The Air Force prefers an American aircraft to an aircraft built here

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The military’s decision to award a sole supplier contract to US-based Boeing has put jobs at a greater Toronto-area aircraft factory at risk. At a time when the Trudeau government is offering large financial incentives for new manufacturing facilities to be located in Canada, it is puzzling that they are attempting to foreclose a Canadian company from competition at all.

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In February, Public Services and Procurement Canada issued a request for information regarding the replacement of Canada’s CP-140 Aurora, an aircraft first purchased in the 1980s as a naval patrol aircraft. The government said it wants to equip the Royal Canadian Airforce with what it calls a Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA).

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On March 27th an opinion was given It said, “The government has determined that the P-8A Poseidon is the only aircraft currently available that meets all of the operational requirements of the CMMA.” The statement also said the Canadian government sent a letter to the US government requesting permission to purchase the Boeing-built aircraft.

The government claims that this letter does not oblige them to purchase the P-8A Poseiden, an aircraft built on the 737 platform, but they are clearly moving in that direction.

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That’s where Bombardier comes in, the Montreal-based company known for a variety of products from snowmobiles to Sea-Doos to trains, which it no longer makes. Bombardier, once best known for accepting government grants, is now a pure-play aviation company, making a range of jets for corporate and military customers.

What the company is now looking for is a fair offer to replace the Auroras.

The Global 6500 is an aircraft manufactured in the Toronto area – currently at Downsview in north Toronto but soon at a new facility in Mississauga. The plant already employs 2,000 people at its own site and offers jobs at its numerous Canadian suppliers.

This is an aircraft that is already in service with the British, German and American air forces. The Americans use the planes for their Battlefield Airborne communications node and have named them the E11-A aircraft, but at this time Bombardier is unable to persuade the Canadian government to make a bid.

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Late last week, the company attempted to attract government attention launched a campaign to showcase their product and its partnership with General Dynamics Mission Systems – Canada based in Ottawa. This is the company that just completed an expensive overhaul of the Auroras’ computer systems to keep them operational by 2030.

Bombardier’s argument is simple: their planes are smaller, use less fuel, can fly further, land on shorter runways, cost less, and are made in Canada from Canadian-made parts. Why the Trudeau administration doesn’t listen to Bombardier, let alone buy its planes instead of Boeing, is a mystery.

Isn’t the Trudeau administration saying that climate change is a big problem? If so, why rule out an aircraft with a lower carbon footprint?

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Bombardier enjoys the support of many MPs across party lines – including Liberal MPs in the GTA who see the potential for jobs – but they do not currently have the support of the Trudeau government.

That could change in the coming days if Liberals are wise.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, a regional Liberal Party actor and now a candidate for the provincial party presidency, is a booster of the company. Unifor, the country’s largest private sector union, represents workers at the plant and has been known to use its political influence when it feels offended.

Finally, the company is seeking, and likely will receive, support from the Ontario Ford government for its bid.

It just doesn’t make sense to exclude Bombardier, its partner General Dynamics, or the thousands of workers who represent these Canadian companies.

The Trudeau government should at least give Bombardier a bid for the project.


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