MONTREAL – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Bombardier’s CSeries as an “exceptional airplane” on Saturday but would not hint whether his government plans to invest federal money in the Montreal-based aerospace giant.
Trudeau said his government recognizes the importance of Canada’s aerospace industry and the jobs it creates.
“That’s why we’re engaged in negotiations and discussions with Bombardier, and have been for quite a while, around the right business case for Canada to invest,” Trudeau told reporters in Montreal, where he was attending the biennial convention of the federal Liberal party’s Quebec wing.
The Quebec government has promised US$1 billion of public money for Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) and the company is seeking a similar sum from Ottawa.
Premier Philippe Couillard said this week that the pressure is mounting on Ottawa to do its part to after the announcement that Delta had placed an order with the company for 75 CS100 aircraft with options for an additional 50 planes.
Speaking on Thursday, Couillard called it “paradoxical” that the federal government hasn’t hesitated to help Ontario with billions in public funds in the past to help with the troubled automobile sector while seemingly dragging its feet with respect to Quebec’s key aerospace sector.
Trudeau praised the Delta deal on Saturday, calling it “great news” for Bombardier and the Canadian aerospace industry.
He also brushed off any inference that his government not pushing hard enough on files that matter to Quebec, saying there are “extremely strong voices” for the province in his cabinet.
He said he has not followed the tradition of naming a Quebec lieutenant because he represents a Montreal riding.
“Why do you need a Quebec lieutenant when you have a Quebec general?” he asked.
In his opening speech to the convention, Trudeau repeatedly referenced his party’s strong performance in the province in last year’s federal elections.
Flanked by some two dozen Quebec MPs, he told a cheering crowd of party members that the province was better represented in Ottawa than at any time in the last 25 years.
“This is the first time an entire generation of Quebecers and Canadians have seen so many Quebecers involved in running Canada,” he said to loud applause.
He also strongly hinted the federal government would be open to providing funding for an electric light-rail project that has been proposed for the Montreal area, calling it “exactly the kind of project we’re excited about.”
The province’s pension fund manager has offered to put up $3 billion of the $5.5 billion project, but says the province and the federal government would have to fund the rest.
Trudeau said the project aligns with his government’s priorities to improve infrastructure and public transit.