TVO pulls Jerry Dias episode of ‘Political Blind Date’ amid breach of trust controversy

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Published April 5, 2022 at 1:28 pm

TVOntario has pulled an episode of Political Blind Date from the schedule set to feature former Unifor President Jerry Dias as the once-leader of Canada’s largest labour union faces controversy for alleged breach of trust.

Political Blind Date has aired on TVO, the province’s public broadcaster, since 2017. Each of more than 24 episodes pairs two political figures, often with opposing ideologies, to discuss an issue of the day.

The pair are matched anonymously and don’t know who they will be meeting until filming starts. The goal according to producers is to humanize political discourse and encourage a less partisan outlook.

For example previous episodes have paired Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to discuss transit, or Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and then Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on the Urban-Rural divide.

The fifth and final season of Political Blind Date is currently airing with episodes targeting systemic racism, veterans and the real history of Canada out already.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter are paired in an upcoming episode to discuss homelessness. The mayor’s talk about an issue with deep roots in both communities airs on April 5.

After the mayors, the next episode of the series was meant to feature Unifor National President Jerry Dias and Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton to discuss the future of unionism.

The episodes were filmed last fall before Dias’ retirement and the following allegations of impropriety .

Dias served as the the National President of Canada’s largest private-sector union from 2013 until he stepped in to a leave of absence on February 6 citing health issues.

He made his leave permanent when he retired early on March 11. He confirmed that he entered a rehabilitation facility for treatment of alcohol, sleeping pill and painkiller use.

Dias was acclaimed as a local hero after working to bring General Motors production back to Oshawa. GM had once dominated the Ontario labour landscape employing 25,000 people in the Oshawa Autoplex at its peak.

Production took a massive ht in the 2008 stock market crash and never recovered. It limped on until November 2018 when GM announced the layoff 2,300 people. Production wound down until the plant was practically empty.

Under Dias leadership, Unifor campaigned heavily for GM to reopen the Oshawa plant and worked to move workers to other job and retraining opportunities. The ‘Save Oshawa GM’ campaign ultimately proved a success and the first new trucks in nearly two years rolled of the line last Christmas Eve.

Not long after Dias’ retirement allegations he had accepted $50,000 from a COVID-19 rapid test manufacturer and promoted the company’s product to Unifor employers emerged.

These actions violated the Unifor Code of Ethics in the union’s constitution. As a result Dias now stands charged with breach of trust. A hearing will soon be held before the National Executive Board where Dias can attempt to present information.

“No one is above our Constitution. Dias’ actions as outlined in the findings are disturbing and if confirmed by the hearing were a clear betrayal of the duties of office, and the trust that each of us as members put into our union,” said Unifor Québec Director Renaud Gagné.

In the wake of these allegations, TVO has decided to pull the Dias episode of Political Blind Date a week before its scheduled airing. “Due to the allegations against Jerry Dias and ongoing investigations, we have decided to pull the episode until more information is forthcoming,” said the broadcaster.

After the Brown/Carter chat, the series finale “The Opioid Crisis” featuring Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Conservative MP Garnett Genuis will air on April 12.

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