Canadian Manufacturing

Liberals spare Bombardier execs time on the hot seat

Federal Liberal MP's voted down a Conservative motion to have Bombardier testify in the House of Commons regarding its finances and bailout request



OTTAWA—Liberal MPs have voted down a Conservative attempt to bring executives from Bombardier before a House of Commons committee to talk about the company’s finances.

The Conservatives moved a motion at a March 8 industry committee to hear from Bombardier and government officials about a federal bailout for the aerospace company.

The move led to a heated debate between Liberals and Conservatives that ended with Conservative MP Alexander Nuttall saying it was “incredibly blinding” to not have Bombardier testify before the federal budget.

The Quebec government has agreed to give Bombardier US$1 billion and the federal government has been asked to pony up an amount estimated to be the same as the provincial package.

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier, who introduced the motion to invite Bombardier executives to testify on why they need federal dollars, said opposition MPs likely won’t get any answers from Bombardier or the government about a possible bailout until after it is announced.

The move was part of a larger push by the Official Opposition to pressure the government over Bombardier’s future, a possible federal bailout for the company and the government’s decision not to allow a runway extension at the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto.

In 2013, Porter Airlines placed an order worth US$870 million for a dozen of Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft, on the condition that they would be allowed to fly into the Toronto island airport.

In November, the government announced it wouldn’t reopen its agreement with the City of Toronto and Ports Toronto and extend the runway at Billy Bishop to allow jets to land. That followed a promise made during the federal election.

A separate Conservative Opposition motion in the Commons called on the government to extend the runway at Billy Bishop to help Bombardier, rather than provide a corporate bailout.

“We’re saying to the government you can do a lot of things to help Bombardier without giving them taxpayer’s money,” Bernier said.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the decision to not extend the runway at the airport was a response to community concerns about the quality of life in Canada’s largest city.

During debate in the Commons, Garneau said the Tories were taking a “simplistic” view of the decision and its effect on Bombardier, arguing that view “ignores a much larger picture.”

“Bombardier is a first-class aerospace company and I’m sure that Bombardier is not going to rise or fall on the decision related to Billy Bishop airport,” Garneau said.

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