Unifor has refused to take down an ad that is critical of General Motors (GM) after the company issued a cease and desist request to the union that represents the workers of a closing GM car plant in Oshawa, Ont.
The ad is set to air during CTV’s Super Bowl broadcast Sunday evening and can also be found online.
It calls GM “un-Canadian,” greedy and claims the company has left Canadian workers “out in the cold.”
“When GM needed help, we gave them $300 from every single Canadian, and after that, a nearly $11-billion bailout,” the ad said. “GM continues to expand in Mexico, leaving workers out in the cold.
“GM, you may have forgotten our generosity, but we’ll never forget your greed.”
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GM says the ad contains several statements that are “knowingly false and misleading,” according to a letter from the company’s legal counsel.
GM asserts in the letter that the ad’s claims that the Canadian government gave the company $11 billion and that GM has shown “greed” are “not only false but are designed intentionally and maliciously to mislead Canadian consumers and forever tarnish GM’s reputation with them.”
The letter says that the money, which was given during a restructuring in 2009, was a loan from the Canadian government that was fully paid back, adding that the $300 from every Canadian was part of the loan and not a separate payment, as the ad indicates.
GM announced plans in November to close its car factory in Oshawa, Ont., eliminating jobs for about 2,600 workers.
GM gave Unifor a Saturday deadline to stop running the ad, according to the letter, which was also issued on Saturday.
“While GM respects Unifor’s rights to protest, we cannot condone purposely misleading the Canadian public,” GM spokesperson Jennifer Wright said in a statement.
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Unifor says the ad will not be taken down.
“Clearly, General Motors doesn’t want Canadians to see this ad,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a statement. “We stand by the belief that if GM wants to sell here then it needs to build here and we will not be intimidated from sharing that message with Canadians in this ad.”
The ad is a part of Unifor’s #saveoshawaGM campaign, which launched in December and has included a number of other ads, none of which GM has asked to be taken down, Unifor spokesperson Kathleen O’Keefe told Global News.
“I can’t speculate why GM chose to give us a cease and desist on this one and not the others,” she said. “Our position is we’re standing by the ad.”