive Competency is designed to bring new industrial workers up to speed quickly by enhancing training and delivering it in new and contemporary ways.

Honeywell’s advanced training solution combines mixed reality with data analytics and Honeywell’s 25 years of experience in worker competency management to create an interactive environment for on-the-job training. It uses Microsoft’s HoloLens, the world’s first and only self-contained holographic computer, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets to simulate various scenarios for Honeywell’s C300 controller – such as primary failure and switchovers, cable and power supply failure – that train and test personnel on their skills.

“Megatrends such as the aging workforce are putting increased pressure on industrial companies and their training programs,” said Youssef Mestari, program director, Honeywell Connected Plant. “There is a need for more creative and effective training delivered through contemporary methods such as Immersive Competency, ultimately empowering industrial workers to directly improve plant performance, uptime, reliability and safety.”

Simulating specific job activities through virtual environments, which are accessed through the cloud, Honeywell’s solution offers a natural way to interact and communicate with peers or a trainer. Similar to a flight simulator, trainees can safely experience the impacts of their decisions. This approach improves skill retention versus traditional training methods by up to 100 percent and reduces the length of technical training by up to 150 percent. Additionally, the employees’ training progress is tracked as part of a formal competency management system.

“Honeywell’s unique approach to industrial training and competency development, combined with Windows Mixed Reality platform and devices, is a good example of a major industrial player proactively and creatively driving digital transformation,” said Lorraine Bardeen, general manager for Mixed Reality at Microsoft. “This is the first solution that directly links industrial staff competency to plant performance by measuring the training’s effectiveness based on real outcomes.”

Honeywell Connected Plant turns data into insight that enable plants and businesses to run better. Honeywell delivers this capability through its unmatched domain expertise and advanced analytics capabilities to connect process, assets, people and enterprise to maximize performance. Honeywell’s breadth of cyber-security solutions ensures data stays secure from increasing external threats.

For more information, visit http://www.honeywellprocess.com/iiot.


Human error or criminal negligence? Lac Megantic criminal trial begins in Quebec

SHERBROOKE, Que. — Train driver Thomas Harding knows he’s partly at fault for the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster that killed 47 people, but he was following procedure and the tragedy flowed from bad company policy, his lawyer said Monday on the first day of trial.

“Mr. Harding realizes he’s partly responsible for a very serious tragedy and that weighs on him a lot more heavily than the trial,” lawyer Thomas Walsh told reporters.

“Is it human error or criminal negligence? That’s what this case is about.”

Harding and two other ex-railway employees, traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre, are all facing one count of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people.

All three ex-employees of Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway have pleaded not guilty.

Crown prosecutor Veronique Beauchamp told the 14-member jury in her opening statement that all three men were each responsible in their own way for ensuring the train was safe, and all three failed in their duties.

“Evidence will be presented that will show beyond a reasonable doubt, all three were criminally negligent … they contributed to the deaths of the 47 victims,” Beauchamp said.

An oil-laden locomotive weighing more than 10,000 tonnes was not properly secured the night of July 5, 2013, leaving it resting precariously on a slope, 10 kilometres away from downtown Lac-Megantic, Beauchamp told the court.

Driver Harding brought the train to a stop outside the village of Lac-Megantic and retired for the night. A fire broke out on part of the train roughly 30 minutes after he left.

Around 1 a.m. on July 6, 2013, roughly one hour after firefighters put out the flames and turned off the main engine, the train began moving, picking up speed and barrelling into the town.

“You’ll see that the number of brakes applied to the (train) was clearly insufficient,” Beauchamp said, referring to Harding, whom she said was “responsible for the safe immobilization of the convoy.”

The evidence shows that Labrie, the Crown contends, never inquired about the security of the train after the fire.

“Only after the derailment did he ask Harding how many brakes he put on the train,” Beauchamp said.

Supervisor Demaitre, Beauchamp continued, was told before the derailment that part of the train had mechanical deficiencies.

“The evidence will show that (Demaitre) didn’t take any measures and left the (deficient) locomotive as head of the train block.

“Never did he ensure that a competent person would be sent to on scene ensure the train parked on the slope was safe.”

Walsh, who was the only defence lawyer who spoke to reporters Monday, alleged the company had a culture that neglected safety and his client was only following procedure.

“The people who were responsible for the policy of the company to park an empty train with the engine running — that’s not Harding’s decision. That’s the company’s decision,” Walsh said.

The bankrupt railway company’s former owners and managers should be the ones answering questions at trial but they are in the U.S., Walsh added.

“All of the shortcuts taken were at the expense of safety,” he said. “The real directors of the company … received their subpoenas, they decided not to come.”

The trial’s first witness was retired Quebec provincial police officer Steven Montembeault, who showed the jury aerial footage he took from a helicopter about 15 hours after the derailment.

Light from the setting sun was glimmering on the lake, surrounded by green hills and lush grass of the picturesque town, 250 kilometres east of Montreal.

Then the camera pans to what was left of the centre of the village, and zooms in on firefighters putting out pockets of fire across downtown Lac-Megantic as thick plumes of smoke billowed into the air and could be seen for kilometres.

Following Montembeault was Jacques Lafrance, of the provincial police, who began showing jurors crime scene photos he took of the disaster.

The Crown has signalled it will call 24 civilian and 11 police witnesses, and one expert witness in a trial that is expected to last until December.

Walsh said Harding will “likely” testify in his defence.

Beauchamp said jurors will also be shown video and listen to audio recordings of conversations between railway employees the night of the derailment.

The bankrupt Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway has also pleaded not guilty to causing the deaths of 47 people and will face a separate trial at a later date.

The trial is being held in Sherbrooke, Que,. 150 kilometres east of Montreal.


General Electric Peterborough plant to cease most manufacturing by September 2018

General Electric Peterborough plant to cease most manufacturing by September 2018

By The Peterborough Examiner

An employees enters the Monaghan Rd. entrance at GE Canada on Tuesday January 17, 2017 in Peterborough, Ont. Canadian General Electric has cut 150 jobs at its Peterborough facility. Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

An employees enters the Monaghan Rd. entrance at GE Canada on Tuesday January 17, 2017 in Peterborough, Ont. Canadian General Electric has cut 150 jobs at its Peterborough facility. Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

The General Electric Peterborough plant will shut down manufacturing by September of 2018, the company announced Friday morning.

Workers were informed of the decision at a meeting Friday morning at the Park Street plant, which has operated for 125 years.

“It will be a difficult time for many residents who are connected with GE or who have historical ties to this company,” Mayor Daryl Bennett stated.

In its heyday in the 1960s, the plant employed as many as 6,000 people.

About 358 current workers in the motors division will be losing their jobs, company vice-president of communications Kim Warburton told The Examiner.

“it’s a tough day for our employees, We’re going to help them with the transition,” Warburton said.

The decision was made because production volume in the plant has been down 60 per cent in the past few years, Warburton said, citing global market conditions.

“There’s just not a market for what we are producing,” Warburton said.

About 50 GE workers in the engineering division will continue to work out of the plant, she said.

The closure also does not affect workers in the nuclear division of the site — the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada division was sold off a year ago and now operates as BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada. BWXT is the former Babcock and Wilcox Canada, which is based in Cambridge, Ont. It has a long-term lease for the nuclear operations at the site.

Hopes were high of new work for the motors division a few years ago.In 2014, GE announced it would be adding up to 250 new jobs in Peterborough to build motors for the TransCanada Energy East pipeline, which has been delayed through the application process.

A new environment review was called for Energy East and hearings are soon to begin.

Instead, GE has been reducing the size of its workforce in Peterborough over the last several years through a series of layoffs since then.

On Wednesday, the National Energy Board announced it will, for the first time, consider the public interest impact of upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions from potential increased production and consumption of oil resulting from the Energy East project.

General Electric’s Friday announcement in Peterborough begins a 12-month transition period for the affected workers, Warburton said.

They will be offered skills training, retirement planning and family counselling during that transition, she said.

“We are going to be working hard with them,” Warburton said.


MAYOR’S STATEMENT ON GENERAL ELECTRIC PETERBOROUGH CLOSURE

Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett issued the following statement Friday morning on the plant closure:

“My immediate concern is for the workers and the families in our community affected by this winding down of General Electric’s operations in Peterborough. It will be a difficult time for many residents who are connected with GE or who have historical ties to this company. This year marked the 125th anniversary of GE in Canada, starting here in Peterborough in 1892.

“The winding down of GE in Peterborough is a business decision that’s directly related to the slow down in orders from the oil and gas industry. It’s a drastic reversal from 2014 when GE announced that it would be adding up to 250 new jobs in Peterborough to build motors for the TransCanada Energy East pipeline, which has been delayed through the application process. Instead, GE has had to reduce the size of its workforce in Peterborough over the last several years. I understand it currently employs about 358 workers, well down from the 6,000 people employed by GE in Peterborough in the 1960s.

“We are looking forward to the continued presence of BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada, which purchased GE’s nuclear energy business last year.

“In the coming days, I will be requesting a meeting with both our MP and our MPP to discuss how our governments can assist with securing our community’s long-term economic foundation.

“Over the years, we have asked for assistance and approvals for employment land growth, the Via Rail proposal for a new High Frequency Rail service through Peterborough, and local transportation network improvements needed to support growth. We need to continue to diversify our economy and to build the infrastructure that supports job creation.”


More details to come.


CX North America gains Little Truck Solutions as client

TECUMSEH, Ontario—CX North America Information Services Inc. (CX North America), provider of freight collaboration solutions for the transportation industry, announced that Concord, North Carolina–based Little Truck Solutions Inc., a specialist in delivering expedited, hot shot and less-than-truckload shipping, is a customer.

Little Truck Solutions is using both the CX North America platform and mobile app with its fleet of trucks.

The CX North America platform, a SaaS solution, provides carriers, brokers and 3PLs a single view of their freight and partner network on any desktop or mobile device. And, because it is already integrated with industry-leading telematics and transportation management solutions, subscribers can easily incorporate customers, carriers and subcontractors.

Companies also can maintain real-time communication with carriers and drivers via the CX North America app, available on both the Google and Apple App Stores.

David Harrison, president of Little Truck Solutions, shared, “Ninety percent of our shipments happen on the same day – we are contacted by a company that needs freight delivered within hours to destinations near and far. Many customers want status updates as frequently as every 15 minutes.”

“CX North America allows us to automate this function, saving us time and money while increasing driver safety. Plus, CX North America, unlike other providers, updates in real time. With CX North America, we can even schedule freight pickups for the return trip, avoiding deadhead miles.”

Lyall Cresswell, president and CEO of CX North America, said, “We are pleased to welcome Little Truck Solutions, to our growing customer base. It is particularly satisfying to be selected as the technology partner of a firm that has built its reputation on agility, dependability and visibility. We look forward to helping Little Truck Solutions increase its customer base and grow its revenue through the value-added services it can now provide with our technology.”


More than 100 TTC workers fired or resigned over alleged benefits fraud

To date, the TTC says 82 employees have been fired and more than 20 have resigned or retired to avoid firing, and it expects those numbers to grow

TORONTO—The Toronto Transit Commission says more than 100 of its employees have been dismissed or have resigned over benefits claims irregularities.

Toronto police laid criminal charges in July 2015 against the owner of Healthy Fit, a health care products and service provider that TTC employees frequented.

It is alleged that receipts were provided to employees by Healthy Fit for claim reimbursement where no product or service was obtained, or where receipt amounts were inflated.

It is also alleged that Healthy Fit and the employee making the claim would then share the money paid out by the TTC’s insurer at the time, Manulife Financial.

Investigators are continuing to interview employees who filed benefits claims involving Healthy Fit and the TTC says they will be dismissed if the evidence shows the benefits plan was defrauded.

To date, the TTC says 82 employees have been fired and more than 20 have resigned or retired to avoid firing, and it expects those numbers to grow.


Bombardier executive payout causing problems for Trudeau’s middle class claims

This is not helping the middle class,” said interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, who wondered how the company can afford to enrich its senior leaders while laying off employees

OTTAWA—Justin Trudeau refused to denounce Bombardier for enriching its executives even as the company rakes in nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money, drawing opposition charges that the Liberals are on wobbly legs when it comes to standing up for the middle class.

The ensuing public outcry has prompted the Montreal-based aerospace firm to put off for a year giving six executive officers more than half of the compensation it had planned _ and has also prompted the prime minister to change his tone.

Last week, Trudeau said the government respects “the free market and the choices that companies will make.” On Monday, he said the government is “obviously not pleased” with Bombardier’s decision, “but we are happy to see it make decisions that are fixing that for Quebecers’ and Canadians’ confidence.”

Bombardier is eliminating 14,500 jobs around the world by the end of next year, part of a restructuring plan aimed at helping the company turn itself around. The plan includes federal and provincial money: a $372.5-million federal loan for Bombardier’s CSeries and Global 7000 aircraft programs, and $1 billion from Quebec.

Last week, the company issued a proxy circular showing that six executives were in line for a nearly 50 per cent increase in compensation, most of which was to be granted in 2019.

The fact the company can afford to enrich its senior leaders while laying off employees suggests the taxpayer money they were given by the government is doing nothing to help Canadians, said interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.

“This is not helping the middle class. This is lining the pockets of the 1 per cent of the 1 per cent with tax dollars,” Ambrose said during question period.

Anger at the planned pay raises culminated in a weekend protest at the company’s Montreal headquarters and a late night climb-down by Alain Bellemare, the chief executive officer, who declared he was asking Bombardier’s board of directors to delay the payments.

The company underestimated public anger and is now paying attention, Bellemare said.

The Liberals, however, remain tone-deaf, opposition MPs charged.

“We have seen anger expressed by voters in both the United States and in Canada about how out of touch elites are,” Conservative leadership candidate Michael Chong wrote in an email to supporters.

“The Bombardier example is one reason why this anger is out there. And citizens and taxpayers have every right to be upset.”

Government bailouts to industry are a politically sensitive issue for the Tories, given their avowed commitment to free market principles but also the fact that while in government, they provided billions to bail out the auto sector.

Conservative MP Tony Clement—who was industry minister at the time of the auto bailout in 2009—said in his view, 400,000 jobs were on the line and had Canada not helped shore up the automakers, the economy would have collapsed.

“It was an extraordinary circumstance. We were facing an economic depression,” Clement said. “Bombardier, every year they come to the government asking for more money.”

Clement is supporting leadership candidate Maxime Bernier, who has said he disagreed with his government’s decision at the time, and that he won’t support bailouts if he becomes leader.

“Corporate welfare is a terrible policy, for businesses, for taxpayers, for Canadians,” he said in an April 3 letter to supporters.

The only way to help them is by cutting taxes, Bernier said.

The Liberals had also pledged to make cuts—to provisions that help corporate CEOs like those at Bombardier make more money, pointed out NDP leader Tom Mulcair on Monday.

Total compensation for Bombardier’s top five executives and board chairman Pierre Beaudoin was to be US$32.6 million in 2016, up from US$21.9 million the year before, and some of that is in stock options.

People pay less tax on income earned on stock options than they do if they are paid in cash.

The Liberals had pledged to close that tax loophole but have backed off in the last two budgets, arguing in the past that for many companies it is a valuable way to compensate all employees, not just CEOs.


Purolator returns to normal operations

MISSISSAUGA, Ont.–Purolator has reached a tentative agreement with the unanimous endorsement of the Teamsters’ bargaining team.

With today’s announcement, Purolator’s business is returning to normal operations. Effective immediately, the company has lifted its temporary service suspension, a precautionary measure that came into effect on March 28 to protect customers from being negatively impacted by a possible strike.

The agreement is subject to ratification by Teamsters Canada members. Purolator respects the ratification process and will not discuss the specifics of the tentative agreement until union members have the opportunity to review and vote on the contract.

“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience over the past few days,” said Ken Johnston, Vice President of Human Resources and Labour Relations at Purolator.

“We’re happy to get back to delivering our customers’ packages now that we’ve reached an agreement that positions the company and employees for sustainable growth in today’s fast-changing marketplace.”


Focus on innovation, shift to Asia will encourage Canada’s competitiveness

Canada’s 2017 budget seeks to grow our export trade through innovation investment and new trade avenues in Asia and Europe

 

With Budget 2017, the government is attempting to cement Canada’s place in growing high-tech sectors and markets in Asia and Europe. PHOTO TRW Automotive

OTTAWA—Finance Minister Bill Morneau and the Trudeau Liberal’s second budget comes at a tense time for Canadian exporters. As U.S. President Trump threatens his trade partners with a border adjustment tax and pledges to reduce corporate taxes and loosen regulations, Canadian firms are asking: how do we stay competitive?

Many in the business community were hoping for an answer to Trump’s plans to cut taxes, but the Liberals stood pat on tax reform. Given how little we know about what is going to happen south of the border, that may have been prudent.

Jordan Brennan, an economist with Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, says that tax cuts may not even be a wise course to begin with.

“You can hear people in Canada saying we need to cut business taxes even further, we can’t layer on carbon taxes, we can’t pursue aggressive climate policies because we’re going to become uncompetitive. It’s a powerful argument, I just don’t know if it’s correct,” Brennan said.

He asserts that Canada has already cut corporate taxes substantially, and it hasn’t had the intended effect on our export trade.

“We’ve done all the things to incentivize business to invest and innovate, and meanwhile, our exports have tanked, our GPD growth has slowed, productivity is abysmal, and that probably signals that we need to rethink our approach to economic development,” he said.

Invest in Innovation

The approach that Brennan proposes seems to be the same thing the Trudeau government had in mind when drafting this year’s budget: investment in innovation.

The rationale is simple. Instead of slashing taxes, regulations and labour laws to keep up with the U.S.—a “race to the bottom” as Brennan calls it—we should instead pump money into new discoveries in important sectors.

Not a lot of new money was earmarked for innovation initiatives in this year’s budget, but existing investment was dramatically reorganized.

What Budget 2017 has provided is a roadmap for innovation spending, as the government attempts to cement Canada’s place in growing high-tech sectors.

The $1.26 billion Strategic Innovation Fund brings together four funds, two for aerospace and two for automotive: the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative, Technology Demonstration Program, Automotive Innovation Fund and Automotive Supplier Innovation Program.

In addition to reorganizing these initiatives, a further $200 million is being contributed over 3 years. $100 million is new money and $100 million is being pulled from a cleantech allocation in the 2016 budget.

The amalgamation of these innovation funds could be a huge boon to what Brennan calls “trade exposed” sectors, like aerospace and automotive, which rely heavily on exports and could be badly hurt by protectionist policies in the U.S.

“It looks like it’s going to streamline the process for funding and grants, and hopefully simplify it, as well. We’ve been calling on the government to do this for some time, to streamline their operations so auto companies have a one stop shop, so to speak, when they think about making a strategic investment in a jurisdiction,” said Brennan.

This budget also shifts $950 million from the 2016 budget to six specific sectors of superclusters, which will be targeted as areas of investment and growth:
Advanced Manufacturing; Agri-food; Clean Technology; Digital Technology; Health, Bio-sciences and Clean Resources; and Infrastructure and Transportation.

“You want to generate these clusters, where investment pours into a tightly knit geographic area. There’s a competitive dynamism that emerges, and the firms become more competitive with each other, and as they become more competitive with each other, they become more competitive with external players,” Brennan said.

He continued, “I think that is a real thing. Whatever we can do to incubate those companies and to develop leading players, we should.”

The economist cited examples like Silicon Valley and Hollywood as successful examples the Canadian government can look to.

While Brennan is happy with the innovation focus in the budget, he says that in the future specific funds need to be allocated to research and development, as well.

Brennan cites research from the International Monetary Fund, which argues that unless governments fund 50 per cent of research and develoment costs, firms won’t be motivated to undertake research because when one firm makes a breakthrough, often everyone in the industry benefits. The economics of discovery aren’t exactly attractive, thus research and commercialization should to be incentivized.

New Trade Opportunities

Plans to shore up the quality of our products by investing in new technology are encouraging, but we still need international markets to buy our goods.

The budget offers two paths for our exports, one to the east and one to the west. One path has Brennan and Unifor excited, the other not so much.

Budget 2017 announced that CETA will be coming this spring, but Brennan warns that this may not be a good thing for Canada’s advanced manufacturing sector—which recently overtook energy as Canada’s largest export sector.

“Our stance is that this is going to undermine jobs, just because of the nature of the purchasing preferences of the consumers from prospective markets. We don’t expect that Europeans are going to start buying the cars that we make here in Canada, even if we reduce tariffs,” said Brennan.

Canada’s auto trade balance with Europe is already lopsided, and given the popularity of European cars in Canada, and the lack of enthusiasm about North American cars in Europe, Brennan argues CETA will make things worse.

The economist is much more enthusiastic about the announced pivot to Asia, represented in the budget by a $256 million commitment over five years to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Canada is the first North American country to apply for membership to the AIIB, which was accepted Mar. 24. Through the bank, Canada will invest in Asian infrastructure projects, particularly in transportation, telecommunications and energy.

The Trudeau government says it will introduce legislation on Canada’s membership to the bank in 2017.

The AIIB, established by China in 2015, has already invested US$1.73 billion in project money, and plans to loan out $10-15 billion over the next five years.

The bank has stirred controversy in the U.S., which opposes it on grounds that loans provided don’t require caveats about the environment, labour rights or anti-corruption reforms—stipulations usually included in World Bank and IMF loans.

But despite ethical questions, the AIIB presents lucrative procurement opportunities for Canadian firms.

The budget also planned for stronger trade relations with China, India and Japan, something that Brennan and Unifor are more enthusiastic about than CETA.

“Our government has always been worried about the undue reliance on the U.S. for our exports, but almost all of the global growth is coming from Asia now. They’re looking to establish economic relations with the high growth portion of the world,” Brennan said.

While Brennan asserts that we should still be very happy with our close trade relationship with the U.S., which remains the world’s largest economy, he says that diversifying our exports by investing in the fasting growing economic region on earth is a sound decision.


Bombardier seeks injunction against Metrolinx over Toronto light rail contract

Citing multiple delays, the Toronto-area transit agency issued Bombardier a formal notice to cancel the $770 million vehicle contract last November

MONTREAL—Bombardier has turned up the heat in its fight with Metrolinx by asking an Ontario court to impose an injunction in response to the provincial transportation agency’s notice to terminate a contract for light rail vehicles in Toronto.

The transportation manufacturer’s railway division says its 49-page application to the Ontario Superior Court is designed to encourage Metrolinx to resume good-faith discussions as required in its contract.

In November, Metrolinx ramped up pressure on Bombardier to deliver a prototype train by issuing a formal notice of intent to terminate its $770-million contract, a step that would be required if the agency ultimately asks a court to rip up the deal.

Bombardier turned the table on Metrolinx late last week, accusing it of putting the project in jeopardy through multiple delays.

“Since the contract was signed in 2010, Metrolinx has changed the scope, the timelines, and the technical qualifications countless times,” it said in a news release Feb. 10.

“Furthermore, Metrolinx’s unwillingness to work in good faith to find solutions on behalf of the people of the greater Toronto (area) has been disheartening.”

Bombardier said the “unjustified cancellation” of the contract would cost Ontario taxpayers millions of dollars, kill hundreds of jobs and put projects like the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch LRT in jeopardy.

“For us, what’s important now is to protect our rights, to protect the jobs of our employees and to make sure that we protect Ontario taxpayers that actually need the benefits of this light rail system,” said spokesman Marc-Andre Lefebvre.

Lefebvre said that the test vehicle is ready for inspection in Kingston, Ont., but Metrolinx refuses to accept it.

In its application, Bombardier questions whether Metrolinx really wants the entire order for 182 cars given that it has reduced the number of transit lines that were to be serviced.

Metrolinx declined to respond to these claims, saying it has been repeatedly disappointed by Bombardier’s performance and its ability to deliver the product on time for the scheduled 2021 opening of the $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown.

“We are further disappointed that they would take this legal step considering the long-standing relationship Metrolinx has with Bombardier on a number of fronts,” spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said in a statement.

Bombardier said Friday that its trains will be ready before Metrolinx’s tracks are even available for testing. Production on the actual cars isn’t slated to begin until 2018 and won’t be in service until 2021.

“We can deliver ahead of schedule if necessary,” added Lefebvre.

Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca scolded Bombardier for turning to the courts in its dispute with Metrolinx, saying he expects suppliers to honour their contractual obligations and “perform professionally.”

“It is unfortunate that Bombardier has chosen to take this step,” Del Duca said in a statement issued Friday evening. “The people of the region deserve more, and our government is committed to delivering it.”

MONTREAL—Bombardier has turned up the heat in its fight with Metrolinx by asking an Ontario court to impose an injunction in response to the provincial transportation agency’s notice to terminate a contract for light rail vehicles in Toronto.

The transportation manufacturer’s railway division says its 49-page application to the Ontario Superior Court is designed to encourage Metrolinx to resume good-faith discussions as required in its contract.

In November, Metrolinx ramped up pressure on Bombardier to deliver a prototype train by issuing a formal notice of intent to terminate its $770-million contract, a step that would be required if the agency ultimately asks a court to rip up the deal.

Bombardier turned the table on Metrolinx late last week, accusing it of putting the project in jeopardy through multiple delays.

“Since the contract was signed in 2010, Metrolinx has changed the scope, the timelines, and the technical qualifications countless times,” it said in a news release Feb. 10.

“Furthermore, Metrolinx’s unwillingness to work in good faith to find solutions on behalf of the people of the greater Toronto (area) has been disheartening.”

Bombardier said the “unjustified cancellation” of the contract would cost Ontario taxpayers millions of dollars, kill hundreds of jobs and put projects like the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch LRT in jeopardy.

“For us, what’s important now is to protect our rights, to protect the jobs of our employees and to make sure that we protect Ontario taxpayers that actually need the benefits of this light rail system,” said spokesman Marc-Andre Lefebvre.

Lefebvre said that the test vehicle is ready for inspection in Kingston, Ont., but Metrolinx refuses to accept it.

In its application, Bombardier questions whether Metrolinx really wants the entire order for 182 cars given that it has reduced the number of transit lines that were to be serviced.

Metrolinx declined to respond to these claims, saying it has been repeatedly disappointed by Bombardier’s performance and its ability to deliver the product on time for the scheduled 2021 opening of the $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown.

“We are further disappointed that they would take this legal step considering the long-standing relationship Metrolinx has with Bombardier on a number of fronts,” spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said in a statement.

Bombardier said Friday that its trains will be ready before Metrolinx’s tracks are even available for testing. Production on the actual cars isn’t slated to begin until 2018 and won’t be in service until 2021.

“We can deliver ahead of schedule if necessary,” added Lefebvre.

Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca scolded Bombardier for turning to the courts in its dispute with Metrolinx, saying he expects suppliers to honour their contractual obligations and “perform professionally.”

“It is unfortunate that Bombardier has chosen to take this step,” Del Duca said in a statement issued Friday evening. “The people of the region deserve more, and our government is committed to delivering it.”