James North arts impresario Dave Kuruc sent an email to Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Council today to express his anger and frustration at the announced closing of Lakeport Brewery, and to advocate a local boycott of Labatt products in protest against this decision.
Councillor Bob Bratina (Ward 2) argued in response that a boycott would be premature:
We can use Labatt market share to leverage the retention of the production facilities. Labatt has stated as I feared that the brewing equipment will be dismantled. This has to be stopped to allow future operation. Please withhold rash actions until a strategy is determined.
Councillor Sam Merulla (Ward 4) replied:
With all due respect Councillor Bratina I must support Dave Kuruc in this endeavour. We must act sooner rather than later. This is too important of an issue to simply sit on our hands.
(Followers of local politics can already see where this is going.)
Bratina came out with this rejoinder:
This is the guy who said Hilton works would never open again publicly in Council, propbably scaring a lot of workers to take early retirement. Use your head.
I'm saddened that Councillor Bratina continues to personalize issues rather than working collectively toward a resolution rather than the dysfunctional dialogue that I refuse to participate in or condone.
Furthermore, Hilton Works and Nanticoke US steel plants are running at skeleton crew levels. We must protect all manufacturing factors jobs rather than the pathetic political posturing you are displaying Councillor Bratina.
I look forward to working with the Mayor and Council on finding real solutions. You can abandon the meeting as you have in the past but please no projectiles.
Bratina shot back the following in an email he copied to local media (which is why we can read this):
I hope there are sensible people on this list who realize that the only thing that might be salvaged is the production equipment, which Labatt says will be dismantled. We now have to confront them with the only bargaining chip we have ... beer consumption.
Not to be outdone, Merulla replied:
Labbatts purchased Lakeport to swallow the competition as a direct result of corporate greed. The last thing Labbatts will facilitate is the sale of the Brewery or its equipment for Brewery purposes.
Also, you might want to research the significant contributing factors the NAFTA agreement has played a role in the demise of this brewery. Just recently their London, Ontario location was prevented from providing Labbatt products south of the border, which in essence decreased their volume of product produced, thereby running their London Ont plant at minimum capacity.
The only language these corporate giants understand is a loss in their bottom line and a boycott with full participation of Hamilton residents will go along way in reaching them and gaining their attention.
With such collegiality among our downtown councillors, it's no wonder the lower city is doing so well!
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