OTTAWA (Reuters) - Any federal aid to struggling Quebec aircraft maker Bombardier Inc must be based on a strong business case and not on “emotion, politics or symbols,” Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.
The new leader, speaking to a closed meeting of the Canadian Labour Congress, made clear the government is considering some form of investment or subsidy but that it is not a given just because Bombardier is a storied Canadian company.
“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,” he said in remarks made available to Reuters.
“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, politics or symbols.”
The mainly francophone province of Quebec plays a large role in Canadian politics, and said on Oct. 29 it would invest $1 billion in Bombardier’s CSeries jets in return for a near 50 percent stake in the project. It now wants Ottawa to help the firm as well.
On Tuesday, Trudeau said: “There has to be a strong business case and I know you agree with me on that and we’re going to make sure that decision is taken based on what is in the best interest of Canadians writ large.”
He said Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, named to his portfolio on Nov. 4 when the Liberals took power from the Conservatives, was weighing in on the Bombardier issue now and was looking “at what a broad range of experts are recommending.”
The CSeries project, designed to produce a line of single-aisle jets to compete against Boeing Co’s 737 and Airbus Group’s A-319 and A-320, has been delayed for years and is billions of dollars over budget.
Struggles with the CSeries have left Bombardier saddled with over $9 billion in debt.
On Nov. 5 Trudeau had said he was neither opening or shutting the door on aid to Bombardier.
Additional reporting by David Ljunggren and Leah Schnurr; Editing by Christian Plumb