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By Matthew Le Blanc

Looking down on Hamilton from the edge of the escarpment, it’s pretty hard not to notice the industrial sector. All that fire, smoke and metal coming together to create a city’s heart even the Tin Man would be proud of. And that’s what U.S Steel, formally known and respected as Stelco, is, Hamilton’s heart. Unfortunately, this past weekend things have potentially come to a standstill for thousands of steel workers with U.S Steel’s decision to close its gates and lockout their employees. Now where’s the heart in that?

The past two years have been awful for some of those living in Hamilton. Parents, children, friends and neighbours have all found themselves out of work and potentially facing something they never thought possible, poverty. People have lost houses, children have gone to bed hungry and relationships have been destroyed over financial difficulties. The situation is an absolute mess. Let’s face it; Stelco’s change in ownership hasn’t helped in the slightest.

Only those directly involved with U.S Steel’s decision making knew whether or not the outcomes were an acceptable risk; possibly they didn’t even care to begin with. What matters is U.S Steel ran Stelco into the ground and will most likely mosey on back to the States after their mass exodus, as the Canadian government smiles and waves. Maybe in a year from now the company will change ownership again or re-emerge under a new name with a lower pay grade and benefits. Who knows, maybe the unthinkable will happen and the gates will reopen in a week or two.

But until then, where do the unemployed go? Why was this allowed to happen in the first place? The answers are left for the unemployed to figure out for themselves. No direction, no guidance, not even an apology. This sort of thing seems to be common place these days. In the end, all that’s needed to stop a city’s heart is a cheap lock and chain. Where’s the Dorothy to our Tin Men? We need her to help get our heart back.

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