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The city that warned you could lose your job if you didn't 'buy Canadian'

'Buy Canadian' was a rallying cry that most people had heard many times before.

Business- and union-led campaign in Cambridge, Ont., suggested 'the job you save may be your own!'

The city of Cambridge, Ont., wanted the public to buy its pitch to "Buy Canadian." 1:56

Buy Canadian. It was a rallying cry that most Canadians had heard many times before.

But this one upped the ante with the argument that "the job you save may be your own!"

A bumper sticker showing the slogan from the 1982 "Buy Canadian" campaign is seen in the image above. (The National/CBC Archives)

That dramatic slogan was at the centre of a campaign launched in Cambridge, Ont., back in the spring of 1982. 

"Cambridge, population about 75,000, right in the centre of Ontario's industrial heartland," the CBC's Sheldon Turcott reported on The National back on May 15, 1982.

"Until recently, it was a prosperous community with more than half the jobs in manufacturing."

But the city had been hard-hit by an ongoing recession and had seen the local unemployment rate spike to nearly twice the national average.

Hence the plan for Cambridge "to fight back," as Turcott put it.

Politicians? 'They won't do anything'

Joe Simoes speaks to The National about the effort to encourage the public to "buy Canadian," back in 1982. (The National/CBC Archives)

The fight involved unions, local businesses, bumper stickers, public meetings and at the end of the week-long push, there was a parade. But the campaign pointedly did not involve politicians.

Parade organizer Joe Simoes was skeptical that politicians would become engaged in the issue.

"If we don't help ourselves, they won't do anything. They have to be preoccupied with their own parties, with their own intrigues and whatever goes with it," Simoes told The National.

"We believe that we are the ones that can govern this country by buying what we want to buy."