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2000

This decade promised social and technological advancement, but tragedy, climate change, and economic collapse created an uncertain future. Nations tried to find new ways to reduce carbon emissions and lessen their impact on global warming. In the auto industry, designers and engineers worked on developing hybrid cars with greater fuel efficiency. On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States, triggering fear. With the support of other NATO countries, the US launched a global effort to eliminate terrorism. Our ability to view and communicate these and other events was amplified by the growth of social media tools such as smart phones and social networking websites. In 2007 several prominent American financial institutions collapsed in the fall-out from the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Fears of the imminent collapse had a crippling impact on the auto industry as the demand for new cars dropped. Both GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection, relying on government bail outs to save their companies.

Cars

Assembly line at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc., Cambridge, Ontario

2001

A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel abolishes the Auto Pact.

European and Asian automakers argue that recent revisions to the Auto Pact discriminate against them and go against WTO rules. The WTO panel agrees and decides to abolish the Auto Pact all together.

Photo: Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada

A '94 Camaro on the assembly line at the GM plant in St. Therese, Quebec.

2002

GM closes its plant in St. Thérèse, Quebec in 2002. Eleven hundred jobs are lost.

In its 36-year run, the plant produced the Buick Skylark, Chevrolet Monza, the Pontiac Firebird and the Chevrolet Camaro, which was phased out the same year.

Photo: General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Media Archives.

In The News

A New York City fire fighter looks up at what remains of the World Trade Center after its collapse during a Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

2001

On September 11, 2001, nineteen terrorists hijack four U.S. aircraft. Two planes are flown into the World Trade Center buildings in New York, one into the Pentagon in Washington, and the fourth crashes in a field in Pennsylvania.

The death toll from the attack was 2,955 people, including the hijackers, the victims in the buildings and those on the ground. Over 6,000 people were injured. The airline industry experienced huge financial losses following September 11th as travellers, fearing more hijackings, opted to drive instead of flying, or simply to stay at home. The industry lost $20 billion in 2001, most of it in the three and a half months following the attacks. TransWorld Airlines (TWA), U.S. Airways, and United Airlines all filed for bankruptcy or bankruptcy protection in the months following the attacks.

Photo: 13 September 2001
U.S. Navy
Used with permission

During an Earth Day protest, protesters hold signs demanding that Canada fulfill its Kyoto commitments

2005

The Kyoto Protocol on global warming comes into force on February 16, 2005.

With evidence mounting that pollutants deriving from human activity cause global warming, more and more Canadians were concerned about the future health of the planet. The Kyoto Protocol, to which Canada is a signatory, is a legally binding agreement which sets emission-reduction standards for all participating nations. The goal for the first commitment period is to reduce 1990-level greenhouse gas emission levels by 5.2% by the year 2012. However, the reductions expected by the Protocol are unlikely to be met. In the decade since Kyoto, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions have increased by some 30%. The Canadian Government estimates that, between 2004 and 2020, greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 139 million tonnes, with more than a third of this coming from the petroleum industry.

Photo: Allan Lissner

Bennet cartoon of mortgage crisis.  The rise in foreclosures was triggered by a steep rise in mortgage rates that were initially issued below bank prime lending rates, causing people to default on their house payments.

2007

The sub-prime mortgage crisis, originating in the United States, causes financial chaos in many industrialized nations.

The crisis evolved in the mid-2000s when housing prices were soaring and many North Americans took advantage of easy access to credit and appealing mortgage incentives. When the housing bubble burst in 2006, and interest rates began to rise, many homeowners were unable to meet their payments. Some sold their homes at a loss, others simply walked away from their properties. The crisis impacted many other economic sectors as consumer purchasing slowed dramatically. The stock market also experienced a significant decline, and many investors either lost their retirement savings entirely, or saw their savings and pensions decrease dramatically.

Illustration: 2007
Clay Bennett / The Christian Science Monitor. Used with permission.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D- Maryland, speaks at a news conference about protecting automobile dealers

2008-2009

The "Big Three"—Ford, General Motors and Chrysler—require emergency loans to survive.

All three companies experienced significant losses as consumers, who were in the midst of a credit crisis, stayed out of the new car market. Ford was able to establish a line of credit to keep its operations going. GM and Chrysler declared bankruptcy in 2009. Both re-emerged later that same year, re-structured and funded by a new group of stakeholders, among them the governments of Canada, Ontario, and the U.S. The efforts made to save the North American automakers testified to the importance of the automobile industry to the continental economy.

Photo: June 10 2009
Courtesy of the Washington Auto Show: the United States' Public Policy auto show.

Pop Culture

GPS technology is now available not only in vehicles, but on smartphones as well, enabling pedestrians and cyclists to automatically map their route.

2000

Fully accurate GPS—or Global Positioning System—signals are made available to the public.

The GPS is a satellite-based system which can provide reliable location data to holders of a GPS receiver. Established in 1973 by the U.S. Department of Defense, the system is still maintained by the U.S. Government but is available for use by civilians. It is now a common feature in many automobiles, and is a key piece of equipment in today's version of the "treasure hunt"—now called geo-caching.

Photo: 2009
USCG Navigation Center

Civil Ceremony Cake for same sex marriages

2005

After years of legal battles and political mobilizing, Canadian gays and lesbians win the right to marry.

In the 1990s, Canadian gays and lesbians won court challenges which gave legal and financial benefits equal to those enjoyed by straight couples. Gradually, provincial courts extended full marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples such that by 2004, eight provinces and one territory had legalized same-sex marriage. With the passing of the Civil Marriage Act on 20 July 2005, gays and lesbians in every part of Canada could legally marry, thus making Canada the fourth country in the world to legislate same-sex marriage at a federal level.

Photo: Lisa Broughton

The MacDonald-Cartier Freeway (the 401) in Toronto, Ontario

2006

North America's busiest highway is the "401" in Ontario, Canada.

An average of 500,000 or more vehicles use the 401 each day in areas near Toronto. With roughly seven million cars registered in Ontario, this suggests that slightly less than 8% of all vehicles in the province are on that highway on any given day.

Photo: Courtesy of Lone Primate

The Moulin à images created by Robert Lepage and Ex Machine, in the port of Quebec City.

2008

The City of Quebec celebrates its 400th anniversary.

Controversy accompanied the 400th anniversary in 2008 when plans were announced for a re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Amid much protest, the re-enactment was cancelled. Nonetheless, the celebrations were considered a huge success. The highlight was a multimedia projection of the history of Quebec City on a 30 m high by 600 m wide "screen" of grain silos in the port of Quebec City. It was considered one of the world's largest multimedia projections, using 27 video projectors, 329 speakers, and 238 lighting units.

Photo: 2008
Hanif Bayat Canada Photos