Trudeau: Bombardier must make a business case if it wants aid

At a closed-door Canadian Labour Congress gathering, Justin Trudeau calls Bombardier a high-value manufacturer but says it must prove itself for a loan

Bombardier workers look at the CS300 aircraft after it was unveiled at a news conference at its assembly facility in Mirabel, Quebec, March 7, 2013. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Bombardier workers look at the CS300 aircraft after it was unveiled at a news conference at its assembly facility in Mirabel, Quebec, March 7, 2013. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

OTTAWA – If Montreal-based aerospace manufacturer Bombardier Inc. needs federal money to aid its CSeries jet project, it’ll have to make a “strong business case,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a meeting of labour leaders Tuesday.

Trudeau was responding to questions at a closed-door Canadian Labour Congress gathering in Ottawa — the first time a sitting prime minister has addressed the country’s biggest labour body in more than 50 years.

He told the CLC’s Canadian council that his government won’t prop up a business on the basis of emotion or politics, sources inside the room disclosed.

Trudeau did, however, characterize Bombardier as a high-value manufacturer in the same league as the auto sector, which received government money to help it get through the 2008 recession.

“There’s no question that high-value manufacturing is going to be an extremely important part of Canada for years to come. Aerospace is a great example of that, as is the auto sector and others,” Trudeau told the gathering.

“How we can best invest and support that kind of manufacturing needs to be done responsibly and with our eyes open, and not just based on emotion or politics or symbols,” he said.

“There has to be a strong business case. We’re going to make sure that decision is taken based on what is in the best interest of Canadians, writ large.”

The Quebec government said last month it would invest $1 billion in the CSeries in return for a near 50 per cent stake in the project.

Since then, the province has been lobbying Ottawa to match the contribution.

Point: Why Quebec’s Bombardier bailout isn’t as risky as it looks
Counterpoint: What if we let Bombardier fail?

The project has saddled the company with debt, forcing it to into a struggle to raise cash in order to keep it afloat.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau, who represents a Quebec constituency, has said Bombardier has not formally approached the government about possible federal aid.

Trudeau’s comments about Bombardier came as no surprise, said CLC president Hassan Yussuff.

“I think Bombardier’s got a good, strong argument regarding the business case,” Yussuff said after the prime minister spoke.

“Bombardier’s got a large footprint across this country in terms of jobs and community and I think it’s very important to maintain that.”

The last time a prime minister appeared in front of the Canadian Labour Congress was when John Diefenbaker spoke at the organization’s 1958 convention.

Trudeau was loudly applauded when he told Tuesday’s meeting of more than 120 labour leaders that his government will fulfill the Liberal campaign promise to repeal Bills C-377 and C-525 — the former Conservative government’s anti-union legislation.

Trudeau said he recognizes that “labour is not a problem, but a solution.”

The prime minister also welcomed a pledge from the CLC to help in dealing with climate change and the Syrian refugee crisis.

“We have more than 130 labour councils and 25,000 union locals in communities across Canada and we’ve made it clear to the prime minister that we want to do our part in helping his government meet its goal to welcome and resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada,” said Yussuff.

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Trudeau: Bombardier must make a business case if it wants aid

  1. Bombardiers Business Case:

    “Quebec elected a lot more Liberals this time around. If you don’t force the rest of the country to pay us off…..we’ll vote NDP next time.”

    They’ll get the cash. No doubt about it.

    Trudeau is just mouthing the words he knows he must, but he’s already made up his mind to pay them off.

    • @ James: Are you really aware of all the various international aerospace projects that Bombardier is responsible for? I mean, not only commercial but military also. Could you imagine, for a moment, the hundreds of thousands of personnel involved … not to mention the technological innovation in use? Or did you vote for the wrong person, i.e., it’s politics.

  2. At the risk of sounding like a broken record:

    If the government decides to throw money at Bombardier a non-negotiable condition should be the elimination of dual class shares (which keep the control of the company firmly in the hands of a family that apparently doesn’t know how to properly run it). One can possibly make an argument for propping up Canada’s aerospace industry, one cannot possibly make an argument for continually propping up the Bombardier family.

    • I’m with you Jim. Keep playing the record, it has not been played often enough.

    • Right on. It is disgraceful how Bombardier has picked up ex-Canadiar, ex- Dehavilland at fire sale prices from the Libs and continually wants a handout. It’s just more of what Quebec (and that particular family) wants to stay “good.”

  3. the Liberals ran on a campaign that called for two years of deficit spending with the aim to invest in infrastructure. I guess adding 500 meters to the island runway so the new ultra quiet jets can operate there is not thought of as infrastructure. Porter Airlines will likely cancel their order. The jet and its engines are Canadian made and they are game changers. They are the lowest polluting ,quietest, and most fuel effiecent on the planet. If I lived near the airport I’d want them over the older noisier more polluting planes
    operating there now.
    So right off the Liberals throw up road blocks on high tech Canadian jobs make Bombardier prove it with one hand behind their back. Improving infrastructure to improve sales is much better than grants and bailouts.

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