Canada’s shoe crisis

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Canada’s shoe crisis
(Photo : Record archives)

By Taylor McClure, Special to The Record – The Record recently came across this photograph in its archives of a protest that took place outside of Parliament Hill on June 15, 1982. In November of 1981, the federal government decided to remove all quotas on imported leather footwear. This had a negative impact on the Canadian Footwear industry, which, at the time, was 80 to 85 percent leather.
The policy was a part of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s commitment to helping “third world” countries. After this new policy was set in place, more than 7,000 shoe industry jobs were lost and 15 manufacturers across the country closed their doors. Jean-Claude Vallee, president of the Rubber Worker’s Association at Sherbrooke’s American Biltrite plant, stated at the time that they had experienced 120 lay-offs and that there would have been more if their products did not expand beyond shoes. See full story in the Monday, June 17 edition of The Record.

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