OTTAWA, June 1 (Reuters) - Boeing Co on Thursday scrapped an announcement about the fighter jets it hopes to sell to Canada, a day after the country’s defense minister objected to the firm’s behavior in a trade dispute against Canadian planemaker Bombardier Inc
“Due to the current climate, today is not the most opportune time to share this good news story,” Boeing spokesman Scott Day said in a statement issued at an Ottawa defense show.
While he did not specifically refer to the trade dispute, his comments appeared to be a reference to growing tensions between Ottawa and the U.S airplane manufacturer.
Last month, Canada said it “strongly disagrees” with the U.S. Commerce Department decision to investigate Boeing’s claims that Bombardier sold planes below cost in the United States and benefited unfairly from Canadian government subsidies.
As a result, government ministers have cut off contacts with Boeing.
The company had been due to announce at the show on Thursday which Canadian companies would benefit if the purchase went ahead. Boeing has 560 suppliers in Canada.
Even lower-level Canadian officials were not visiting the company’s stand at the defense industry exhibition, said one source familiar with the matter who didn’t want to be identified given the sensitivity of the situation.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on Wednesday said the firm would be a trusted military ally in decades to come, but he complained the anti-dumping petition against Bombardier was “not the behavior we expect of a trusted partner”.
Canada says it needs the 18 Super Hornet jets as a stopgap until it can launch an open competition to replace its fleet of 77 aging Boeing CF-18 planes.
A Super Hornet deal with Boeing would generate new in-service support contracts for industry in Canada’s aerospace hub of Quebec, where existing CF-18s are now maintained.
Montreal-based simulator manufacturer CAE Inc works with L-3 MAS, a Quebec-based division of L3 Technologies Inc , to provide in-service support for the CF-18s.
Boeing has already said it would collaborate with L-3 MAS on production and support of the Super Hornets if Canada purchases the fighter jets. (Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by W Simon)